A central component of the American identity is the notion that our political system is a responsive representative and democratic government that serves the people of the country. It is at the heart of our sense that we are exceptional country, the city on the hill, with structures and political values that should be emulated around the world.
Here we focus on the structure of the government under the Constitution, the role of money and the domination of our politics and government by the wealthy and corporations.
The Posts about the American Political System
Since I noticed that every day now as many Americans are dying in the Trump Pandemic as died during the 9/11 attacks I have thought about how different public and government reactions have been.
As noted earlier, back in February and March of this year one could just say that the pandemic was an act of nature. But after 9 months of active deception and no leadership by the President and the Republican Party, we need to be clear that this pandemic is Trump’s Pandemic. With just 4.5% of the world’s population the US has 21% of the world cases and 15% of the deaths……to be sure this will —>> read more –>>
Friday November 6, 2020 – Election Results Still in the Waiting Room As I wait for the electoral machinery to complete its work I am struck by how this election has confirmed that we are in a deep mess with nothing in sight to set us on a more productive path. First, there is the astonishing scene of very nearly half the votes cast being in favor of Trump and no substantial change in the —>> read more –>>
- as of 8/27/2020 the Washington Post reports 22,347 lies in 1,316 days of Trumps reign. (https://www.washingtonpost.com/graphics/politics/trump-claims-database/?itid=lk_inline_manual_4) He rumbles on with over 50 lies per day as of the end of October.
- To be clear “white supremacist ideology and public policy” refers to the persistent use of government and non-governmental force to oppress black, brown and indigenous peoples from European’s first encounters with the Western Hemisphere On to the present day.
- This begs the question of who is “white”. Ask an Irishman in Boston into the 1920s and ‘30s whether he felt accepted by white people?
Trump and his Republican enablers – the Trumplicans – are responsible for the pandemic in the US and the nearly 200k deaths that have occurred to date. Comparing the US response with the rest of the world makes it clear that this catastrophe is the direct result of Trumplican policies.
It is absolutely clear that Trump and Republicans (Trumplicans) are to blame for the state we find ourselves in. Trump and Republicans can talk all they want about “Wuhan virus” and other racist slurs. There is no other explanation for the tremendous surge in COVID-19 cases across the southern belt of the US. It is their policies that have created this monster. There has been no coherent Federal policy to drive an effective response to —>> read more –>>
Monetary reparations for African Americans may accomplish very little to drive basic changes in the five pillars of the system of white supremacy: housing, education, healthcare, employment, and the judicial system.
Anonymity is a plague in our lives, public and private. The web is filled with anonymous material authored by anonymous creators. Facebook is filled with millions of anonymous fake people who are really, it frequently turns out, paid actors for various political and economic actors. Our local web-based social platforms are filled with people saying all sorts of stuff, much interesting and much also annoying, lacking in factual content, and sometimes downright vicious. Here in —>> read more –>>
The May 21, 2020 Issue of the London Review of Books contains a review article, “The Corrupt Bargain” by Columbia U. Professor Eric Foner1. It is a wonderful review of the history of this peculiar institution, The Electoral College. In the midst of his survey of the history of the electoral college system he notes: A candidate can carry a dozen or so large states by small margins and capture the presidency while trailing far —>> read more –>>
Tightrope provides a well-written description of the American crisis through personal stories and hard data. Unfortunately it falls flat in its call for action.
The rich and corporations win even during a global pandemic.
Back in the early and mid ‘70s both Karen and I worked in various machine shops and other industrial locations. Trichloroethylene (TCE) was used on a daily basis to clean metals parts and other materials. I remember a large tank of slowly roiling hot TCE at Stevens Arnold, Inc. in South Boston. I would use it several times a day to clean parts. Every week or so I would be detailed to drain the tank, —>> read more –>>
How America Tortures by M. P. Denbeaux, & Seton Hall University. (2019) This report includes eight drawings by Abu Zubaydah, a Guantanamo detainee, illustrating his experiences during torture sessions. Abu Zubaydah is also a figure in the movie discussed below. This report is really a short book, some 95 pages including extensive notes, that covers all aspects of the CIA torture program. Download the report here>>>>. Here are screen grabs of the Abu Zubaydah drawings —>> read more –>>
It is a continuing source of amazement and consternation that most conservatives and evangelical Christians support Trump. So many of his character features would seem to be inimical to both of these groups. We won’t list them here since that is hardly necessary. Trump demonstrates them on a daily if not hourly basis. Thankfully there are a few conservatives who have retained enough common sense and morality to oppose Trump and Trump Republicanism. A major —>> read more –>>
Nobel Prize winners Duflo and Bannerjee take on idealized views of markets. They target the role of financial incentives, markets as self-correcting, efficient and ethically sound.
…nations are based as much on what people collectively agree to forget as what they wish to remember. In a visit in February 2019 to a photography exhibit, Imagined Communities by Mila Teshaieva, at the MIT Museum I came across this paraphrase from the late 19th century French historian Ernest Renan: …nations are based as much on what people collectively agree to forget as what they wish to remember. In the present moment we might revise —>> read more –>>
Recently Noted – Robert Reich: Socialism for the Rich, Capitalism for the Rest – a new video presentation
Robert Reich provides us with an accessible, brief analysis of why the rich and corporations are feasting while the rest of us experience the rigors, oppression, and discipline of the capitalist marketplace. Only a bit over 4 minutes long.
AmericanDelusions does not generally comment on the day-to-day political scene. But, the behavior of the Republican Party in recent years has become so toxic to our country that we pause to take note.
Roosevelt’s 1944 State of the Union called for a second bill of rights, an economic bill of rights, that resonates loudly today.
There has been focus on wealth and income inequality for years. It is a pressing problem for more than 80% of the US population. But there is an other inequality, political inequality, that is at the heart of the more talked about inequality. In 2013 Harvard Professor Lawrence Lessig provided us with a delightful introduction to how political inequality works – We the People, and the Republic we must reclaim (length 18’14”) in which he —>> read more –>>
- Gilens, Martin, and Benjamin I Page. “Testing Theories of American Politics: Elites, Interest Groups, and Average Citizens.” Perspect. Polit. Perspectives on Politics 12, no. 03 (2014): 564–81.
It is always useful to put a face to trends. The grotesque yawning extent of inequality is one of those trends that begs for the concrete. Knowing that a million seconds is 12 days while a billion seconds is 31 years gives some shape to the dimensions of inequality, it is still difficult to wrap one’s head around the scale of inequality that continues to surge. Today this message from Bernie Sanders arrived in —>> read more –>>
The earth is burdened by the tsunami of plastic refuse that will never degrade. Government needs to protect us from capitalist enterprises delight in externalizing costs to our detriment and their short-term benefit.
iIllustration by Adam Maida in 8/21/17 New Yorker In the August 21, 2017 edition of The New Yorker Nathan Heller writes about the efficacy of protest as a method for social and political change. “Out of Action – do protests work?” raises many interesting questions about protest movements as a means to achieving change. Protected by the First Amendment Americans are largely free to take to the streets and soap boxes to protest or support whatever —>> read more –>>
- including among them: Srnicek, Nick, and Alex Williams. Inventing the Future: Postcapitalism and a World without Work; Hardt and Negri, Assembly; Tufekci, Zeynep. Twitter and Tear Gas: The Power and Fragility of Networked Protest.
- Heller makes snide comments about "neoliberalism" - the term used everywhere but the US for free-market capitalist ideology: "(Neoliberalism can broadly refer to any program that involves market-liberal policies—privatization, deregulation, etc.—and so includes everything from Thatcher’s social-expenditure reductions to Obama’s global-trade policies. A moratorium on its use would help solidify a lot of gaseous debate.)" Heller might do well to spend some time understand free-market ideology and its history to know that in fact Thatcher and Obama do belong in the same sphere in this regard.
Gun Regulation, the 2nd Amendment, and Scalia’s Majority Opinion Fire arms proponents make much of the 2008 case District of Columbia v. Heller in which the Supreme Court absolutely affirmed the right to bear arms as a constitutionally guaranteed right. Lost in this rhetoric is the fact that no rights are absolute. All are subject to constraints. For example, the First Amendment does not give a person the right to shout “Fire” in a movie —>> read more –>>
Fake news is now a political strategy used around the world. How can we defend ourselves, how can we identify it and its sources? Here is a beginning from FactCheck.org and the New Orleans Public Library.
Reich’s latest cartoon does a good job of describing the changes in the US economy, weaker on the underlying political campaign by the rich and corporations to restructure the economy to their benefit. Worth the 6 minute viewing time.
Republicans Create Bigger Deficits Then Blame The Entitled Poor. Cuts to social programs coming to fix the Republican created deficit problem.
Nearly 9 Million children are loosing their health insurance as states run out of funds. The Congress, controlled by the vicious Republican Party that is more focused on getting a sexual predator elected in Alabama than worrying about mere children, has not appropriated any new funds.
Trump – Republican Positions and Crimes (some just attempted) against the poor, working and middle class. The current Trump Republicans effort to cram their bill to pay back their corporate and rich supporters with giant tax breaks has me frothing a bit. I wrote down this list, partial though it may be. Add to it!
The NY Times published an interesting article by Max Fisher and Josh Keller, “What Explains U.S. Mass Shootings? International Comparisons Suggest an Answer” on 11/7/2017. The analysis shows that there is a strong correlation between the high level of gun ownership and mass killings. No other factors are well correlated. Are you surprised? Read the article here >>>
Trickle-down economics has never worked, yet once again it is being used to justify tax cuts for the rich and corporations. Trump and Republicans are once again using this thoroughly debunked theory to justify tax cuts.
Viewed from a bit longer lens of history this reaction to white supremacist terrorism fits in very well with the lengthy history of Presidents, Congress, and the judicial branch turning a blind eye to white terrorism used as a tool to oppress African Americans during the so-called Jim Crow era.
None of the failings of our healthcare system outrages the vicious Republicans. They hate poor and middle class people, the hate black and brown people, the hate government, the love to make the rich richer. That is the essence of the Republican Party.
Trump is a side show here. The problem is the Republican Party bought and sold by the wealthy and corporations. The Republicans are busy destroying families through their attacks on healthcare, education, family income, and government protections. The Republicans are busy mouthing talk about job creation while doing nothing to create jobs, just more rhetoric about job creators and government regulations. The Republicans are busy doing nothing to assure that a person working a full-time —>> read more –>>
Trump surprises us with another innovation in governing. He has turned his latest Cabinet meeting into a round of campaign rhetoric and sycophantic adulation and lies.
The now publicly visible campaign by the Koch brothers and many others to make their decade’s long campaign to deny climate change bear new fruit in public policy. More evidence that the plutocrats are now so secure in their control over our politics and the government that they can come out of the shadows and rule directly through Trump.
Netflix has just released War Machine onto the streaming media waters. This movie fits into the long tradition of American media mostly puffing up our military exploits or turning them into light tragi-comedy. Brad Pitt, applying the acting style of a trimmed down George Clooney, portrays the fictional General Glen McMahon. Broadly and obviously based on the story of the real General Stanley McChrystal who took over the War in Afghanistan in June 2009 only to be ousted —>> read more –>>
The state of Trump’s mind has been a matter of continuous discussion ever since he came on the scene as a presidential candidate. Mental health professionals have weighed in despite their professions rules against doing so. More recently in an op-ed piece David Brooks posed the idea that we are dealing with a child, “When the World Is Led by a Child”. Some demurred at what they felt was a demeaning comparison with the actual —>> read more –>>
The 40 year class war in America has achieved its final objectives. The plutocrats are the White House. The Cabinet has more wealth than held by over 100 million Americans.
So Jeff Sessions, tough guy, is going to reverse the very modest corrective direction of Obama’s policies to once again refill our jails. More vicious mindless policy making from the Trump regime.
In his letter firing James Comey, now former Director of the FBI, Trump once again displayed the completely self-centered world that he inhabits. The second paragraph in this thankfully short letter reads: While I greatly appreciate you informing me, on three separate occasions, that I am not under investigation, I nevertheless concur with the judgment of the Department of Justice that you are not able to effectively lead the Bureau.
Trump talks to occupy space and run down the clock. He’s prompted to speak by a question but rarely answers the question; he only has to talk long enough to execute his turn in the conversation before the questioner wrests it away. That’s the extent of the coherence.
New evidence of how big money works has turned up last summer in the WikiLeaks dump of Democratic National Committee emails. Included are an exchange between John Podesta, Co-Chair of the Obama Campaign in 2008 and later Obama’s Councilor and John Froman who was working at Citibank at the time of the emails and has held positions at Treasury and elsewhere.
The title of this short book, only 130 pages, Building the New American Economy: smart, fair, & sustainable by Jeffrey D. Sachs with a foreword by Bernie Sanders (Columbia University Press, 2017) is unfortunately misleading. There is much here about the new economy. The misleading part is that there is very little about its construction, how to build the new economy. Sachs covers many important issues in a thorough, efficient fashion. If you need a —>> read more –>>
A central dogma of American politics and culture is the rule of law. The ever present blind scales of justice are trotted out with such regularity that the briefest glimpse serves to remind us that we live in a country with a uniquely fair and just system of law. Of course, if you have ever had the slightest encounter with the reality of this system you will already know that it is only those with —>> read more –>>
Ever since Ronald Reagan told us in his 1981 Inaugural Address, “Government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem.” government bashing by right-wingers, Republicans and many Democrats has been a constant drumbeat of political rhetoric. Now we have Trump with his “Kill 2 regulations for every new one” and a government dominated by Republicans for whom destroying government has been an objective for decades. We are faced with the probable destruction —>> read more –>>
- audio of song here: https://youtu.be/VtW8RkI3-c4))
Progressives have to declare class war as a central strategy. Otherwise we will all be sitting at the dinner table basking in our glorious diversity with nothing to eat. For many good reasons identity and diversity have dominated our politics for decades. Progressives celebrate its expansion and Republicans and their brethren on the right pretty universally engage in either dog whistle or outright racist politics. Simultaneously the rich and corporations have been fighting a class —>> read more –>>
This 2013 article “How Much Money Would It Take to Eliminate Poverty” (http://prospect.org/article/how-much-money-would-it-take-eliminate-poverty-america) addresses this question. The answer then was $175 billion. This is a ridiculously small number in the context of a $16 trillion GDP. As someone who is on the homeowners gravy train I was stuck by this part of the article: “The utterly ridiculous tax expenditures directed toward the disproportionately affluent class of people called homeowners—mortgage interest deduction, property tax deduction, exclusion of —>> read more –>>
Trump ~1980 Ever since Trump came into my view as a candidate for President I have thought that his speech is strange. Choppy, half thoughts, repetitions of words and phrases, very few polysyllabic words, in short lacking in fluidity and continuity. Is this the way Trump has always spoken. Or, Is it just his lifelong speech pattern ? Being Trump and always casting himself into the public eye there is quite a bit of tape —>> read more –>>
Dollars and Sense has been around since the 1970s. Always a source of well researched critiques of capitalism. I recently, after a more than 30 year hiatus, re-upped a subscription. Dear Dollars & Sense, Your new issue showed up the other day with the word “neoliberalism” in bold type on the cover. The continuing use of this term is not helpful. When I first saw this word a few years ago I wondered how the —>> read more –>>
To put the situation in sound bite language we spend twice as many healthcare dollars as almost all of our competitor nations and get developing country results. That Mr. Faso is your challenge.
President Reagan was not the originator of this central trope of free-market (neo-liberal) politics, but he famously said in his first Inaugural Address in 1981, “Government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem.” President Clinton, a Democrat, continued this theme during his terms culminating the the deregulation of the financial industry in 1999 setting the table for the collapse of 2008 and the Long Recession. Listening to almost any discussion by —>> read more –>>
- See Block, Fred L., and Matthew R. Keller. 2011. State of innovation: the U.S. government's role in technology development. Boulder, CO: Paradigm Publishers and Mazzucato, Mariana. 2011. The entrepreneurial state.
There is much ongoing discussion about steps needed to turn the enormous one day action of the global Women’s March in to a sustained movement to achieve better outcomes for the vast majority of Americans. 1 To focus on just one strategic element, the movement needs to move beyond identity politics to embrace class warfare. The rich and corporations have carried out a sustained and successful class war for more than 40 years. They control —>> read more –>>
- The energy of this action is illustrated locally by the fact that over a 1,000 people marched in Hudson NY, a town of 7,000 in a county of 68,000. Video here of this event
Park Avenue puts faces to many of the wealthy and the corporations. Do not for a moment think that if we could just rid ourselves of these avaricious individuals that our problems would be solved.
In the current moment much of the concern about privacy online and otherwise has been overwhelmed by Trump, inequality, racism and other matters. The NSA and other spies, government and corporate, are not taking a vacation. I wrote earlier about this in “The Uses of Metadata – an experiment you can conduct with your own life’s metadata” in July, 2013. Recently I revisited Immersion: a people-centric view of your email life, the MIT project to visualize —>> read more –>>
- metadata = a set of data that describes and gives information about other data. In the case of email this includes date and time; to, cc, bcc recipients; and subject line.
A friend asked the following question of me on Facebook the other day:What’s wrong with the word LIBERAL …. This word … progressives … is only a diluted weak solution of the real thing …. the L word has become like the N word … it can’t be mouthed in public. I know what Liberal means I don’t have a clue what progressive means … you’d think Neoliberal has some relationship to LIBERAL which it —>> read more –>>
The Trump election debacle demonstrates the bankruptcy of the current leadership of the Democratic Party. Faced with a foe who has engaged in serial bankruptcy as a business strategy, is a notorious know-nothing bully with a very sensitive ego, and is best known as the red-faced guy on reality TV who says “You’re fired”, they could not come up with a candidate and story to retain their core voters in the old rust-belt states. Despite —>> read more –>>
– The Morning After -The election of Trump and the continued Republican control of both Congress and Senate guarantee that the rich will continue to get richer at the expense of the shrinking middle class and further aggravate conditions for the poor. Trickle down economics and tax subsidies will flow for the rich and corporations. The financial sector will buy its way out of the weak regulations of Dodd/Frank and lurch towards new adventures in gambling; —>> read more –>>
Bernie Sanders is the only candidate not in the pocket of the rich and corporations. To even begin to think about how to work our way out of our many problems and to capitalize on the opportunities, we need to retrieve our politics from the tsunami of money that now controls it. Bernie Sanders is a step in that direction.
The trail of money around Hillary and Bill Clinton and their foundation continues to attract lots of comment and not a few efforts to prove that money changed hands in return for specific acts by Hilary as Secretary of State. Peter Schweizer’s book Clinton Cash: The Untold Story of How and Why Foreign Governments and Businesses Helped Make Bill and Hillary Rich (NY: Harper 2015) is just one example of a tsunami of comment, pro and —>> read more –>>
this transformation in attitudes towards homosexuality should be studied so that we can understand how and why it took place. Perhaps we can learn some lessons that will enable us to attack some of the other destructive hatreds shared so broadly by human beings.
The 1/2% of the Population That Run Our Politics Recently I came on a Ted Talk by Lawrence Lessig, “We the People, and the Republic we must reclaim” filmed in February 2013 (18:19 minutes). This typically brief TED talk provides a compelling argument for why the dominance of big money in our political system has turned it into an oligarchy and kleptocracy – my words not Lessig’s. “.26 percent of America gave 200 dollars or more to —>> read more –>>
Why waste endless words on this topic? I stumbled on this video, “The Drug War Is a Failure” by the Gregory Brothers via the New York Times.
I have noted here several times earlier about America’s longest war – the War on Drugs. Here is a graphic that displays the complete failure of our policies:
|source: http://m.theatlanticwire.com/national/2012/10/chart-says-war-drugs-isnt-working/57913/ – this graphic came to my attemtion via the Colbert Report http://www.colbertnation.com/the-colbert-report-videos/425397/april-11-2013/america-s-pot-astrophe|
It is fairly widely known that income and wealth inequality in the US is as high or higher than at any time except perhaps the Robber Baron period at the end of the 19th century. Lots of articles and books explain how this has come about over the last 30 years. In a recent NYTimes Magazine article, “The Purpose of Spectacular Wealth, According to a Spectacularly Wealthy Guy” by Adam Davidson, we are even offered an affirmative —>> read more –>>
Wonder about the Impact of the US Supreme Court’s Citizens United Decision? Government in the US, as everywhere, has always been tilted in favor of the wealthy. But, the Citizens United decision in 2010 giving corporations the right spend unlimited money has made government, really at every level, into the sole playground of the rich and big corporations. A couple of weeks ago This American Life broadcast “TAKE THE MONEY AND RUN FOR OFFICE”. Listen to this program. It —>> read more –>>
A recent John Stewart Daily Show that explored Mitt Romney’s recent release of income tax data got me to thinking about long division. Romney’s income of roughly $22 million per year is so large that it kind of disappears into the haze of too much information. But, get out your pencil and divide that by 365 days to discover that his income is $60,000 per day. That is slightly over $10,000 more than the median —>> read more –>>
I came on a set of graphics in Mother Jones, “It’s the Inequality, Stupid: Eleven charts that explain what’s wrong with America” that illustrate what you probably already know. But, a simple refresher course in some of the reasons why the rich are rich. The 99% already have this base covered. Here are some of the charts I liked. Read the whole article at the Mother Jones website. Income (constant dollars) Note that if median family income had simply kept up —>> read more –>>
This week’s installment of the Republican race for the honor of running for President bought us the eye-rolling scene of Herman Cain rolling his eyes trying to answer the question, “Do you approve of how Obama handled the Libyan matter?” The media leapt on this as an example of Cain’s lack of knowledge and expertise in foreign policy. What do they think is expertise? If one simply read the daily newspaper or watched the evening —>> read more –>>
The recent scene of Jon Huntsman, Republican candidate for President, stating that he believed in evolution surrounding this with the parenthetical comment, “call me crazy”, sets out in stark relief how idiotic our politics and body politic are at this moment. Every other Republican running for President has disavowed evolution. Even the middling muddler from Massachusetts, Mitt Romney, could not bring himself to state a positive position on this bit of science. A 2009 Gallup —>> read more –>>
When it comes to job creation both Democrats and Republicans reflexively trot out small business as the engine of growth. These flights of breathy admiration for plucky small business owners are part of our national myth, right up there with cowboys. There probably is some truth in this myth as long as you accept the other side of the equation which includes the fact that jobs in small businesses are lower paying and less stable —>> read more –>>
The political rhetoric of the current moment, chiefly flowing from Republicans, but barely challenged by the Democrats, describes tales of profligate over-spending by the Federal government matched with burdensome taxation. While it is true that Federal spending is higher proportionately than post-WWII norms, social programs are not the source of this over spending. One only has to look back to George Bush’s two terms to see the true sources of the debt. War, Wars, More Wars —>> read more –>>
The End of America – a film by Annie Sundberg and Ricki Stern Here is a summary of the ten steps discussed and illustrated by Ms. Wolf in the movie. 10 STEPS THAT CLOSE AN OPEN SOCIETY 1. invoke an internal and external threat People who are afraid are willing to do things that they wouldn’t otherwise do. 2. establish secret (unaccountable) prisons where torture takes place In a secret —>> read more –>>
|from the endofamericamovie.com website – 05/27/2011|
(This was submitted to the Letters to the Editor section of the Register Star here in Hudson. Not clear at the moment whether it will be published.) Discussions of the Federal budget almost never mention the defense department. Both political parties continue in the thrall of what President Eisenhower called the “military-industrial complex”. The defense budget is off limits. But, can we afford this military establishment? The US, with just 4.5% of the world’s population, supports almost 50% of the world’s —>> read more –>>
The case of the Federal Communications Commission v. AT&T now being heard before the US Supreme Court raises anew the craziness of the thinking that has position corporations to be “persons” in the first place. Noun vs Adjective! First we have several of the justices focusing argument around the difference between “persons” and “personal”. But several justices —>> read more –>>
|See the NYTimes, “Court Weighs Whether Corporations Have Personal Privacy Rights” By ADAM LIPTAK Published: January 19, 201|
The return of George Bush to the national scene with the release of his memoir, Decision Points, once again roused feelings of anger and despair. Anger that we have such a weak sense of ethics, basic right and wrong stuff, in our culture. This man and his cohorts lied, aggressively distorted facts, and mislead the country into what has turned out to be a disastrous adventure in aggression in Iraq. If we had any real politics in —>> read more –>>
We all have had, some now enduring, experiences in the educational system. Excepting the academic super stars for whom the educational system was designed, most have at best mixed feelings about it. Here is a TED Talk given in 2006 by Ken Robinson: “Ken Robinson says schools kill creativity” It is a compelling critique and most humorous. You will not get through these nineteen minutes without a lot of laughs.
The current tsunami of revelations of misbehavior, if not outright criminality, by the banking industry in their pursuit of mortgages gone bad, is further evidence of how fundamentally corrupt and cynical this industry continues to be. On the front end of this global economic disaster the financial system engaged in misleading sales tactics using financial products that were baroque in their complexities. Aided by governments seduced by the siren songs of free market religion and floods of money —>> read more –>>
The August 1st New York Times carries the latest Paul Krugman opinion piece, “Defining Prosperity Down”. He is depressed because it is dawning on him that the elite is in the process of redefining the level of structural unemployment that is normal to adjust to the significant likelihood that we will be living with 9%+unemployment on into the future. Where has Krugman been? He is old enough to remember that back in the 1960s structural —>> read more –>>
What Is the Function of Wall St.? The global financial meltdown of 2008 – 2009 with its ongoing sequelae seems not to have definitively demonstrated the dangers of our continuing belief in the religion of “free markets” nor shaken, especially it seems in the Obama administration, our thrall with Wall St. and all things financial. We are seeing the combined effects of Wall St.’s funding of the Democrats and Republicans, the primacy of Wall St-ers —>> read more –>>
Who and What Is Tea Party Nation? I generally don’t have that much interested in fringe weirdo politics. But, with the continuing eruptions on the right wing of the right wing Republican party, I thought that I might investigate. So, I became a member of the TeaPartyNation.com website. I spent maybe 30 to 45 minutes looking around. Lots of rhetoric but no policy approaches to any issues that I, and probably most people, think are —>> read more –>>
Anti-Wall St Does Not Mean Anti-Business President Obama’s proposals to break up the “too large to fail” mega banks and otherwise reapply the Glass Steagall Act to the financial sector has predictably brought loud complaints that this is populist and anti-business. Even the rhetoric of the reporters and expert talking heads reflects a general bias that anything that we might do to prevent a re-occurrence of last year’s global financial meltdown is anti-business. How Is —>> read more –>>
There is much to applaud in Obama’s speech: control of nuclear weapons, assertion of human and civil rights, multilateralism in conflict resolution and enforcement, denial of religion as a justification for oppression of others. But, we come to a significant claim, one that the US government has asserted for my entire lifetime, and which the US media and populace would support: “Whatever the mistakes we have made, the plain fact is this: the United States —>> read more –>>
Acknowledge the basic facts about how the healthcare system is working today. Yesterday in a radio interview, “How to conquer health care challenges”, with Professor Glenn Melnick from the Rand Corporation and USC, we were again offered up “expert” opinion that does not even acknowledge the basic facts about how the healthcare system is working today. Here are a couple of examples from the interview lead by Kai Ryssdal: “RYSSDAL: Well, let me make sure I understand —>> read more –>>
An article in today’s NYTimes about cyber crime, malware, etc. suggests to me that another line of attack may be through the Internet against our utilities, telecoms, or financial institutions. There have already been massive attacks against whole countries with successful breakdowns that lasted for hours and days. Ukraine, Lithuania, and Georgia were targets over the last year. My memory is that suspicions fell to the Russian government because the attacks, in these cases massive —>> read more –>>
The arrival by small boat of the Mumbai terrorists reminds me of a persistent fear here. A small freighter or a large one loaded with containers will pull into Conley Terminal in South Boston and shortly thereafter a dirty bomb will go off. This will spread a small cloud of nuclear materials, dust size particles into the air. The weather that day is blustery and on shore. Soon, radioactive particles will be spread over South —>> read more –>>
I will not add to the comments that have flooded around the world last night and this morning. However this significant moment had to be greeted with more than silence.
Since my entry this morning I have been thinking more about the Presidency and Bush. My knowledge of 19th century Presidents is a bit spotty. Certainly the names Buchanan, Pierce, Johnson and Grant pop to mind as less than top of the heap. But, for the modern era, post WW2, Bush is clearly the worst, most destructive President. In the international sphere, we will be digging out from the morass of his crazed policies for —>> read more –>>
November 1, 2008 So, here I am having coffee and my favorite lunch, a toasted bagel with peanut butter thinking about the approaching election. Finally this will conclude what has been an overly long campaign, but one with enormous pleasures. Assuming that Obama is not just a curiosity to all those throngs at his campaign events, we will have a President who seems bright, competent, and level-headed with an adequate level if toughness. I don’t —>> read more –>>
Recently, in the context of some discussion of the Bush regime, my step-son Jonathan pointed me towards several books on Korea. He said that Bruce Cumings is simply the best author writing in English on Korea. So, a quick trip to the local library and I had this compact little book in my hands. The book is organized around five topics: (1) the impact of the Korean War on North Korea, (2) the genesis of —>> read more –>>
January 23, 2002 (revised 1/29/02) The collapse of energy giant Enron over the last six months has produced a surprising level of outrage especially for a cynic like me. As this drama continues to unfold, I have been trying to understand how Enron structured their business and made money. Until just last night I was operating on the belief that the cleverness and sophistication of Enron’s managers simply outstripped my analytical skills. But, as I —>> read more –>>
Whose Opinion (Advice) Is This? The Problem At a time when we are quite aware of the need for and value of transparency in the reporting of the activities of corporations (thanks most recently to the Enron affair), we could quite usefully extend this transparency metaphor to other parts of day-to-day life. The print press, TV, radio, and internet are filled with opinions and advice from all sorts of people. Many of these pass for —>> read more –>>