Monday ReadsPosted: September 23, 2013
You probably should start today’s reading with the New York Magazine interview with Hillary Clinton.
There’s a weightlessness about Hillary Clinton these days. She’s in midair, launched from the State Department toward … what? For the first time since 1992, unencumbered by the demands of a national political campaign or public office, she is saddled only with expectations about what she’s going to do next. And she is clearly enjoying it.
“It feels great,” she says, “because I have been on this high wire for twenty years, and I was really yearning to just have more control over my time and my life, spend a lot of that time with my family and my friends, do things that I find relaxing and enjoyable, and return to the work that I had done for most of my life.”
Relaxing, for a Clinton, especially one who, should she decide to run, is the presumptive Democratic nominee for president in 2016, does not seem exactly restful. The day before we speak, she was awarded the Liberty Medal by the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia—presented by Jeb Bush, another politician weighted with dynastic expectations and family intrigue, who took the opportunity to jest that both he and Clinton cared deeply about Americans—especially those in Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina.
Afterward, Clinton stepped backstage, a red-white-and-blue ribbon around her neck pulled taut by a saucer-size gold medal. “It is really heavy,” she said, with that plain-home midwestern tone she deploys when she wants to not appear the heavy herself. In the room with her were some of her close advisers—Nick Merrill, a communications staffer and acolyte of Hillary’s suffering top aide, Huma Abedin; and Dan Schwerin, the 31-year-old speechwriter who wrote all the words she had spoken moments ago. Local policemen with whom Clinton had posed for photos milled about behind her.
Outside was the usual chorus accompanying a Clinton appearance, befitting her status as the most popular Democrat in America: news helicopters buzzing overhead and protesters amassed across the street who raised signs that read benghazi in bloodred paint and chanted antiwar slogans directly at her as she spoke at the outdoor lectern.
You may also want to check out this blog radio cast of an interview with digby and Susie Madrak on Virtually Speaking Sundays, You’ll recognize many of the VS panel names too.
Political & social commentators digby and Susie Madrak, offer a counter point to the Sunday morning talk shows. They compare notes from their observations, investigations and considerations of the past week. Culture of Truth satirizes the Sunday Morning talk shows. Sherry Reson moderates.
Chuck Todd – the relationship between gov’t, citizens and media
Grand bargain rising: Defunding Food stamp, Obamacare
Debt Ceiling Trainwreck
Guns as Acts of God
As the above chart suggests, the U.S. enjoyed a Golden Age from 1945 to roughly 1975 when the economy was growing strongly (as measured in Gross Domestic Product and stock market prices) while at the same time, inequality fell steadily. Some of this prosperity was sheer luck: the U.S., thanks to being separated by two oceans from the battlegrounds of World War II, had the only industrial capacity in the world that hadn’t been bombed into smoking ruins.
But, Reich points out, inequality fell as productivity rose for several reasons: Workers had strong negotiating power through unions. Globalization had yet to pit U.S. workers against low-cost foreign labor. Higher education (the key to economic advancement) was very affordable. And taxes at the top brackets were high: as much as a 70 percent marginal rate for much of this period.
But starting around 1980, much of this changed. Globalization and anti-union legislation drove down wages. College costs rose much faster than inflation. Marginal income tax rates at the top came down fast. Meanwhile, the taxes that mostly fall on the middle class (such as sales taxes and payroll taxes) went up.
As a result, all but the highest earners saw a decrease in inflation-adjusted take-home pay:
Here’s a recent study showing the impact of growing inequality and our billionaire bail-out mentality on this country.
We conclude that living standards in the middle of the distribution were and are falling during the Great Recession . Moreover, with faint prospects of a rapid recovery, the losses of the Great Recession increasingly mount. The forecast is that unemployment will not return to 6.5 percent levels for another three years or longer. While the trend in inequality i n the United States has been ever upward, we believe that i t will be politically and socially difficult for U.S. inequality to continue to grow at the top at the expense of the collapsing middle class, the majority of whom believe , perhaps rightly so, that their children will be worse off economically than they are. If so, we might expect some moderation in the growth of United States inequality in the next decade.
Go read the executive summary. It’s really talks about how wages have been falling steeply while all gains in productivity have gone to capital while showing the actual numbers.
Sounds like Senator Ted Cruz is making a rather bad impression on his Republican colleagues in the beltway. Look at this headline from Mediate: “Fox’s Wallace Stunned: GOP Leaders Sent Me Opposition Research on Ted Cruz“. Ouch!
Fox News Sunday host Chris Wallace said Sunday morning that he’d received opposition research from other Republicans about SenatorTed Cruz (R-TX) in advance of Cruz’s appearance this morning, a serious indication of how upset the GOP is with the Senator leading the risky charge to defund ObamaCare.
“This has been one of the strangest weeks I’ve ever had in Washington,” Wallace said. “As soon as we listed Ted Cruz as our featured guest this week, I got unsolicited research and questions, not from Democrats but from top Republicans, to hammer Cruz.”
“This was a strategy laid out by Mike Lee (R-UT) and Ted Cruz without any consultation with their colleagues,” said Karl Rove. “With all due respect to my junior Senator from Texas, I suspect this is the first time that the end game was described to any Republican Senator. They had to tune in to listen to you to find out what Ted’s next step was in the strategy.”
I’m not sure if you’ve been following the mall take over and shootings in Kenya. Some of the information coming out of thereis very disturbing including a link to citizens of Canada, the US, and the UK.
Late Sunday, the Kenyan military announced that it had retaken “most” of the Westgate mall — the attackers had been confined to the third floor since their initial assault on Saturday — and freed more hostages, though details could not be confirmed. Helicopters circled the mall building through the night, and occasional explosions and bursts of gunfire were heard above a rainstorm in the area.
“This will end tonight — our forces will prevail,” the police command center said in a Twitter post. “Kenyans are standing firm against aggression, and we will win.”
The Shabab, a militant group mostly based in neighboring Somalia, answered with messages of their own, including warning that “Kenyan forces who’ve just attempted a roof landing must know that they are jeopardizing the lives of all the hostages at #Westgate.”
Later, officials said that at least four members of the security forces had been wounded. But there were no other details about additional casualties on either side.
The attack on the mall deeply distressed Kenya, a nation that has grown in stature as a force against terrorism in East Africa. As the toll mounted — at least 68 were reported dead by late Sunday, with several people still unaccounted for — the potential for even greater loss of life seemed tangible.
So, that’s my suggested reads this morning. What’s on your reading and blogging list today?