A few ambitious points on fighting the crisis

We are facing two crises at once, health and economic, that are related in very important ways. The covid-19 epidemic has done major damage around the world, but it’s highlighting some serious structural problems with the US social model that better-run countries are not so afflicted by. We are plagued by a deep economic polarization complicated by minimal social protections; severely diminished state capacity, with eroded institutional structures and extremely debased quality of personnel at the highest levels; years of underinvestment in basic infrastructure, both broadly and in health care particularly; and… Read More

Liberal suffering

Dahlia Lithwick had a cri de coeur in Slate the other day, worrying that the faith she’d placed in Robert Mueller & Co. to deliver us from Trump may be misplaced. It might have been good news had this paradigmatic liberal realized that trusting prosecutors and the national security state to perform good works might not be such a great idea after all. But, no, Lithwick’s concern is that Trump and his cronies have no respect for the rule of law. This faith in the rule of law is touching—though, as Corey Robin often points out,… Read More

Defend Nancy MacLean!

My radio guest the other week, Nancy MacLean, author of Democracy in Chains, is under attack by libertarians for her criticism of the doctrine, one of its leading propagandists James Buchanan, and its funders, the Koch Bros. It’s an excellent book and she needs help. Here’s a note she posted to Facebook with more: Friends, I really, really NEED YOUR HELP. If you trust me based on all that you know about me, please read this, help me as indicated, and share this post with anyone interested the Koch operations and the mayhem they… Read More

Making collective guilt palatable to liberals

Michael Tomasky, whom I’ve known over 20 years—sparring with him much of that time but liking him anyway—just wrote an awful piece which apparently aims to legitimate for liberals assertions of collective Muslim responsibility. Following the lead of the president, himself no stranger to rampant paranoia about Muslims, Tomasky basically tells Muslims to shape up or face Donald Trump. To counter accusations of tendentious paraphrase, let me quote a few choice bits: [Obama] used the usual liberal language about how most Muslims are great, but he also said that religious fundamentalism is “a real… Read More

Tim Wise’s game

by John Halle As the mask comes off, revealing the Obama administration’s reactionary face, the spin deployed by its much vaunted media team is beginning to lose its power to confuse and misdirect.  And with this, those whose business model involves selling Obama as a species of “pragmatic liberal” are gradually finding themselves parading their factual bankruptcy and rhetorical dishonesty for all to see. A recent piece  by Bruce Dixon excellently takes down two of the worst of this variety: MSNBC’s Joy-Ann Reid and Melissa Harris Perry. But it is important to recognize that they are… Read More

Walker’s victory, un-sugar-coated

Democrats and labor types are coming up with a lot of excuses for Scott Walker’s victory in Wisconsin. Not all are worthless. But the excuse-making impulse should be beaten down with heavy sticks. Yes, money mattered. Enormous amounts of cash poured in, mainly from right-wing tycoons, to support Walker’s effort to snuff public employee unions. While these sorts of tycoons—outside the Wall Street/Fortune 500 establishment—have long been the funding base for right-wing politics, they seem to have grown in wealth, number, consciousness, and mobilization since their days funding the John Birch Society… Read More

Fleshing out the corporate person

This is my contribution to n+1’s OWS Gazette #2. You can download the PDF here. It’s full of terrific stuff. There was a witticism circulating—it embarrasses me a bit to say—on Facebook recently that went something like: “I’ll believe that coporations are people when Texas executes one.” Though I’m no fan of capital punishment, but that was the best argument in favor of corporate personhood I’ve ever heard. Because while corporations have the rights of actual living people—more, maybe—they have none of the responsibilities. Corporations routinely get away with murder. Is the problem… Read More

The limits of easy money

[I delivered a condensed version of this as my July 16 radio commentary. It’s a rewrite, with some additional material, of the easy money vs. jobs program debate presented in fragments below.] I’ve been involved in some internet polemics—remember internet polemics, back before the Facebook “like” button made everyone sweet and nice?—that I thought might be worth recounting here. It all started when my friend (and occasional Behind the News guest) Corey Robin, a professor of political science at Brooklyn College, asked for comments on a piece by the liberal blogger Matthew… 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

Meanwhile at KPFA…

Two updates on the KPFA situation (and apologies to those of you who find Pacifica news sleep-inducing): • A few weeks ago, I reposted the news, which I originally got from KPFA Worker, that “Amit Pendyal resigned because Pacifica executive director Arlene Engelhardt wouldn’t let him do his job.” Official circles denied this. An example of such: WBAI board chair Mitch Cohen commented, “[H]ere’s what a member of the KPFA Board just wrote to me when I inquired: ‘It’s not true. He is still on the job, despite efforts by Doug’s allies to… Read More

WBAI fundraiser: snake oil sells

WBAI—where I used to do my radio show until program director Tony Bates got other ideas—just finished a fundraiser. Management—meaning Bates, station manager Berthold Reimers, and local board chair Mitch Cohen—have been bragging about its success, and the station’s return to financial health. Close examination of the results make you doubt this analysis. Management has circulated a spreadsheet showing the fundraising results by show. Here it is, for those wanting to score at home (and those are my calculations of the Null vs. ex-Null performance at the bottom of the sheet called… Read More

Radio commentary, January 15, 2011

Against civility The horrendous shootings in Tuscon have certainly inspired a lot of drivel from the commentariat. They were heartbreaking, but please let’s not draw stupid conclusions from them. Perhaps most annoying has been the call for a return to civility. Well, no, I don’t feel like being civil. I like being rude. The problem with the rudeness in American political discourse is that it’s often so stupid, not that it’s so rude. The idea that politics can be civil is a fantasy for elite technocrats and the well-heeled. I’m reminded of… Read More

Health lunacy: Adorno helps out

[This was originally part of this radio commentary, but I’ve posted it separately here.] And now a bit more Pacifica arcana, though that’s only the taking-off point. WBAI, the New York station where this program ran for 15 years until the interim program director decided to cut its frequency, has brought back health guru Gary Null to do a daily noontime show. Null was fired several years ago because of a personality conflict with an earlier program director. He really made the phones ring at pledging time, and his departure was financially damaging… Read More

Letter on Null’s denialism: please read and act!

Since comments on this “blog” don’t get Tweeted and such, I wanted to point out two comments from George Carter of The Foundation for Integrative AIDS Research, and organization that sponsors clinical trials of alternative therapies for HIV/AIDS. Unlike Null’s ludicrous and dangerous HIV denialism, FIAR supports conventional therapies, but also sees great supplementary value in more “natural” approaches. This seems like an eminently sensible position, but apparently not sensationalist enough to appeal to the loons in the Null set. Carter’s first post outlines his position, and makes the point that HIV denialists, who… Read More

More KPFA…

More KPFA news. If you’re in the Bay Area and free on Thursday afternoon, please hit the picket line! Pacifica to Cut More than a Quarter of KPFA Staff – Picket Called for Thursday, November 4th | KPFA Worker