Laying the groundwork for the unveiling of his new new tax plan, Bush has trotted out the tired accusation of "class warfare" to fend off criticism. "Class warfare," when used by Republicans or DLC-leaning Democrats, labels comparison of, say, a tax cut's impact on the rich and the poor in this country, or the level of economic stratification in the US and Norway, as an attempt to pit one class against another. The vitality of the term seems directly linked to its efficacy and its elegance - it removes the need to enter the fray and address the gaping inequalities in this country, it reframes cooperation as the agreement of all people to grin at the gains of the privileged few, and it does so with just the appropriate hint of red-baiting to scare off opponents without seeming, say, "partisan." The Civil Rights Movement of the '60s, with equal logic, could be described as "race warfare," insofar as it addressed injustice in racial terms. Today's Republicans, however, are all too eager to take credit for that one - in part because it gives them the chance to portray opposition to Affirmative Action as a logical continuation of the same process. The extreme of the conservative stance on race today, in fact, is epitomized by Ward Connerly's recent description of race as a "cancer," we must "consign to the ash heap of history" - thus his campaign in California to forbid the government to track whether, say, Black drivers are stopped more often than White drivers, or White women on welfare are sent to vocational training programs, while Black women are sent to "dress for success" classes - solve racial injustice while ignoring it. Conservatives cannot as easily demand that the government not keep track of family income (not that none will try), but they can try to sweet-talk voters into turning away the "anachronistic," "partisan," "divisive" politics of "class warfare." Only such a choice will give them a free pass to bring back that pizza napkin creation "trickle-down economics," one of many 80's ideas (like slap bracelets) that some just aren't ready to give up. Public jobs are socialism, we're told - the best way to create jobs is to flood the top with enough money that a little bit can't help but slip on down. Never mind, for example, the role of consumer demand, rather than management budget, in determining hiring and firing... If you look left or right at what conservative-style capitalism has wrought, you won't be looking up to notice the windfall trickling down... Bush, keep in mind, is a "compassionate conservative," "a uniter, not a divider." Look for a long-overdue extension of unemployment benefits and economic bail-outs for the state governments whose economic crises are most embarrassing as the proverbial canaries in the magician's hand to distract us from the proverbial elephant behind him - generous tax breaks for the usual suspects. Welfare rolls are climbing, unemployment is climbing, and the Bush solution is...tax cuts on stock dividends. But don't worry - Bush "understand[s] the politics of economic stimulus." Decades ago, the Rev. King declared, "To end humiliation was a start, but to end poverty is a bigger task." Accusations of class warfare should be rejected for what they are - baseless tarring of those of us who think solving problems tends to start with addressing them.

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