Posted in Culture of Lickspittle at 10:38 am by George Smith

Another blighted week begins in the fossilized superpower of capitalism and casual cruelty we call home.

From the WaPo’s EJ Dionne (no link):

“I’d respect these folks a lot more if they said what they clearly believe: They think more inequality would be good for us. It almost makes you nostalgic for the candor of the Mitt Romney who spoke about the ’47 percent’ and the Paul Ryan who once divided us between ‘makers??? and “takers.’???

Three years running and no change. Even sidewalk gets heaved by the roots of trees more quickly.

So I don’t have to write any new songs like this, still strong and of perfect title. Call it “poorcore,” a word I’ve borrowed from author Barbara Ehrenreich, one in my really short list of Facebook friends, who coined it over the weekend for description of daily wardrobe. In this case, used as a catch-all for any music by people who aren’t ever paid, which is to say, almost all of them.

And from a guy named Timothy Egan, at the NY Times, last week:

And you had to catch that bit from Senator Joni Ernst about putting bread bags over her shoes while growing up kind of poor in rural Iowa.

People from humble beginnings often carry an extra load of empathy through the success of their later lives, a sense that, with a few bad breaks, things could have gone the other way …

In the case of the three Republican leaders cited above, and most of those who aspire to be the G.O.P. presidential nominee next year, these Horatio Algerians for the new Gilded Age are working to keep the downtrodden down …

Ernst, the lump-of-coal-hearted new senator from Iowa, and Walker, who always seems to be promoting something that needs actuarial tables to disguise, at times sound as if they actively despise the poor.

Adding, she wants to take health care away from people in her state who already have it. “Their condescension toward the poor springs from their own narratives: They are virtuous because they made it, or vice versa … Those who haven’t made a similar leap are weaklings.”

With only minor variations, it’s the same song every week. Which is why I’ve no problem doing the same thing. You can’t peg the outrage meter any more, it’s busted. Irreparable.

But try the New York Times does, a couple times a week, doing what I call the “What is to be done about WhiteManistan?” beat.

They can’t use the word, of course. And they can’t admit what they know: There isn’t anything you can do except go along for the end-times ride.

More poorcore although not as catchy.


1. Two more songs are called “Rich Man’s Burden” on YouTube. Both by old white guys, like me. Unfortunately, they’re both big helpings of lugubrious suck.

2. Although it’s difficult to see, the last video actually illustrates zero and one-cent jobs on Mechanical Turk from one of my old sessions in the Amazon digital sweatshop. Two are circled.


  1. anonymous coward said,

    March 23, 2015 at 10:53 am

    Missed you while you were gone.

    For the sake of discussion:
    1) why are we not seeing serious push-back in the streets outside isolated incidents where there’s a single-issue rallying point?
    2) when things start to fall apart (and honestly, can the system they’re building really hold together under any sort of pressure?), what then? How do we not lose that battle as well, where they’re going to rise from the ashes and get to define the next socio-political system, in their absurb worldview. People seem to be happy to swallow reductionist, easy, incredibly wrong answers to social structure dilemmas, and we can’t let them have their Friedman-ite moment where bullshit position papers are taken off a shelf and implemented as policy or law?

  2. George Smith said,

    March 23, 2015 at 11:14 am

    I’ve given some thought to that as I imagine many have. Perhaps a couple of books are now in publish or have been published on it.

    Anyway, there was push back. Occupy, which was put down by Homeland Security in cooperation with mayoral steps and excessive policing under vagrancy and health municipal laws. It didn’t help that Occupy had no leaders and would establish no agenda. In the end it just made it amorphous and it was apparently easily infiltrated.

    And there’s been pushback this year, but it’s not from the white tribe. African Americans have gone into the street, Ferguson being the big one, over unjustifiable police shootings and predatory behavior. That’s not over yet. The DoJ report on Ferguson was just a reconfirmation of what had been reported at the Washington Post much earlier, that the municipalities ringing St. Louis use the police to excessively fine and prey on the poor with by charging them with a relentless barrage of trivial misdemeanor crimes as a way of raising revenue. The Garner case, in New York, is another where the local authorities and police must be viewed as totally lacking of legitimacy by African American population. It’s a nation-wide thing, not just in one place.

    On the other hand, the white tribe is atomized and fractured. Almost half of it is delusional from daily consumption of a news media network — Fox — that’s entire business is built on lies, propaganda, fear, the encouragement of racism, scapegoating and complete distortions on the nature of things.

    The rest are perhaps still thinking it won’t happen to them, also filled by delusion, years of not being able to admit to what was going on around them to others, the mythology of American exceptionalism, and the general fact that opposition in it is always more disorganized than the far right and nowhere near as well funded due to the alignment of corporate America and its vast wealth with radical authoritarianism. (Aside from a few exceptions, the Democratic Party is not populist. I mean, look at who the just-waiting-to-be-crowned nominee for President is. Someone of great wealth, who you can’t get away from in terms of imagery, who doesn’t really stand for anything in any persuasive manner but who is easy to view with a good measure of well-earned contempt because of history.)

  3. anonymous coward said,

    March 23, 2015 at 7:34 pm


    Based on your first point, “operational integrity” seems to be an organizational priority going forward.

    In case you missed this:

    Ferguson was one of the “single-issue rallying points” I was referring to. So far, it seems to be holding together nicely, which would tend to indicate that in the world of ‘means’ and ‘goals’ as organizational principles, it may hold up better than Occupy did. Occupy never really had a list of “scrawl on the placard” goals, it seemed largely satisfied with defining itself against something else (“we’re the 99%”).

    What’s missing is a levelling up of both means and goals against the police forces of Ferguson. The police and political structure seem to have clarity in both dimensions: fund-raising using captive citizens and extracting rent using the law, coupled with the enforcement mechanisms to do so.

    Having a goal on the protest side, however, doesn’t seem to have filled in the ‘means’ gap on “how do we get there from here?” I’m not sure they’re totally clear on goals, either. What good is police reform if the political establishment is still imposing rent, or rent-seeking? How does this fix the broken political system that led to these interests taking the population captive, at least in a “civil society” sense?

    Has being delusional over in the “white tribe” had an adverse effect on either their goals or means, or has it reinforced their mindset? Fox-ification of a management class (plantation managers for the ownership class) seems instead to give them a cohesion sorely lacking on the Left (seemingly by design). They share a common, fear-based belief-system that’s reduced to a set of “talking points,” dog-whistle signals, and legal defenses (for example, police knowing they can make most any charge go away as long as they felt ‘threatened,’ a state we the citizens can’t cross-examine or validate, and that template was replicated into “stand your ground” laws).

    As for it not happening to ‘them,’ us really, the underclass… if you look at the fnord, the fnord will eat you. Perhaps people are so afraid of how close to collapse they are (“one paycheck from disaster”) they can’t stand to look, let alone think about it. Maybe they’re all wrapped up in trying to grab what they can while the getting is good. Maybe they don’t see the difference between one overlord and another. Maybe people would rather believe comforting lies than confront horrible truths.

    Much love to you and my fellow readers.