Tuesday, April 26, 2011

American Radical(s)

[Congratulations, 18,000th Visitor (Bel Air, Maryland)! (Is that you, John?) Please, everyone, keep in mind that this blog runs solely (financially) on contributions from kind readers. And "Thank you, gentlepeople!"]

From my buddy, Tom, at Who Hijacked Our Country on what the scions of the rich, powerful and corrupt who ruined our country are doing now (hint: Tea Bagger leaders):

The two main “everyday citizens” in charge of Dodd Frank Exposed are Gary Marx — vice president of Ralph Reed’s lobbying firm, Century Strategies — and Robert Bork, Jr. (no comment).

The above-mentioned apple that didn’t fall far from the tree has made a career out of coordinating front groups on behalf of corporate conglomerates. And his favorite clients are corporations that are responsible for huge environmental or financial disasters. Bork comes up with a folksy spin, portraying the corporation as a “good citizen” who wants to do the right thing, and/or a “victim.”

In a memo to a group of corporate attorneys, Little Bork wrote:“A carefully designed communication strategy that includes third parties has the potential to persuade key audiences. It gives you credibility and increases your chances of success.

”OK teabaggers — gather up your misspelled signs and get ready for some more of them spontaneous demonstrations.

Talk about American Radicals. They aren't on the left, folks. And the real story of the Fake Budget Battle (if you were wondering how they're getting ready to cut all your benefits without touching the Defense (ha ha) budget and actually increasing tax cuts to the top .01% (again))? Wonder no more (emphasis marks added - Ed.):
Our Phony Budget Battles Are All Smoke and Mirrors Weeks of highly publicized debates - some in Congress, more in the mass media - brought Republicans and Democrats to a budget deal. To maximize public attention, they threatened a possible government shutdown. Both parties said that large government deficits and accumulated debt were "serious problems." They agreed that solving them required only spending cuts, not revenue increases. In unison, they repeated, "we" must "learn to live within our means." In fact, both sides never actually engaged the deficit and the debt. They limited themselves to purely cosmetic, symbol-laden cuts (Republicans) and refusals to cut (Democrats). Aiming at the 2012 election, both parties used the deficit and budget debates purely to impress their voters. Basic numbers tell the true story. The current (Fiscal Year 2011) budget spends about $3.5 trillion while receiving $2.0 trillion in tax revenues. The difference of $1.5 trillion (the equivalent of $1,500 billion) is this year's deficit. The US Treasury must borrow that from whoever will lend to the US government. After much hot air, Republicans and Democrats reached a "historic compromise," namely a spending cut of $38 billion. That will reduce this year's deficit from $1,500 billion to $1,462 billion, an economically insignificant sum. The sound and fury of Washington's debates signified nothing was to be done about the actual deficit. Republicans pretend to be deeply troubled by huge government deficits run up in recent years. They conveniently forget why those deficits soared: (1) capitalism's crisis increased unemployment, and so, cut income tax receipts, and (2) Washington response was to borrow trillions and spend them on bailing out banks and credit and stock markets. Republicans revive their old mantra: reduce deficits by cutting "wasteful spending" and "government mismanagement," which turns out to mean the social programs they don't like. Republicans hope to cash in politically on popular upset over the crisis' costs and the government's unfair and ineffective response. Democrats pretend to be as troubled by deficits as Republicans. They parrot Republicans in denouncing wasteful government spending and mismanagement. However, they champion fewer spending cuts than Republicans, hoping thereby to cash in politically on popular support for helpful government programs needed especially in hard times. Democrats are also loudly oppositional where that might appeal to their voters (e.g. saving Planned Parenthood from cuts). Democrats and Republicans did not even discuss, let alone agree on, tax increases on the wealthy or on corporations as ways to cut deficits. At the same time, their proposals for cutting spending were economically insignificant. In short, the two parties' deficit-reduction campaigns were fakes.

Surprised? You shouldn't be as we should be used to being pawns in a whole different game than is televised. Read the entire essay for more stomach-turning facts. And here's another chiller. Just in from Al Jazeera:

The Trials of Jewish-American Political Scientist Norman Finkelstein. (Click here for video) Every single member of my family on both sides was exterminated. Both of my parents were in the Warsaw Ghetto uprising. And it is precisely and exactly because of the lessons my parents taught me and my two siblings that I will not be silent when Israel commits its crimes against the Palestinians." - Norman Finkelstein American Radical is the probing, definitive documentary about Jewish-American political scientist Norman Finkelstein. A devoted son of holocaust survivors, an ardent critic of Israel and US Middle East policy, Finkelstein has been steadfast at the centre of many intractable controversies, including his denial of tenure at DePaul University. Called a lunatic and self-hating Jew by some and an inspirational street-fighting revolutionary by others, Finkelstein is a deeply polarising figure. From Beirut to Kyoto, the filmmakers follow Finkelstein around the world as he attempts to negotiate a voice among both supporters and critics.
Paul Krugman defines another "American Radical" (and the "radical" media that purposely misreports just about everything important to the citizens' lives):
the insincerity of many if not most self-proclaimed deficit hawks
Throwing the Country Away?
Let’s Take a Hike Paul Krugman April 24, 2011 When I listen to current discussions of the federal budget, the message I hear sounds like this: We’re in crisis! We must take drastic action immediately! And we must keep taxes low, if not actually cut them further! You have to wonder: If things are tat serious, shouldn’t we be raising taxes, not cutting them? My description of the budget debate is in no way an exaggeration. Consider the Ryan budget proposal, which all the Very Serious People assured us was courageous and important. That proposal begins by warning that “a major debt crisis is inevitable” unless we confront the deficit. It then calls, not for tax increases, but for tax cuts, with taxes on the wealthy falling to their lowest level since 1931. And because of those large tax cuts, the only way the Ryan proposal can even claim to reduce the deficit is through savage cuts in spending, mainly falling on the poor and vulnerable. (A realistic assessment suggests that the proposal would actually increase the deficit.) President Obama’s proposal is a lot better. At least it calls for raising taxes on high incomes back to Clinton-era levels. But it preserves the rest of the Bush tax cuts — cuts that were originally sold as a way to dispose of a large budget surplus. And, as a result, it still relies heavily on spending cuts, even as it falls short of actually balancing the budget. So why isn’t someone offering a proposal reflecting the reality that the Bush tax cuts were a huge mistake, and suggesting that increased revenue play a major role in deficit reduction? Actually, someone is — and I’ll get to that in a moment. First, though, let’s talk about the current state of American taxes. From the tone of much budget discussion, you might think that we were groaning under crushing, unprecedented levels of taxation. The reality is that effective federal tax rates at every level of income have fallen significantly over the past 30 years, especially at the top. And, over all, U.S. taxes are much lower as a percentage of national income than taxes in most other wealthy nations. em>The point is that we aren’t that heavily taxed, either by historical standards or in comparison with other nations. So if you’re truly horrified by the budget deficit, why not propose tax increases as part of the solution? Wait, there’s more. The core of the Ryan proposal is a plan to privatize and defund Medicare. Yet this would do nothing to reduce the deficit over the next 10 years, which is why all the near-term deficit reduction comes from brutal reductions in aid to the needy and unspecified cuts in discretionary spending. Tax increases, by contrast, can be fast-acting remedies for red ink. And that’s why the only major budget proposal out there offering a plausible path to balancing the budget is the one that includes significant tax increases: the “People’s Budget” from the Congressional Progressive Caucus, which — unlike the Ryan plan, which was just right-wing orthodoxy with an added dose of magical thinking — is genuinely courageous because it calls for shared sacrifice. True, it increases revenue partly by imposing substantially higher taxes on the wealthy, which is popular everywhere except inside the Beltway. But it also calls for a rise in the Social Security cap, significantly raising taxes on around 6 percent of workers. And, by rescinding many of the Bush tax cuts, not just those affecting top incomes, it would modestly raise taxes even on middle-income families. All of this, combined with spending cuts mostly focused on defense, is projected to yield a balanced budget by 2021. And the proposal achieves this without dismantling the legacy of the New Deal, which gave us Social Security, and the Great Society, which gave us Medicare and Medicaid. But if the progressive proposal has all these virtues, why isn’t it getting anywhere near as much attention as the much less serious Ryan proposal? It’s true that it has no chance of becoming law anytime soon. But that’s equally true of the Ryan proposal. The answer, I’m sorry to say, is the insincerity of many if not most self-proclaimed deficit hawks. To the extent that they care about the deficit at all, it takes second place to their desire to do precisely what the People’s Budget avoids doing, namely, tear up our current social contract, turning the clock back 80 years under the guise of necessity. They don’t want to be told that such a radical turn to the right is not, in fact, necessary. But, it isn’t, as the progressive budget proposal shows. We do need to bring the deficit down, although we aren’t facing an immediate crisis. How we go about stemming the tide of red ink is, however, a choice — and by making tax increases part of the solution, we can avoid savaging the poor and undermining the security of the middle class.

And can stop the middle class from leaving the country. From the wise head(s) at Bildungblog: Outing the Villains
Despite the fact that the corporation he oversees has lost approximately $1 billion over the past 15 months, Gerard Arpey, Chairman and CEO of AMR, the parent company of American Airlines, received over $5 million in total compensation in 2010, which was 11% more than he received the year before. See how this works: company makes money, you get a raise; company loses money, you get a raise. That old Invisible Hand is such a clever prestidigitator! But it's not hard to feel its effects.
I gave $5.00 to Russ Feingold's initial efforts to fund Progressives United (and I don't have any money at all to spare - but it's that important (yes, I must have robbed a bank!). What have you done to end this fiasco brought to us by the Rethugs and their enablers, No-Friends-Of-Good-Government? By the by: Welcome to Pottersville2 got a nice mention at the Democratic Underground yesterday. Thank you, friends! ___________________


Penny said...

I did see the Finkelstein documentary and it was very worthwhile.

Enjoyed it and would recommend it

Suzan said...

It was eye opening, wasn't it?

Thanks for commenting, Penny.

And welcome to the blog!