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Yes, I’m mad again! Every so often I get into this go getem mad mood where I feel like taking to the streets, pitchfork in hand, ready to go after the bankers and the rich, in other words after the usual right-wing manipulators of American culture for their own ends. But I’ll probably just remain a passive radical…. although mad.

Anyway, Frank Rich lays it on the line this morning in his NYT Op-Ed piece, Bernie Madoff Is No John Dillinger. This should be required reading for everybody.

Bernie Madoff is no John Dillinger because John Dillinger was a widely sympathetic figure during the 1930’s: he went after the bankers who people blamed for ripping us all off during the great depression. Today Bernie Madoff, as portrayed in the corporate controlled media, appears to be the focus of the blame for our great recession while Wall Street and the bankers who have ripped us off to a far greater extent than Bernie Madoff get off practically scot-free. Bernie Madoff is no John Dillinger. Let us wake up!

Frank Rich quotes from Nobel laureate Joseph E. Stiglitz’s Vanity Fair article as follows:

“In the developing world, people look at Washington and see a system of government that allowed Wall Street to write self-serving rules which put at risk the entire global economy — and then, when the day of reckoning came, turned to Wall Street to manage the recovery. They see continued re-distributions of wealth to the top of the pyramid, transparently at the expense of ordinary citizens.”

Joseph Stiglitz is mad.

Frank Rich quotes Barney Frank who told bankers back in February:

“People really hate you, and they’re starting to hate us because we’re hanging out with you.”

Barney Frank is mad.

Here’s Rich’s final paragraph:

In 2009, too many who worked hard and played by the rules are still suffering, while too many who bent or broke the rules with little or no accountability are back reaping a disproportionate share of what scant prosperity there is. The tepid national satisfaction taken in Bernie Madoff’s terminal prison sentence should be a warning to the White House. In the most devastating economic catastrophe since Dillinger’s time, many Americans know all too well that justice has yet to be served.

And I’m one of those. How about you Barack?

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Taxes are way too low in this country. They need to be raised, but only on the high income groups, and raised somewhere around where they were during our great post-World War 1 economic boom.

Here’s why:

Bob, while I agree with you, and respect Felix Rohatyn greatly, his being “one of the biggest supporters of the creation of an infrastructure bank” does not answer the question of whether the government (we) can afford it.

I’ve recommended readers subscribe to John Mauldin’s weekly E-Letter before. http://www.frontlinethoughts.com… While I disagree with Mauldin’s politics (Republican) and almost of his socioeconomic policies and prescriptions (e.g., blasting Obama on national healthcare), to get economic facts he offers a concentrated and readable dose for free. This past Friday’s letter begins: “As of this week, total US debt is $11.3 trillion and rising rapidly. The Obama Administration projects that to rise another $1.85 trillion in 2009 (13% of GDP) and yet another $1.4 trillion in 2010. The Congressional Budget Office projects almost $10 trillion in additional debt from 2010 through 2019. Just last January the 2009 deficit was estimated at ‘only’ $1.2 trillion.” Mauldin goes on to explain why this is an optimistic set of estimates, followed by data on Europe and “The Global Recession Gets Worse” that reminds of Mr. Brooks’ image today of the “disembowelment scene in ‘Braveheart.'”

Mauldin asks where is the money going to come from?
“The world is going to have to fund multiple trillions in debt over the next several years. Pick a number. I think $5 trillion sounds about right. $3 trillion is in the cards for the US alone, if current projections are right.” He then talks about why bond rates are rising in what appears to be a deflationary period and concludes this thought with “I think the bond market is looking a few years down the road and saying that $1-trillion deficits are simply not capable of being financed. And if the debt is monetized, then inflation is going to become a very serious issue.”

As much as I dislike Republicans, sometimes we have to know what the analytical and thoughtful among them are saying. Mauldin is not a Bush, or Cheney, or Limbaugh. The irony is that while his facts appear to be sound, and pale yours today, he never seems to even realize that he’s making an argument for national healthcare, a wealth tax, slashing military spending, and in various ways coming up with enough funds for such as an infrastructure bank.

Way down deep — perhaps not all that deep — guys like Mauldin and the superrich (he’s more their advisor than one of them, as best I can tell) are worried that when the music stops they will no longer have a chair. And they’re correct, I think. We simply cannot have a nation in Great Recession I and almost in depression — sure to come if we don’t act — that does not take some drastic steps. Since there is no surplus at the bottom, and consumer-spending our way out of the crisis cannot be done, there remains only the top to pay for getting us out. Given that they got us into this mess, why not require them to bail us out? Yes, I know, the American consumer went a little crazy. Perhaps really nutty crazy. But who aided and abetted them? And who gained from consumer madness? We all know who, including our politicians in bed with these irresponsible and greedy Masters of the Universe. Bring ’em down, before we all go down.

— Butler Crittenden, San Francisco, CA

My man, Butler Crittenden is at it again. See my earlier post, Response to Krugman.

The “Bob” who Butler is replying to is Bob Herbert who has a great Op-Ed, Our Crumbling Foundation, in the NYT today.

Butler agrees with Bob that it would be great to have a national infrastructure development bank to turn this economy around, but asks how are we going to pay for it? So why not increase taxes on the super rich who got us into this mess, and who are way under taxed compared with those in most industrialized countries?

And I agree with him! In fact I think it’s time for a mass revolt in this country!

Here’s another sobering response to Bob’s article:

How many times have we heard these concerns voiced before? Add them to the lengthy list of things we know we need to do in the U.S. that go unaddressed while we save the skins of corporate bankers with trillions in taxes on current and future generations. It is interesting how what now look like insiginificant tens of billions were unthinkable sums to spend on education, health, transportation and infrastructure, while all it took was one weekend’s thought to cough up hundreds of billions, trillions, when it came time to save the banks.

One of the lessons the right wing took from the rebellions of the 1960s is that a populace that is well paid, educated and free is a danger to their wealth and position. They will bring the whole house down on our collective heads rather than risk masses of Americans who are free from fear and ready to ask that the resources that they produce be put to good use rather than merely fill the coffers of the wealthy.

— Vincent Amato, New York City

Right on, Vincent!

But in reality what will we do? Sit back and do nothing.

Boy am I pissed. Is anybody else?

Let’s rise up, masses, and fire calls and letters at our senators and reps, form community groups of like minded people, send barrages of letters to our newspapers (newspapers?), hit the incredibly stupid right wing talk shows. Blast Limbaugh, Cheney, and all the other idiots on the right. Blast the mainstream media as well. As we know, they just go along with their corporate sponsors!

Boy, am I pissed. Is anybody else?

OK, I’ll let CJGC have the last word:

The question is whether good sense and an acknowledgment of our obligation to address our social and physical structural problems to prevent even more dire problems in the future is going to prevail over the small-minded bean counters who can’t see beyond the ends of their noses and those politicians who want nothing more than for Obama to fail.

It’s touch and go. A perfect example is serious reform of health care financing by offering a single payer option. It’s the only way to cover everyone and bring costs under control. So far only the health care industry and the health insurance industry have been invited to participate and Senator Baucus assures us that single payer will never pass.

“Yes we can and change we can believe in” have morphed into “No we can’t. The comfortable hold the reins of power so the rest of you just sit down and shut up.” Of course the comfortable are also going to fall into the holes they think they are just digging under our feet.
Are there special bridges for the defenders of the status quo so they won’t fall in the river too?

Yes, it should be a no-brainer. Sadly, many sitting in comfortable chairs don’t themselves have enough brains to notice. Too smug.

— CJGC, Cambridge, MA

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OUTRAGE, Outrage, outrage, oUtrAge, outragE, … etc., on and on, if you watched the Jon Stewart show the last couple nights you’d hear and see this in vivid technicolor emerging in captions from the many cable networks and network news shows.

Well, give me a break!

I agree with NYT Op-Ed columnist, Gail Collins, who said in her column today, Let’s complain about Barack Obama. Why doesn’t he sound angrier? Doesn’t he understand that his job right now is to be the Great Venter?

Sure he keeps saying he’s mad. But you can tell that he secretly thinks it’s crazy to obsess about $165 million in bonuses in a company that’s still got $1.6 trillion in toxic assets to unravel. “I don’t want to quell that anger. I want to channel our anger in a constructive way,” he said on Wednesday. Everybody knows constructively channeled anger doesn’t really count. It’s like diet pizza.

OK, where are the pitchforks and torches? If Congress, the Talk Show crazies, and the American People are really that angry, instead of just enjoying themselves spouting and fulminating, how come they aren’t taking to the streets like they do in some countries, and like they often did in this country back in the last century?

The sad result of all this overwrought outrage is that the friggin Republicans will be more likely to gain the political clout to block health care reform. “You’ve got to balance the budget, you tax and spender, Obama!”, they will scream all the louder. And the outraged American public may go along with this, thus yet again railing against its own best interests and preventing a much needed reform.

UPDATE: Joe Nocera has an even better piece than than Gail Collins’ above describing not only how overwrought this outrage is but how dangerous and distracting it is: The Problem With Flogging A.I.G.. There are real problems to be solved and the retention bonuses are negligible by comparison. C’mon Congress, let’s get back into the real world before it collapses!

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