Conservatives-- like Kyrsten Sinema-- have always opposed not just raising the minimum wage, but the very concept of a minimum wage. In over a century of debate, the arguments have never changed and for Republicans they boil down to "Socialism!!!!" States completely controlled by the right have no minimum wage law at all-- Alabama, Mississippi, South Carolina, Louisiana and Tennessee. Arizona rank and file Democrats who voted for Sinema had no idea how conservative she is. Shows the worst Democrat in the House and now she is arguably the worst Democrat in the Senate. How does a worthless sack like that get into the Senate? Ask Chuck Schumer, who handpicked her, cleared the field for her and then bankrolled her. He didn't pick her despite her ugly conservatism; he picked her because of it.
You might be thinking I'm exaggerating because I detest Schumer (and Sinema). It's true that I do; but I'm not exaggerating. Yesterday, NBC's Ben Kamisar updated a report he wrote on how Schumer operates from almost a year ago: New filings show prominent Dem group funded anti-Romanoff ads in Colorado Senate primary.
It shows how Schumer fights like a rabid dog to prevent progressives getting Democratic Party nominations. It's because Schumer hates-- and has always hated-- what the Democratic Party stands for, even though there was virtually no Republican Party when he was growing up in the Flatbush section of Brooklyn. He doesn't have any Democratic Party values, only a sense of entitlement, elitism and careerism. "A mysterious group that aired TV adds hammering Democrat Andrew Romanoff in the final weeks of Colorado’s Senate primary," wrote Kamisar, "was funded by a Democratic outside group with ties to the super PAC backing his rival, former Gov. John Hickenlooper, new campaign finance filings show. Let's Turn Colorado Blue, which spent $1.3 million during the primary and ran ads hitting Romanoff on immigration, was funded by Majority Forward, according to a new filing made public on Thursday. Majority Forward is the non-profit arm of Senate Majority PAC, the super PAC aligned with Senate Democratic leadership." Majority Forward and Senate Majority PAC are 100% controlled by Schumer. It helps explain why corporate conservatives like Hickenlooper, Sinema, Mark Kelly (AZ),Theresa Greenfield (IA), Cal Cunningham (NC), Patrick Murphy (FL), Sara Gideon (ME), Ben Ray Lujan (NM), Amy McGrath (KY), Jaime Harrison (SC), Jacky Rosen (NV), Barbara Bollier (KS), MJ Hegar (TX), Joe Donnelly (IN)... most of whom are losers, wind up with Democratic Party nominations.
Writing for Newsweek yesterday, Daniel Villareal, exposed the bribes Sinema took right after showily-- many would say viciously-- voting to kill the $15 minimum wage hike. "Banks and political action committees (PACs) representing debt collectors donated $4,000 to Democratic Arizona Senator Kyrsten Sinema just days after her thumbs down vote against a Democratic amendment to Biden's American Rescue Plan that would raise the national minimum wage from $7.25 an hour to $15 an hour," he wrote. "The Federal Election Commission showed that on March 8, three days after her 'no' vote, the Wall Street investment bank Morgan Stanley donated $2,000 to Sinema. The Association of Credit and Collection Professionals (ACPAC) as well as the Commercial Law League, two PACs representing debt collectors, each donated $1,000 to Sinema. None of these donors were located within Sinema's home state. Morgan Stanley is located in New York, ACPAC is located in Washington D.C. and the Commercial Law League is located in Illinois. ACPAC represents 'third-party collection agencies, law firms, asset buying companies, creditors and vendor affiliates,' according to the PAC's website. The Commercial Law League's PAC represents an association of 'creditors' rights attorneys, bankruptcy attorneys, commercial collection agencies and legal network personnel,' according to its website."
The three groups' donations represented nearly 20 percent of the total $20,500 in PAC donations that Sinema received three days after voting against the minimum wage hike. Individual donors also gave Sinema an additional $26,653.58 three days after her no vote.
Sinema voted with all 50 Senate Republicans and seven fellow Democrats to oppose the amendment.
The amendment had been pushed by Independent Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders as an add-on to the COVID-19 stimulus bill. However, it was considered unlikely to pass as it required 60 votes, including all members of the Senate Democratic caucus and 10 Republican Senators. By the end, the amendment failed in a 42-58 vote.
Sinema explained her vote in a statement.
"No person who works full time should live in poverty," Sinema said. "Senators in both parties have shown support for raising the federal minimum wage and the Senate should hold an open debate and amendment process on raising the minimum wage, separate from the COVID-focused reconciliation bill."
Republicans have largely opposed raising the minimum wage, arguing it will harm small businesses who have already been economically harmed during the ongoing pandemic.
After social media users criticized her "thumbs down" gesture, her office accused them of sexism.
In late February, Republican Senators Tom Cotton of Arkansas and Mitt Romney of Utah introduced a $10 national minimum wage plan. It was called the Higher Wages for American Workers Act.
The plan would gradually raise the federal minimum wage from its current rate of $7.25 an hour to $10 an hour by 2025. It was criticized by Democratic legislators and others for being lower than the minimum wage in Cotton's home state-- $11 an hour.
A majority of younger and older Americans both support the wage hike, a late January poll revealed.
Had the minimum wage kept up with buying power (inflation) and productivity, since the $7.50 minimum wage was passed, it would be $23.00 now. The $15 that Sinema helped kill was a compromise. Now she and a few other conservatives are offering a further compromise: $11 an hour.
Sinema lied her way into Congress, pretending to represent Democratic Party values and principles that she works with the GOP to oppose. Last week, Ruth Ben-Ghiat, published an essay that reminded me of Sinema, Why Do People Believe Liars? Ben-Ghiat writes about authoritarian leaders, which is why she has spent a lot of time studying professional liars. She wrote that she's "frequently asked why people believe the falsehoods told by political figures and their media allies."
Here's where the big corporate money and the big bucks from Schumer come into play. "Propaganda gains traction through repetition and saturation... Seeing the same messages over and over can lead some to tune out, but it may also boost confidence that the content is truthful. Repetition can lead to familiarity, which increases acceptance," especially when alternative voices are silenced.
Today’s autocrats, many of whom hold elections and govern even with a pocket of opposition, are more dependent than ever on manipulating information about their own competency and the threats presented by their enemies. Social media helps them by accelerating processes of message repetition and multiplication. Followers share falsehoods and also make them “fresh” for their friends and contacts through the memes and slogans they create.
In Russia, Vladimir Putin doesn’t have the benefit of Communist-era total media control. That's why his 21st century propaganda playbook privileges the "firehose of falsehood” model. It floods the media space with noise and confusion, drowning out unwanted messages, such as refutations of Kremlin lies. “Quantity does have a quality all its own," write Christopher Paul and Miriam Matthews of the effects of this high-volume diffusion of falsehoods, partial truths, and conspiracy theories on a society’s resistance to propaganda.
The same can be said of the tsunami of disinformation unleashed by Donald Trump. The 5.9 million individual Facebook ads his 2016 campaign ran often purveyed the same messages with small variations. Falsehoods about the links between crime and immigration, a frequent theme, prepared his public to believe later Facebook ads that warned of the "national emergency" created by immigrant "invasions," (the word was used in 2,000 ads between January and August 2019 alone). Reinforced at his rallies, on talk radio, and by Fox News, they were part of the more than 30,000 false and misleading claims he made during his presidency.
Trump’s focus on immigration enabled another classic propaganda technique: telling lies that seem convincing because they build on a grain of truth, in this case the fact that large numbers of foreigners do indeed cross the border. Omitting vital information such as when they arrived and with what motives is part of the ruse. So, some lies are accepted because they seem to confirm what people think they know.
Often, people just want to believe the liar. Personality cults increase the leader’s credibility, since they present him as possessed of special powers or ruling with a divine mandate, making him seem infallible (the slogan “Mussolini is always right” says it all). Strongmen also know how to be persuasive, especially if they previously worked as journalists (Mussolini and the Congo’s Mobutu Sese Seko), in television (Italy’s Silvio Berlusconi and Trump) or were professional dissemblers (Putin was a KGB case officer). These practiced liars work hard to seem authentic-- just look at Narendra Modi’s Instagram performances.
Moreover, once people bond with the leader, they may be inclined to dismiss any evidence that conflicts with his claims, or overlook contradictions in his messages. They believe him because they believe in him. Or, in an interesting twist, they know he is lying, but they decide that they don’t care: better him than his enemy (who, as they have been taught to believe, lies even more). And some people actually approve of all the lying, seeing it as rule-breaking by a rogue they adore.
Hannah Arendt observed that Nazism and Communism made people less able over time to distinguish between fact and fiction, truth and falsehood. Today's illiberal leaders encourage a similar atrophying of critical skills, as do the social media platforms that so many use as a primary information source. Investing in media literacy is essential, but so is education about the damages of authoritarian models of power that turn leaders into infallible god-like figures--and lying into official state policy.