About this blog:

What if they held a class war and nobody noticed? For decades, liberals and progressives have been bashed for conducting a "class war" every time they suggest that it would be appropriate for the extremely wealthy to shoulder a bit more of the burden of paying for government. Meanwhile, a swarm of far-right think-tanks and political action committees have been working tirelessly to promote the idea that taxes on the wealthy should be lowered further from their historic lows, and that entitlement programs such as social security and medicare are too expensive to sustain (and in any case, immoral). The latest attempts to delegitimize public employee unions are the logical next step in what genuinely appears to be the systematic dismantlement of the middle class. This blog will highlight some of the more extreme examples of this activity that may not always show up in your news feeds.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Taibbi on DeMint

Here's a great piece by Matt Taibbi on the whole Jim DeMint resignation clown show.  In an article full of great quotes and useful insights, I especially liked this one:

'DeMint's departure was not exactly mourned on the Hill. ("He's the biggest douchebag in Washington," is how one congressional aide explained it to me, "and this is the douchebag capital of the world."'

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Zhdanov Was a Leftist of Sorts

Freddie deBoer's reflexive condemnation of Zero Dark Thirty is emblematic of this particular brouhaha.  It may well be that this film portrays a vile message that defends the use of torture, though reports from those who have seen it vary.  My issue is the preemptive pile-on.  Go see it.  If you think it's evil, condemn away.  But doing that without seeing it, based on what you think might be in it, completely subverts your case.  It reminds me of the Falwellians who protested The Last Temptation of Christ.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Becoming Unpersons

Here's a very nice, in-depth article from Dan Froomkin on the great uncovered story of the 2012 election cycle:  the complete disconnect from truth by the GOP.  In it, he quotes extensively from Norman Ornstein and Thomas Mann, who published a book earlier this year (It's Even Worse Than It Looks:  How the American Constitutional System Collided with the Politics of Extremism) that delved extensively into this issue.  As a result, these two centrist Beltway insiders have been completely shunned by the establishment media, whose mindless and gutless aversion to doing anything beyond "both sides do it" prevents them from giving air time/column inches to anyone who actually describes what's going on with the Republican party's anti-truth jihad.

Balloon Juice has a much-used tag, "Our Failed Media Experiment," and if ever there was a perfect example this is it.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Class War, In a Nutshell

Krugman spells it out, in the context of any "grand bargain" emanating from Washington.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Interesting, For What It's Worth

The Economic Intelligence Unit, a sister organization to The Economist, has come out with a list of the best places to be born today:

1. Switzerland 
2. Australia 
3. Norway 
4. Sweden 
5. Denmark 
6. Singapore 
7. New Zealand 
8. Netherlands 
9. Canada 
10. Hong Kong 

The main criterion seems to be economic stability.  The article finished with the following:

All said, the takeaway from the index seems to be that in today's world, a country's stability and trust in public institutions results in the best quality of life for its citizens. 

From this, it's easy to see why the US did not make the top 10, given the relentless efforts from the Right to demonize government, education, and science, while destabilizing economic stability through increasing income inequality.  I'm sure they'll drop out of the top 20 soon.

Pierce on the Deficit Scolds

Mr. Charles Pierce at Esquire provides a pithy takedown of the cabal of highly compensated "Fix the Debt" CEOs.  Many great lines, but this last graph stands out:

It is hard to believe, given the very real look into how these people think that was the essence of the Romney campaign, that so many people now covering our politics seem unwilling to admit what is plainly in front of their face. We need government more than ever to protect us and our political commonwealth from a rapacious business and financial elite that sees the country as something to be pillaged, and that doesn't have the basic patriotism that god gave the common sea slug. These people have no more business directing the politics of the country than does your drunk uncle who watches Fox News. These people ought to have less influence in our politics than do the people who leave the mints on their pillows every night. There is nothing for the rest of us but self-government, which occasionally must show the right people its fangs so they do not wreck the country and loot what's left. It is all that the rest of us have.

Monday, November 26, 2012


Hate to link Politico, but this has some great quotes from butthurt Republicans about mean Harry Reid.

Here’s what Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is considering: banning filibusters used to prevent debate from even starting and House-Senate conference committees from ever meeting. He also may make filibusters become actual filibusters — to force senators to carry out the nonstop, talkathon sessions.

As Zandar said:

To recap, if Harry Reid tries to stop the GOP from shutting down the Senate, the GOP will shut down the Senate.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Sunday, November 18, 2012

David Simon on Competence vs Moral Rectitude

Via Mistermix, here is a post by David Simon (creator of Homicide:  Life on the Street, The Wire and Treme) on the Petraeus scandal.  He begins with a comment from an earlier post, invoking the Churchill quote, "The price of greatness is responsibility," and pointing out that neither Petraeus nor Bill Clinton can be considered "great" due to their lapses of infidelity.

Dave Simon counters first with a digression about Churchill's excessive drinking, noting that by some standards this could be taken as a sign of moral failure, and hence reason to remove him during a time when he was providing singular leadership to a beleaguered Britain.  Then he provides a lengthy anecdote about the late John O'Neill, an FBI agent who was well on his way to uncovering the 9/11 plot when he was forced into retirement due to his womanizing.  Ironically, he died in those attacks, as he was at the time director of security for the World Trade Center, and was in the south tower trying to rescue people when it came down.

He concludes with:

"I don't need rectitude from my leaders.  I need competence.  I need results.  If you have someone better than Petraeus, then that's one thing.  If he's the best at counterinsurgency, then he is not expendable at this time, when insurgency and our response to it mean actual American lives in the balance."

I agree with this concept, though I am not sure Petraeus really is the best person for this job.  I can't help but feel that much of his success over the last 10 years has arisen from a preternatural talent on his part for building a cult of personality among politicians and media types.  However, I do find it quite ridiculous that his extramarital relationship should drive his resignation.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Learning from the Aussies

Australia mounts a major inquiry into cover-ups of child sexual abuse by the Catholic Church and other institutions.  Why can't North American elites grow a pair and do likewise?


You keep using that word.  I do not think it means what you think it means.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Robert Reich Nails It

This One's Gonna Leave a Mark

Garry Wills writes a long political obituary for Mitt Romney in The New York Review of Books:

What happens to those who lose a presidential campaign? Some can do it with heads rightly held high, and go on to give valuable service to the nation. We were reminded of this just two weeks before the recent election, when George McGovern died. Though he underwent a humiliating defeat by Richard Nixon forty years before, he was a man of integrity, some of whose ideas were continued by people who worked in his 1972 campaign, like Bill and Hillary Clinton, veterans of his Texas office that year. McGovern was re-elected to the Senate after his presidential loss, where he performed important services, like defying the cattle, egg, and sugar lobbies to set up national dietary standards. This was a long-time commitment of his. Even before he went into the Senate, he had served as President Kennedy’s point man in the Food for Peace Program. In 1998, President Clinton appointed him his ambassador to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization, where he worked effectively to curb world hunger. Above all, though he was a heroic flyer in World War II, he was a principled opponent of useless militarism.
What public service do we expect from Mitt Romney? He will no doubt return to augmenting his vast and hidden wealth, with no more pesky questions about where around the world it is stashed, or what taxes (if any) he paid, carefully sheltered from the rules his fellow citizens follow.
Many losing candidates became elder statesmen of their parties. What lessons will Romney have to teach his party? The art of crawling uselessly? How to contemn 47 percent of Americans less privileged and beautiful than his family? How to repudiate the past while damaging the future? It is said that he will write a book. Really? Does he want to relive a five-year-long experience of degradation? What can be worse than to sell your soul and find it not valuable enough to get anything for it? His friends can only hope he is too morally obtuse to realize that crushing truth. Losing elections is one thing. But the greater loss, the real loss, is the loss of honor.

(via TBogg)

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Can't Really Add Anything

SteveM offers us this cogent description of the latest example of the utter fail parade that is our national press:

But the press had a story. It's a great, multi-threaded story, really, even though nobody in the press thinks it is. It's a story the press could have been telling us for years, but never wanted to bother: the story of a major American political party going absolutely stark raving mad, while having the power and persuasive ability to potentially take the country with it. It's a party that flirted with nominating barking lunatics such as Donald Trump, Herman Cain, Michele Bachmann, Newt Gingrich, and Rick Santorum before settling on a guy who was able to mollify supporters of those lunatics by faking (or imbibing) madness himself, by being a pathological liar, and by spending millions of dollars -- because this party is crazy about the rich, and has persuaded much of the country to want to coddle the rich even after the rich nearly destroyed the world.

(h/t DougJ)

Friday, October 19, 2012

Sunday, October 14, 2012

In Search of An Anthelmintic

Here is an excellent New York Times article by Chrystia Freeland on the destructive behavior of the super-rich.  It aptly mentions Karl Marx's quote that capitalism "...carries within itself the seeds of its own destruction" as a result of the inevitable excesses that will occur in a system that relies on exploitation of labor by the owners of capital.  (For a related discussion, see this nice post at Crooked Timber describing a recent piece in the London Review of Books.)

I have come to view these destructive mega-rich as harmful parasites--perhaps like tapeworms that consume an every larger amount of the nutrient stream while contributing nothing to the host, only sickening it.  In an extreme case, the parasite causes the death of its host; this is understandable in the case of mindless worms or protozoa.  But at the level of human society, I am always amazed by behavior that may result in some short-term benefit, but is clearly not in the best interests of the actor's long-term survival.  In short, maybe the rich are not really much smarter than worms, and we should feel very little compunction about ridding ourselves of them.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Neutron Jack Runs Away

Good riddance, loser.

Take Santelli with you, would you?

Added:  John Cole piles on with a beautiful summation of the pathetic, thin-skinned manner with which these alleged masters of the universe go through life.  Most of them wouldn't last a day in a real job.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

It's Inevitable

We are heading for a new Dark Age:

"God's word is true," Broun said, according to a video posted on the church's website. "I've come to understand that. All that stuff I was taught about evolution and embryology and Big Bang theory, all that is lies straight from the pit of hell. And it's lies to try to keep me and all the folks who are taught that from understanding that they need a savior."

Broun is a senior member on the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

These Guys Literally CAN NOT Be Parodied

Via Tbogg, here is an add from the Fox & Friends website for Thursday's show, in which Steve Doocy, Gretchen Carlson and NotSteveDoocy will be joined by a stunning line-up of intellectuals and political analysts.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Classic Reaction

It's a good idea, I like it.  What?  Obama instituted it?  Too much government interference!

I did find one customer who had noticed the calorie labels: Dick Nigon of Sterling, Va. He and his wife, Lea, had stopped by McDonald’s after seeing an exhibit at the Renwick Gallery. Dick had ordered for the couple, noticed the calorie labels and liked them.
“I like that you have the information before you order,” he told me, when I asked about the labels. “It’s better than some kind of government health mandate in Obamacare.”
I told him that the calorie labels were, in fact, a government health mandate in Obamacare.
“Well that changes things a bit,” he responded. “I thought this was more of a voluntary sort of thing. Now I’m not quite sure how I feel about it.”
He and his wife talked it over a bit — she eating her grilled chicken sandwich, him eating a Big Mac — and didn’t come to much of a conclusion about whether this was a good idea.
“The government does do certain things to make us healthy,” Dick said. “But you have to draw the line somewhere.”

(h/t mistermix)

Friday, September 21, 2012

It Isn't Enough

Here is a great Huffington Post article by Richard Eskow outlining the mindset of the ultra-rich, who (amazingly) are angry that they are not getting more from society, along with heartfelt thank-yous from a grateful populace of peasants.  I have said it before, and I'll no doubt say it again:  some of these people need to take a trip to the town square in a tumbrel and become intimate with guillotine. Only then will they start to rein in their excesses.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Massive Gladwell Takedown

I find Malcolm Gladwell's articles in The New Yorker readable and diverting, but I always have the sense that he is trying to convince me of something that I know is untrue, using devious and facile arguments.  I have given up arguing with my wife (who thinks he's great and has read several of his books) about it, but I knew deep down that he must be evil.

Now, having googled the terms "malcolm gladwell facile," I came across this extensive post by Yves Smith detailing his past dealings with various far-right organizations, and his ethically challenged writing on behalf of the tobacco, pharmaceutical, and financial industries.  All while taking massive speaking fees for addressing various industry groups.  In short, this guy is just as corrupt as I always suspected.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Casino Investing

A former Goldman-Sachs VP explains rather succinctly why it is a sucker's game to invest your money in Wall Street.  (via mistermix)

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Almost TOO Meta...

In a post about superficial speaker circuit denizens like Niall Ferguson or Fareed Zakaria and the catch-phrases they try to coin to achieve mainstream acceptance, DougJ coins a doozy himself for this sort of thing:  totebag heroin.  I must find an excuse to use that in the near future.

The Speech No One Talks About

Elizabeth Warren gave a great speech on Wednesday night, but it sort of got shunted to the side in all the excitement about the Big Talk's huge speech.  It's full of great lines, so if you missed it take a look:

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Cracker Bay

Haha, has there ever been a more tone-deaf presidential candidate?

Separated at Birth?

As some know, longtime liberal blogger Roy Edroso recently got married.  (Congratulations, Roy and Kia!)  An unexpected consequence was his posting of a wedding pic, which shows his current appearance.  (I only knew what he looked like during his salad days fronting the Reverb Motherfuckers.  Go to 3:30 in the video below to hear him talking about "Scum Rock" and then a truly inspiring vocal performance.)

In any case, am I the only one wondering whether he could fill in for Lorne Michaels?

You Made Your Bed

Athenae nails it (regarding the CNN camera operator):

It's what you get when you invite people on the air who hate you. Who hate what you do. Who hate what you stand for. Who hate everything you are. Who say, out loud, that the world would be better off without you. Who think you're a detriment to society. Who "joke" about killing you.

It's what you get when you ignore the insults, laugh off the threats, listen thoughtfully to the invective. It's what you get when you not only allow yourself to be treated with disrespect, but you agree with those who don't respect you, and use the precious time and ink and space you have to give their already magnified opinions an even bigger view.
It's what you get when day after day after day after day you just sit there and take it. You've been ignoring the bully for three decades now. Has he gone away yet? Has he stopped?

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Wingnut Welfare Reform

Via Dennis G at Balloon Juice, we get Stephen Marche's take on the purpose of Niall Ferguson's recent excretion:
That number means that Ferguson doesn’t have to please his publishers; he doesn’t have to please his editors; he sure as hell doesn’t have to please scholars. He has to please corporations and high-net-worth individuals, the people who can pay 50 to 75K to hear him talk. That incredibly sloppy article was a way of communicating to them: I am one of you. I can give a great rousing talk about Obama’s failures at any event you want to have me at.

I especially liked Dennis' summation:

Perhaps our society needs Wingnut Welfare Reform to force some of these grifters to work for a living.

Monday, August 20, 2012


I don't have much to add about this incredibly hackish piece in Newsweek by Niall Ferguson.  James Fallows at The Atlantic has blasted both the content and it author, most effectively.  Brad DeLong and Paul Krugman also raised welts.

I have to confess to having held academics at elite places such as Harvard in high regard.  In my own field, most of them really are superstars, worthy of such admiration.  Clearly, as one moves to more subjective disciplines such as history, such distinctions become blurry.  This fellow has a long history of getting important things wrong in his articles, yet Harvard actively recruited him as the "Laurence Tisch Professor of History."  I will need to recalibrate my thinking on the relative quality of Harvard faculty.

Here's a nice summary of the whole Ferguson crap show, from John Cassidy at the New Yorker.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Margin Call

I've watched the movie Margin Call a couple of times, and found it quite engrossing.  It's been suggested that the company to which all the principal characters belong is a fictionalized version of Lehman Bros, complete with a CEO whose surname is very similar to Dick Fuld, the guy who oversaw the collapse of Lehman.  However, it is left uncertain at the end of the film whether the firm will go under, or whether, in fact, they may have saved themselves with their ruthless divesting of toxic assets.

In any case, one of the scenes that has really stuck with me is a monologue by Stanley Tucci's character, risk analyst Eric Dale, in which he describes to a former colleague the consequences of a bridge that he built in an earlier career as an engineer.  I guess I found it affecting because it seems to so perfectly capture the contrast between practical, real-world accomplishments on the one hand, and the endless churning of commoditized products by the financial sector on the other hand.  And guess which one always makes you richer.

Anyway, here's the clip.  Enjoy!

Friday, August 17, 2012


What DougJ said:

Establishment media will cluck and say “both sides do it” no matter what, so we may as well actually do it. If the refs are just handing out double technicals, you should get your money’s worth and kick the other guy in the balls as hard as you possibly can.

No Balls...or No Money?

Matt Taibbi rakes Holder's DoJ over the coals for deciding not to prosecute Goldman Sachs.  However, as MisterMix points out, the constant starving of the beast imposed by Republicans may have left them pathetically overmatched against Goldman's billions.

Monday, August 13, 2012


Folk Fest was great:  perfect weather all weekend, and Geoff Berner more than lived up to my expectations, complete with an awesome, bowderlized version of Daloy Polizei.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Where I'm Gonna Be

For the next few days, my attention is going to be occupied by this.  I've been going for years (probably a total of 13 or 14 times), and the music never lets me down.  The people sometimes, and the sheer logistical nightmare of securing a good tarp position on the hillside, but this year I have resolved not to care about where I sit for the main stage performances.  It will be all about the side stages.

There is one main stage act I am really looking forward to:  these guys.  And if you happen to be there at the right time, check out this guy.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Monsters In Our Midst

Bryan Caplan describes his rationale for cutting away at the welfare state.  This appears on the website Library of Economics and Liberty, funded by the Liberty Fund.

The Liberty Fund is a tax exempt foundation "...established to encourage the study of the ideal of a society of free and responsible individuals."  Does this sound like the usual libertarian smokescreen?  Why yes, yes it does.  The Wikipedia entry for this foundation includes the following:  "In his book The Assault on Reason, Al Gore says that between 2002 and 2004 that 97% of the attendees at Liberty Fund training seminars for judges were Republican administration appointees.  Gore suggests that such conferences and seminars are one of the reasons that judges who regularly attend such conferences 'are generally responsible for writing the most radical pro-corporate, antienvironmental, and activist decisions.'"

Caplan is a member of the Economics Department at George Mason University, home of such luminaries as Tyler Cowan, and point source for many of the vilest right-wing trial balloons to appear over the last few years.  Truly, this is a cesspit of sociopath assholes, and I imagine Caplan feels very much at home.

Thursday, June 28, 2012


John Cole says what needs to be said in 2 lines:

The House voted to hold Eric Holder in contempt.
Meanwhile, with a 17% approval rating, the House is held in contempt by the entire nation.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Pocket Review of Prometheus

I saw Prometheus on the first weekend of its release, and was surprised how negative to it my reaction was--especially in light of its relatively favorable rating on Rotten Tomatoes and the strong endorsement from Denby.  To me, it seemed like an incoherent plot peopled with stupid and unlikable characters, though with decent effects.  But that description fits a fair number of films that I promptly forgot about; why did I dwell on the particular badness of this movie?  I suppose because of the wasted potential, given the director, budget, cast, etc.  But instead of producing a deep, thought-provoking and affecting work concerning the nature of life in the universe, they gave us an updated Mission to Mars with slightly greater pretensions.  Disappointing.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Calling a Spade a Spade

Balloon Juice, a blog I tend to enjoy a lot, seems to be going through an unusually candid period vis a vis the class war that most of us are in the process of losing, as evidenced by two recent excellent posts by DougJ and Freddie deBoer.

David Brooks' Version of "The Aristocrats"

Jon Schwarz wins the internets today:

DAVID BROOKS: Okay, so our act starts with us inflating a giant internet bubble. Then that collapses, taking the country's economy with it, just as we massively cut taxes on millionaires because, we say, if we don't the government will have too much money. Right after that we blow off warnings about terrorism and let 3,000 Americans get slaughtered. We use that as a chance to lie the U.S. into invading a country that had nothing to do with the attack, killing hundreds of thousands of people and turning millions into refugees. In the middle of all that we borrow torture techniques from the Inquisition and use them on people in secret sites around the planet. Then we make billions off another financial bubble, the biggest in human history, and do nothing as itcollapses, plunging the world into the greatest economic calamity since the Great Depression. To fix that we open up the national bank vault and shovel out money as fast as possible to all the criminals who made it happen in the first place. Then—as the amazing finale—we refuse to prosecute anyone for that, for the war, or for torture, and we start killing U.S. citizens with flying death robots.
AGENT: ...That's a hell of an act. What do you call it?
DAVID BROOKS: The Aristocrats!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Coincidence? I Think Not

I was recently contemplating Mitt Romney's plastic, father-knows-best demeanour, and it occurred to me that he really rocks a J.R. "Bob" Dobbs vibe.  Dobbs, the figurehead and alleged founder of the Church of the Subgenius, usually sports a pipe.  But issue Mitt a pipe, and I think you have a good candidate for the Dobbs character in any planned biopic.

I googled the two names, and discovered that I am not the first to make this connection.  Below is an image I lifted from humboldtdave on cheezburger.com:

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Too Good To Excerpt

John Cole has a post today that is so good, and so short, that I am going to post it in its entirety.  I know that's bad form, but I can't resist.  Or, just go to Balloon Juice and read that, as well as the many other great posts.

When did the 1st Amendment change from basically saying that you can practice whatever religion you want and you won’t be burned at the stake as a heretic and we’re not going to form or recognize a national religion like the Church of England? When did it change to “everyone everywhere has to do what a bunch of old catholics in funny hats wants, because otherwise it hurts their feelings?” And why does it only apply to certain religions?
I seriously wish other religions would get in on the act. I wish Keith Ellison would start sponsoring bills that allow insurers to cut people’s benefits if they don’t pray to Mecca a certain number of times a day. Or someone Jewish proposing a bill requiring circumcisions or you can’t get health insurance. Just flood the zone with bullshit so people can see how out of control our concept of religious liberty has become.
And who gets to decide what religions are real? I’m going to form my own religion, and the central tenets of my religion will be pizza every Friday, the only thing you are allowed to do on Sundays is watch sports, and I am forbidden by my deity to pay taxes. I’ll call it Norquistism. How would the feds react to that? How is my religion any less real than burning bushes, virgin birth, transubstantiation, and the like?
Does no one realize how absurd the Catholic Bishops are behaving? They are attempting, by dictate, to do precisely what the 1st Amendment bans, which is the establishment of a national religion.
It’s obscene. And it is completely political. They are no longer functioning as a religious organization, but as a political party.
This madness has to stop.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

RATM--Still Topical After 20 Years

Compromise, conformity, assimilation, submission
Ignorance, hypocrisy, brutality, the elite..

All of which are American dreams

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

How Is a "Covert Action" Different from Terrorism?

Although journalists seem willing to speculate that this is the work of Israeli intelligence operatives, no one seems willing to take the next step and address the legality/morality of such actions.