Tuesday, September 2, 2014

A double-dose of Journal-Sentinel FAIL

I knew the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel had to revert to its right-wing form sooner than later. And they did so with two ridiculous stories in the last 3 days.

The first is from their Politifact article on a new tax break put in by WisGOP legislators and signed by Governor Walker as part of the last state budget. The Wisconsin AFL-CIO sent out an anti-Walker mailer calling out the arrangement, saying that the governor signed off on allowing "a $10,000 tax deduction to millionaires who send their kids to exclusive private schools." So Politi-fact decided to check it out.
Beginning in the 2014 tax year, for tax returns due in April 2015, taxpayers can subtract from their income amounts paid to private schools for tuition and mandatory student fees. The schools can be inside or outside of Wisconsin, although expenses such as room and board can’t be deducted. For each student in kindergarten through eighth grade, the maximum deduction is $4,000; for each student in high school, the maximum is $10,000.

An important point: The deductions are available to any individuals, regardless of income, including millionaires.
Yep, that's what a Department of Revenue FAQ document says on the new tax break. And there is no limit on the income level of the person getting the tax break, so millionaire parents would certainly be able to take advantage of it. Seems like a pretty straightforward call, right? Not in Politi-crap world.
The state AFL-CIO said Walker "has given a $10,000 tax deduction to millionaires who send their kids to exclusive private schools."

There is an element of truth, in that millionaires do benefit from the tax break. But so do taxpayers of other income levels who send their kids to private schools.

We rate the claim Mostly False.
WHAT THE FUCK?

The claim is that millionaires can get this tax deduction of up to $10,000. It's not that they're the only ones or even that they'll be most of the ones using the tax break. THE CLAIM IS THAT MILLIONAIRES CAN USE IT. So why does it matter to Politi-crap that other Wisconsinites can as well? Because Politi-crap's Tom Kertscher was apparently told not to give another "True" rating that made the J-S's favored candidate (Scott Walker) look bad for backing a policy that gives a break to people many Wisconsinites think get enough breaks in life (i.e., millionaire parents that can send kids to a private school with 10,000 tuition). Maybe you can Tweet him at @tkertscher or email him at tkertscher@journalsentinel.com to see what part of his ass he pulled this "Mostly False" from.

The other story comes from one of my "favorites"- Journal-Sentinel columnist Dan Bice. Danny Boy decided to have in his No Quarter column an "investigation" into a right-wing smear against Dem Attorney General candidate Susan Happ, and irresponsibly sensationalized a situation that seems pretty benign. Let's start with the source of this alleged "sketchiness,"
"This case from her time leading the Jefferson County District Attorney's office raises questions about how tough (Happ) and her office are on alleged sex criminals," said Brian Sikma, communications director for Media Trackers, a conservative research outfit that alerted No Quarter to the case.
Brian SiKKKma? The same SiKKKma that ran the libelously false story of GOP operative Kyle Wood right before the 2012 elections. This got Wood sentenced to 30 days in jail in June 2013 after Wood admitted he fabricated texts from the husband of now-Rep. Pocan, and beat himself up. Of course, the Journal-Sentinel and their right-wing radio station on AM 620 ran with SiKKKma's and Wood's lies, and only published the correction a few days after the lie had gotten out.

The fact that Bice is even listening to a lying hack like SiKKKma is a dereliction of duty as a journalist, but then he decides to pump up THIS, which doesn't even seem that weird.
Daniel J. Reynolds, 36, was given a deferred prosecution agreement by Jefferson County prosecutors earlier this year after being charged with felony counts of first-degree and second-degree sexual assaults of a child. Under the deal, Reynolds' offense would be reduced to a disorderly conduct violation if he stays out of trouble for 12 months and completes other requirements.

Records show Happ and her husband sold a piece of property to Reynolds under a $180,000 land contract that was executed in 2009 and paid off three years later.
On its face, that looks iffy. But then Bice buries these facts later in the story.

1. Reynolds was already renting the house from Happ's future husband when Happ married him in 2009, meaning Happ only had an interest in the property BECAUSE WISCONSIN LAW DICTATES THE OTHER PARTNER INHERITS A PART OF IT UPON MARRIAGE.

2. The alleged complaint that led to the original sexual assault charges was only reported to police in 2011, 2 years after they sold the property to Reynolds. The property was paid off in 2012, before the charges were pleaded out.

3. The article mentions that the facts in the case were heavily in dispute, as the alleged victim was the sister of Reynolds' ex-wife, and later wasn't willing to testify to key matters.

4. The lawyer signing off on the plea agreement was an Assistant DA, and not Happ. Yes, the buck stops with Happ as DA in terms of administration, but there is no evidence she was directly involved in plea discussions or any related part of the case.

So why the hell would Bice run this nothingburger of an article based on a lame reach from the liars at Media TraKKKers? And why would the J-S run a NY Post-style headline that says "A-G Candidate Ripped for Favorable Plea Deal in Child Sexual Assault Case," when the only "ripping" going on is coming from paid-off right-wing hacks? The obvious answer is that the J-S bosses want to help GOP candidate Brad Schimel, as Happ was up 10 points in the latest Marquette Law Poll after her impressive primary victory on August 12. Bice is always good for following his bosses' corporate orders and writing about any right-wing opinion that's out there, giving it a veneer of legitimacy that most do not deserve. Oh, he's also good for staying away from issues that might hurt the paper's corporate bosses (the next article Danny does on the corrupt WEDC will be his first).

But hey, if Bice wants to dig into the AG candidates and conflicts of interest, maybe he should look at this case from late 2010, involving former Assembly Speaker Scott Jensen. Jensen was convicted on three felony counts of corruption in office by a Dane County jury in 2006, and was sentenced to 15 months in prison. But Jensen was able to convince an Appeals Court to give him a new trial based on a technicality, and I'll let WTMJ pick it up from there.
[Jensen] asked that his new trial be moved to Waukesha County, a Republican stronghold packed with his supporters. He argued a state law that allows legislators to face ethics violations in their home counties should apply to him, even though it was passed in 2007, five years after he was first charged.

A Madison judge and a state appeals court refused to move the trial, but the state Supreme Court overruled them this year. That move was key, since it put Jensen in the hands of Republican District Attorney Brad Schimel.

What was scheduled as a routine status conference on Monday became a plea hearing. Jensen pleaded no contest to using his position for financial gain, a civil violation. In return, Waukesha County District Attorney Brad Schimel agreed to drop the other felony counts.
3 1/2 years later, Scott Jensen is a major behind-the-scenes player at the Capitol, as the main lobbyist for the voucher backers at the American Federation of Children, and he helps to funnel millions of dollars for Wisconsin GOP candidates that carry out the voucher lobby's wishes. Among those top candidates? Governor Scott Walker, and....GOP Attorney General candidate Brad Schimel. You want a scandal, Daniel Bice? I think I got one for you. But your pro-corporate bosses might not like it.

We gotta keep watching the watchers, or else they'll be allowed to get away with this BS and have it sink in s "fact" with casual bystanders who take this dishonest spin at face value. 3 1/2 years of this is far long enough, we can't take another 4.

Two new reports show that Wisconsin jobs continue to lag

After being called out for changing their policy of the last 2 ½ years in the middle of an election campaign, the Wisconsin DWD reluctantly revealed the preliminary information for the Quarterly Census on Employment and Wages (QCEW) last week. This more thorough jobs report indicates that private sector job growth for the March 2013-March 2014 time period was 28,653 jobs. If that number holds up, it would mean an increase of 1.26%, which is in line with the tepid figures of the last few quarters.



Note where Wisconsin’s job growth peaked- March of 2011. Guess what also happened in March 2011? Act 10 was rammed through the Legislature. We’ve generally declined ever since, even while U.S. private sector job growth picked up- reaching 2.12% in 2013.

On a related note, the Center on Wisconsin Strategy (COWS) released their State of Working Wisconsin report for 2014 over the weekend. COWS showed that Wisconsin still has yet to gain back all of the jobs lost since the start of the Great Recession at the end of 2007, and is even further behind when you realize that demographics should have taken that number much higher.
In December 2007, Wisconsin had some 2.88 million jobs. In July 2014, with 2.86 million jobs, Wisconsin had finally inched nearly back to that level. Wisconsin is still 21,900 jobs behind….

But just getting back to 2007 is actually falling behind given population growth. The state population has grown 3.8 percent since the recession began. To absorb the growing population of working age adults, and restore the level of opportunity and employment of December 2007, Wisconsin would need to have added 108,515 jobs. This leaves the state jobs deficit at 130,415 –jobs needed to get back to 2007 (21,900) plus jobs needed to accommodate population growth (108,515). The jobs deficit of over 130,000 ensures that jobs will continue to be a central concern for workers across the state.
COWS points out that the state stayed afloat better than some of its Midwestern neighbors at the start of the Recession, and our job losses weren’t really all that different from what was seen in the rest of the nation. But since the Age of Fitzwalkerstan began in 2011, the state has badly lagged the job gains that much of the rest of the country has been receiving.
Employment fell when the Great Recession began in December 2007, with sharp decline evident after September 2008. States in the Industrial Midwest (Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, and Ohio) were particularly hard hit. Wisconsin at first did a bit better than the rest of these states and the nation generally but only just barely. Starting in 2011, Wisconsin began slipping behind national rates of growth.

From January 2011 to June 2014, Wisconsin gained 109,200 jobs, posting growth in the labor market of 4.0 percent. Over that same period, the national economy grew by 6.2 percent. If Wisconsin had simply kept pace with national growth, we would have added 167,622 jobs. That difference – 58,422 missing jobs in Wisconsin – suggests that over the last four years, every time Wisconsin added two jobs, the national economy added three.
This is their version of the Walker jobs gap, using all jobs as the metric. COWS notes that Wisconsin is outperforming the nation in jobs growth and/or retention two sectors- manufacturing (not surprising, as manufacturing jobs are being gained back in America in general, and the state is 2nd in percentage of jobs in manufacturing), and GOVERNMENT. In fact, Wisconsin is nearly 4,000 public-sector jobs ahead of the national rate in the Age of Fitzwalkerstan, despite a decrease of 2,700 jobs in the state. This is a testament to how much austerity has been put in place by the nation as a whole, and the fact that there was already cuts in government jobs happening before then, as that same survey shows 2,300 government jobs were reduced in the last 24 months of the Doyle Administration.

Remember, Scott Walker was elected in 2010 in no small part because he promised to make Wisconsin “Open for Business”, and unknowing voters thought this guy was the best choice to close the Wisconsin jobs gap that had exploded because of the Great Recession. Instead, these two reports from last week reiterate that this state has fallen further behind as Walker has instituted those policies. And as we also found out last week, these policies haven’t balanced our budget, since an estimated $1.3 billion in General Fund deficits loom over the next 3 years, and another $1.1 billion in planned projects that hasn’t been paid for in the Transportation Fund.

When these well-below par jobs and deficit numbers, how can 54% of Wisconsinites polled last month by Marquette University think the state is going in the right direction? And how can 51% of them think the Walker years have left the state in a better position? Put down your Badger State pom-poms and see that we deserve a lot better!

Monday, September 1, 2014

Pap reveals who the real takers are- corporations

When Mike Papantonio sat in for Ed Schultz on his radio show, I always thought that program went to another level, because Pap doesn't care who he ticks off, and doesn't mince words about just how much the oligarchs want to control in our society (which is all of it). And he doesn't let the average citizen off the hook for laying back and accepting this terrible state of affairs either.

Here's 5 minutes of brilliance that lays out how corporations steal the advances made possible by public goods and infrastructure and confiscate worker wages in the name of power, greed, and failed policy.



Myths were created about corporations and capitalism. A few of those myths were that a publicly held corporation has no duty to the public except to maximize profits for its shareholders. In other words, ignore the fact that the corporation could never exist without the roads, law enforcement, court systems, and military that tax payers provide the corporation so it can do business.

That myth ignored the billions of dollars the public spends every year on research and development that taxpayers dish out at universities through medical research, military research, agricultural research and hundreds of other areas where that corporation benefits from that research.
That's right, corporate America. You didn't make that- all of us did by paying our taxes, investing for the future, and working hard to improve our quality of life.

Let's see what themes our often corporate-friendly president hits on when he's in Milwaukee today. My guess is there will be talk about raising the minimum wage (which does need to be done), but will he mention trade or standing up to union-busting legislation? Sadly I doubt it.

Which means we'll have to do it ourselves. Ending the age of Fitzwalkerstan this November would be a start (but only a start).

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Clearing up some budget confusion

I wanted to follow up on this week's revelation of the state's revenue shortfall of $281 million, and clear up a few conflicting items reported in the last few days.

The first tries to answer the question of "how much are we in the hole in Wisconsin? Here's what One Wisconsin Now put up on their whiteboard when the revenue numbers dumped on Thursday.



The Wisconsin State Journal story claimed the deficit was really $115 million, and even really smart dudes like UW Professor Menzie Chinn quoted the "$115 million deficit" figure. I replied in that Econbrowser article of Prof. Chinn's that I believe the real deficit for the 2015 fiscal year should be figured at $472 million based on the revenue shortfall, and here's my explanation for that (follow along with One Wisconsin Now's whiteboard if it helps you with the numbers).

When the LFB made their updated revenue projections in May 2014, after the latest round of Walker/WisGOP tax cuts was put in place, they figured we would end the 2014 fiscal year on June 30 with $14,229 million in tax revenues. Then they figured tax revenues would grow by 3.5% in FY 2015, based on the economy, inflation, and numerous other factors. Well, we haven't changed any laws that would change the rate of revenue growth in Wisconsin since then, so wouldn't it be logical to still assume a 3.5% increase in tax revenue, all other things being equal?

So we now know actual tax revenues came in at $13,948 ($281 million below what was predicted), and that would make the ending cash balance for FY 2014 at +$443 million, not the $724 that was originally projected.

A 3.5% increase from $13,948 = $14,436 in tax revenues FY 2015.

The old LFB prediction was 14,725 million for FY 2015

$14,725 - $14,436 = $291 million shortfall in FY 2015

If you plug that into the OWN whiteboard, it drops the total available for FY15 from $15,727 to $15,436.

$15,436 avail. - $15,843 appropriations = $407 million deficit

$407 million + $65 million in reserve = $472 million to be made up by June 30.

This is how one revenue miss compounds into further revenue misses, because you're starting from a lower number. This is also an explanation as to why I predicted this would balloon the 2015-17 structural deficit past $1.3 billion, if you plug the new revenue figures into other LFB calculations.

By the way, one other interesting note to bring up, courtesy of frequent blog commentator GeoffT. The two states run by Dems that border Wisconsin actually had revenue surpluses for the recently-completed fiscal year.

Minnesota was $168 million to the upside compared to its February projections, and $235 million better than what they predicted in April. The higher-than-expected revenues are noteworthy, because our neighbors to the west already had a projected $1.23 billion budget surplus BEFORE the higher revenues were known. This was mostly based on Minnesota's booming economy in 2013, the first year Dems resumed control of both houses of its Legislature (by comparison, Wisconsin had its lowest job growth of any of Walker's first 3 years in office in 2013, based on the Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages).

Illinois was $43 million to the upside in FY14 compared to what it thought it'd have this Spring, Income and sales taxes both beat expectations, and Illinois ended up with $1.3 BILLION in surplus revenues compared to what their budget bill planned for Fiscal Year 2014. However, the FIBs still have a backlog of bills worth billions of dollars, and got downgraded by S&P last month not because of excessive spending, but because their state Legislature decided to roll back tax increases put in place in 2011 to cut into that backlog of bills. When even the banks are saying "you really shouldn't follow the ways of Koch-sas Kansas and cut taxes", both FIBs and cheeseheads should keep it in mind.

Keep those realities in mind when the Walker folks try to argue that their way is superior to the way things are done in "Democrat states." Because the two closest blue state governments outperformed deficit-ridden Wisconsin in 2014 when it came to bringing in tax revenues. And Wisconsin's path under Scott Walker seems a whole lot closer to "broke" Illinois' than surplus-laden Minnesota's.

No, it's not working. Not at all.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Labor Day- we need to turn the tables of the last 40 years

As we celebrate our 3-day weekend, let's take a moment to realize why we should celebrate Labor in America, and why we need the balance of power in this country to shift back toward the people who actually work. The numbers over the last 40+ years tell an obvious story.

Here’s a look at worker productivity, which has increased strongly and steadily since 1992.

Change in productivity, U.S.
1970Q2 - 1979Q2 +19.2%
1979Q2 – 1989Q2 +15.4%
1989Q2 – 1999Q2 +21.7%
1999Q2 – 2009Q2 +29.1%
2009Q2 – 2014Q2 +6.6%

But real incomes haven’t kept the same path, despite the theory of marginal product of labor, which says one should be paid in direct proportion to their increased productivity. Table B-15 of this year’s Economic Report of the President has this information

Change in real average hourly earnings, private sector U.S.
1970 - 1979 -0.5%
1979 - 1989 -7.8%
1989 - 1999 +3.5%
1999 – 2009 +7.4%
2009 – Dec 2013 -0.7%

Also, note that real average hourly earnings were down every month between March and May, and haven't risen since February. Only a slightly longer average work week has allowed real average weekly earnings to nudge up by 0.3% in the last 12 months. (don't spend it all in one place).

This flies in the face of the Marginal Revenue Productivity Theory of Wages, which says if you are able to crank out 10% more items and sell it at the same price, you should be paid 10% more. That hasn't even come close to happening.

On a related note, look at the decline in wages as a % of Gross Domestic Income since 1970 (scroll across to get the full info).



Now, compare it to the amount of corporate profits in the same time period (again, scroll across).



I don't think inflation has caused profits to go up to 23 times the amount that we had in 1970. Those changes didn’t happen in a vacuum. And neither did this.

% of workforce that were members of unions
1970 27.8%
1984 19.1%
1998 13.9%
2013 11.3%

There is a direct link to the lower rates of unionization, the lower share of wages going to workers, and the higher levels of corporate profits. And no, it hasn’t trickled down and made us all millionaires through Wall Street magic. This was a STRATEGY by corporate oligarchs to take away workers' power through union-busting and other "race to the bottom" maneuvers such as deregulation and outsourcing.

And it needs to change. NOW. There are far too many owners of businesses these days that resemble the Wanek family, who owns Ashley Furniture. These people claim they "can't compete" with other furniture businesses, get a $6 million tax write-off from the state for promising ONLY to lay off half of their workers, and then they kick back $20,000 to Scott Walker’s campaign for governor. All while the average worker at Ashley’s facility in Arcadia makes $10.88 an hour!

And oh yeah, the stock market keeps going up to record levels, as “job creators” decide they would rather gamble the money in the market. And the "free market" is manipulated, as the 30 companies that make up the Dow Jones Industrial Average chose to spend to spend $211 billion in 2013 to buy back their own stock, in order to encourage other people to buy in. These choices are what our tax code and oligarchs encourage over actually paying the people that made those profits possible, and hiring more to increase production.

There are a few promising signs for 2014 so far, as wages and salaries were up 3.76% over the first seven months of the year (before inflation), but it’s not enough to kick the economy up to the next level. Increasing the minimum wage is far overdue, particularly given the lack of increases in wages from the “free market” over the last 5 years, a development that has helped to keep an economy reliant on consumption from returning to full employment.

We also need more workers to stand up and demand that they get back what they have put into their everyday work. Waiting for the corporate bosses to trickle-down a reward for you doing the right thing has not helped the vast majority of this country for the better part of two generations. So why not band together to receive what you have earned? It sure beats the way we’re going.

Friday, August 29, 2014

As the bell rings, why are there all these kids in the classroom?

Tuesday starts a new school year in Wisconsin, and the fallout from Act 10 and related Walker/WisGOP policies still reverberates today. The always-good State Sen. Kathleen Vinehout has an excellent column discussing the numerous funding and staffing issues that schools throughout her Western Wisconsin district are facing this year.
Many public schools are forced to do more with less because lawmakers who voted for the last state budget increased state tax dollars to private schools. Nearly half of Wisconsin’s public schools will receive less aid this school year than the last – including many of our local schools.

Eau Claire received the largest dollar amount cut statewide – over $2.3 million while Pepin and Alma received the largest local percentage cuts - over 15%. At the same time, state aid per pupil going to private ‘voucher’ schools reached its highest point in state history.

In his letter, [Pepin Area School] Superintendent [Bruce] Quinton noted the difference between amounts of state aid for Pepin to that of private schools: for the 2014-15 school year Pepin receives $1,667 per student; public tax dollars to private ‘voucher’ schools are $7,856 per high school student and $7,210 per K-8 student.

“Pepin Area School District taxpayers will pay an additional $70,119 in taxes to educate children in other districts this school year,” Mr. Quinton wrote. “I cannot comprehend why taxpayers are willing to subsidize a private voucher school education system, especially when research indicates that private voucher schools perform at best as well as the public school system and in many cases below their public school peers.”
Vinehout also mentions that several districts in Western Wisconsin are facing school referenda that force citizens to choose between large property tax increases and the closing of schools and reduction in other education services.

The culprit in this is Scott Walker's education policies, which began by cutting state aids to public schools in 2011 and 2012, and continued by expanding the state's voucher program statewide. And the "tools" of Act 10 have not come close to offsetting these cuts, particularly in the smaller districts in rural Wisconsin.

Take a look at this map that shows the changes in state funding for 2014-15. Nearly half the districts in Wisconsin will have reductions in state aid for this year- more than 3 years after Act 10 took place.



Notice all the districts in red that are up North? Those districts are each looking at state aid cuts of more than 10% for this year, and will need to raise property taxes to make up for that difference. The beige-colored districts are also disproportionately away from the big cities, meaning that rural districts are facing the lion's share of funding difficulties for the upcoming year. Sure makes you wonder if that reality will sink into those areas before the November election, and if they'll realize that there's no payoff to denigrating teachers and destroying one of the few reasons to stay in these communities- strong public schools that develop strong communities.

And this is coming on the heels of public school services already being stressed. The Wisconsin Budget Project notes average class size increased 8% from 2004-05 to 2011-12, from 14.3 to 15.5, and Wisconsin teaching positions were reduced by 4,300 FTE in the sme time period. In the two years since, the DPI indicates that 500 FTE teachers have been hired back (meaning we're "only" down 3,800), but class sizes have stayed high, and the replacement of teachers has often been at the cost of numerous years of experience.

Some districts continue to bleed teachers as the teachers' current agreements run out, and they lose their voice over pay and work conditions. This was recently shown in the case of West Allis-West Milwaukee English teacher Eric Zentner, who was one of 139 teachers in the district to leave this Summer. Zentner quit after 18 years, and wrote a four page letter that described an administration that he felt was too busy trying to micromanage teachers after Act 10 took effect, instead of leaving it up to the judgment of the pros in the classroom.
He said new behavior policies that emphasize keeping kids in the classroom rather than sending them outside class when they disrupt the learning environment is difficult for teachers.

Teachers are also undermined by interesting content children can access on their iPads, and he said, they're limited in their ability to take away the devices.

Teachers are also urged to give students as many tries as necessary to complete assignments, and pass students even if they're not ready, he said.

Zentner said there appear to be more administrators in the building at a time when teachers are asked to attend more meetings, limiting their time for meaningful interactions with students.
As we start the 2014-15 school year, I'd ask you to treat your teacher with respect. They're underappreciated while being worked as hard as ever, likely taking home less pay than they did 4 years ago, and their districts are being squeezed by budget cuts from an ALEC-beholden Republican Party, who would love nothing more than to screw up public schools so they could justify funneling even more taxpayer dollars to corporate and religious private school operators. And despite the claims of Gov Walker and company, these policies will likely jack up your property taxes over the next two years.

So tell me, is it working?

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Jon Stewart, Kos Poster nail it on the white-wing bubble

This is one of the better Jon Stewart segments I've seen. It centers on the uprising over the last 3 weeks in Ferguson, Missouri, and the issues that have been brought to the surface as a result. Jon perfectly lays out both the double-standards on race and complete cluelessness about white privilege that apparently is part and parcel of being on Faux News.



(after white guys on Faux complain that black people don't deal with black-on-black violence and "take care of their own communities)
"Oh, that's right, because African-American leaders did hold a summit about that in November. And have met at least three times in the city just in the last 13 months. Which is not to say it's been effective, but taken along with the President's My Brother's Keeper initiative, which attempts to address this violence, and the countless vigils and marches within these violence-torn communities means they are trying, actually, to do something. You see, you being ignorant of those attempts doesn't mean the issue itself is being ignored. The same way that when it snows where you live doesn't mean the world isn't getting hotter."
And the ending thought is an amazing statement.
"I guarantee you that every person of color in this country has faced an indignity from the ridiculous, to the grotesque, to the sometimes fatal, at some point in their — I'm gonna say — last couple of hours. Because of their skin color.

Quick story. So we live in New York City, a liberal bastion. (Let me finish.) Recently, we sent a correspondent and a producer to a building in this liberal bastion, where we were going to tape an interview. The producer — white — dressed in what can only be described as homeless elf attire, and a pretty strong 5-o'clock-from-the-previous-week shadow, strode confidently into the building preceding our humble correspondent — a gentleman of color — dressed resplendently in a tailored suit. Who do you think was stopped? Let me give you a hint: the black guy.

And that shit happens all the time. All the time. Race is there, and it is a constant. You're tired of hearing about it? Imagine how fucking exhausting it is living it.

And calling the divide in opinion over the events and fallout of things in Ferguson a black-white thing is being simplistic. An excellent Daily Kos column by a poster named "Vyan" lays out what the real separation is on the issues in Ferguson.
When 80% of Black people all tend to feel the same way, that's called being in agreement. When 37% of White people also feel that same way, that's an extension of that agreement. The Divide here is with the other 47% of White people who feel the other way about it.

And yes, most of those on one side tend to be Democrats while the others are Conservative Republicans. This isn't White vs Black. It's not even Left vs Right. It's provable Facts vs Deluded Bullshit.
PRECISELY. Seriously, read that whole thing- it's filled with some amazing stats on disparities and other facts of life for black people that white righties refuse to understand.

And it's part of the biggest problem in this country, where far too many people are literally in different existences, without a care of what happens with others. If you spend all your time listening to angry man radio and watching Faux News and don't talk to or know any people of color, you have no idea about how minorities are often picked up and put under suspicion for no reason other than their appearance, and have never had a similar experience yourself. Which allows you to be suckered into accepting the cops' side of the story, no matter how implausible, and resent those minorities and liberals who say these disparities are the result of racism.

When these white right-wingers start shooting off their mouths about race in America, they need to heed the great words of former New Orleans Saints head coach Jim Mora: "You think you know, but you don't know. And you never will."

We really need to puncture the angry white-guy bubble, and make them realize the world is bigger and more complex than what they have been told to believe. Because this state and this country cannot continue with such a divide in the Reality-Based community, and the Faux-AM Radio Bubble.