Expropriate Yale

Here’s what I said before and after my interview with Shamus Khan about elite schools on my October 4 radio show. Someone on Twitter asked me to post the comments, and here they are. First, elite schools. I have some personal experience with them. I grew up in a mediocre suburb in northern New Jersey and went to mediocre public schools. But since I did all the things you’re supposed to do, I got admitted to Yale in 1971 and spent four years there. It was quite a shock to me to… Read More

The Russia obsession

Some ambitious and generous person at The Raucous Rooster transcribed my radio commentary from yesterday. Thank you! Good God, the Russia obsession! It seems that Democrats are now incapable of talking about anything but Russian interference in our sacred elections. The Trump administration is eviscerating environmental regulations, appointing horrific judges, prosecuting a grotesque war on refugees and immigrants, and we’re hearing about little other than Putin’s alleged hold over Trump, often expressed in grossly homophobic terms. In doing so, they’re accepting uncritically the version of events proffered by cops, prosecutors and the CIA,… Read More

Bitcoin, a commentary

When this commentary was broadcast at the beginning of my radio show at noon, Pacific time, December 21, bitcoin was trading at about $15,600. It had a bad Friday, losing almost a quarter of its value, bottoming out at $11,858, before recovering to $14,267 as I’m posting this. I am not claiming cause and effect. I’m going to indulge in a rare bit of holding forth on my own—on the topic of bitcoin. I thought of having a guest do that, but since I wrote a piece on the topic for The… Read More

Comment on foundations

There were a couple of calls on Twitter for a transcript of what I said on last week’s radio show, following my interview with Benjamin Page. Page had said in the interview that he couldn’t find any foundations interested in funding research by him and his collaborators into the opinions of the top 1%. I’ve added a link to the Leah Gordon interview, which has a link to her book. I’ve expanded a bit on the original in this version. It’s interesting that the foundations don’t want to support research into the… Read More

On Hillary

[I said this on my radio show yesterday as a Hillary teaser. Jane McAlevey urged me to circulate it, and I do what Jane says.] A little self-promotion. I have a cover story in this month’s Harper’s on Hillary Rodham Clinton, which the editors gave the tabloidish headline, “Stop Hillary!” (And I do mean tabloidish—it caught the attention of a New York Post reporter, who wrote it up for the paper’s Page Six gossip feature.) In it, I review Hillary’s life in a very non-friendly way, in hope of derailing her unannounced yet… Read More

Why Obama lost the debate

This is a lightly edited version of my radio commentary from today’s show. First, I should say that while I am not a Democrat, and never had much hope invested in 2008’s candidate of hope, I do think we’d be marginally better off if Obama won. One reason we’d be better off is that when a Democrat is in power, it’s easier to see that the problems with our politics—the dominance of money and state violence—are systemic issues, and not a matter of individuals or parties. That’s not to say there are… Read More

My history on the right: the potted version

This was part of the introduction to my interview with David Frum, the conservative writer and now partial renegade, on my August 9 radio show. This is mostly a condensed version of two longer pieces, one in Bad Subjects, and the other in The Nation. My good friend Michael Pollak asked me to post the text, so here it is. Before David Frum, a few words about my own right-wing past. In 1972, I cast my first ever presidential vote against Richard Nixon, because he wasn’t conservative enough. I wasn’t always a right-winger. My eighth-grade world… Read More

Radio commentary: compulsory patriotism, saggy job report

[I haven’t been posting my radio commentaries for while, for no particular reason. Here’s one from yesterday’s show. Audio soon to follow….] rituals of compulsory patriotism I’ll get to the May employment report in a moment, but first I wanted to say something about the Chris Hayes controversy from Memorial Day weekend. On his MSNBC show on the Sunday of that weekend, Hayes filed some objections to the use of the word “heroes” to refer to our soldiers, saying among other things that the designation was a way to sell unpopular wars…. Read More

That jobs report

[This was my radio commentary for the January 7 show. Audio here.] Friday morning brought the release of the employment stats (Employment Situation News Release) for December. It was a strong report, though not quite as strong as it looks on the surface. Many of the gains are likely to be reversed in January, but the trend of modest, steady improvement continues—and manufacturing had its best year since 1984. Now some details, edited for radio. Employers added 200,000 jobs in December. Over a fifth of that gain, 42,000, came from couriers and messengers—meaning all… Read More

Radio commentary, November 26, 2011

eurocrisis infecting core The European situation spun more deeply into crisis this week. Interest rates on 10-year Italian government bonds crossed the spooky 7% barrier, yielding 5 points more than comparable German bonds. A year ago, Italian bonds yielded 4.3%, less than 2 points above German rates. In the jargon of the markets, this blowout in Italian spreads is a sign of investor panic. On paper, Italy shouldn’t be so bad off. Its budget is in decent shape, and Italians have plenty of domestic savings, more than enough to cover the government’s financing… 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

Radio commentary, July 2, 2011

[I’ve gotten out of the habit of posting these. Here’s last week’s — this week’s to come later today.] U.S. economic slowdown • the depressing debt ceiling debate   slowdown The mostly weak tone of U.S. economic data continues, following the precedent of disappointment set by the torpid employment report for May. First-time claims for unemployment insurance fell only slightly last week, and the four-week average remains quite high—not at recession levels, but at stalling recovery levels. And the number of people continuing to draw benefits, which had been in a long… 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

Radio commentary, March 5, 2011

[The Dean and Rogers interviews referred to below are part of this show. The version of these comments delivered on that show, however, don’t include the analysis of the February employment report, which was written just for this “blog.”] contribute to KPFA It’s been a while since I’ve done this—it’s good to be back. Because of some traveling, work deadlines, and other scheduling conflicts, I wasn’t able to do any fundraising stints here as I usually do. I regret that—I wish I could have done my part to beef up KPFA’s cash… Read More

Radio commentary, February 5, 2010

January employment: droopy A few words on the employment report for January. As I always point out when doing these reviews, the monthly employment release from the Bureau of Labor Statistics is based on two very large surveys, one of 300,000 employers, called the establishment survey, and one of 60,000 households. For more, see here.) And as I often point out when doing these reviews, the numbers are not cooked, as many conspiratorial sorts want to believe. You might take issue with some of their definitions, particularly of unemployment, but the work… Read More