GET A NEWSPAPER?
We are fools to allow corporations like FOX, or subversive rightwing billionaires like Pete Peterson and Rupert Murdoch to determine our national information policy, control our public airways, and own our means of civic communication. We are fools to allow them to continue to distort our national consciousness, or to interfere with our right to meet and discuss and decide as a unified national community. We are fools to allow them to keep us ignorant and apart.
Peterson and Murdoch are propagandistic liars, and consistently anti-American. The co-opted cowardice of all the so-called “real” (read “infotainment”) news organizations, including the major television networks, convinces me that we need a reformed public ownership of uncensored airwaves, subject to strong democratic citizen oversight.
Here’s the latest outrage, hitting newspapers this time:
Pete Peterson, the Wall Street billionaire who wants to loot Social Security, has created a “news network” hooked up to the Washington Post.
He’s baaack — the Wall Street billionaire who wants to loot Social Security. This time, Pete Peterson has invented his own “news network” to promote his right-wing rants about shrinking the only retirement security system available to millions of working people. Peterson styles himself as a patriot saving the nation from fiscal insolvency and has committed $1 billion to that cause (a chunk of the wealth he accumulated at Blackstone Group, the notorious corporate-takeover firm). His efforts might be dismissed as ludicrous — except money does talk in Washington, and Peterson is now buying Washington reporters to spread his dire warnings.
The retired mogul has created a digital news agency he dubs “The Fiscal Times” and hired eight seasoned reporters to do the work there. “An impressive group of veteran journalists,” Peterson calls them. I hope they have shaken a lot of money out of this rich geezer. Because I predict doing hack work for him will seriously soil their reputations for objectivity and independence.
With his great wealth, Peterson could have also bought a newspaper to publish his dispatches, but he did better than that. He hooked up with the Washington Post, which has agreed to “jointly produce content focusing on the budget and fiscal issues.” (This media scandal was first uncovered by economist Dean Baker.) The newspaper is thus compromising its own integrity. It’s like buying political propaganda from a Washington lobbyist, then printing it in the news columns as if it was just another news story. Shame on the Post, my old newspaper. I predict a big stink like the one that greeted the Post when its publisher decided to hold pay-for-access “salons” for corporate biggies.
The first TFT “dispatch” to appear in the Post — “Support grows for tackling nation’s debt” — made no mention of Peterson’s crusade. But it featured the same devious gimmick the financier has been peddling around Washington. Congress should create a special commission of eighteen senators and representatives empowered to to make the “tough” budget decisions politicians are loathe to face — slashing benefits, raising payroll taxes or both. Other members of Congress would be prohibited from changing any of the particular measures, and would cast only an up-or-down vote on the entire package, no amendments allowed.
Supposedly, this would give them political cover. Look, no hands. We just cut Social Security but it wasn’t our fault. READ MORE:
HERE WE GO AGAIN?
A visionary approach committed to the fight against climate chaos would use power to dramatically re-engineer failing industry so that its factories could build the infrastructure of the green economy the world desperately needs, instead of leaving industry unchanged. Obama took real effort not to nationalize the banks. He could have mandated loans for factories to be retrofitted and new green infrastructure to be built. Instead he declared that the government shouldn’t tell failed banks how to run their businesses.
Imagine if the three huge economic engines — the banks, the auto companies, the stimulus bill — had been harnessed to a common green vision. By the time Copenhagen rolled around, the U.S. would already have been well on its way to dramatically cutting emissions, poised to inspire, rather than disappoint, the rest of the world.
What will happen as the Democrats face the employment crisis?
If unemployment is 10 percent or more next November, the Dems are in danger of losing the House and will almost certainly be short of the 60 votes they need in the Senate.
Just about everything you’ll hear coming out of Washington starting now is really about November’s mid-term election. The gravitational pull of the midterms was already apparent last year, as Republicans marched in perfect lockstep to vote against whatever the President and Democrats proposed (Republicans always have authoritarian discipline on their side, which is why they’re Republicans), but you haven’t seen anything yet.
The Democrats have enough votes to enact health care — the hurdle Bill Clinton failed to jump, contributing to the Republican takeover in 1994 — but when it’s enacted, expect the spin machines on both sides to be at full throttle. And because health care legislation won’t be implemented for another three or four years (depending whether the House or Senate versions prevail), Americans won’t be able to test the veracity of these wildly divergent claims. So don’t count on health reform to help Dems next November — nor harm them, either.
Foreign policy is just as unlikely to tip the scales. Sad to say, absent a draft most American families will read about American deaths in Afghanistan much the way they’ve absorbed the U.S. body count in Iraq — as news items rather than personal tragedies. Nor will Iran’s nuclear capabilities, North Korea’s missile launches, Pakistan’s tumult, or Yemen’s terrorists have much electoral effect — unless terrorists commit an atrocity in America or on American travelers. Needless to say, China’s decision about whether and how much to revalue its currency, although important, will affect the votes of about three Americans (and I think I know all of them).
Issue Number One — the overriding concern that will determine more than anything how many seats the Democrats lose next fall — is jobs. If unemployment is 10 percent or more next November, the Dems are in danger of losing the House and will almost certainly be short of the 60 votes they need in the Senate.
But why would employment be 10 percent or above next November? Surely, you say, there are enough signs of recovery that we can count on a lower rate. Don’t be so sure. Here are likely scenarios, with my probabilities: READ MORE:
GOT A JOB?
Joel Waul, 28, climbs on top of his rubber band ball on the driveway of his home in Lauderhill, Fla., Friday, Oct. 23, 2009. Waul, a 27-year-old who works nights restocking a Gap clothing store, has spent the last six years carefully wrapping and linking and stretching rubber bands of various sizes into the ball shape. The Guinness Book of World Records declared it the world’s largest rubber band ball in 2008. Photo/Alan Diaz
Which brings up the basic question: Why?
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