Aug 292010

I just realized that I have yet to hand out the reading assignment for this Sunday. This one is mainly for you folks who lean to the right. I thought you might like to know for whom you are working (in case you didn’t already). Some of you real Americans may be interested in this, too…

The Billionaires Bankrolling the Tea Party

ANOTHER weekend, another grass-roots demonstration starring Real Americans who are mad as hell and want to take back their country from you-know-who. Last Sunday the site was Lower Manhattan, where they jeered the “ground zero mosque.” This weekend, the scene shifted to Washington, where the avatars of oppressed white Tea Party America, Glenn Beck and Sarah Palin, were slated to “reclaim the civil rights movement” (Beck’s words) on the same spot where the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. had his dream exactly 47 years earlier.

Vive la révolution!

There’s just one element missing from these snapshots of America’s ostensibly spontaneous and leaderless populist uprising: the sugar daddies who are bankrolling it, and have been doing so since well before the “death panel” warm-up acts of last summer. Three heavy hitters rule. You’ve heard of one of them, Rupert Murdoch. The other two, the brothers David and Charles Koch, are even richer, with a combined wealth exceeded only by that of Bill Gates and Warren Buffett among Americans. But even those carrying the Kochs’ banner may not know who these brothers are.

Their self-interested and at times radical agendas, like Murdoch’s, go well beyond, and sometimes counter to, the interests of those who serve as spear carriers in the political pageants hawked on Fox News. The country will be in for quite a ride should these potentates gain power, and given the recession-battered electorate’s unchecked anger and the Obama White House’s unfocused political strategy, they might.

Click on the headline to continue reading.

Rage of the Right

 Posted by at 14:45  Politics, Republicans
Mar 282010

It has been a while since I have dropped a Sunday reading assignment on you. About time, then, no? If you read no other column today, be sure to read Frank Rich’s in The New York Times. He explains that the rage of the right is not really about health care. (But we knew that, didn’t we?) Here’s an excerpt…

That a tsunami of anger is gathering today is illogical, given that what the right calls “Obamacare” is less provocative than either the Civil Rights Act of 1964 or Medicare, an epic entitlement that actually did precipitate a government takeover of a sizable chunk of American health care. But the explanation is plain: the health care bill is not the main source of this anger and never has been. It’s merely a handy excuse. The real source of the over-the-top rage of 2010 is the same kind of national existential reordering that roiled America in 1964.

In fact, the current surge of anger — and the accompanying rise in right-wing extremism — predates the entire health care debate. The first signs were the shrieks of “traitor” and “off with his head” at Palin rallies as Obama’s election became more likely in October 2008. Those passions have spiraled ever since — from Gov. Rick Perry’s kowtowing to secessionists at a Tea Party rally in Texas to the gratuitous brandishing of assault weapons at Obama health care rallies last summer to “You lie!” piercing the president’s address to Congress last fall like an ominous shot.

If Obama’s first legislative priority had been immigration or financial reform or climate change, we would have seen the same trajectory. The conjunction of a black president and a female speaker of the House — topped off by a wise Latina on the Supreme Court and a powerful gay Congressional committee chairman — would sow fears of disenfranchisement among a dwindling and threatened minority in the country no matter what policies were in play. It’s not happenstance that Frank, Lewis and Cleaver — none of them major Democratic players in the health care push — received a major share of last weekend’s abuse. When you hear demonstrators chant the slogan “Take our country back!,” these are the people they want to take the country back from.

Click here to read the entire column.

A few days ago, a friend described the Tea Party as the KKK of the 21st century. I argued with him then that I probably would not go quite that far. After this past week, I’m not so sure.

The more they deny, the more transparent the truth becomes.

Wrecking America

 Posted by at 16:28  economy, Politics
Jan 102010

Your reading assignment for this Sunday is Frank Rich’s most recent column in The New York Times. As difficult as it may be, your instructions are to read it all the way through to the end. I’ll post the first few paragraphs here. You will need to click on the headline within the quote to read the remainder.

The Other Plot to Wreck America

THERE may not be a person in America without a strong opinion about what coulda, shoulda been done to prevent the underwear bomber from boarding that Christmas flight to Detroit. In the years since 9/11, we’ve all become counterterrorists. But in the 16 months since that other calamity in downtown New York — the crash precipitated by the 9/15 failure of Lehman Brothers — most of us are still ignorant about what Warren Buffett called the “financial weapons of mass destruction” that wrecked our economy. Fluent as we are in Al Qaeda and body scanners, when it comes to synthetic C.D.O.’s and credit-default swaps, not so much.

What we don’t know will hurt us, and quite possibly on a more devastating scale than any Qaeda attack. Americans must be told the full story of how Wall Street gamed and inflated the housing bubble, made out like bandits, and then left millions of households in ruin. Without that reckoning, there will be no public clamor for serious reform of a financial system that was as cunningly breached as airline security at the Amsterdam airport. And without reform, another massive attack on our economic security is guaranteed. Now that it can count on government bailouts, Wall Street has more incentive than ever to pump up its risks — secure that it can keep the bonanzas while we get stuck with the losses.

The window for change is rapidly closing. Health care, Afghanistan and the terrorism panic may have exhausted Washington’s already limited capacity for heavy lifting, especially in an election year. The White House’s chief economic hand, Lawrence Summers, has repeatedly announced that “everybody agrees that the recession is over” — which is technically true from an economist’s perspective and certainly true on Wall Street, where bailed-out banks are reporting record profits and bonuses. The contrary voices of Americans who have lost pay, jobs, homes and savings are either patronized or drowned out entirely by a political system where the banking lobby rules in both parties and the revolving door between finance and government never stops spinning.

(The emphasis is mine.)

The bankers and the banks who employ them are destroying America at a much faster pace than Al Qaeda could even dream of. Their greed and hubris know no limits. We cannot and should not be counting on our politicians to stop them. This is something we are going to have to take care of ourselves. Move Your Money. Do it today.

Sep 062008

I know that they are “preaching to the choir” and I realize that The New York Times is not the favorite newspaper among righties and that there is very little chance that anybody on the angry and disillusioned right will pay any attention, but both Frank Rich and Bob Herbert have excellent columns in today’s paper…

Frank Rich: “Palin and McCain’s Shotgun Marriage.”

Bob Herbert: “Running From Reality.”

If you are on the correct side of today’s political debate, you will enjoy both columns. If you are on the other side, perhaps reading them will help shed some light onto the way the rest of us think. At any rate, consider this your Sunday morning reading assignment.

P.S. I really did not notice this until Jon Stewart pointed it out, but the stage from which Johnny McCain delivered his little talk the other night really does make it look like the Republicans are giving America the middle finger…