A Big Picture vs. Daily Trivia

  • An overview of 75 years of American history, by Robert Reich;
  • Fringe items about Republican racism, who’s the traitor, the Taylor Swift conspiracy theory, assertions without evidence, the nanny state, moral certitude, and Fox News.

I think many of us spend too much time examining daily trivia (mea culpa) while perhaps losing sight of the big picture. Today Robert Reich — the UC Berkeley economist, once Secretary of Labor under Bill Clinton — whom I’ve discussed a bunch of times, posted this “big picture” of “how we got into the mess we’re in,” with a video showing him drawing his major points on a big sheet of paper. But his major points are explained in the text of the post, and are quoted here.

Robert Reich, 15 Feb 2024: The Really Big Picture, subtitled “Sometimes a single very big picture is worth many thousands of words”

Here’s a history of the past 75 years.

Then I drew Part 1 on the far left — representing 1946 to 1979. This was the time when America’s middle class grew, upward mobility was the norm, and America became more equal.

Part 2, the second column on my wall, depicts 1980 to 2008 — the era when neoliberalism, deregulation, privatization, globalization, Wall Street, and Ronald Reagan conspired to reverse the path we’d been on. The result was widening inequality, a shrinking middle class, and stalled mobility.

Part 3, in the middle column on my wall, represents 2008 to 2010, when the financial economy nearly collapsed, exposing the underlying rigging of the system. Banks were bailed out, but millions of people lost their homes, jobs, and savings.

Part 4, the second-to-last column, shows what happened between 2010 and 2016, when the losers of the rigged game expressed their anger through the “Tea Party” movement, the “Occupy” movement, and the sudden appearance of two populists — Bernie Sanders on the progressive left and Donald Trump on the authoritarian right.

Part 5, the final column, represents 2016 to 2050 — an era when I believe America will come to a basic decision about whether it wants authoritarian neofascism to run the country from the top down, or a robust democracy in which the gains from growth are widely shared.


Headlines about the fringe, with brief comments.

NY Times, 13 Feb 2024: On Capitol Hill, Republicans Use Bigoted Attacks Against Political Foes, subtitled “House and Senate Republicans have denigrated fellow lawmakers, Biden administration officials and witnesses in racist ways, both in casual comments and in official settings.”

But this is nothing new, right? Maybe not all Republicans are racists, but racists tend to be conservatives, and Republican.


And again.

New Republican, 15 Feb 2024: Matt Gaetz Goes Full Racist After GOP’s Brutal Defeat in New York, subtitled “Republicans want to blame anything but themselves after losing George Santos’s former House seat.”


Salon, Brian Karem, 15 Feb 2024: Biden and Trump are both too old – but only one is a traitor, subtitled “The 2024 presidential election is a battle between a bunch of old farts screaming ‘get off my lawn!'”

What seems clear is that large parts of the electorate are indifferent to the characters of their candidates — where’s Christian morality when you need it? — as long as they perceive those candidates will work in their interests (even if their perceptions about that are often wrong).


Boing Boing, 15 Feb 2024: 42% of believers in conspiracy theory that Taylor Swift is a covert Biden op found out about it from the pollster asking them

That’s the basis for their belief? Similarly, experiments have been done in which people on the street are asked for their opinions about — some random made-up thing. Is the National Council on Conspiracies doing its job? And a surprising number of people will have a firm opinion, one way or another.


AP, 14 Feb 2024: Conservative group tells judge it has no evidence to back its claims of Georgia ballot stuffing (via)

Once again, conservatives make assertions, and only when backed into a corner will they admit they have no evidence.


Once again

Media Matters, 14 Feb 2024: Steve Bannon claims without evidence that Democrats stole the New York special election, subtitled “Bannon: ‘The central beating heart of this issue is their ability to steal an election. They stole this election in New York.'”


Raw Story, 14 Feb 2024: Arizona GOP introduces resolution to declare Trump 2024 winner regardless of the vote (via)

Tell me again about how Republicans venerate the Constitution.


Joe.My.God, 15 Feb 2024: Tennessee GOP Bill Would Outlaw Sales Of Cold Beer

There’s actually some rationale for this, but it goes to the “nanny state” mindset that conservatives have always resented. Why not let guys buy cold beer and drive down the highway in their trucks drinking it? Freedom!


LGBTQNation, 15 Feb 2024: Conservative Christians are outraged that the Super Bowl Jesus ads weren’t homophobic, subtitled “The group blasted the campaign for failing to remind LGBTQ+ people they need to repent for their sins.”

Once again, their moral certitude. They insist on applying to everyone.


What the audience wants to hear.

Media Matters, 13 Feb 2024: Tax cheat TV: Fox News buries report that enhanced IRS funding would reap hundreds of billions in unpaid and overdue tax revenue, subtitled “The network devoted 5 minutes to $561 billion in potential tax revenue, 55 minutes to $53 million for migrants”

That’s 5 minutes over an entire week. “Fox News is helping the GOP defend the interests of tax cheats as it plays its traditional role of converting fearmongering about immigrants into votes for plutocracy.”

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