Sunday, November 7, 2010

Media dishonesty

listening to Obama being interviewed tonight. "unbiased" press question - what about the small business owner who makes 250,000 dollars a year, why would you want to raise taxes on them.

Hey guess what. Small business owners don't make a fucking quarter of a million dollars a year. And if they do, they then can afford to pay taxes just like real estate agents who make 250,000 dollars a year.

Financial Crisis

I've spent the past month or so reading about the financial crisis, going through the following books:

Matt Taibbi: Griftopia
David Harvey: The Enigma of Capital
Danny Schecter: Plunder: the crime of our time
Yves Smith: ECONned
Joseph Stiglitz: Freefall
Robert Reich: Aftershock
Robert Scheer: The Great American Stick up

It's been pretty intense. But for anyone interested in better understanding the crisis. I recommend the above for the following reasons.

Taibbi and Scheer- well written, caustic, appropriately profane, and the best job of explaining to a lay audience, without condescending, how the crisis came to pass.

Harvey - still reading, excellent, from a distinctly Marxist perspective.

Schecter - conceives of the crisis as a pre-meditated crime. Not the first book to read on the subject, but a fine addtion.

Smith - Ive written about this before. Yves Smith brilliantly blames the crisis less on greed and corruption, and more on the actual study of economics, whose widely accepted (but clearly faulty) neo-classical models led inexorably to the sort of "innovation" in the financial markets that caused the collapse. Surprisingly dense at times.

Stiglitz - a "mainstream" economist's take. Like Krugman and Reich, Stiglitz is about as far to the left as you can be and still have a job in government.

Reich - provides "next steps" to not only fix the current calamity, but create a new sort of capitalism that does not allow for the level of abuse and economic redistribution to the rich that we have seen over the past 35 years.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Griftopia

The bomb new book I am reading

Restoring Sanity

So I was wondering what all of you guys think about Jon Stewart's speech. I tend to agree with both Bill Maher and Keith Olberman and Jimmy Dore. Maher, on his show last night, said,

"The message of the rally was that if the media stopped giving voice to the crazies on both sides, then we could restore sanity...there are no moderates on the other side. When Jon announced his rally, he said the national conversation was dominated by people on the Right who believe Obama's a Socialist and people on the Left who believe 9/11's an inside job, I can't name any Democratic leaders who think 9/11's an inside job. But Republican leaders who think Obama's a Socialist? All of them."

I really do think Jon Stewart did the country, and himself a disservice by speaking as though the fucking psychopaths on the American right are equivalent to the people on the MNSBC left. While Rachel Maddow and Keith are certainly "liberal" they are hardly radicals, and the rest of the channel, while mostly to the left of center, is far more moderate. Fox news, as Rachel Maddow said on her show Friday night, is literally a political organization masquerading as a news source. MSNBC is a news source of people who are liberals because the facts dictate a that progressive policies make more sense, in LITERALLY ALL CASES. Not because they have a biblical certitude in the inerrant moral superiority of the Democratic Party.

Having said all of the above I think Jon Stewart painted himself into a corner somewhat. Assuming he knows better than what he said on the mall, he was not in a position to be totally honest, he would come off (to much of the country), as distinctly partisan, during an event marketed as anything but. However, I still think what he did was irresponsible. Painting MSNBC and fox with the same brush does tremendous damage to legitimate media.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

from nbc sports: Hugo Chavez and Edgar Renteria

Hugo Chavez to Edgar Renteria: “We beat Bush’s team!”

Craig Calcaterra

Nov 4, 2010, 8:28 PM EDT

Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez talks on the phone with Edgar Renteria in Caracas

Earlier this week Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez and Colombian president Juan Manuel Santos had a summit meeting. As recounted in this BBC report, the meeting was interrupted so Santos could call national hero Edgar Renteria and congratulate him on winning the World Series. Chavez, a huge baseball fan, spoke with Renteria too. And yes, that’s actually a picture of Chavez on the phone talking to Renteria.

What didn’t make the BBC report, however — but which did make it into Daniel Lozano’s report in the Spanish language paper Publico was this:

“The two leaders joked over the phone with baseball player Edgar Renteria, the star who just won the baseball title for the San Francisco Giants after 56 years. Chavez challenged him to a Caimanera (a casual game) and confessed his joy at the victory: ‘We beat Bush’s team!’”

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Jesus Fucking Christ

n April 21, 1945, Inouye was grievously wounded while leading an assault on a heavily-defended ridge near Terenzo called Colle Musatello. The ridge served as a strongpoint along the strip of German fortifications known as the Gothic Line, which represented the last and most dogged line of German defensive works in Italy. As he led his platoon in a flanking maneuver, three German machine guns opened fire from covered positions just 40 yards away, pinning his men to the ground. Inouye stood up to attack and was shot in the stomach; ignoring his wound, he proceeded to attack and destroy the first machine gun nest with hand grenades and fire from his M1 Thompson submachine gun. After being informed of the severity of his wound by his platoon sergeant, he refused treatment and rallied his men for an attack on the second machine gun position, which he also successfully destroyed before collapsing from blood loss.

As his squad distracted the third machine gunner, Inouye crawled toward the final bunker, eventually drawing within 10 yards. As he raised himself up and cocked his arm to throw his last grenade into the fighting position, a German inside fired a rifle grenade that struck him on the right elbow, severing most of his arm and leaving his own primed grenade reflexively "clenched in a fist that suddenly didn't belong to me anymore".[8] Inouye's horrified soldiers moved to his aid, but he shouted for them to keep back out of fear his severed fist would involuntarily relax and drop the grenade. As the German inside the bunker reloaded his rifle, Inouye managed to pry the live grenade from his useless right hand and transfer it to his left. As the German aimed his rifle to finish him off, Inouye managed at last to toss the grenade off-hand into the bunker and destroy it. He stumbled to his feet and continued forward, silencing the last German resistance with a one-handed burst from his Thompson before being wounded in the leg and tumbling unconscious to the bottom of the ridge. When he awoke to see the concerned men of his platoon hovering over him, his only comment before being carried away was to gruffly order them return to their positions, since, as he pointed out, "nobody had called off the war".[8
]

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

ECONned: a book review

An excellent book, from the cover I had feared it might be a little too poppy, but was surprisingly dense - as a warning to anyone looking for a more casual, pop-economics kind of read.

Places the blame for the financial crisis and the wide disparity between classes in American society less on specific policies maintained by Reagan republicans and Clinton democrats then on the STUDY of economics itself.

She condemns the neo-classical models that give what is essentially a soft science the airs of a hard science. These models assume perfect information and perfect competition, things which absolutely do not exist in American economic life. Despite their immediate and obvious lack of applicability, these models are used to inform policy decisions at the highest level.

Their veneer of mathematical inscrutability intimidates non "experts" from engaging in discussion, and cows the public into excepting too willingly the policy initiatives of the biased decision makers at the top.