Is Sanders Hypocritical for Taking Tax Deductions? No. But…

… it does de-fang a lot of his criticisms of the practices of corporations and economic elites. Before I explain why let me set the stage. Here’s Kevin Drum:

This isn’t even close to hypocrisy. If you don’t like the designated hitter rule in baseball, does that mean you should send your pitcher to the plate just to prove how sincere you are? Of course not. You play by the rules, whatever those rules are.

Lemieux at LGM loves it, but this is a category error. Sanders is not simply saying that he does not like the designated hitter rule. He is saying that anyone who employs a designated hitter is hopelessly corrupt, a crony (or tool of cronies), an active destroyer of the well-being of the 99% and indeed the entire world economy. He has said that people who use the designated hitter should be thrown into jail and have their baseball teams dismantled by diktat. He is suggesting that teams that employ foreign designated hitters are practically enemies of the state. He has argued that anyone who has given a paid speech to a group that supports use of the designated hitter is not qualified to play baseball.

Given all of that, it is absolutely legitimate to criticize Sanders for using a designated hitter.


Republicans In North Carolina Strategically Tapped Into a Long History of Anti-LGBTQ Rhetoric

The United States has a long and storied history of invoking the purity and safety of (cis, white) women and children in defense of terrible things. The racial/sexual purity of white women was used to justify the murder of Black men and boys including, 14-year old Emmett Till, who was brutally murdered for saying “Bye baby” to a white woman while leaving a Mississippi store.

Similarly, the safety of children has consistently and successfully been used to justify discrimination against LGBTQ people. So much so that The Southern Poverty Law Center describes the depiction of gay men as a sexual threat to children as possibly “the single most potent weapon for stoking public fears about homosexuality.” The first organized opposition to the gay rights movement began as a political campaign against a city anti-discrimination ordinance in Miami (sound familiar, North Carolina?). The group, led by celebrity singer and former Florida Citrus spokeswoman Anita Bryant,  called itself “Save Our Children.” (more…)

Nixon, the War on Drugs, and the Politics of Hindsight

Recent headlines report that a “Nixon official” (Vox) or a “Nixon aide” (Vice) or a “Nixon advisor” (Reason) has admitted that the War on Drugs had nothing to do with drug control, that it was not a benign-but-misguided social policy. The War on Drugs was instead conceived as a tactical policy intended to undermine the anti-war left and criminalize blackness. In other words: it’s true! What many have long suspected turns out to be true! The War on Drugs was, and remains, a war against enemies of the Republican party. (more…)

Florida Politicians’ Unrelenting Support for the Death Penalty

Conventional wisdom suggests that Florida loves the death penalty. The state currently has 390 inmates awaiting execution, more than any other state but California (which has 20 million more residents). They were the first state to pass a law reinstating the death penalty after the Supreme Court struck down state death penalty laws in 1972. In 1999 Howard Simon, executive director of the ACLU of Florida argued that the state’s legislature had an “obsession with electrocution as a method of execution.” Current Governor Rick Scott has seen more inmates executed during his tenure than any other modern Florida governor and signed a bill to speed up the execution process. Just last month, Florida State Senator Thad Altman, a Republican who has pushed to revise the death sentencing procedure for years, told the New York Times that his state’s legislature is “very pro-death penalty” and averse to being perceived as “being soft on crime in any way.” Florida has been at the forefront of some of the death penalty’s more gruesome innovations including a custom electric chair for a 344 pound inmate, and the use of “purple moon suits” to disguise the identity of doctors assisting with executions from the American Medical Association, whose code of ethics forbids their participation.[1] The custom electric chair was widely criticized in part because a large blood stain appeared on the inmate’s chest during the execution. A spokesman for then Governor Jeb Bush defended the procedure saying  “We are absolutely, 100 percent comfortable that the chair performed flawlessly…Everybody’s getting all worked up about a nosebleed.”

But earlier this year, the state encountered a serious obstacle to its favorite form of punishment. (more…)

Un-American Hustle: How North Korean Hackers Made The Hollywood Wage Gap Undeniable

North Korean hackers might have done more for the wage gap in Hollywood than anyone in entertainment history. In December of 2014, hacked e-mails revealed conversations about disparities in American Hustle stars’ pay that prompted Jennifer Lawrence to speak out and sparked an ongoing conversation about the wage gap in Hollywood. Following the the hack, Lawrence’s fellow actresses began sharing similar stories. In July of 2015 Amanda Seyfried told The Sunday Times that she was paid 10 percent of what her male co-star was paid on a big-budget film despite the fact that they were “pretty even in status.” Vulture hypothesized that the film was Les Miserables and the co-star a pre-Oscar winning/Harry Potter spinoff leading Eddie Redmayne. That Fall, Sienna Miller told Vogue that a producer for a Broadway play had tried to get her to settle for less than half the salary of a male lead (she left the production). In her memoir Diane Keaton revealed that she didn’t get a back-end (a percentage of box office grosses) for 2003’s Something’s Gotta Give despite the fact that she was an Oscar winner and the film’s star. Jack Nicholson got a back-end despite a smaller role in the film and sent Keaton part of his check to make up for the disparity. And of course Gillian Anderson recently reported that she was offered half of co-star David Duchovny’s pay for the X-Files revival after fighting for years to equal his pay on the original series.

Last week, American Hustle’s Amy Adams finally spoke about being paid less than male co-stars for the film (more…)