What do progressives believe?

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) appeared at Netroots Nation Friday and explained it all to you.

Most true Americans believe these things, not the stuff that the Tea Party terrorists stand for, and …

Wait?! Wasn’t that the Incredible Hulk at the end? If we’re gonna fight, and Hulk smash, we will win.

Wealth distribution (or lack thereof)

I’ve been reading Elizabeth Warren’s new book “A Fighting Chance,” and I’m about to start Thomas Piketty’s “Capital in the Twenty-First Century,” so I’m getting a short course on the American financial system and income and wealth inequality.

Ezra Kline at Vox had a pretty good explainer on why income inequality isn’t as serious a problem as wealth inequality:

Then I remembered that back at the beginning of the year, the folks at Bloomberg News pointed out the latest developments in income inequality:

Even those with college degrees are having trouble keeping up …. While they earn more than those with less schooling, they’ve seen no real wage growth in recent years. The median income of men 25 years of age and older with a bachelor’s degree was $56,656 last year, 10 percent less than in 2007 after taking account of inflation, according to Census data.

“It’s very difficult for anyone middle-income and lower,” said Ryan Sekac, 26, a mechanical engineer in Westerly, Rhode Island. “There was a time when it was easier.”

It hard for people in the middle income and lower. But for the wealthy?

In the meantime, record-high stock prices are enriching wealthier Americans, exacerbating polarization and bringing income inequality to the political forefront. Even independent government agencies like the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Federal Reserve have been dragged into the debate. …

The richest 10 percent of Americans earned a larger share of income last year than at any time since 1917, according to Emmanuel Saez, an economist at the University of California at Berkeley. Those in the top one-tenth of income distribution made at least $146,000 in 2012, almost 12 times what those in the bottom tenth made, Census Bureau data show.

And just one more thing for people who are middle class and anti-union to get into their thick skulls:

The decline of unions — 11.3 percent of workers were represented in 2012 compared with 20.1 percent in 1983 — has advantaged bosses at the expense of their employees.

I should have studied economics back in college when I had the chance. There’s so much catching up to do.

Divide and conquer: The GOP solution to the poor

North Carolina House Speaker Thom Tillis in action:

Do you really need a translation? When a Republican says:

And we need to get those folks to look down at these people who choose to get into a condition that makes them dependent on the government and say at some point, “You’re on your own. We may end up taking care of those babies, but we’re not going to take care of you.” And we’ve got to start having that serious discussion.”

These people means “those people” because for a GOP crowd it’s always a matter of Us vs. Them. And for a Republican, who might “them” be?

Let’s stop pretending we don’t know when Republicans are speaking in code. Tillis gets away with what he’s saying because he knows how to use the code words. Listen to the message: Thom Tillis is saying EXACTLY THE SAME THING Cliven Bundy is saying. The difference? Bundy was just using the language of the past, when you could run as a politician in the South against the “nigra”.

Time to quote the godfather of racial code Lee Atwater:

You start out in 1954 by saying, “Nigger, nigger, nigger.” By 1968 you can’t say “nigger”—that hurts you, backfires. So you say stuff like, uh, forced busing, states’ rights, and all that stuff, and you’re getting so abstract. Now, you’re talking about cutting taxes, and all these things you’re talking about are totally economic things and a byproduct of them is, blacks get hurt worse than whites.… “We want to cut this,” is much more abstract than even the busing thing, uh, and a hell of a lot more abstract than “Nigger, nigger.”

For anyone running against the GOP, it isn’t a matter of divide and conquer. There’s no difference between the sophisticates and the troglodytes in that party. The focus has to be conquer.

Paul Krugman and “Equivalences”

In light of the Supreme Court ruling that people with lots of money can spend as much as they want to get the people they want elected, Paul Krugman takes a look at “Equivalencies”:

There are definitely times when it seems that our winner-take-all society is also a whiner-take-all society; it’s really amazing how quick billionaires are to portray themselves as victims because some people say nasty things about them.

One remarkable aspect of this whining is that the nasty things aren’t really all that nasty. Saying that the Koch brothers are using their wealth to promote a political agenda that will make them even wealthier is a substantive claim, not character assassination; it’s not at all the same as, say, suggesting that Hillary Clinton is a murderer. Yet the Kochs and Perkinses act as if this kind of thing were utterly vile, an attack on their liberty.

The other remarkable thing is the instant escalation of hurt feelings into a Godwin’s Law violation. You see, liberals criticize the Kochs; that makes them just like Hitler and Stalin, who murdered their opponents.

But wait, there’s more. What I’ve been hearing from Koch defenders is that people like me have no standing to ridicule billionaires. You see, I sometimes say sarcastic things about the arguments of people who disagree with me, and even question their motives when they say things I consider obviously wrong. And that’s just like comparing such people to Hitler.

The thing is, I don’t think the crybaby thing is an act, put on for strategic purposes. I think it’s real. Billionaires really are feeling vulnerable despite their wealth and power, or perhaps because of it. And the apparatchiks serving the .01 percent are deeply insecure, culturally and intellectually, so that ridicule cuts deep.

It’s kind of sad, really – but also more than a bit scary: When great power goes along with fragile egos, seriously bad things can happen.