Sunday, October 13, 2013

Republican or American Suicide Machine? (Why the Poorly Educated Hate Paul Krugman) What Could $50 TRILLION That US Rich Control Do To Help US? (What Are You Doing To Evolve Society?)

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For the latest on the Republican "Suicide Machine" we turn to Rolling Stone's Tim Dickinson who explains what the Jedi Rethugs have threatened Boehner with should he make a deal they don't like:

Inside the Republican Suicide Machine

By Tim Dickinson, Rolling Stone

11 October 13

t's open warfare within the GOP - and all of America is caught in the crossfire

The day before Congress broke for its August recess, on an afternoon when most of official Washington was tying up loose ends and racing to get out of town, Sen. Ted Cruz was setting the stage for the chaos that has consumed the nation's capital in recent weeks.

The tall Tea Party-backed Texan - the state's junior senator, with less than a year in office - worked his mischief in a windowless Capitol basement, where dozens of the most radical members of the House had gathered for a meeting of the Republican Study Committee. Once a marginal group known for elevating anti-government dogma above party loyalty, the RSC now counts among its members 174 of the 232 House Republicans.

"Father, we thank you," says Rep. Michele Bachmann, opening the meeting. "You are the most important presence in this room." In a pinstriped suit and yellow tie, Cruz sits at the center of a long conference table, flanked by RSC chair Steve Scalise and by the group's most powerful member, former chair Jim Jordan of Ohio - who has routinely marshaled House rebels into battle against leadership. Jordan flashes the visiting senator a conspiratorial smile.
. . . Cruz says, the time has come to force a real fight - one that Republicans can "actually win."

. . . His plan: Yoke the defunding of Obamacare to the must-pass budget bill the House will take up in September. The endgame? To force a government shutdown so painful and protracted that Barack Obama would have no choice but to surrender the crown jewel of his presidency. "As scary as a shutdown fight is," Cruz insists, "if we don't stand and defund Obamacare now, we never will." With those words, Cruz fired the first shot in a civil war that has cleaved Republicans in both chambers of Congress - a struggle that threatens the legitimacy of the Grand Old Party and the stability of the global economy. The fight has little to do with policy, or even ideology. It pits the party's conservative establishment against an extremist insurgency in a battle over strategy, tactics and, ultimately, control of the party. Each side surveys the other with distrust, even contempt.
. . . When Republicans took control of the House in 2011 - fueled by the passion of the Tea Party and the virtually unlimited funding of donors like the Koch brothers - casual observers of American politics saw a House GOP united in the politics of the extreme right. But inside the Capitol, the story was more complicated. The leadership that the Tea Party had vaulted to power - Speaker John Boehner and Majority Leader Eric Cantor - were members of the GOP's tainted old guard. Although divided by a generation and by an often fierce political rivalry, both Boehner and Cantor abetted the budget-busting "compassionate conservatism" of Karl Rove. Cantor rubber-stamped the "Bridge to Nowhere"; Boehner was a frequent flier on corporate jets. They teamed up to steer the passage of TARP in the face of fierce opposition from grassroots conservatives - a moment that Tea Party leaders cite as the birth of their insurgency.
Cantor, along with GOP Whip Kevin McCarthy, had actively recruited most of the 85 incoming freshmen. "They figured they could ride the Tea Party to a majority, and co-opt all of those people," says Norm Ornstein, a scholar at the conservative think tank AEI. But from the start, leadership misjudged the new arrivals. Many had come to Washington to fight, not fall in line. "You show up in the fall," says Rep. Tim Huelskamp, a self-described Young Turk from Kansas, "and they say, 'Here's what we're going to do, and everybody follow.' And we said, 'We've got a bunch of folks who don't very much like the direction you've been wantin' to go.'"
As leadership struggled to corral the class of 2010, a fellow congressman from Boehner's home state of Ohio seized the advantage. Jordan, the RSC chair, recruited 78 freshmen into his fold. The RSC suddenly comprised a majority of the majority party, and Jordan found himself in a position of tremendous power and leverage, concepts that the wiry but broad-shouldered third-term congressman understood in his bones - he won two NCAA championships wrestling in the 134-pound class.
Boehner never knew what hit him. The speaker would soon suffer two stinging defeats at the hands of Jordan and the RSC. The first came during the 2011 debt-ceiling battle, when Boehner shut out his conference to negotiate with President Obama a $4 trillion "grand bargain" that combined modest tax increases with draconian spending cuts. By any objective standard of Washington deal making, Boehner had extracted extraordinary concessions from a sitting Democratic president.
Believing the old rules of Washington still applied, Boehner was confident that where he led, House Republicans would follow. But Jordan's RSC simply wouldn't abide any deal that raised taxes, and more than 170 members were united against the speaker. If Boehner pressed ahead, the Grand Bargain could only pass with a majority of Democratic votes - a scenario that Cantor feared would spark a mutiny. So he spiked Boehner's deal. "We were preventing the speaker from making a bad mistake for himself and the rest of the leadership team," a former leadership aide tells Rolling Stone.
Jordan's intransigence forced Republican leaders and the president to settle on a smaller, cuts-only package that cost America its AAA credit rating and created the blunt across-the-board spending cuts known as the sequester. Jordan and more than 60 House radicals opposed even that final deal, but he still claimed victory: "Conservatives stood firm," he gloated. "We [forced] Washington to begin addressing its spending-driven debt crisis."

The Shutdown as well as the Sequester continues (although many of the closed national parks are being reopened without the government funding (read about Arizona's, Colorado's, and Utah's decisions to reopen with state money for the present)). This is almost being declared a national emergency as the Fall tourist traffic with their jingling pockets cannot be ignored as they want TO VIEW THE SIGHTS.

A Rationality Shutdown

By Bob Koehler

The government's reptile brain remains in full operation. It hasn't shut down war, just compassion and common sense.

Paul Krugman is one of my heroes. He's brave enough to tell the truth in the pages of the New York Times (where a lot of truth is not allowed if it bothers the wealthy). Joe Scarborough has no problem with the truth. He wouldn't tell it if he knew (understood) it as he really dislikes Paul Krugman and takes every opportunity to try to minimize his importance as a highly qualified economist. Today's slander embraces the previously-exposed lies of Niall Ferguson. It's really not a fair fight (but it's a loud one on FOX TV).

(Credit: Reuters/Anton Golubev)

(Click on photo for the full picture.)

October 10, 2013

Joe Scarborough (and Niall Ferguson) versus Paul Krugman, again

Morning Joe dislikes the Times columnist so much he'll repeat "off the record" accusations against him (VIDEO)

By Alex Pareene

MSNBC host Joe Scarborough very, very much dislikes New York Times columnist Paul Krugman. Historian huckster Niall Ferguson also very, very much dislikes Paul Krugman. So today Scarborough invited Ferguson to appear on his show, “The Morning Joe Show,” to talk about how mean and the worst Paul Krugman is. It was … well, it was pretty predictable.

These two very serious and important public thinkers agreed: Paul Krugman is a mean, bad liar.

NIALL FERGUSON, HISTORIAN: Nobody seems to edit that blog in the New York Times and it’s high time that somebody call him out. People are afraid of him. I’m not.
JOE SCARBOROUGH, CO-HOST: I actually won’t tell you which public editor it was, but one of the public editors of the New York Times told me off the record after my debate that their biggest nightmare was his column every week.
There are a couple of really funny things about this little exchange. The first is Niall Ferguson throwing around “unedited” like an insult, when he’s on “Morning Joe” to discuss a series of blog posts he’s published at the Huffington Post. Ferguson is, for real, just blogging every day about how much he hates Paul Krugman, at HuffPo. The author of “Krugtron the Invincible, Part 3″ is on TV saying he is not sure whether Paul Krugman’s New York Times blog is edited.

Everything you need to know about Ferguson you can learn in this classic London Review of Books piece but it should be noted that one reason Ferguson hates Krugman is because Ferguson, not long ago, wrote a Newsweek story that was full of untrue statements, and pretty much everyone called him out on this but Krugman did so particularly impolitely, and that is always everyone’s beef with Krugman: He is so rude, when he is talking about people he considers liars and charlatans.

Scarborough has had it in for Krugman since forever. The crux of his complaint, for a while, was that Krugman is too partisan and too hysterical in his condemnation of Republicans and conservatives. But Joe Scarborough has always been an unlikely advocate for civility. His on-air persona is that of a self-righteous chauvinist — though don’t call him a chauvinist, or he’ll yell at you until you apologize — not a polite Charlie Rose type. Scarborough does not sound particularly civil when denouncing his own opponents, even when those opponents are exactly the people he denounced Krugman for denouncing.

More recently, Scarborough has attempted to finesse his anti-Krugman stance, by attacking the columnist on actual policy matters, especially related to the economy and government debt. Unfortunately, Krugman usually has a better grasp of those issues than Scarborough, but Scarborough has a handy rejoinder to any Krugman argument: My friends agree with me.

That’s what makes Ferguson’s claim that “people” are “afraid” to criticize Krugman so silly.

No one in the elite center is ever afraid to take on Krugman. That’s why Ferguson was asked to do so on “Morning Joe.” People who agree with Krugman on every important substantive point make a big show of saying that they think he’s too shrill and contemptuous of his opponents. Indeed, Scarborough’s usual method of supporting his Krugman attacks is to invoke the authority of his serious and important friends. Here, for example, Scarborough cites the unnamed “public editor.” In the past, Scarborough has painted Krugman as a crazy voice from the fringe of American politics, pitting him against respected establishment figures like Richard Haas and Michael Mullen and Erskine Bowles.

Now, about this conversation with the mysterious public editor. It is not Margaret Sullivan, the current New York Times public editor. (Indeed, she has raised a proverbial eyebrow at Scarborough’s interpretation of “off the record.”) For those of us curious about the conversation, Scarborough helpfully emailed a statement to Newsbusters, in which he elaborated on this “off-the-record” conversation:

“During a conversation with one of the New York Times public editors, it was volunteered that the majority of their workload revolved around inaccuracies and misstatements attached to Paul Krugman’s column and blog. What made that conversation with the former public editor all the more compelling is that it occurred several years ago before Mr. Krugman and my public battles. The public editor at the time rolled his eyes and said of overseeing Krugman’s work ‘It’s a nightmare.’”
(Scarborough confirmed that the conversation happened “years ago,” as he writes here, and not “after my debate,” which he mistakenly said on-air.)

It should be noted that the public editor isn’t in charge of “overseeing Krugman’s work,” in the usual sense of overseeing. The public editor doesn’t issue corrections or edit columns. The public editor is an ombudsman, not really an editor. The public editor’s sole job is to respond to reader complaints and issue independent criticisms of Times coverage. Which means that this unnamed public editor (it’s probably Daniel Okrent, by the way, based on the time frame and Okrent’s on-the-record distaste for Krugman’s work) was saying (off the record!) that Krugman’s columns generated the most complaints. The workload involved readers alleging “inaccuracies and misstatements” in Krugman columns, not actual substantiated mistakes. What might account for that? If the editor in question was Okrent, whose tenure was 2003 to 2005, these columns ran during one of the most contentious periods of the first Bush term, and his reelection campaign, when Krugman was writing one of the most high-profile anti-Bush columns in the country, in a newspaper where even most of the other “liberals” were on board with the invasion of Iraq. (Which, again, Krugman was right about, and Joe Scarborough was wrong about.)

But let’s accept that Krguman’s work generates a lot of work for the public editor. He writes about hotly debated issues, and he does so unsparingly and often impolitely. That could definitely be a headache for a major newspaper. (Not enough of a headache to fire him or anything, but still.) Speaking of headaches, let’s consider the case of MSNBC’s star morning show host.

There was the time Scarborough was suspended from MSNBC for his campaign donations, which were in violation of an NBC ban. He has accidentally said “fuck” on-air. He mocked a fellow MSNBC host on-air for an incident that became embarrassing gossip page fodder. He once “jokingly” asked whether Fred Thompson’s wife “works the pole.” He once couldn’t stop giggling during a news report on an alleged sexual assault. In March, he was forced to issue an on-air apology to Nancy Pelosi for airing a misleadingly edited clip insinuating that she was for the Iraq War.

The point of highlighting these lowlights, besides the fact that they’re funny, is to point out that if MSNBC had an ombudsman or public editor — it does not — that person would probably have dealt with a large number of complaints over the years. And these are the situations that would’ve led to complaints with some merit. There have been a thousand other statements and incidents that would’ve enraged partisans on one or the other side, further increasing this hypothetical public editor’s workload, perhaps even giving him or her a headache. Amount of reader complaints generated is not a great measure of quality of work. (In either direction!)

This imaginary public editor might also note that it’s a bit iffy, ethically speaking, to use an off-the-record conversation with an unnamed person to publicly accuse a rival commentator of chronic inaccuracy, without pointing to a single documented instance.

(Alex Pareene writes about politics for Salon and is the author of "The Rude Guide to Mitt." Email him at and follow him on Twitter @pareene)

Another of my heroes, Dean Baker, is much tougher on the nonsense purveyors:

The Ravings of Niall Ferguson, the Real World and the Needless Suffering of Tens of Millions

By Dean Baker

Krugman and my fellow like-minded bloggers can speak for themselves, but I am not going to apologize if I am occasionally rude to an ill-informed overpaid Harvard professor making absurd pronouncements on economics that have the effect of obstructing policy aimed at ending unnecessary suffering.

Here's an idea about how to understand (and take actions for or against) U.S. b/millionaires having 50 Trillion to invest in financial schemes but not jobs in the U.S. . . .

What Are You Doing To Evolve Society?

Comedian Lee Camp was inspired enough by our latest commentary on the state of our economy to feature it in his new Moment of Clarity video. Apparently only comedians seem to understand the mind-blowing absurdity of US millionaires having $50 TRILLION in wealth, while we also have a record number of people living in poverty. Russell Brand has been riffing on that stunning fact on his Messiah Complex tour, and now Lee Camp throws some fuel on the fire and also rips on this “crime against humanity.”

$50 TRILLION needs to become the new 99%. If the propagandized masses understood how much $50 trillion is, and how just a mere fraction of that staggering amount of wealth could be used to evolve society, for the benefit of everyone, we would have a full-blown societal evolution right now.

For example, only $1 trillion could provide jobs to 20 million unemployed people, paying them each $50k per year. $1 trillion could also send 127 million to college AND provide health insurance for 206 million people.

You do the math. One trillion is 1000 billion.

To make matters even worse, an estimated $11 trillion of that $50 trillion is stashed in offshore accounts. This emphatically proves that our system is completely overrun with corruption. What more proof do you need?
We need to incite a national debate on this subject. Let’s beat the $50 TRILLION drum. “All day, all week…”
Here’s how Lee Camp summed up the video above:

“We are in a neo-feudal system in which most Americans are slaves to debt. We are looking at an all-time record number of children going to bed hungry and of people foreclosed on. We are also looking at an all-time record number of insanely rich Americans. How is this possible?”

John Perry Barlow (in his support of the Electronic Frontier Foundation) has long been a paragon of virtue (okay, my type of virtue) in my eyes. If you don't know why, here's the chance to find out.

More odd news on the U.S. nuclear warheads front?

US Nuclear Force Faces a Cascade of Missteps

WASHINGTON (AP) - First it was bad attitudes among young officers in nuclear missile launch centers. Now it's alleged bad behavior by two of the nuclear arsenal's top commanders.


TONY said...

Bachmann. Bringing the 'end times' with a smile for the cameras. Hahahahahhahahahahhahahahahaha.No.
Nice piece, C.

Cirze said...


No one's said that to me in a while.


I'll try to live down to it.