Thursday Reads

Good Morning!! I’m going to be heading back to Boston pretty soon, and I’m looking forward to following developments in Occupy Boston and in the Senate race. They haven’t started an Occupy Muncie protest yet, unfortunately. But you never know. This town is really suffering from the poor economy.

At Mother Jones, there is an interactive map of all the Occupy protests that have sprung up around the country. It’s pretty amazing. Funny thing. A few days ago MJ had a post by Lauren Ellis in which she looked down her nose at the #OccupyWallStreet protesters. Now they have a whole section on the Occupy Movement.

There are still plenty of so-called “journalists” dismissing the protests though. Yesterday, I posted a link to Andrew Ross Sorkin’s piece in the NYT in which he reports his trip to Zuccotti Park at the request of a anonymous nervous Wall Street CEO. Glenn Greenwald skewered Sorkin but good, concluding that Sorkin’s

CEO banking friend is right to be concerned: if not about this protest in particular then about the likelihood of social unrest generally, emerging as a result of their plundering and pilfering. That healthy fear on the part of the oligarchs has been all too absent.

Greenwald also linked to this example of “snotty, petty, pseudointellectual condescension” at The New Republic. Ugh! Read it if you dare.

Yesterday, Greenwald followed up by verbally destroying CNN’s new nighttime host, Erin Burnett.

On her new CNN show on Monday night, host Erin Burnett was joined by Rudy Giuliani’s former speechwriter John Avlon and together they heaped condescending scorn on the Wall Street protests while defending the banking industry, offering — as FAIR documented — several misleading statements along the way. Burnett “reported” that while she “saw dancing, bongo drums, even a clown” at the protest, the participants “did not know what they want,” except that “it seems like people want a messiah leader, just like they did when they anointed Barack Obama.” She featured a video clip of herself explaining to one of the protesters that the U.S. Government made money from TARP, and then demanded to know if that changed his negative views of Wall Street.

This is far from the first time Burnett has served as spokesperson for Wall Street; it’s basically what her “journalistic” career is. She angered Bill Maher a couple years ago when arguing that the rich have suffered along with the poor and middle class as part of the financial crisis, and that it would be wrong to “soak the rich” because they’re already paying so much taxes. She caused Rush Limbaugh to gush over her when she argued on TV in 2007 that all Americans benefit when the rich get richer: “the majority of Americans directly benefit from what happens on Wall Street,” she proclaimed, just over a year before the financial collapse.

In an interview last year with Vanity Fair, she insisted that people on Wall Street do not have private planes and that “there are a lot of stalwart, solid people on Wall Street. There are just a few shady people providing the fodder for big budget movies…”

Meanwhile Beltway Bob Ezra Klein has some advice for #OccupyWallStreet: they should immediately start taking advice from the liberal establishment and focus on developing policy and writing legislation in order to work through the system that they have already rejected.

The Wall Street protests seem to be gathering strength and expanding beyond the geographic limits of downtown Manhattan. The media, too, is finally amplifying the story. Whether they will grow larger and sustain themselves beyond these initial street actions will depend upon four things: the work of skilled organizers; the success of those organizers in getting people, once these events end, to meet over and over and over again; whether or not the movement can promote public policy solutions that are organically linked to the quotidian lives of its supporters; and the ability of liberalism’s infrastructure of intellectuals, writers, artists and professionals to expend an enormous amount of their cultural capital in support of the movement.

There’s lots more, but it’s basically a lecture from someone who just doesn’t get it. And speaking of people who don’t get it, George Will tries to school Elizabeth Warren in his latest column. According to Will, the “liberal project,” which Warren apparently speaks for is designed to destroy rugged individualism.

The project is to dilute the concept of individualism, thereby refuting respect for the individual’s zone of sovereignty. The regulatory state, liberalism’s instrument, constantly tries to contract that zone — for the individual’s own good, it says….

Such an agenda’s premise is that individualism is a chimera, that any individual’s achievements should be considered entirely derivative from society, so the achievements need not be treated as belonging to the individual. Society is entitled to socialize — i.e., conscript — whatever portion it considers its share. It may, as an optional act of political grace, allow the individual the remainder of what is misleadingly called the individual’s possession.

The collectivist agenda is antithetical to America’s premise, which is: Government — including such public goods as roads, schools and police — is instituted to facilitate individual striving, a.k.a. the pursuit of happiness. The fact that collective choices facilitate this striving does not compel the conclusion that the collectivity (Warren’s “the rest of us”) is entitled to take as much as it pleases of the results of the striving.

But isn’t that what Warren is pushing for? For more individuals to have opportunities to make it in America? Really, isn’t it time for George Will to retire?
Meanwhile Warren is leading in the race for the Massachusetts Democratic nomination for Senate, and she appeared in her first debate on Tuesday at my undergraduate alma mater, U. Mass Lowell.

In her first debate as a candidate for U.S. Senate Tuesday night, Harvard law professor Elizabeth Warren declined to criticize her fellow Democratic candidates, taking aim instead at Republican Sen. Scott Brown, whom the Democratic nominee will face, and Wall Street.

“Forbes magazine named Scott Brown Wall Street’s favorite senator. I was thinking that’s probably not an award I’m going to get,” she said to applause and laughter from the audience at the University of Massachusetts-Lowell. Two recent polls put Warren and Brown in a statistical tie.

She also made the audience laugh and applaud with the second question, which asked each candidate how they paid for college, since Brown posed nude for Cosmopolitan to pay.

“I kept my clothes on,” she quipped. She added that she borrowed money to go to a public university and had a part-time job.

Warren also drew applause for her tough talk on Wall Street. “The people on Wall Street broke this country, and they did it one lousy mortgage at a time. It happened more than three years ago, and there has been no real accountability, and there has been no real effort to fix it. That’s why I want to run for the United States Senate,” she said.

Go Elizabeth go!!

Another voice for the middle class, Robert Reich, explains why Wall Street is extremely nervous about the economic crisis in Europe.

If you want the real reason, follow the money. A Greek (or Irish or Spanish or Italian or Portugese) default would have roughly the same effect on our financial system as the implosion of Lehman Brothers in 2008.

Financial chaos….a default by Greece or any other of Europe’s debt-burdened nations could easily pummel German and French banks, which have lent Greece (and the other wobbly European countries) far more.

That’s where Wall Street comes in. Big Wall Street banks have lent German and French banks a bundle.

The Street’s total exposure to the euro zone totals about $2.7 trillion. Its exposure to to France and Germany accounts for nearly half the total.

And it’s not just Wall Street’s loans to German and French banks that are worrisome. Wall Street has also insured or bet on all sorts of derivatives emanating from Europe — on energy, currency, interest rates, and foreign exchange swaps. If a German or French bank goes down, the ripple effects are incalculable.

Read the rest at Huffpo.

There are a couple of interesting reads about Republican candidates at the New York Review of Books. The first is by novelist Larry McMurtry: The Rick Perry Hustle Here’s a brief sample:

What Perry has brought to the Republican muddle thus far is his abundant, if unfocused, energy. He rushes from debate to debate, gives many interviews, gets his picture on the cover of TIME; yet all his politicking is curiously affectless. He makes sounds, but where’s the personality? Hillary Clinton has a personality; so does Sarah Palin. Either of those women could cut Governor Perry off at the knees, and will if given the chance.

It’s not been said so I’ll say it: as a politician Rick Perry is fundamentally lazy, so far as actual governing is concerned, content to run things mainly by sound-bite. He makes lots of decisions but lingers on no issue very long; there’s little follow-through. Clemency, or its absence, is an example. Two hundred thirty-four humans have been executed in Texas on his watch and only recently has he been stirred to a review. He believes that the State Board of Pardons and Paroles is so infallible that there’s no reason for him to lose sleep over the fate of this or that prisoner. The Governor has much more confidence in the Board than the Board has in itself; its members are well aware that even, or especially in Texas shaky verdicts have come down. The Governor, a man with a notably short attention span, has a lot more to think about than the death chamber.

An irony of his sudden emergence as a front-runner is that his few humane decisions—the HPV vaccine, which is safe and helpful, and the tuition credit for the children of illegals, which could help keep gangs of feral children off our streets—are what may sink him with the Tea Party and his own rabid right wing. And this is the wing he has assiduously cultivated his whole political life.

The other NYRB article of interest is by Christopher Benfry: Mitt, We Hardly Knew Ye!

We’re feeling vulnerable and surly these days in western Massachusetts, as the leaves turn yellow, the Red Sox fade, and winter looms. Our corridor of New England along the Connecticut River endured, during the summer months, a ruinous tornado in Springfield, an earthquake, of all things, and Hurricane Irene, which knocked out roads and historic covered bridges in our hill towns and across neighboring Vermont, and left a lot of people homeless and adrift. It’s our Katrina moment, we sometimes think, with slightly grandiose self-pity, as Republicans in Congress demand budget cuts if FEMA is to pay for disaster relief in the blue states.

We don’t see much of Mitt Romney, our ex-governor, in these troubled times. Then again, we never did. Our most indelible memories are of Mitt leaving—“the sight of Mitt’s back,” as a friend of mine put it, as he went off to lay the groundwork for yet another campaign. Mitt ran for the Senate against Ted Kennedy in 1994, lost, and left the state to salvage the Salt Lake City Olympics. When he returned to run for governor in 2002, he had to go to court to prove that he sort of lived in Belmont, outside Boston. Then, after a couple of years in the state house, he left again to campaign for the presidency, spending two thirds of his time out of state in 2006. Mitt has sold his house in Belmont and now lives in the important primary state of New Hampshire (at his estate on Lake Winnipesaukee) or San Diego or maybe Utah—anywhere but Massachusetts.

In the Republican debates, Mitt pretends that his ties to Massachusetts are tenuous. Mitt’s greatest achievement as governor, the Massachusetts health care system (which passed with Ted Kennedy’s support and two dissenting votes in the state legislature), is now his greatest liability among Republicans, who see it as a stalking horse for Obamacare. Mitt now claims it was right for our quirky state but not for the nation. He has yet to explain why.

When Mitt trumpets his experience in American business, he rarely mentions that Bain, the consulting and investment conglomerate in which he amassed his $200 million fortune, is a Boston firm.

And so on…Romney used our state as a springboard and then denied even knowing us.

I’ll end there for today. What are you reading and blogging about?

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21 Comments on “Thursday Reads”

  1. RSM says:

    Best description of the Erin Burnett show, from Twitter:

    “It’s as if Tracy Flick is hosting a show produced and written by Scrooge McDuck.”

    A Swedish poet named Tomas Tranströmer has won this year’s Nobel Prize for Literature:

    http://www.nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/literature/laureates/2011/transtromer.html

  2. Minkoff Minx says:

    Great post BB, I was disgusted when I read this:

    Topeka May Make Domestic Violence Legal To Save Money | Care2 Causes

    Many cities, counties and states across the U.S., feeling increasing pressure to reduce local budgets and cut costs. Public safety programs in particular have taken the brunt of these cuts, with firefighter and police presence being gouged to save staffing costs.

    Kansas is going a step further. Finding some crimes too costly to move through the legal system, one county has decided it will no longer prosecute misdemeanors, including domestic violence. The county legislators’ assumption was that the cities would pay for the prosecution themselves. But Topeka, Kansas, has chosen to take a different approach, and is considering just no longer making domestic violence a crime. The city counsel is now meeting to discuss “repealing the part of the code that bans domestic battery.”

    Ending the prosecution of domestic violence would not only leave women open to increased physical violence in the future, as there would be no repercussions for a partner’s abusive actions, but could potentially mean the harm or even death of the women who’s abusers are currently in the system and will be released rather than prosecuted, which Fox News states total at least 30.

    As one former abuse victim stated bluntly, “They need to invest in headstones, because these women are going to end up in cemeteries.”

    Is a woman’s health and life worth so much less than a balanced local budget? As Feministing puts it, “Thanks, austerity!”

    I don’t know what to say about this…

    • The Rock says:

      Do they feel shame when they make these choices? We are living in a bizzarro world…

      Asshats.

      Hillary 2012

    • bostonboomer says:

      Oh. My. God.

    • Woman Voter says:

      Women are sold around the world, trafficked for sex, abused, killed and her in the US, I guess if you beat or rape your spouse it is A OK, cuz the RICH need another yacht. I am glad many women around the world see Hillary as a beacon of light, that some day women will be free, but until then, we women must continue on: “If one of us is shackled, none of us are FREE”.

      • Gregory says:

        Apparently for every 2 steps forward our society goes it also goes 3 steps backwards. I am not sure how anyone can think that legalizing spousal abuse is a good idea. Of course, that is just some more of those “Christian” biblical values bubbling to the surface again.

    • Branjor says:

      Sounds very much in line with a couple of the posts here in the last few days. You know the ones I mean.

  3. Pat Johnson says:

    Knowing Mitt as well as we do here in MA, and echoing bostonboomer, he never bothered to make an appearance when the tornado blasted its way through Western MA and left many homeless in the face of the devastation. You have to see the destruction up close and personal in order to appreciated the carnage. The landscape has definitely been altered forever in some places.

    More emphasis has been put on the collapse of the Red Sox and its management than on those still struggling back from the disaster but Mittens has been too busy to make even a feeble visit. But that’s Mitt all over.

    Cutting back aid to essential programs is also going increase the suffering. I am thinking of the programs that assist those who are suffering from menta illlness who seem to also be the last in line for aid since Reagan instructed that mental facilities be closed leaving many out in the streets to fend for themselves.

    What a tragic path we have find ourselves undertaking. Another issue that has been lost to the bloviating crowd.

    • Woman Voter says:

      And so on…Romney used our state as a springboard and then denied even knowing us.

      I’ll end there for today. What are you reading and blogging about?

      BB,

      I don’t buy the story that Mitt Romney is living in MA, when his mansion remodel is in California. If he can lie about living in his son’s basement and claim he is an unemployed multi-millionaire, he isn’t the candidate for me.

    • Woman Voter says:

      Pat Johnson,

      Well, Mitt was sleeping in California far away from the tornado, and the truth is he believes corporations a are ‘people’. I am with the Youth of Occupy Wall Street; “I will believe corporations are people too, when Texas executes one!”

      As for the ruling by the Supreme Court, we have Joe Biden to thank, who kept all the other women that had had similar experiences in a hotel away from and not mentioning to the committee of the Thomas hearings…thereby making Anita Hill appear to be a liar all the while claiming to be for women.

      • Gregory says:

        Who is worse? The woman hating cretin who is vocal about it or the woman hating cretin who pretends to be your friend and pretends to be a part of your cause when behind the scenes he is cutting your legs out from under you at every opportunity. This is the way I feel about the differences between the Republican party and the Democratic party right now. One party is out in the open about stealing your rights while the other is doing it on the sly. Sickening either way but who is worse?

  4. Meanwhile Beltway Bob Ezra Klein

    Lol! Thanks for the chuckle, BB.

  5. northwestrain says:

    Here is Texas men have gotten away with killing their wives “because she needed killing” or some such misogynistic chatter.

    Kansas — it doesn’t surprise me that this is where they (mostly males making the decision?) want to legalize spousal abuse. Which means wives have a status lower than dogs — because that jurisdiction probably has a law against abuse of domestic pets?

    Does it surprise us that the sexist pigs are showing their true faces with Elizabeth Warren in the race???

    It sure as hell seems for every two steps forward we go 3 backwards. When a sexist pig like 0bama can be called a “feminist” — then old pig can be a feminist? And yes I will never get over or forget MS Mag obscenity.

    We head north tomorrow for cooler weather.

  6. paper doll says:

    Kansas is going a step further. Finding some crimes too costly to move through the legal system, one county has decided it will no longer prosecute misdemeanors, including domestic violence.

    Was expecting this…why would they investigate and prosecute crimes? Welcome to Austeritystan!… where domestic violence goes back to be called…life. However if you are killed, they might look into it….but don’t count on it

  7. HT says:

    damme me, next time around I want to be born male so I can legally beat someone literally to death time after time How sick is that thought? How sick are those legislators?