Monthly Archives: February 2014

Fact Check: Could a Little-Known International Agreement With Ukraine Force U.S., Britain Into War With Russia?

“That’s actually a much more complex question than it may sound.”

Posted in Conservative thoughts

Open thread for night owls. Thomas Frank: Talk about squelching inequality can’t be left to elites

At Salon, Thomas Frank, author of Pity the Billionaire and One Market Under God, writes Paul Krugman won’t save us: We need a new conversation about inequality:  An excerpt:

The one thing that just about everyone knows about inequality is that it’s a complex, highly technical problem, with many confusing causes and expressions. “Inequality is a complicated, complicated thing,” as a puzzled writer declared in the Atlantic a few weeks ago. “What exactly is income inequality?” wondered NPR’s Audie Cornish in January. “Ask six economists and you’re likely to get six different answers.” (That it’s economists you’re supposed to ask was simply taken for granted.)

I admit that the issue is complicated in its details, but it’s also — in its basic, brutal thrust — something  dead simple: Inequality happened because our leaders set out to make it happen. On the first page of Kevin Phillips’ 1990 (!) bestseller on the subject, “The Politics of Rich and Poor,” he stated this obvious truth. “The 1980s were the triumph of upper America,” he wrote.

But while money, greed and luxury had become the stuff of popular culture, hardly anyone asked why such great wealth had concentrated at the top, and whether this was a result of public policy. Despite the armies of homeless sleeping on grates, political leaders—even those who professed to care about the homeless—had little to say about the Republican party’s historical role, which has been not simply to revitalize U.S. capitalism but to tilt power, policy, wealth and income toward the richest portions of the population. (emphasis added)

The rich got so goddamn rich, in other words, because the signature policies of the Great Right Turn were designed to make them rich. And, as the world knows, these policies weren’t limited to Republicans; Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton, and Barack Obama—plus, of course, their resident economists and cabinet members—all more or less endorsed the basic tenets of the free-market faith. They are all implicated.

So inequality, now that we’re having a “conversation” about it, must of course turn out to be massively complicated, something no one could possibly have seen coming — sort of like the 2008 financial crisis, come to think of it. Furthermore, it must be seen as another technical problem, a matter for the experts to solve, like the budget deficit or entitlement spending.

So inequality, now that we’re having a “conversation” about it, must of course turn out to be massively complicated, something no one could possibly have seen coming — sort of like the 2008 financial crisis, come to think of it. Furthermore, it must be seen as another technical problem, a matter for the experts to solve, like the budget deficit or entitlement spending.

* * *

Then again, why do I quibble? Most of the experts I refer to here aren’t actually wrong. I have quoted them myself on occasion; I have shown PowerPoint slides of Piketty-Saez graphs to audiences of unbelieving college students. Many of the essays in the Times’ “Great Divide” series have been admirable, as will surely be much of the “cutting-edge analysis” scheduled to be produced by the Washington Center for Equitable Growth. What difference does it make if it’s a Nobel laureate who tells us what’s happened to the middle class or the leader of a local union somewhere?

My suspicion is that it makes an enormous difference. “Inequality” is not some minor technical glitch for the experts to solve; this is the Big One. This is the very substance of American populism; this is what has brought together movements of average people throughout our history. Offering instruction on the subject in a classroom at Berkeley may be enlightening for the kids in attendance but it is fundamentally the wrong way to take on the problem, almost as misguided as it would be if we turned the matter over to the 1 percent themselves and got a bunch of billionaires together at Davos to offer pointers on how to stop them from beating us over and over again in the game of life. (Oops — that actually happened.)

“Inequality” is the most basic issue of them all, the very reason for liberalism’s existence. It is about who we are and how we live. Virtually every other liberal cause pales by comparison. This is the World War II of political subjects, and if we are going to win it must be a people’s war, not a Combat of the Thirty between the plumèd knights of the Beltway. We owe the economists thanks for making the situation plain, but now matters must of necessity pass into other hands. If the destruction of the middle class is ever to be addressed and solved, the impetus must come from below, not from above. This is a job we have to do ourselves.


Blast from the Past. At Daily Kos on this date in 2011What are the neoconservatives up to in Libya? The usual:

As Muammar Gaddafi spouts delusional nonsense about how “all my people love me,” his 41-year dictatorial reign over Libya appears to be crumbling all around him. Opposition fighters in the cities of Zawiyah to the west of Tripoli and in Misurata to its east have scored defensive victories against Gaddafi’s armed forces, much of the army in the east has gone over to the side of the opposition, humanitarian aid is starting to flow into the country in large amounts, and ad hoc councils of Libyans have begun governing areas under anti-government control. Even in Tripoli, still solidly held by the regime and reportedly blockaded against entry by Libyans from liberated areas of the country, public protests continue to take place, albeit at considerable risk to the participants.

Amid what appears to be a ring closing around Gaddafi and his bitter-enders, calls for military intervention have intensified. At one end of a range of options is the creation of a no-fly zone to keep Gaddafi’s air force from killing civilians from the air and from moving mercenaries quickly from staging areas around Sabha, a central Libya city and military base where they have been landed in large numbers.

Although logistically difficult, a no-fly zone has significant backing, including support from some anti-government Libyans in and out of the country. But other Libyans have opposed the idea, saying they can beat Gaddafi without such assistance. They seek only medical and other humanitarian aid. Some Americans, Europeans and other non-Libyans oppose the no-fly approach for fear that it will be a wedge for further military action and possibly lead to the establishment of long-term military bases in the country and control over Libya’s vast deposits of low-sulfur oil, the largest on the African continent, with much of the country’s potential reserves still unexplored.


Tweet of the Day:

I don’t care if the iPhone 15 is out when I have a kid. Their first phone is gonna be a flip phone. They’re gonna know the struggle.
@GrumpyyCat


On today’s Kagro in the Morning show, Greg Dworkin starts off today’s Reddit chat, rounds up news on Ukraine, and leads us into renewed discussion of the Arizona fallout & the glistening tears of the Gimmetarians. Armando joined in to help dissect the conservative whining and nonsense, and then more on the Reddit issue. Lastly, another installment of Cocaine, Inc., this time, about their analog for a department of government relations.


High Impact Posts. Top Comments.

Posted in Liberal Thoughts

Charles Krauthammer: ‘The Ukrainians – and I Think Everybody – Are Shocked by the Weakness of Obama’s Statements’

“I find it rather staggering.”

Posted in Conservative thoughts

Is Common Core the One Policy the Public Won’t Let Obama Administration Get Away With?

 “But Americans are rising up by the tens of thousands to stop Common Core…”

Posted in Conservative thoughts

Unbelievable: Planned Parenthood Admits It Doesn’t Care When Life Begins

She shared her opinion that the debate over when life starts is not “controversial” but is simply not “really relevant to the conversation.”

This post originally appeared on Western Journalism – Informing And Equipping Americans Who Love Freedom

Read More and Comment: Unbelievable: Planned Parenthood Admits It Doesn’t Care When Life Begins

Posted in President

Conservative Radio Host Confronts O’Reilly’s Staff About Obama Birth Certificate

Denver-based radio talk show host Peter Boyles talks to Jerome Corsi and recounts how he confronted one of Bill O’Reilly’s producers about Obama’s birth certificate.

This post originally appeared on Western Journalism – Informing And Equipping Americans Who Love Freedom

Read More and Comment: Conservative Radio Host Confronts O’Reilly’s Staff About Obama Birth Certificate

Posted in President

Political Novice Leading GOP Field in Ill. Governor’s Race

A political newcomer is leading the field of Republican candidates seeking to challenge Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn this fall.

Posted in Politics
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Watch: CNN Reporter Confronts Mysterious Masked Gunmen Currently Occupying Crimea, Ukraine

“Can we ask you guys where you’re from?”

Posted in Conservative thoughts

Maryland Cop To Citizen: “You Have No Rights”

Activist police officers, it seems, are following the federal government’s lead by asserting power over citizens for which they have no lawful claim.

This post originally appeared on Western Journalism – Informing And Equipping Americans Who Love Freedom

Read More and Comment: Maryland Cop To Citizen: “You Have No Rights”

Posted in President

‘Dead’ Man Wakes Up In Body Bag Just Before Embalming

Leaders at a funeral home in Lexington, Mississippi found Walter Williams alive and kicking in a body bag.

This post originally appeared on Western Journalism – Informing And Equipping Americans Who Love Freedom

Read More and Comment: ‘Dead’ Man Wakes Up In Body Bag Just Before Embalming

Posted in President