More Pacifica: Marc Cooper writes…

My old friend Marc Cooper has a long post on Pacifica that concludes with some comments on my own recent rant on The state of WBAI (dire). Since it’s always nice to be noticed, I’ll overlook the rather patronizing tone of his “means well” and just respond to his conclusion that it’s all too late—the game’s over. If the game is really over, Marc, why did you devote 1,247 words to the topic before you get to that point? Me, I think the situation is, as I said, dire, but not necessarily terminal…. Read More

The state of WBAI (dire)

[I just sent this to Mitch Cohen, chair of the WBAI local station board, to be read at tomorrow night’s board meeting.] To Mitch Cohen and the WBAI local station board: I’ve been around WBAI for more than two decades. I started as a frequent interviewee on Samori Marksman’s show in 1987, moved on to regular commentaries on his show a few years later, and then began doing the Thursday editions of his Behind the News in 1995. I’ve watched the station go through considerable turmoil over the years, but the current… Read More

Annoying autoresponse

I emailed Random House publicity to see if I could set something up with Gary Shteyngart, who sounds pretty interesting. This is the autoresponse I got: Thanks for your email. Please make certain that in all future emails you include the name of the book and author in your subject line. If you are listing requests, please do not send in an attachment, but in the body of the email. It is also important that you include all of your contact information, including your email address, in the body of your email…. Read More

Don’t believe the Manhattan Institute

In a few hours, I’ll be posting the piece on how expensive college has gotten and why to the LBO website. In the meanwhile, a dreadful article, “Why the Student Protesters Are Wrong,” published by a Manhattan Institute front called Minding the Campus needs some correction. The author, Daniel Bennett, is a policy analyst at a right-wing think tank with a creepy name: The Center for College Affordability & Productivity. The director of the think tank is Richard Vedder, who wrote a book on how great Wal-Mart is, which gives you an idea… Read More

Ralph Nader & the plutocrats

I’ve long been struck by Ralph Nader’s imperious view of politics—his preference for progressive change via litigation, not legislation, and a career (during which he accomplished many very good things, don’t get me wrong) capped by a few celebrity presidential campaigns in which he never made any effort to build a movement out of the crowds and publicity they generated. So now he’s out with a “novel” that apparently argues that a small posse of enlightened plutocrats will save us. Citizens’ groups aren’t up to the task, Ralph tells Amy Goodman. Only enlightened… Read More

Tongue-tied liberals

Every passing day reveals the toxic side-effects of the Obama presidency more clearly. The activist liberal left has largely either gone silent or cast itself in the role of apologist for power. Let’s look at two sad examples. First, the war in Afghanistan. The other day, the New York Times reported that the antiwar movement plans a nationwide campaign this fall against the administration’s escalation of the war in what we’re now calling AfPak. Among the challenges facing the campaign, aside from the usual public indifference when it’s mostly other people being… Read More

The Whole Foods brouhaha

So apparently a lot of high-minded liberals are annoyed by the reactionary WSJ op-ed written by Whole Foods CEO John Mackey. Mackey is afraid that Obamacare will take us further down the Road to Serfdom. The money quote: “The last thing our country needs is a massive new health care entitlement that will create hundreds of billions of dollars of new unfunded deficits and move us much closer to a government takeover of our health care system.” HuffPo and Daily Kos types are doing what they do best: furiously venting in comments sections and… Read More

The UAW’s Chrysler stake: how 55% = 0%

A friend sent me a copy of a brochure (click here for a copy) that the UAW is circulating to its Chrysler workers, or those of them that remain, offering details on the proposed deal with Fiat and the U.S. government. The pay and benefit cuts are nasty, but hardly a surprise. What is a surprise is that the UAW’s equity stake is even less impressive a thing than it seemed on first glance. And the first glance wasn’t all that impressive to start with. Before proceeding, a reminder: the stock would… 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

One down, dozens to go

So Obama fired Rick Wagoner at CEO of GM. No doubt he deserved it, but why do all the idiot bankers that Pres. Yeswecan met with on Friday get to keep their jobs? Oh yeah, I know. Only automakers get put through the wringer for a little federal spare change. Bankers get blank checks, no questions asked. And only autoworkers get their contracts ripped up. Ripping up bankers’ contracts would be governing by anger, and we don’t want to do that!

Leveraged speculators will save us!

And not just any band of leveraged speculators: handpicked members of the private equity elite operating with cheap government credit, and insured against losses! Others have criticized the Geithner bank rescue plan’s economic aspects in detail; no need to repeat all that here. I’ll just say that it strikes me as a very bad idea to set the thing up so that the government takes the lion’s share of any losses and the private investors, the lion’s share of any gains (if any). And it strikes me as fantastic that the dominant… Read More

Plenty of bullshit here!

The Financial Times has a piece today about the Swedish bank bailout. Here’s a nice quote. You couldn’t imagine a sharper contrast with the American approach: Arne Berggren, the finance ministry official responsible for bank restructuring, is blunt about the approach he took. It was clear from the outset that the government would act as a commercial investor, demanding equity stakes in return for capital. “We were a no-bullshit investor – we were very brutal,” he says. The authorities also insisted on control. “You take command. If you put in equity, you have to… Read More

Those AIG bonuses: how to break the contracts

So Obama tells Geithner to do something, anything, to make sure the gov can get back the AIG bonuses. Who knows if this is real or a pose? I’m now leaning towards the latter, especially after getting this from a friend who works at a hedge fund: In the financial industry, reneging on contracts is, not quite SOP, but certainly not rare. From the company’s perspective, two things can happen. One, the employee eats the default. Free money. Two, he (more rarely, her) has a lawyer call you. At that point, you… Read More

The anguish of the right-wing intellectual

A few postscripts to yesterday’s post about the intellectual devolution on the right. I should have noted that several conservative intellectuals have expressed some anguish about the situation. For example, David Frum (is he an intellectual? for these purposes, I suppose so) filed a cri de coeur (“Why Rush is Wrong“) with Newsweek, of all places, expressing worry that the rise of Rush Limbaugh to the de facto leadership of the Republican party is bad news for conservatism at a time when conservatives need a thoughtful reinvention rather than just heating up… Read More

The right’s intellectual devolution

I’ve been reading the accounts of the 14-year-old conservative Wunderkind, Jonathan Krohn, who wowed them at last week’s Conservative Political Action Conference in DC. Krohn’s speech, which consisted of little more than asserting that conservatism was a principle-based ideology that’s all about protecting The People, would have been unremarkable had it been delivered by someone over the age of 20. It really wasn’t all that remarkable even coming from a precocious teenager. But so desperate is the right for rising stars these days that they’re starry-eyed over this home-schooled phenom. It all put me… Read More