MEDIA

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While reading the comments to David Brooks’ op-ed in the NYT today, I came across this one from a Charles from NYC which just about sums things up:

Charles New York, NY 19 hours ago

I find it fascinating that Elizabeth Warren is always held up as the exemplar of the “far-left” of the Democratic Party. The policies Senator Warren advocates are consistent with mainstream American public policy from the inauguration of Franklin Roosevelt in 1933 to the inauguration of Ronald Reagan in 1981. That half-century of our history was marked by very high marginal tax rates on the wealthy, rigorous government oversight of financial markets and corporate governance, protection of American manufacturing, the creation of robust social safety nets for working people, and a labor force that was one-third unionized. It is no coincidence that the era also saw the rise of the great American Middle Class and a significant reduction in income inequality.

The irony is that conservative politicians are among the first to look back upon these decades as a “golden age” in America while at the same time attacking the policies that made that age possible. It is also no coincidence that the center-right economic policies that Mr. Brooks is so enamored of have led to the destruction of the Middle Class, the return of soaring income inequality, and the rise of the new Plutocracy. The sole reason that many Americans believe that Senator Warren’s ideas are radical is because people like Mr. Brooks keep calling them that. It is time we stopped believing the labels and started remembering how progressive economic policies have worked for the majority of the American people.

How we have swung to the right! Will we ever swing back to mainstream American public policy as it used to be? Not unless we have a major uprising in this country, which seems unlikely given the way the media is controlled and congress has been gerrymandered.

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More Juan Cole stuff this morning. He’s making a good argument that these new Obama administration airline passenger screening measures are casting too wide a net and will end up alienating people. Also, they tell al-Qaida which countries not to send bombers from. For example, Indonesia and India aren’t on the list. And why is Cuba on the list?

It’s hard to find a discussion of these issues on the American media which is so scared it might be called ‘liberal’ that it constantly bends over backwards to appease the republicans, who are mostly right wing now, with vanishing numbers of ‘moderates’. So, it was refreshing to hear, thanks to Juan Cole, a different analysis of these new screening measures brought to us by, yes, you guessed it, AlJazeeraEnglish.

Here’s a 24 minute video from AlJazeeraEnglish with the title, “Inside Story – New airline security measures: Safe or discriminatory? – 5 Jan 2009”

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NIRp4qKp138[/youtube]

So, if Obama’s rhetoric is high minded and progressive, are his actions more like a continuation of George W. Bush’s policies? In other words, is Obama becoming W-ized?

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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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Nancy Folbre has a fun article in the NYT today, Raise My Taxes. She starts off as follows:

We live in a country where the most visible support for raising taxes on the rich comes from … the rich. So much for the seeming dictates of economic rationality and the logic of class war.

She goes on to point out that Reed Hastings, chief executive of Netflix, has called for an increase in the top federal marginal tax rate to 50 percent on all income over $1 million per year, and he claims this would not reduce his incentive to work. (Remind me to renew my Netflix subscription.)

And then there are the poor, many of whom pay no taxes at all, who think the estate tax should be done away with. In fact, as Folbre points out, the percentage of households with income under $30,000 complaining that federal income taxes are too high exceeds the percentage even paying federal income taxes. What a joke! But the joke is on those brain washed masses taken in by the right wing corporate media propaganda saying taxes are too high!

Warren Buffet, one of the richest of the rich, has always said his taxes are too high. In fact, to quote from Nancy’s article,

Mr. Buffett has peeved many of his fellow billionaires by giving much of his money away as well as advocating higher taxes for the rich. The man has so much class that he can talk about class war. (He explained, in 2006, that his class was winning).

She closes with this neat paragraph:

But our tax system itself confounds class interests by its complexity as well as by taxing income from labor so much more heavily than income from capital. Maybe some rich people recognize a good deal when they see one.

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I won’t spend much time on this other than to express my total disgust with the stupidity and hypocrisy of it. Gail Collins in her Op-Ed today, Jon & Kate Begin to Grate, sums it up perfectly. Here’s her closing paragraph:

There’s much to mull. But at minimum, when a listmaker of the future starts compiling the Ten Worst Multiple-Birth-Reality-Show-Meltdowns-of-the-Millennium, the Gosselins will have found a place in history.

How can people waste their time paying attention to this crap? No wonder the world’s going to hell in a handbasket.
:roll: 😈

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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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I get a kick out of this expression, Turtles All The Way Down, hearing it so often these days. See, e.g., here. It’s the old, “If God created the universe, who created God?” argument. Pops up everywhere. Always has, I guess.

I gotta go.
😆

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Finally, a piece that describes exactly how I feel: Media OUTRAGE Over AIG! What a Crock! Thank you, M. J. Rosenberg! Here’s his piece in its entirety:

Did you see Jake Tapper of ABC getting getting all medieval on Robert Gibbs at the White House yesterday? When did the President first learn about the AIG bonuses? Would you give us a tick-tock on what he knew, how he knew, and what his reaction was?

And the newspapers are going nuts. Outrage is the #1 headline word of the day. And the pundits are wondering: is the bloom off the Obama rose?

I have two words for the MSM: shut the f— up.

For eight years, the Republicans gave unprecedented trillion dollar bonuses to the richest people in America. They took the Clinton boom and intentionally turned it to bust. On top of that, they lied us into a war that killed 4000+ Americans and maybe a million Iraqis.

Where was the MSM’s OUTRAGE then? Was David Gregory outraged when he boogied with Rove at the press dinner? Did any of his colleagues join Helen Thomas when she asked some really hard questions at the daily briefings? No. They laughed at her for taking it all so seriously.

But now they are GENUINELY outraged at a Democratic President who is trying to fix a mess that occured in part because they refused to challenge the big scarey Republicans. Chutzpah. They are so full of shit I’m going totally Lewis Black on you.

God, I hate the MSM. Obama should ignore them. Most Americans do.

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WSJ Down the Drain

Eric Alterman points out that Rupert Murdoch (see Fox News) has now gotten hold of the news pages of the Wall Street Journal (WSJ). He already had the editorial pages of the great old paper under his wing. Now he’s appointed a “right-wing curmudgeon” by the name of Gerald Baker in charge of the paper’s news pages. Baker thinks Obama is a “dangerous left winger” as he explains here. Here’s a sample:

There is a caste of left-wing Americans who wish essentially and in all honesty that their country was much more like France. They wish it had much higher levels of taxation and government intervention, that it had much higher levels of welfare, that it did not have such a “militaristic” approach to foreign policy. Above all, that its national goals were dictated, not by the dreadful halfwits who inhabit godforsaken places like Kansas and Mississippi, but by the counsels of the United Nations.

Though Mr Obama has done a good job, as all recent serious Democrats have done, of emphasising his belief in American virtues, his record and his programme suggest he is firmly in line with this wing of his party.

HEY! See my previous post! ha ha

Well, seriously, I’d say that that wing of the party is a pretty good wing! It’s just what we need to bring the USofA screaming into the 21rst century and get our economy moving again, and morality brought back into the world! GO BARACK GO!

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Here it all is, that great night of November 4, 2008, Barack Obama Elected 44th US President, a Daily Kos video by Jed Lewison:

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