Saturday, February 20, 2016

Farewell, Harper  (Cruz Exploding in Plain Sight?)  Republicans Trumped?  (200 Million Dollar Company Wants Single-Payer Now!)  Krugman's Folly?  (Moderate, Obama)

I read To Kill a Mockingbird when I was nine, and thought then and now that it was a work of true art by some very interesting person whom I'd like to know. (I thought Atticus was modeled on my Father, and was pleased that he laughed when I told him so.)

When I read Go Set a Watchman, I thought, ah, this is the real story that was totted up by her after her publishers told her that her first submission, the real story, was unsellable and not a convincing work of fiction that could be marketed in the 50's.

I was disappointed that more reviewers didn't see it that way, and I was still hoping she might have another version or even another story featuring these or similar characters still to emerge.

I've just stopped hoping.

Harper Lee.

Nelle. (Also my Grandmother's name.)

A real southern lady.

Girl and woman.

We'll never forget you.

And how you made us think.

The Cruz ad, which is launching less than a week before the Republican caucuses in Nevada, echoes the views propagated by anti-government militant Cliven Bundy, who believes that Western states should seize control of all national public lands within their borders. Cliven Bundy and his sons Ryan and Ammon were indicted this week by a federal grand jury in Las Vegas for leading armed standoffs against the federal government in 2014 in Nevada and earlier this year at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon.
The Cruz ad begins by criticizing the fact that approximately 85 percent of land in Nevada is publicly owned by U.S. taxpayers. These lands include the Lake Mead National Recreation Area on the Colorado River, Great Basin National Park, the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest, and Basin and Range National Monument. 
Cruz’s comments in the ad, which echo legislation he introduced in 2014, do not specify whether he would dispose of national public lands in Nevada by directly auctioning them off to mining, energy, timber and other private interests or by first transferring them to the control of the state government. If they were transferred to state control, the state government would likely have to sell off a large portion to raise the money needed to pay the costs of fighting wildfires and managing the remaining lands. 
Cruz is not the only candidate in the Republican field who has vowed to divest the U.S. of its national parks and public lands. The Associated Press reports that Ohio Governor John Kasich launched a radio ad Thursday that also endorses the transfer of national public lands to the state of Nevada.
With Kasich’s ad, which appears to be his campaign’s first public comments on the issue, four of the six remaining Republican candidates for president are on the record supporting the transfer of ownership of American public lands and energy resources to state or private control. The exceptions are Donald Trump, who has expressed outright opposition to the idea, and Jeb Bush, who has a record of backing privatization in Florida state parks but has stopped short of endorsing an outright divestiture of national land and energy resources. 

Our bestest buddy, Bob Reich, breaks the sad republican news.

And it's a killer:

Writing for "Salon," former Secretary of Labor, Robert Reich, points out a painfully obvious fact deliberately ignored thus far by a clueless Washington media establishment — that the Elephant in the room is, well, dead:

Lest anyone accuse him of spreading premature rumors, Reich lays out the sad facts supporting his case that the rotting corpse once known as the Republican Party is now something akin to the failed nation of Somalia, with rival warlords brutally vying for power, plotting from their tents in an endlessly vituperative anarchist stew.
In one such camp, egomaniacal Billionaires gleefully rub their hands together with thoughts of deregulating so they can pollute, drill and mine to their hearts’ content. In another camp, Evangelical Christians imagine the end times are nigh with every utterance of the Kenyan Muslim President, praying for the Rapture so all the Jews and Gays are converted or else tossed into the Lake of Fire.

In another tent, cynical Wall Street Hedge Fundamentalists hope to profit by short-selling the World Economy into yet another spectacular crash while they watch from their yachts docked in the Cayman Islands. In still another camp are those poor souls who think a loudmouthed Reality TV clown will somehow jump-start their stagnated incomes and bring back an imaginary world with no brown or black people. As Reich says:

Each of these tribes has its own separate political organization, its own distinct sources of campaign funding, its own unique ideology – and its own candidate.

What’s left is a lifeless shell called the Republican Party. But the Grand Old Party inside the shell is no more.
The one commonality of these groups is that they have nothing in common, except, perhaps, their shared belief that only President Obama stands in the way of each of them getting whatever it is they want. They have no leader, no binding principles of what they are for, rather they define themselves simply by broad-brushing what they’re against. This makes them impossible to negotiate policy with, because no single body speaks for their interests.

They are all, indeed, like a pack of hyenas feeding on the carcass of the dead elephant. This is why their “debates” have devolved into incendiary, juvenile battles of schoolyard insults and taunts, not fit for public consumption. There is no longer any adult, unifying presence of an actual political party capable of providing a coherent framework for stopping the feeding frenzy. If you vote Republican, beyond this hatred of Obama you really have no idea what you’re voting for, or what you’re going to get.

Even as recently as 2012, Reich notes, there was always enough of a party there to form a platform which would allow Americans to understand exactly what they were offering the rest of us:

But there was always enough of a Republican Party to do these important tasks – to span the divides, give force and expression to a set of core beliefs, and come up with a candidate around whom Party regulars could enthusiastically rally.
No longer. Without the modulating influence of a Party structure to exercise control, there is nothing between the public and "a veritable Star Wars barroom of self-proclaimed wanna-be’s,” funded by a gaggle of narcissistic Billionaires. Anyone who can raise enough money, or fund himself such as Trump, can consider himself the leader of the “Party," even though his “fellow” Republicans may detest him, and even if he’s never done a day's work of public service in his life.

. . . If these people weren’t all competing to lead the rest of us, the tragedy of the Republican Party might almost be comical. But considering that millions of Americans’ lives and livelihoods are at stake in this election, it turns out that there’s really nothing very funny about a dead elephant.

Do you want to know why the owner of a $200 million dollar a year company decided to produce a movie ("Fix It - Health Care at the Tipping Point") advocating single-payer health care?

Yeah. Why not? It certainly won't change anything until we get a wholesale change in the membership of the Congress.

“My company now pays $1.5 million a year to provide access to healthcare for our workers and their dependents,” Master said. “When I investigated where all the money goes, I was shocked.”
What he found was that fully 33 cents of every health care premium dollar “has nothing to do with the delivery of healthcare.” Thirty-three percent of the healthcare budget was being spent on administrative costs.
That’s why he reached out to a couple of award winning filmmakers to produce "Fix It" — which makes the corporate case for scrapping the current multi-payer system for a single payer.
I view the healthcare system as an existential threat to the economy of this country,” Master told "Corporate Crime Reporter" in an interview last week. “I think of this painting by Goya — Saturn Devouring His Son. The healthcare system is essentially devouring the rest of the economy whole.” 
. . . “I came to realize that insurers comprise a completely unnecessary middleman that not only adds little if any value to our healthcare system, it adds enormous costs to it,” Master said.
“As a result of this waste and inefficiency, our total spending on health care soared above $3 trillion in 2014. More than 17 percent of our national GDP is now eaten up by health care costs, far more than any other country.”
The United States spends fully 30 percent to 35 percent of the healthcare budget on administration — that’s $1 trillion out of the $3 trillion heathcare budget on administration.
 As a former constant reader of Paul Krugman (yes, years ago), I found this essay quite enlightening.

And I'm sure it couldn't be true; although it certainly makes "The New York Times"' stance on so many issues less embarrassing.  Kidding!  More embarrassing as they have accepted money - big money - for those positions.

Who pays Krugman?
Carlos Slim, by most accounts the second-richest person in the world and by far the richest in Mexico, owns 16.9 per cent of Class A stock of "The New York Times." As such, he is the owner of the biggest share of the business, except for members of the Sulzburger-Ochs family.

Before his most recent stock purchase early this year, he had lent considerable sums of money to the corporation. The newspaper has a long history of uncritical or superficial coverage of Mexico, with reporters who apparently never leave the fasionable Condesa neighborhood. The arrival of Slim has made the coverage even worse.
Had he talked to any unbought reporters, Krugman would know that Mexico is a leader in some other dubious categories, like the murder of journalists. Only in Veracruz, home state of host Miguel Alemán, dozens have been murdered in the last two years and current governor Javier Duarte (of Aleman’s party) is credibly accused of having ordered many of these crimes.
Meanwhile, Mexico’s government implements its policy of aggressive speculative development to cover up the aformentioned crimes and the well-known cases of the murder of students and activists, with Krugman as accomplice.

And from the U.S v. Bad Guys - War Against Everyone in the Middle East front:

Obama's "Moderate" Syrian Defection
President Obama, who once called the idea of “moderate” Syrian rebels a “fantasy,” has maintained the fiction to conceal the fact that many “moderates” are fighting alongside Al Qaeda’s jihadists, an inconvenient truth that is complicating an end to Syria’s civil war, explains Gareth Porter. 
The official US posture on the current offensive in the Aleppo theater and the proposed ceasefire obscures the fact that a successful Russian-Syrian operation would make it impossible for the external states, such as Turkey and Saudi Arabia, to resupply the Nusra Front and Ahrar al Sham and thus end the military threat to the Syrian government as well as the possibility of Al Qaeda’s seizure of power in Damascus.
Russian-Syrian success offers the most realistic prospect for an end to the bloodletting in Syria and would also reduce the likelihood of an eventual Al Qaeda seizure of power in Syria.
The Obama administration certainly understands that fact and has already privately adjusted its diplomatic strategy to take into account the likelihood that the Nusra Front will now be substantially weakened. But it cannot acknowledge any of that publicly because such a recognition would infuriate many hardliners in Washington who still demand “regime change” in Damascus whatever the risks.

President Obama is under pressure from these domestic critics as well as from Turkey, Saudi Arabia and other GCC allies to oppose any gains by the Russians and the Assad regime as a loss for the United States. And Obama administration must continue to hide the reality that it was complicit in a strategy of arming Nusra – in part through the mechanism of arming Washington’s “moderate” clients – to achieve leverage on the Syrian regime.

Thus the game of diplomacy and deceptions continues.

Speaking of economic deceptions, Max and Stacy are at Ground Zero:

Report: Ugly-to-the-Bone Economy
Posted on February 18, 2016 by Stacy Herbert  93 Comments ↓
We ask what Dorothy Parker would say about the ugly-to-the-bone economy. We look at the ‘ugly three’ – debt too high, productivity too low, and policy room for maneuver too limited – and the ‘not good’ industrial numbers in Europe. In the second half, Max continues his interview with Mitch Feierstein of about the attempt to taper a Ponzi, Hillary Clinton’s Lloyd Blankfein connection, and the latest on the race to be the next president of the United States.


What is it good for?

We've answered that question.

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