The quest for recognition

Just got the murkiest plug in more than two decades of cruising for plugs: Henwood and Hollywood. Thanks, I think.

April 23 radio show up

April 23rd radio show, featuring William Robinson (on being persecuted by Abe Foxman), Richard Seymour (on the U.S. left and imperialism, Obama-style), and Paul Mason (on The Crisis), now up in my radio archives.

Silver lining

In the course of a pretty wonky piece on CDOs, Felix Salmon points out that the modern financial environment weakens the political position of creditors. Back in 1975, when New York City was on the verge of default, its bonds were uninsured, and held mostly by the city’s rich and its biggest banks. Both sets of bondholders were relatively few in number and invested in the city’s long-term survival. The creditors were able to come together and speak with one voice to force wage cuts and layoffs on the unions and service cuts… Read More

Audio version!

Note that automatically generated audio versions of this blog, read in a pretty good robovoice, are now available. You can listen to individual files, or subscribe to the podcast. See the links column to the right.

Robinson follow-up

A follow-up to yesterday’s post about the war on William Robinson. Robinson said on my radio show yesterday that the ADL’s Abe Foxman came to Santa Barbara to organize a meeting of sympathetic profs to encourage the university to go after Robinson. This is clearly an attempt by a very well-financed organization (the ADL’s budget is some $50 million a year) to restrict political speech and academic freedom. Some of the comments here and on Facebook suggest that somehow Robinson “crossed a line” by likening Israeli behavior in Gaza to the Nazis. On the… Read More

Radio commentary, April 23, 2009

Gotta keep the comments short today because it’s a packed lineup today. economic news First-time claims for unemployment insurance rose by 27,000 last week to 640,000. Though somewhat below the highs of a month ago, this is still quite elevated. So, continuing the theme of the last few weeks, things are still quite bad, though not getting worse at an accelerating rate. Sales of existing houses fell by 3% in March, after rising almost 5% the month before. This number has been bouncing around a depressed level since late last year. So, similar conclusion here, too:… Read More

The war on William Robinson

For daring to draw similarities between Israeli behavior in Gaza and the Nazis, the ADL and the rest of the gang of intellectual policemen are at war with William Robinson, a sociology prof at UCSB. I met Robinson at a conference in Amsterdam in 2002 and interviewed him for my radio show; the archived version is here. While I have some differences with him on the issue of “globalization,” he’s a serious scholar and a likable guy, and he deserves support. Here’s an article from Inside Higher Ed on the case. And site organized… Read More

The threat of bigness

You hear a lot of people claiming that a major transformation in the American ideological landscape is underway. Gallup has just published new data suggesting that the shifts are modest, and this country remains pretty conservative. Specifically, over half—55%—of Americans view big government as the gravest threat to the USA, compared with 32% seeing big business as the ogre. Big labor comes in dead last, at 10%. Here’s the historical view: Note that at the peak of the Clinton boom, fear of government had a 40-point lead; that’s since narrowed to a mere… Read More

Nationalize the banks?

[This is an edited version of my remarks delivered on the panel, ”Nationalize the Banks! What Does it Really Mean?,” organized by the Socialist Register, at the Left Forum, New York City, April 19, 2009.] The title of our session reminds me of that glorious week in Seattle back in December 1999. At that time, and for a little while afterwards, it seemed like a new movement had been born, and there was some real potential for transforming, or even overthrowing, capitalism. One of my favorite chants of that moment of carnival came… Read More

Empires fall slowly…

A friend pointed out the other day: people sometimes compare the U.S. empire to Rome’s decline—but forget that it took 800 years to fall.

Fresh audio

Just posted the audio files for my April 16 show here. Guests are progressive educator Deborah Meier, who talks about the horrors of Bush’s No Child Left Behind, which Obama is likely to retain largely intact, and Adolph Reed, one of the wisest commentators in the U.S., talking about genetics and political leanings, and politics without politics. By the way, I often post the MP3’s to the server before I update the webpage. Podcast subscribers can get those directly without delay. Podcast info for the hi-fi (64kbps) version here; lo-fi (16kbps) here. The… Read More

Radio commentary, April 16, 2009

Green shoots…shot? Some trouble lately for the “green shoots of recovery” thesis. Early in the week, we learned that retail sales fell by an unexpectedly large 1.1% in March, or 0.9% if you leave out autos. Sales had been up modestly in recent months, after plunging sharply late last year—in fact, while Wall Street loves to look at monthly changes, the year-to-year declines were about the steepest on record. So this big decline punched a hole in hopes that the economy might be bottoming out. But since it’s virtually certain that the American economy… Read More

Radio commentary, April 9, 2009

Not a whole lot of economic news to talk about, partly because that’s just the way things are breaking, and partly because I’m recording this early in the week so I can go away for a longish holiday weekend. So I can’t talk about, for example, the latest weekly jobless claims numbers. Alas. But I can do that next week. Leading index points mildly, tentatively up But I can talk about some longer-term issues. First, the weekly leading index from the Economic Cycles Research Institute, one of my current obsessions, since it has… Read More

Radio commentary, April 4, 2009

more signs of stabilization… Again, more signs that the rate of decline is slowing, though hardly yet turning around. On Thursday morning, we learned that new orders for manufactured goods rose almost 2% in February, the first increase in six months. Orders for what are known as nondefense capital goods ex-aircraft, meaning the sort of gadgetry that is at the core of business investment, and a key to long-term economic growth, rose by over 7%, a very strong performance. Obviously one month’s positive numbers can easily turn into next month’s negative numbers, but… Read More

The transitional program of the Marxoid groupuscles

The World Socialist Website doesn’t like my contribution to The Nation’s forum on socialism. (Odd, they don’t provide links to the texts that they criticize—a challenge to readers who want to make up their own minds.) Still, you can’t please everyone. In the interests of opening a constructive dialogue—what can I say? I’m getting mellow in my late middle age—I’d be very curious to hear what the WSWS’s vision of a future society looks like, and how they propose to get there. Will the working class storm The White House and/or the Goldman Sachs trading floor?… Read More