Paul Krugman at The New York Times delivers the "O" word in Oligarchs and Money:
Doing what America did after World War II—using low interest rates and inflation to erode the debt burden—is often referred to as “financial repression,” which sounds bad. But who wouldn’t prefer modest inflation and a bit of asset erosion to mass unemployment? Well, you know who: the 0.1 percent, who receive “only” 4 percent of wages but account for more than 20 percent of total wealth. Modestly higher inflation, say 4 percent, would be good for the vast majority of people, but it would be bad for the super-elite. And guess who gets to define conventional wisdom.Doyle McManus at the Los Angeles Times writes Is Obamacare too big to fail?:
Now, I don’t think that class interest is all-powerful. Good arguments and good policies sometimes prevail even if they hurt the 0.1 percent—otherwise we would never have gotten health reform. But we do need to make clear what’s going on, and realize that in monetary policy as in so much else, what’s good for oligarchs isn’t good for America.
[Obamacare] still faces a series of difficult tests—most important, keeping costs under control so insurance premiums don't soar in coming years.Esther Breger at The New Republic writes No Excuses, CBS: Hire One of These Outstanding Women to Replace Letterman:
And the program is certain not to be universally popular with its participants. Just think: Millions of newcomers to health coverage are about to join the rest of us in those frustrating battles with insurers.
But the enrollment numbers do mean that the main argument Republicans hurled against the law—that it was doomed to collapse—is looking weaker than ever.
They also mean that Democrats now have a chance to shift the healthcare debate from whether the law should be repealed to how to improve it. Recent polls have found that between 53% and 71% of respondents (depending on how the question is worded) favor keeping the law and fixing it.
David Letterman will be the longest-running host in late night when he retires in 2015, but one thing hasn’t changed at all from the time he started “The Late Show” in 1994: the all-male landscape of late-night television. And judging by the names floated as contenders for Letterman’s slot—Stephen Colbert, Craig Ferguson, Neil Patrick Harris—that isn’t likely to change soon. As Alexandra Petri pointed out in The Washington Post last night, in the history of late-night broadcast television, there have been more hosts named Jimmy than women and people of color. (Cable also just lost its only late-night show hosted by a woman, as Chelsea Handler announced she’s ending her E! talk show.) Looking at the hilarious women across the rest of the TV dial—in sitcoms, Comedy Central shows, and Saturday Night Live—the idea that there are no women funny and likable enough to helm a TV show past 11:30 p.m. is increasingly absurd. There’s a deep bench to choose from, if CBS is willing to make the kind of risky move it did by hiring Letterman in the first place.More excerpts from pundits below the fold.
The Editorial Board of the Toronto Star fumes Lift the secrecy on rail safety:
Just how hard does this have to be?Thomas Delapa at Alternet writes Rumsfeld Documentary Reveals What an Unaccountable Slippery Bastard He Is:
Does Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s Conservative government really expect Canadians to have any tolerance for secret safety arrangements between Transport Canada and the railways, after the Lac-Mégantic disaster last July that turned a Quebec town centre into a fireball and left 47 people dead? The answer, No, ought to be obvious even to the most obtuse policy-maker.
Not when there’s been a vast surge in rail traffic carrying hazardous goods. Last year 140,000 carloads of crude oil rolled across the country, up from 500 just five years ago. And some of it is volatile oil from the Bakken Formation, the kind that figured in Lac-Mégantic.
So what do we know now that we didn’t after documentarian Errol Morris’s 100-minute Q&A with Donald “I Don’t Do Quagmires” Rumsfeld in “The Unknown Known”? Only that the former U.S. secretary of defense is still a master strategist of evasion, contradiction, misdirection and malapropism.Alexandra Bradbury and Jane Slaughter at In These Times write Only We Can Feed the Labor Movement Fire:
As a footnote, here’s what we do know to date about that dirty little Iraq War that “Rummy,” the George W. Bush White House and their nincompoop Pentagon neo-cons cooked up and spoon fed to the omnivorous American public: more than 4400 U.S. military deaths and 32,000 wounded, at least 100,000 to as many as 500,000 Iraqi fatalities, millions more displaced, and an estimated price tag of $3 trillion, give or take a few hundred billion.
Yet like most of the questions that Morris tosses—gently—at his subject, any such factual horrors are sidestepped, parried and danced around by a fitfully nimble Rumsfeld. Relaxed, nattily dressed and imperiously self-assured as ever, Morris’ hollow yet overstuffed man does his imitation of “Hogan’s Heroes” Sgt. Schultz (“I know nothing, nothing”) while implausibly denying personal culpability for any stink that blew back from the Iraq War, whether the phony Weapons of Mass Destruction raison d’être, prisoner torture or the fictitious links between Saddam Hussein and the 9/11 World Trade Center Attacks.
We troublemakers keep hoping for the spark that will set a wildfire of workers in motion. The worse our situation gets—economically, politically, ecologically—the more we yearn for a vast movement to erupt and transform the landscape.Amitabh Pal at The Progressive writes Global Warming Dooms the Poor:
It’s not impossible. Look at 1937, when workplace occupations spread everywhere, from auto factories to Woolworth’s. The 1930s wave of militancy forced Congress to aid union organizing with new laws and to enact Social Security and unemployment insurance. Industrial unions formed during that upsurge continue to this day.
So why not here and now?
In our lifetimes, we’ve seen sparks—but we haven’t seen them spread like that. In some ways we’re more connected than ever before, able to watch each other’s struggles in real time on our phones. Yet mostly, the sparks haven’t leapt from one workplace or one Capitol rotunda to another. The Occupy movement is the shining exception.
Global warming will have devastating consequences for our planet—particularly the less fortunate.Trevor Timm at The Guardian Leak the CIA report: it's the only way to know the whole truth about torture:
“Climate-change impacts are projected to slow down economic growth, make poverty reduction more difficult, further erode food security, and prolong existing and create new poverty traps,” says a just-released assessment by the Nobel-winning Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
The underprivileged among us will be especially badly hit.
“Climate change is expected to have a relatively greater impact on the poor as a consequence of their lack of financial resources, poor quality of shelter, reliance on local ecosystem services, exposure to the elements, limited provision of basic services, and their limited resources to recover,” the report states.
As Marcy Wheeler has noted, torture advocates are allowed a free hand to go on book tours, exposing the greatness of torture, while torture critics like former FBI agent Ali Soufan are usually muzzled, or worse. Of course, no government official has ever been prosecuted for torture, but former CIA officer John Kiriakou is in jail for speaking to the press about it.Robert Fisk at The Independent writes Sinister efforts to minimise Japanese war crimes and portray the empire as a victim must be exposed:
Still, the larger question remains: will the White House live up to its word and tell us the truth about torture?
President Obama has stated he wants the findings declassified in an expedient manner, but he quickly defended the CIA when it was accused of spying on the Senate, and as McClatchy reported, "the White House has been more involved than publicly acknowledged … For five years, the White House has been withholding more than 9,000 top-secret documents sought by the committee for its investigation, even though Obama hasn’t exercised a claim of executive privilege." [...]
It's possible the only way the public will ever get to see the entire landmark report is the same way we've learned everything we know about it: if someone leaks it.
I’ve been to Yasukuni myself, a place of cherry trees and blossoms and a museum to honour the memory of the 2.5 million Japanese soldiers, kamikaze pilots, rapists and war criminals who died in the Second World War. I had a cousin who died building the Burma railway and so I was greatly interested in the real steam loco shunted into Yasukuni, the very first engine to use that infamous track. It carried home the ashes of the first Japanese soldiers to die in Burma. No doubt Abe enjoyed his little trip to honour the murderers of Imperial Japan.The Editorial Board of the Los Angeles Times states Speak up, Hilda Solis—The Board of Supervisors candidate should campaign as if voters had a real choice.:
Sure, Japan has apologised for the little matter of the “comfort women”. But why, according to the Chinese, has Yasukuni received 60 visits from Japanese prime ministers between 1945 and 1985, including six visits made on 15 August, to mark the date of Japan’s surrender? The 1937 rape of Nanking—in which tens of thousands of Chinese women were raped and at least 100,000 killed—is being turned into part of “a self-defensive holy war”; school textbooks now try to depict Japanese aggression in the 1930s as the “liberation of backward nations”. The Japanese Education Minister is proposing to reject textbooks that do not adopt a “patriotic tone”. When the US hears that Palestinian textbooks include Israel as part of “Palestine”, American officials roar like bears. But when the Japanese do far worse, the Americans turn into mice.
But it's a different story in [Gloria] Molina's 1st District, which runs from downtown Los Angeles eastward through the heart of the San Gabriel Valley. More than a year ago, those in the political know began explaining to one another that the choice to replace Molina had already been made, although not by voters and not at the polls. The next supervisor was to be U.S. Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis. There was to be no race, no choice, no debate. It was as though she were already the incumbent.
With no disrespect to El Monte city councilman and retired county employee Juventino "J" Gomez or to school police officer April Saucedo Hood, both of whom are running campaigns for the seat, neither of them has the fundraising prowess, the political backing or the vision and know-how to offer much of a challenge. It is virtually certain that Solis will be a member of the Board of Supervisors for the next four years and, given the power of incumbency, the next 12. Even a November runoff is unlikely. The once-in-a-generation opportunity for a district of 2 million people to select their county representative has been extinguished. Voters have been ripped off. Democracy has been mocked.
Voters should be angry. But at whom?
Shall we blame the Democratic Party and labor power brokers who paved the way for Solis' coronation and found other paths to advancement for other would-be contenders? Should we blame the Republicans for offering little or nothing in the way of a viable challenger? In part.
But much of the problem is that districts are too big and government is too closed. With no credible challengers and therefore no need to debate, Solis is not forced to discuss what she would do to solve that very fundamental issue. But she should.