Bob Fitch memorial: Sept 18

If you’re a fan of Robert Fitch—and if you‘re not, you should ask yourself some very serious questions—the date for his public memorial has just been announced: September 18, 4 PM, at the Brecht Forum in NYC. More details to follow; this is just a “save the date” announcement.

See Christian Parenti in NYC, Thursday

If you’re anywhere New York City Thursday evening, you should go hear Christian Parenti talk about his new book, Tropic of Chaos: Climate Change and the New Geography of Violence.  Thursday, June 30, 2011, 7 pm The New School Theresa Lang Community and Student Center, Arnhold Hall 55 West 13th Street, 2nd floor New York, NY 10011 The new era of climate war is upon us. Extreme weather brought on by global warming is unleashing cascades of unrest and violence across the globe, from Africa to Asia to the Americas. In Tropic of… Read More

Paulie cribs from me again

Krugman discovers rentier interests—finally. Only my version is better. Me, in Wall Street, 1996: [B]ehind the abstraction known as “the markets” lurks a set of institutions designed to maximize the wealth and power of the most privileged group of people in the world, the creditor–rentier class of the First World and their junior partners in the Third. Paul Krugman, today: I was originally going to end this post by saying something about stupidity, but that’s not right: the people at the BIS aren’t stupid. What’s going on here is something different and worse: we’re… Read More

Morgan vs. Cantor

Forgot to include that quote from J.P. Morgan, explaining why he didn’t short stock (who knows if he really did?): “Don’t sell short the United States of America.” Eric Cantor evidently disagrees.

Cantor short Treasuries

The Wall Street Journal reported the other day (here it is, but it’s behind a paywall) that as of his last disclosure form, House Republican leader Eric Cantor owned shares in a mutual fund that is short long-dated U.S. Treasury bonds. He is, in other words, betting that interest rates will rise, and hoping to make money off the fall in prices that would cause. (For my ancient primer on why bond prices fall when interest rates rise, see here.)   Cantor is in a position to help the U.S. default on its… Read More

Wisconsin: game over?

I wish sometime that I’d be proven wrong in my pessimism. But it looks like the great upsurge in Wisconsin has petered out. Listen to my interview with Abe Sauer in the June 25 radio show I just posted. Or read Progressive editor Matt Rothschild’s gloomy assessment from a week ago: Wisconsin Demoralized, Demobilized. It’s the same damn story over and over. The state AFL-CIO chooses litigation and electoral politics over popular action, which dissolves everything into mush. Meanwhile, the right is vicious, crafty, and uncompromising. Guess who wins that sort of confrontation?… Read More

Fresh audio posted

Freshly posted to my radio archive: June 25, 2011  Abe Sauer, writer for The Awl, on what’s been going on in Wisconsin since the great February upsurge • Abby Rapoport of The Texas Observer on Texas gov Rick Perry • Jon Bakija, co-author of this paper, on how and why the rich have gotten richer June 18, 2011 Ken Morris, co-author of Blind Allegiance to Sarah Palin, on that overexposed curiosity • Julia Ott, author of When Wall Street Met Main Street, on big finance’s attempts to appear democratic

Krugman’s lazy apologia

Paul Krugman can’t stop attacking the McKinsey survey. His filed his latest apologia this morning (“McKinsey Pulls Back the Curtain”). It’s not his finest moment. He dismisses the report as a mere “poll,” which is presumably a less reliable thing than the economic models that everyone else has been using. But why should a detailed survey—over 50 questions asked of over 1,300 respondents, mostly decision-makers—be less reliable than statistical extrapolations from not very comparable historical data? Krugman quotes a stat from a Time reporter, Kate Pickert—not from the original document, curiously—with what… Read More

McKinsey: more right than wrong

Administration apologists, from the White House official blog to Paul Krugman (“McKinseyGate”), have all lined up to denounce the McKinsey survey I wrote up here the other day (“Bye-bye employer health insurance”). McKinsey found that a large share of employers who now offer health insurance benefits will drop them once ObamaCare comes into effect in 2014. At first, McKinsey didn’t release the questions or the methodology, prompting reactions like Krugman’s: It’s hard to escape the conclusion that the study was embarrassingly bad — maybe it was a skewed sample, maybe the questions… Read More

Courts: the popular angle

My pal Elise Hendrick posted this excellent comment on the “robed ghouls act in character” post to Facebook: I’d say that part of the obsession, outside of élite circles, is due to a combination of : a) An educational system that hammers into people’s heads the notion that The Constitution and the Supreme Court are the representatives and defenders, respectively, of all that is good and right in society; b) A general lack of understanding of the history of the Warren (and early Burger) courts. People look at the decisions of the day… Read More

Breaking news: robed ghouls act in character

So the Supreme Court handed down its decision on the Walmart (né Wal-Mart) sex discrimination case. It can be summarized in three words of Brooklyn dialect: “get outta here.” I will defer to my wife, Liza Featherstone, who wrote the book on the case, for detailed analysis. But I am overcome with the need to denounce, so please indulge me. Liberals will anguish endlessly over this decision, parsing it in that tediously fetishistic way that has become all too familiar. But really, the Supreme Court is a fundamentally reactionary tool of bourgeois power…. Read More

AARP: your nose is growing

In response to press reports that the AARP has given in to the elite consensus on the need for benefit cuts to Social Security, the organization released this statement: AARP Has Not Changed Its Position on Social Security. After loudly proclaiming its continuing devotion to protecting the program, the statement moves on to this disclosure: It has long been AARP’s policy that Social Security should be strengthened to provide adequate benefits and that it is sufficiently financed to ensure solvency with a stable trust fund for the next 75 years.  It has also… Read More

Latest on Social Security

Following on the NYT quote, I thought it’d be good to post LBO’s most recent take on Social Security: Is the real problem Social Security? Also, this is from my radio commentary for tomorrow: Speaking of austerity, the Wall Street Journal reported on Friday that the AARP, nominally an interest group fighting on behalf of older Americans, has decided to stop resisting calls for cuts to Social Security benefits, reversing its long opposition to such a cruel move. The group’s policy chief, John Rother, said, “The ship was sailing. I wanted to… Read More

Quoted in the NYT – tendentiously

It’s always flattering to be quoted in the New York Times, but the context looks designed to refute me—and the reporter calls me a “liberal.” Ouch. AARP Is Open to Future Cuts of Social Security Benefits But other advocacy groups that are pushing to preserve Social Security benefits accused AARP of effectively abandoning its core constituency. Doug Henwood, the Brooklyn editor of a liberal business blog and Internet radio program who has written on Social Security, said AARP’s willingness to consider cuts in benefits “reads like a sign that this former lobby… Read More

Help wanted (cont.)

Several people asked if the LBO assistant position had to be done by someone local. Yes, it requires on-site work in lovely Clinton Hill, Brooklyn.