Thursday Reads

Good Morning!! I have a few interesting reads for you today. There isn’t a lot to be happy about in the news these days, but I hope that some of my picks will bring a smile to your face.

Maybe this will do it: Clint Eastwood: ‘I don’t give a f*ck’ if gays marry. The superstar actor and director told GQ Magazine that he considers himself an Eisenhower Republican, and he doesn’t sound too happy with the people running the party these days.

“These people who are making a big deal out of gay marriage?” Eastwood opined. “I don’t give a fuck about who wants to get married to anybody else! Why not?! We’re making a big deal out of things we shouldn’t be making a deal out of.”

“They go on and on with all this bullshit about ‘sanctity’ — don’t give me that sanctity crap! Just give everybody the chance to have the life they want.”

[….]

“I was an Eisenhower Republican when I started out at 21, because he promised to get us out of the Korean War,” he told GQ. “And over the years, I realized there was a Republican philosophy that I liked. And then they lost it. And libertarians had more of it. Because what I really believe is, let’s spend a little more time leaving everybody alone.”

Go ahead, make my day, Clint.

This story is a few days old, but it made me smile: Zakaria destroys Rumsfeld’s Iraq war talking points. Zakaria interviewed Rumsfeld on September 11, and the old goat still tried to claim that al Qaeda was in Iraq before the U.S. invaded.

“There’s no question that al Qaeda and Zarqawi and people were in Iraq,” Rumsfeld argued. “They aggregated there.”

“If we hadn’t invaded, they wouldn’t have been there,” Zakaria pointed out.

“We don’t know that,” Rumsfeld insisted. “You don’t know that. I don’t know that.”

“But they went in to fight us. So since we weren’t there, why would they have gone into Iraq?” Zakaria countered.

“Why have they gone into Yemen and Somalia?” Rumsfeld asked. “Why do al Qaeda go anywhere? They go where it’s hospitable.”

“Right, and Iraq hadn’t been hospitable,” Zakaria said.

ROFLOL! Why is this joke of a man able to get a book contract? Why does anyone want to put him on TV? He’s a complete loon.

Speaking of deserving people getting their comeuppance, deadbeat dad and Tea Party Rep. Joe Walsh was “scolded” by a Chicago judge yesterday for failing to support his children.

A Chicago judge issued a preliminary ruling Wednesday against U.S. Rep. Joe Walsh (R-Ill.) in his child-support dispute with his ex-wife, ordering the Tea Party favorite to explain why he appears to be $100,000 behind in child-support payments.

Vega did issue a “rule to show cause” — which means Walsh has to tell the court why he shouldn’t be held in contempt for falling so far behind in child support over the past five years.

Laura Walsh argues her ex-husband owes more than $100,000, a number the congressman disputes. But Vega’s ruling means that the burden is now on the congressman to prove that he doesn’t owe the money, attorneys for both Walshes agree.

Laura Walsh has gone into court on numerous occasions since filing for divorce in 2002, seeking court orders to have her ex-husband meet his court-ordered child-support obligations.

What a slug that guy Walsh is!

I came across this fascinating piece by Sarah Jaffe at Alternet: Are Jobs on Their Way to Becoming Obsolete? And Is That a Good Thing? It’s a long read, but I highly recommend you take the time. Here’s just a sample:

Media theorist and author of Life, Inc.: How the World Became a Corporation and How to Take it Back Douglas Rushkoff ruffled some feathers this week when he dared, at CNN.com of all places, to ask that question. It seemed, perhaps, gloriously insensitive to the plight of unemployed workers, of union workers at the U.S. Postal Service, who are struggling like so many others to stay afloat in an uncertain economy while they’re demonized in the press as greedy for wanting a decent job.

[….]

He argues that perhaps we’re going about it backward when we call for jobs, that maybe it’s not a bad thing that technology is replacing workers, and points out that actually, we do produce enough food and “stuff” to support the country and even the world—that, in fact, we produce too much “stuff.”

He alternately harkens back to a past before jobs, when many people worked for themselves on a subsistence level, and forward to a future where we are all busy making games and books and communicating with one another from behind computer screens, with the hours we have to work dwindling.

Rushkoff’s ideas really resonated with me. I haven’t worked a full-time job since 1986, and although I don’t have a lot of money, I have never regretted my decision to quit my 9-5 job and find some meaning in my life by doing things that made me happy. I did find that meaning, first by working on my own problems and issues and then by helping and being a caregiver for my elderly ex-mother-in-law in return for a place to live.

Because my expenses were low, I was able to return to college and get a bachelor’s degree, then go on to graduate school and earn an MA and a PhD. During graduate school and after, I have worked as a teaching assistant and have taught a number of courses. But now that I’m finished with my education, I’ve been reluctant to search for a full-time teaching job.

Lately I’ve survived mostly on my Social Security and selling my huge accumulation of books on the internet with a few teaching jobs thrown in. I will also have another small source of retirement income from my days as a full-time office worker when I choose to take it. I’m enjoying the time I’ve had to follow politics closely and blog about it. I’ve never been all that ambitious. I went to school simply for the joy of learning. I do want to find ways to give back, but I don’t care that much about making piles of money. I might have to check out Rushkoff’s book.

At Truthout, I learned that liberal economist Dean Baker has also written a book, and you can even download it free! The book is called “The End of Loser Liberalism: Making Markets Progressive. From the Truthout article by Keane Bhatt, Dean Baker: Why Didn’t We Make These Guys Run Around Naked With Their Underpants Over Their Heads?

KB: Your book argues that financial crises don’t have to lead to “lost decades” of massive pain and suffering and, even more importantly, that the US never even experienced a true financial crisis.

DB: There’s a lot of real sloppy thinking here. The main promulgators of this view are Kenneth Rogoff and Carmen Reinhart and they say that they look back over 600 years of history and find that in almost all these cases, countries took over a decade to recover. It’s painful, because I’d like to think – and one would expect that they’d like to think – that we know more economics than we did 600 years ago. If we don’t – and we really haven’t learned anything – why do you guys get paid high salaries? I say that only partially facetiously. If we were to look back through time, a very high percentage – probably the majority – of newborn babies didn’t survive to age 5. You’d be an idiot to say that the past trend holds today – we have modern medicine, so we have a very good reason to expect that the overwhelming majority of children will survive to age 5. We have learned something in economics over six centuries, so it’s not some curse, they’re concrete problems.

Finance gets very mysterious and complicated. There are instruments that are hard for people to understand; they’re hard for me to understand. The basic story is not complicated: we need demand. As I say in the book, there’s very little about the financial crisis that explains where we are today. People who want to buy homes have no problem getting credit – you can’t go 0% down, but someone who, say, 15 years ago was able to get a home mortgage can expect to get a home mortgage today. In terms of businesses, the US, unlike Japan, has a very large capital market where firms can directly access capital through commercial paper and bond financing. The current rates are extraordinarily low in both nominal and real terms. So the idea that the banks being crippled would impede the economy doesn’t follow when hundreds of the largest firms can go straight to the market and get financing.

Let’s imagine that the big firms can get credit but the small ones can’t. That would create a situation in which the big firms are running wild, grabbing market share at the expense of smaller competitors crippled by lack of access to capital. This is not happening.

There’s a survey that the National Federation of Independent Business has done for a quarter century that asks businesses what are the biggest problems to expanding. And currently, almost no one mentions finance – either access or cost. So clearly the problem is not finance.

Read the whole interview if you can–it’s well worth it.

I’m going to end with a story that won’t necessarily make you smile, but it’s a story that puts the lie to the Bush/Cheney claims that torture helped make us safer. I think that’s a good thing. In fact, author and former FBI interrogator Ali H. Soufan argues that the opposite is true, and that in fact 9/11 could have been prevented with traditional interrogation methods. Watch his interview with Keith Olbermann:

So…what are you reading and blogging about today?


29 Comments on “Thursday Reads”

  1. Alibe says:

    Hearing about Zuckaria excoriate Rumsfield is good to hear. However, I certainly remember Fareed being so happy we were at war with Iraq. I wanted to jump through the TV and choke him. Is Fareed one of those who has apologized for being wrong on the Iraq war or does he pretend he was always opposed to the war?

    • bostonboomer says:

      According to Wikipedia, Zakaria initially supported the invasion of Iraq, but was critical of Bush policy there from the early on.

      His stances sound fairly complex, not exactly cheerleading. His disagreement with Rumsfeld was about al Qaeda being a justification for intervention in Iraq. I don’t know that Zakaria has changed his mind about Iraq now, and I doubt if he would claim to have opposed the war.

  2. paper doll says:

    In fact, author and former FBI interrogator Ali H. Soufan argues that the opposite is true, and that in fact 9/11 could have been prevented with traditional interrogation methods.

    Of course, that’s why they weren’t used…. before or after

    great round up!

  3. Branjor says:

    I can tell the weather’s cooling off where you are. HOT coffee up there instead of iced coffee!

  4. janicen says:

    I always enjoy your posts, BB. Rushkoff’s ideas are interesting. It seems that the corporations’ shortsightedness in eliminating jobs and demonizing workers will ultimately bring about the demise of the corporations. If people cannot buy their stuff, the corporations will fail. If corporations continue to dismantle government then even the government will not be able to buy their stuff.

    I can relate to your personal story as I’m sure many others do as well. I’ve learned that stepping back from the grind of earning for the sake of earning and buying lots of stuff leads to nothing more than having lots of stuff. I’ve learned from being executor of my mom’s estate that once you die, nobody wants all that stuff you’ve accumulated, so what was it all for? Volunteering and participating in charity efforts is far more fulfilling although heartbreaking in that the needs keep growing as the wealth in this country continues to change hands from the middle class to the wealthy. It’s puzzling why there is such hysteria whenever a social program is proposed that it constitutes and transfer of wealth from the rich to the poor, but nobody raises an eyebrow when the wealth transfers in the opposite direction.

    • bostonboomer says:

      Thanks Janicen. The older I get, the more I realize that what is really important is family and friends. I’m a lot less attached to my “stuff” than I used to be, that’s for sure.

  5. Pat Johnson says:

    The Artic is warming up.
    The number of unemployed is static.
    The corporations are planning on strip mining our nationa parks.
    The middle class is staggering under the yoke of failed policies.
    The never ending wars continue on at a cost of billions.

    And the GOP candidates are talking about eviscerating even more social safety nets in their march to privatization along with their opposition to gay rights.

    Does it get any stupider than this?

  6. mjames says:

    BB, your story resonates with me. I’ve been self-employed for 25 years or so. I make my own hours and earn enough to live well, though not extravagantly by any means, but I also have time to do other things I personally value. It’s too bad more of us can’t do the same.

    • bostonboomer says:

      I just hope I can figure out a way to use my education to help kids. I’d much rather do that than teach college students–although I’d love to be able to help young people of any age if I can.

      • mjames says:

        Me too. I may switch to teaching if my legal writing gig dries up. Helping the young either to understand the world around them or simply to develop critical thinking tools. In a creative, audience-participation kind of way.

      • Minkoff Minx says:

        BB, I loved your reading your personal story, absolutely loved it. Thank you for writing it out, it made me feel like there is a light at the end of all this despair.

      • bostonboomer says:

        Hi Minx,

        I was thinking of you too, when I read that article last night.

  7. thewizardofroz says:

    “As I watch the Republican debates, I realize that we are on the brink of a crazy person running our nation. I sit in front of the television and shudder at the thought of one of these creationism-loving, global-warming-denying, immigration-bashing, Social-Security-cutting, clean-air-hating, mortality-fascinated, Wall-Street-protecting Republicans running my country.”

    I guess James hasn’t heard about how Obama has dealt with Wall Street, or that Obama isn’t all that interested in clean air given his latest reversal, or that Obama is not having a problem putting Medicare and Social Security on the chopping block since it is he who put it on the table during the debt ceiling talks and intends to take a huge chunk out of Medicare to pay for his so-called jobs bill. Frankly, the biggest problem with James’ advice is that he is mistaking Obama for a Democrat.

    Roz in NJ/NYC

  8. Minkoff Minx says:

    Have you all seen this: LightSquared: Did White House Pressure General Shelton to Help Donor? – The Daily Beast

    The four-star Air Force general who oversees U.S. Space Command walked into a highly secured room on Capitol Hill a week ago to give a classified briefing to lawmakers and staff, and dropped a surprise. Pressed by members, Gen. William Shelton said the White House tried to pressure him to change his testimony to make it more favorable to a company tied to a large Democratic donor.

    The episode—confirmed by The Daily Beast in interviews with administration officials and the chairman of a congressional oversight committee—is the latest in a string of incidents that have given Republicans sudden fodder for questions about whether the Obama administration is politically interfering in routine government matters that affect donors or fundraisers. Already, the FBI and a House committee are investigating a federal loan guarantee to a now failed solar firm called Solyndra that is tied to a large Obama fundraiser.

  9. paper doll says:

    America: The land of poverty

    http://tinyurl.com/3dyxecg

    In 2010 there were 46.2 million people—almost one out of every six residents—living below the official poverty line, including 16.4 million children. Of these nearly half, or 20 million, were described as living in deep poverty, subsisting on less than half the income the US government says is needed for basic food, shelter, clothing and utilities.

    As it is the government’s poverty threshold—about $22,000 for a family of four and $11,000 for a single person under 65—is insufficient to maintain a decent standard of living. A more accurate measure would be twice the official poverty line, or about $44,000 for a family of four. More than 100 million Americans—one in three—are below this threshold.

  10. Minkoff Minx says:

    Per TPM Boehner has come out and said the AJA bill’s broad based tax cuts are “Gimmicks” that he can’t support.