1.Would movie theaters sell even more popcorn if they offered no-cal ‘I Can’t Believe its Not Butter’ as a topping? 2. I always carry my own 0%fat butter spritzer to the movies! Sometimes patrons look at me weird hearing the pumping sound coming out of my lap. 3. How long until Mayor Bloomberg requires mandatory no-fat topping in all theaters?!? 4. Over and over conservatives gripe about ‘taking responsibility’. ‘Take responsibility for your own retirement!’ ‘Take responsibility for your own healthcare!’ Can someone remind me who took responsibility for the phony WMD evidence in Iraq? Or the financial meltdown that left millions unemployed? I know who benefited from these disasters but I can’t find a record of who took responsibility for them… 5. “Girls’ is the most original new program on television, IMO. It is shocking, heartbreakingly sad, hilariously funny, outrageous and depressing all at once. 6. How many viewers were all set to hate the ‘girls’ on ‘Girls’? They came from privileged families with celebrity parents (the daughters of Brian Williams, David Mamet, well known rock and rollers and artists)…but I have to admit they are damn good actresses as well. 7. Why do the hosts on FoxNews seem like high school: (Steve Doocey (annoying drama club president), Bill O’Reilly (school bully), Sean Hannity (football team quarterback), Megyn Kelly (captain cheerleading squad), Alan Colmes (geeky valedictorian who gets pushed in the bushes) while the hosts on MSNBC seem like Graduate School: Rachel Maddow: (snarky Graduate TA), Chris Hayes (wonky grad student), Lawrence O’Donnell (self-righteous Dean of Students), Martin Bashir (brainy foreign exchange student). 8. Something I just learned: Abraham Lincoln was the only president to hold a patent. Want to know what he invented? Look it up. (Hint: It had to do with beached boats.) 9. If Mitt Romney wore two-tone saddle shoes to match his hair would it catch on like Pat Boone‘s white bucks? (boy, how old do you have to be to remember that!) Has any popular male figure created a shoe fad since Beatle Boots? (excluding Michael Jordan) 10. When did Ann Romney become a bright blonde and how come no one noticed? 11. Why do I always imagine Antonin Scalia wearing a lobster bib eagerly awaiting dinner? 12. It was sad, like vacation-ending-sad, when I watched the last episode of ‘Game of Thrones’ and realized it would be a year before I returned to King’s Landing. 13. I haven’t had a cigarette in two months and my blood pressure has dropped almost 10 points. I don’t think that’s a coincidence. 14. Republicans want to repeal Obamacare. Did they ever get around to repealing the Congressional resolution renaming French fries Freedom Fries? Shouldn’t they repeal that first? 15. ‘Awake’ had the worst ending for the best new series on broadcast TV. Of course, if it hadn’t been cancelled at the last minute there would have been no sucky ending. 16. The best acting I saw all year was on TCM: the movie ‘DINNER AT EIGHT’ (1932) with Marie Dressler and John Barrymore. Each had a scene that took my breath away. I ran the scenes back, watching them again to make sure they were that good. They were. And the movie itself, a Chekovian ensemble of the destitute and nouveau riche keeping up appearances is so appropriate to OUR times. 17. When apartments sell for $88 million and $100 million to Russian oligarchs and Arab billionaires don’t tell me it has no affect on rents surrounding them in Manhattan. 18. I never had professional psycho-analysis but old girlfriends did a pretty good job. Dana Delaney: “You have parts of Jeffrey AND Brian in you. You exaggerate the part that’s like Jeffrey. You ignore the parts that are like Brian.”Heidi Ettinger (Landesman): “Richard, you think if you’re having a bad day you should be able to walk down to the newsstand and see the newspaper headline declaring: ‘Richard’s having a bad day!” Joan Pirkle (Smith): “You don’t act like you’re G-d’s gift to women; you act as if women were G-d’s gift to you!”19. Something I just learned: The last living witness to Lincoln’s assassination was on the TV show ‘I’ve Got a Secret’ in 1956. He remembered being upset that John Wilkes Booth had hurt himself leaping from the balcony to the stage. You can see it here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I_iq5yzJ-Dk 20. Something else I just learned: Japanese-Americans live longer on average than Japanese citizens living in Japan (and I learned this from a wacky right-wing talk show host!) 21. If a corporation is 20% owned by a foreign investor, say a sheik or a Russian oligarch, and the corporation donates money to an American political campaign: are foreigners helping to influence an American election? 22. How come anti-immigration zealots don’t seem to get upset by dual citizenship when dual citizens are Israeli or Irish? 23. If I wore a hoody from the old TV show ‘Just Shoot Me’ would I deserve to be shot for wearing a hoody? 24. The older I get the more I realize the most expensive thing I’ve acquired during my lifetime was a conscience. 25. The older I get (and the older Kyle gets) the more I understand why my mother always said: “I wish you and your brothers were little again!” 26. The older I get the more I understand you cannot love life without loving transience. 27. Thinking back to the time when Herman Cain was top candidate for the Republican presidential nomination: doesn’t it seem now like an unreal bad dream? 28. I’ve eaten in some of the best restaurants in the world and experienced unforgettable meals but is there anything better than a Dairy Queen Blizzard? 29. Now that we ‘reboot’ movie series like ‘Spiderman’ and ‘Batman’, can we reboot presidential candidates as well? I’d love to experience that naïve rush of believing in hope and change again!! 30. The ocean in Florida has more than fifty shades. Every evening at dusk I go to the beach to read and each evening it is a different color: lagoon blue or lime or turquoise or sky-blue or gray or sapphire or white-capped. Its different every evening and must have fifty shades of gray alone…31. I went to five colleges: UNH, UCSB, UCBerkeley and Yale but when I dream about college I’m always on campus at Santa Barbara. 32. There is an American fantasy that financial moguls must be SMARTER than the rest of us. After all, they were intelligent enough to make all that money. There are some, I’m sure, who are above average in intelligence but anyone who has lived through the last five years should realize many aren’t more intelligent. They are more ruthless, more reckless, less conscious ridden than the rest of us. This American myth made it easier for them to get away with their crimes. 33. Financial moguls who go bust are like Ann Curry: On Friday the market values you at tens of millions, on Monday: “Out with the traife!” 34. Speaking of network morning hosts: Savannah Guthrie looks like she’s being tortured each morning on the Today Show. She can’t even make believe she’s interested in making Martha Stewart’s pinto bean/guacamole parfait! And she’s a lawyer, why should she? 35. When will NBC realize the problem is not his female co-hosts but Matt Lauer. He is a neutral shade that needs strong colors surrounding him. His success is not in spite of his blandness but because of it. 36. Hey, NBC: Where is J. Fred Muggs when you need him? 37. My brother Jeffrey once told me remonstrating over my poor career choices: “You could have been the next Matt Lauer. Instead you’re the next Soupy Sales!” He was wrong. I could never do what Matt does. And I loved Soupy Sales! 37. When I met Mitt Romney in a greasy spoon on 55th street in December not one person in the place recognized him. I often wonder if those people would know who he was today. 38. When has Paul Krugman (the stimulus is too small, inflation will stay restrained, austerity stifles growth etc.) been wrong about the American economy? 39. When has Lawrence Kudlow (the Bush ‘Goldilocks Economy‘, the Celtic Tiger) been right? 40. In the same vein: “The Irish economy is showing encouraging signs of recovery!” The Cato Institute, June 2010. ‘Nuff said. 41. No matter how many times conservatives quote him on the cable news shows, Obama never promised the stimulus would bring unemployment down below 8%. He never said it. NEVER. (Christina Roehmer did make that prediction base upon incorrect projections on the economic damage but that’s not as effective a political statement.) 42. Excuse me, but if I remember the last three years correctly, the economy DID begin to improve after the stimulus. 43. I usually finish the Sunday New York Times by Wednesday. 44. I save the Book Review, (my favorite section) for last. Can I make one of those obnoxious commercials? 45. I still read the Style section for the wedding announcements but its been years since I’ve seen someone I know. 46. The last wedding announcement where I personally knew someone getting married was comedienne Marilyn Michaels. 47. I haven’t watched a Sunday morning network news program in years. I listen to every single one by podcast and don’t miss a thing visually. 48. ‘Up with Chris Hayes’ and ‘The Chris Matthews Show’ are not podcast so I guess I should amend that! 49. I might read FIFTY SHADES OF GREY if someone tells me its better written than THE STORY OF O. 50. So again: why are the days so short in Florida?
At the top I must admit something: I am a supporter of Herman Cain. I want him to win the Republican nomination. Of course, my primary reason is that I think Barak Obama would beat him easily. But there are other reasons. Obama and Cain are such different characters (and not only politically) that it would create a fascinating race. Obama is thoughtful, sometimes to the point of ponderous, heavy with what the pundits call ‘gravitas’. Cain is breezy, shoot from the hip with what the pundits call ‘retail political skills’. (I first heard the term two months ago when the pundits were claiming Perry had them. Soon everybody on TV was using the term.)
It would also take ‘race’ out of the race. I don’t think you’d see too many Cain supporters carrying little monkey dolls to campaign rallies. And on a societal level it would be mind-boggling. As Howard Stern remarked: ‘If Martin Luther King came back to life he would say: “Whoa! Two Black men running for president?!? That’s a little too much, even for me!” A Presidential race between two black contenders might afford the most positive proof yet about how far America has grown up when it comes to matters concerning race. Perhaps then we could move forward and also deal more maturely with a female presidential candidate.
Or maybe not completely. Making a comparison between political camps Ann Coulter said to Sean Hannity: ‘Our blacks are better than their blacks.” Could you imagine someone saying:“Our Jews are better than their Jews”? And the charges of racism against the harassment claims are ridiculous. If this is a racial ‘high tech lynching’ than the Weiner whirlwind was ‘a high tech pogrom!’
Cain is not the most ignorant of the candidates (in my opinion Bachman and Perry get the low IQ awards) and if intelligence were a factor in the Republican primaries John Huntsman would be leading the pack instead of floating around it somewhere like Banquo’s ghost at the dinner table. Cain is also not the most egregious flip-flopper (Mitt Romney gets that award). Cain’s notorious changes of position are different, taking place over hours or days demonstrating a lack of thoughtfulness rather than a premeditated manipulation. He was a conservative talk show host and conservative radio hosts argue whatever position is in the playbook that day. When it comes to facts, whether its is WMD in Iraq, the shrunken, useless brain of Terry Shiavo, “Lying Louima” or tax cuts raising revenue conservative radio hosts will never admit they were wrong. Tomorrow is another day and another issue to inflame. Herman plays politics by talk radio rules and since most of his supporters are probably also avid listeners its no problem for them.
Early on the pundits were too easy on Cain: His explanations for his position on abortion were impenetrable. I still don’t know whether the electric border fence was a joke or not. And his bafflement over the Palestinian ‘right of return’ baffled even FoxNews, where Chris Wallace tried to help him out by explaining what it meant. Cain’s answer: “Oh, I don’t think the Israelis would have a problem with that!” Oh, really? And his latest gaffe about China ‘s attempt to gain nuclear capability makes one wonder if he also thinks we’d better catch up with the Russkies in the space race!
But later, after they had identified him as amorphous on issues, the media made every statement conform to their pigeonhole. Although I don’t support his 9-9-9 plan at all his apples and oranges explanation about state sales tax made perfect sense to me. The pundits played dumb, making believe they couldn’t understand that state sales taxes would exist either way, with or without a national sales tax. They weren’t part of the plan to adjust FEDERAL taxes. It WAS apples and oranges.
So I am dismayed that these latest charges of sexual harassment could derail the candidacy of polling frontrunner Herman Cain. Or I should say how he has handled those charges. What constitutes sexual harassment can be as relatively innocuous as telling an off color joke or as serious as molestation or coercive rape. Or a lot of noxious things in between. At this point we don’t know where Cain’s transgressions lie on the scale of severity. Still it seems odd to me that Anthony Weiner should be forced to resign over activities that were consensual and provoked no complaint and Cain should be let off the hook for actions and/or comments that were considered inappropriate and inspired serious complaint.
When I was a talk radio host I had an employee come to me, wide-eyed and clearly shocked. One of the on-air hosts, a powerful and popular man had offered her a ride home and on the way he pulled over and began to massage her thigh. He asked if she found him attractive and suggested that if they both were not married might something ‘happen’ between them. She was stunned, uncomfortable around him now and didn’t know how to proceed. I told her she had three options: 1. She could screw him. 2. She could begin the process of legal complaint (and all the negatives that might entail). Or 3. She could just not let herself get into any situation where they were alone ever again. She took a fourth option. As a man I hadn’t thought of it. She used the incident as leverage for her own benefit in the work place, a sort of tacit, teasing blackmail. As far as I can see that choice worked out better than any I had recommended.
I don’t mean to diminish the grievous nature of sexual harassment in the workplace but there is a difference between man-handling someone in the broom closet and saying a hair on a coke can looks like it came from a pubis. There are also different levels of tolerance. And different levels of sophistication. And different levels of dealing with things that make one uncomfortable. In short its difficult to form an opinion about the Cain allegations until one knows just what it was he did. On the other hand, it is entirely justified to believe that the way he has handled the scandal has only magnified the mess.
A friend of mine, one of a vanishing breed of intelligent and thoughtful conservatives asked me to explain Herman Cain’s appeal. I told him that I think a lot of politics these days depends upon emotion. Democrats want someone who will kick ass (Grayson, Weiner, both now gone)…they want their own Chris Christie (or more precisely: a Teddy or Franklin Roosevelt, someone who isn’t afraid to identify enemies and beat them.Grayson and Weiner, maybe because they were only Representatives, always seemed to me to be punching up and not always effectively. Still I cheered. Weiner originated one of my favorite quotes about current politics: ‘The problem with Democrats is that they show up at a knife fight armed with library books.’ Democrats want TOUGH. And that’s one reason Obama has toughened his talk. He’s already demonstrated to independents he can be reasonable. Now he has adopted a more Truman-esque ‘Give ‘em hell’ persona.
If Democrats want TOUGH, Republicans want PERSONALITY (they already have the market on tough!) …thats what Reagan had above all and made his policies more palatable to so many including Reagan Democrats. Who do Republicans have today? McConnell, Cantor, Ryan, Romney–guys who seem cold and robotic or Bohener, who with his crying and tan just seems weird. Palin has personality (not much else) Cain has personality plus (plus a record–I still can’t believe he was on the Federal Reserve!) One might argue that Bachman also has personality but it a forced, unnatural personality, grating after long term exposure–its the packaged responses, the oblivious response to what’s happening around her like a wind up doll with unblinking eyes and pre-recorded answers. Cain has what Reagan had—an easy going affable manner, comfortable in his own skin, a way to communicate simply and an unflappable nature no matter how many times his self-contradictory logic or ‘facts’ are challenged. Its also the ability of a good salesman who can sell 20 Mule Team Borax or the ‘city on the hill’, Domino Pizza or ‘9-9-9.
Or Juiceman Juicers, 1800-MATTRES and progressive politics!
FORMER LABOR SECRETARY ROBERT REICH EXPLAINS THE ECONOMY IN LESS THAN 2 MINUTES
Above is a link to Reich‘s explanation of our economic crisis. CLICK THE LINK to hear it. And it only runs two minutes.
It is startling for most of us to see the redistribution of income and assets that has taken place since the eighties. But not for all of us.
Citigroup, one of the four largest banks in America, identified the change in our country as movement to plutonomy. Reich identifies how plutonomy endangers democracy but he doesn’t specifically name the political institution that accompanies economic plutonomy. Its called plutocracy (government by the wealthy). And plutocratic governments are anti-democratic as their priorities are serving the wealthiest members of society and maintaining their hold on assets and income. The recent Supreme Court decision in Citizen’s United, proposals for the complete abolition of capital gains tax and corporate taxation, destruction of Medicare and Social Security as we know them, the adamant Republcan firewall to protect tax cuts for the richest Americans are all examples, in part, of our new American plutonomy expressing its political muscle.
Citigroup is not concerned by this movement away from democracy and a vibrant middle class.Here is an excerpt from Citigroup’s 2005 report created for the its richest clients: “Plutonomy: Buying Luxury, Explaining Global Imbalance”. This report begins:
The World is dividing into two blocs – the Plutonomy and the rest. The U.S., UK, and Canada are the key Plutonomies – economies powered by the wealthy. Continental Europe (ex-Italy) and Japan are in the egalitarian bloc.
Equity risk premium embedded in “global imbalances” are unwarranted. In plutonomies the rich absorb a disproportionate chunk of the economy and have a massive impact on reported aggregate numbers like savings rates, current account deficits, consumption levels, etc. This imbalance in inequality expresses itself in the standard scary “global imbalances”. We worry less. There is no “average consumer” in a Plutonomy. Consensus analyses focusing on the “average” consumer are flawed from the start.
We project that the plutonomies (the U.S., UK, and Canada) will likely see even more income inequality, disproportionately feeding off a further rise in the profit share in their economies, capitalist-friendly governments, more technology-driven productivity, and globalization.
In 2006 Citigroup issued a second Plutonomy report, titled “Revisiting Plutonomy: The Rich Getting Richer”:
The latest Survey of Consumer Finance data was released Friday 24th of February. It shows that the rich in the US continue to be in great shape. We thought this was good time to bang the drum on plutonomy.
Back in October, we coined the term ‘Plutonomy’. Our thesis is that the rich are the dominant drivers of demand in many economies around the world (the US, UK, Canada and Australia). These economies have seen the rich take an increasing share of income and wealth over the last 20 years, to the extent that the rich now dominate income, wealth and spending in these countries. Asset booms, a rising profit share and favourable treatment by market-friendly governments have allowed the rich to prosper and become a greater share of the economy in the plutonomy countries. Also, new media dissemination technologies like internet downloading, cable and satellite TV, have disproportionately increased the audiences, and hence gains to “superstars” – think golf, soccer, and baseball players, music/TV and movie icons, fashion models, designers, celebrity chefs etc. These “content” providers, the tech whizzes who own the pipes and distribution, the lawyers and bankers who intermediate globalization and productivity, the CEOs who lead the charge in converting globalization and technology to increase the profit share of the economy at the expense of labor, all contribute to plutonomy. Indeed, David Gordon and Ian Dew-Becker of the NBER demonstrate that the top 10%, particularly the top 1% of the US – the plutonomists in our parlance – have benefited disproportionately from the recent productivity surge in the US.
Citigroup states it has few worries about the dissolution of the middle class and the resurrection (after a hundred years) of PLUTONOMY. Citgroup‘s report seems to relish the concept. And why shouldn’t they? As international bankers they will be an integral segment of this brave new world by the rich and for the rich. If the middle-class consumer is replaced as a driving force in the economy by a sliver of the most wealthy isn’t that a major shift that should be recognized and addressed in our debate about how to reinvigorate our economy? One hardly hears it in the discussion.
Chicago School economic conservatives, Ayn Rand cultists and supporters of anarchic capitalism might complain that such presentations foment ‘Class Warfare’. (At least, their most demagogic media proponents often use the term as a debate stopper.) What they fail to understand is that capitalism will only survive if it is an economic system seen as instilling credibility, producing stability and adherence to fairness. FDR understood this during the depression: his programs, decisions and actions were created to save capitalism, not as his political enemies claimed to destroy it. For this he provoked the slander among conservatives that he was ‘a traitor to his class’. Talk about ‘class warfare’!
Fareed Zakaria‘s GPS is usually the most adult of the Sunday morning shows. Last week he began the broadcast l with this:
Conservatism (used to be)…rooted in reality. Unlike the abstract theories of Marxism and Socialism, it started not from an imagined society but from the world as it actually exists. From Aristotle to Edmund Burke, the greatest conservative thinkers have said that to change societies, one must understand them, accept them as they are and help them evolve. Watching this election campaign, one wonders what has happened to that tradition. Conservatives now espouse ideas drawn from abstract principles with little regard to the realities of America’s present or past. This is a tragedy, because conservatism has an important role to play in modernizing the U.S.
Consider the debates over the economy. The Republican prescription is to cut taxes and slash government spending — then things will bounce back. Now, I would like to see lower rates in the context of tax simplification and reform, but what is the evidence that tax cuts are the best path to revive the U.S. economy? Taxes — federal and state combined — as a percentage of GDP are at their lowest level since 1950. The U.S. is among the lowest taxed of the big industrial economies. So the case that America is grinding to a halt because of high taxation is not based on facts but is simply a theoretical assertion. The rich countries that are in the best shape right now, with strong growth and low unemployment, are ones like Germany and Denmark, neither one characterized by low taxes.
Right now any discussion of government involvement in the economy — even to build vital infrastructure — is impossible because it is a cardinal tenet of the new conservatism that such involvement is always and forever bad. Meanwhile, across the globe, the world’s fastest-growing economy, China, has managed to use government involvement to create growth and jobs for three decades. From Singapore to South Korea to Germany to Canada, evidence abounds that some strategic actions by the government can act as catalysts for free-market growth.
Of course, American history suggests that as well. In the 1950s, ’60s and ’70s, the U.S. government made massive investments in science and technology, in state universities and in infant industries. It built infrastructure that was the envy of the rest of the world. Those investments triggered two generations of economic growth and put the U.S. on top of the world of technology and innovation.
Zakaria concluded his opening statement with this:
We need conservative ideas to modernize the U.S. economy and reform American government. But what we have instead are policies that don’t reform but just cut and starve government — a strategy that pays little attention to history or best practices from around the world and is based instead on a theory. It turns out that conservatives are the woolly-headed professors after all.
A strategy that is not grounded in the real world, that rests on slogans and shibboleths but also one accepted by the media as foundational for this important debate. Here are just a few:
1. CUTTING THE DEFICIT WILL CREATE JOBS
How? Cutting the deficit will assuredly destroy jobs in the short and intermediate future as government supported programs, government employees on the federal, state and local levels are laid off. Is the parent who now sends their child to a school with an egregiously large class size going to be able to send them to school now in the private sector? Will the individuals who used to count on an effective police force now hire private security guards? Will the networks hire more workers if they are laid off from PBS or NPR? And as the income that these workers spent on material goods and services is lost that will affect other jobs. ONLY INCREASED DEMAND (and/or government subsidy) WILL CREATE JOBS.
2. TAX CUTS WILL CREATE JOBS
Once again, let me repeat: ONLY INCREASED DEMAND WILL CREATE AN INCREASE IN JOBS. Does that sound simplistic? Think about it: If you are a restaurant owner with 12 tables and only 2 of them have patrons each night would you now hire more waiters if you got a tax cut? American business is sitting on between one and two trillion dollars of money. Its not using that extra money to invest in American jobs. In many cases it is used to buy back stock (enriching stockholders– including the corporate officers) or financing mergers or buyouts of competitors.
Farreed Zackaria had a round-table with Eliot Spitzer, Ann Coulter, a Britsh historian and Chrystia Freeland of Reuters.
SPITZER VS COULTER-DEMAND CREATES JOBS
Ann Coulter: “We’ve run this experiment different times in this country, over and over and over again, and every time nothing is done, there is no Keynesian spending, the economy recovers like that and we have a boom. It did in the 20’s, it did in the 80’s, and every time . . .
Chrystia Freeland: “It did in the 20’s?”
Ann Coulter: “FDR and Obama jumps in . . . ”
Fareed Zakaria: “As I recall, a massive increase in defense spending. .
Ann Coulter: “And massive . . .”
Fareed Zakaria: “Tax cuts.”
Ann Coulter: “Cuts in taxes brought more revenue in.”
Fareed Zakaria: “Which are Keynesian. Keynes was in favor of taxation. He never made a particular distinction between government spending and taxes. His point was you need demand in the economy.”
Ann Coulter: “Right, but. . . ”
Fareed Zakaria: “You need to stimulate demand.”
Elliot Spitzer: “Your story would be nice if it were true, but it’s not. The reality is, if you look at the economics, and you look at what the impact is of both credit to marginal rates, government spending, the incentives you create for job creation, Keynes has been right at every turn. In terms of understanding, if you actually sat down with or either were a business person making capital allocation decisions, hiring, you’d understand the way you look at is your return. Right now there is a demand crisis of enormous volume. That’s why we need to create demand in this economy so we can generate things that we can buy.”
Ann Coulter: “And Obama’s been following your policies and that is why we have a crisis.”
Elliot Spitzer: “The executives are sitting on two trillion dollars of capital. The key to getting that capital back into the economy, to hire people, is demand for the products we made. There is not a whole lot of ambiguity about that.”
SPITZER: Explain to me why. If people are sitting on capital, who are sitting on capital right now who are not investing because capital gains rates are 15 percent… You’re saying if you take that fifteen percent, you’re assuming they’re going to invest even when there’s no demand for the product?
FREELAND: Right. What Eliot is pointing out is there’s a lot of money, there’s a lot of money on the sidelines.
Then Spitzer made a huge mistake and veered off into a personal attack suggesting that those who have no business experience don’t understand the importance of demand in job creation. Of course, Coulter was happy to join him on her own turf advantage, i.e. the personal attack and the whole thing descended into hackery and incoherent shouting.
But Spitzer was correct. “Right now there is a demand crisis of enormous volume. That’s why we need to create demand in this economy so we can generate things that we can buy.” And Ann Coulter creates her own version of American history (it seems to be in vogue these days!). The 20’s created the biggest economic boom? I seem to remember that there was a bit of a ‘correction’ in 1929. The same in the 80’s. Anyone remember Black Friday?
3. CORPORATE TAX IS PROHIBITIVELY HIGH
Often cited is the fact that the US has the second highest corporate tax rate in the world. This is true. Only Japan has a higher one. But that is the statutory rate. The effective rate (the rate of taxation actually paid) is far lower. And it is the effective rate that is important rather than the theoretical statutory rate that indicates the highest marginal tax because THAT IS WHAT IS ACTUALLY PAID IN THE REAL WORLD. The same is true of individual income tax rates. (For instance, Obama earned 1.7 million in 2011, paid 450 thousand, a rate of 26%. President Bush earned $735 thousand in 2005, paid 187 thousand, a rate of 25%. Neither paid anything NEAR the highest marginal statutory rate of Federal Income Tax.) As Reich stated above, according to the IRS the 400 wealthiest Americans did even better. They paid an average income tax rate of 17%! But conservatives protest that raising the highest marginal rate of 35% (the lowest historically since 1931 except for 1988-92) would be an egregious burden on those enjoying a plutonomy.
In 2004, the Government Accounting Office reported that the REAL (effective) corporate tax rate was 25%. When we view the US effective corporate tax rate against the rest of the industrialized world that is not the high. It is not even near the highest. It is somewhere in the low middle: higher than France, Russia and the UK but lower than Germany, Japan, Italy and Canada. Here is a chart comparing effective and actual corporate tax rates based upon figures from the World Bank: CLICK TO ENLARGE
Beyond this the rate of corporate taxation can vary wildly from industry to industry, from a low rate of less than 5% for biotechnology industries to a high of 33% for public utilities. Here’s a chart recently published by the NYT:
CLICK TO ENLARGE
Over the last year it was shocking to learn that GE paid NO corporate tax. Newscorp, which owns FoxNews, THE WALL STREET JOURNAL, the NY POST and other conservative media outlets paid only 6% in corporate tax! And the talking heads and writers employed by Newscorp whine about the corporate tax rate!
Now, why do you think the radio hosts, Republican politicians and Teabaggers complain that the US has the highest corporate tax rate when it is NOT a tax rate actually imposed in the real world? The Simpson/Bowles Commission on the deficit recommended LOWERING the corporate tax rate to 26% which would deprive the demagogues of their talking point. A 26% corporate rate would actually INCREASE revenues when loopholes and exceptions are abolished. How could that be if corporations WERE ACTUALLY NOW PAYING THE SECOND HIGHEST CORPORATE RATE IN THE WORLD AT 35%!
It is true that SOME companies and SOME corporate sectors DO pay the highest marginal rate (which can be a bit higher than 35% when state and local taxes are factored in). And this is unfair. The President pointed this out explicitly in this year’s State of the Union. Equalizing corporate taxation (as Simpson-Bowles proposes) creates a more equitable tax policy but there is a price. The country would lose a tool for long term industrial planning losing the ability to offer incentives to green companies, renewable energy development etc. Still the further we have moved away from the grand compromise of SIMPSON-BOWLES the better it looks to me…
4. OBAMA WANTS TO REDISTRIBUTE WEALTH
All economic policies redistribute wealth. The fact that capital gains is taxed at 15% and that labor is taxed at higher rates redistributes wealth. Anti-trust laws redistribute wealth. Copyright laws redistribute wealth. Laws that affect access to education, healthcare, credit all redistribute wealth. The question is not whether we want to redistribute wealth. The question is: Do we want a society with a healthy and stable middle class?
There are many other myths touted as facts that provoke talk-back at the radio speaker or the TV screen:
Lowering taxes raises revenues! (Yeah, if that were true we could lower them to O% and raise the most revenue!)
The stimulus didn’t work! (Almost 40% of the recovery stimulus was in tax cuts. Are tax cuts effective stimulus or not, Republicans?) And tell that to the teachers and policemen who received paychecks for the last two years due to the aid to states.
You must stop blaming Bush economic policies for the recession! Its Obama‘s economy now. (Why? Do you stop blaming cigarette smoking when you get lung cancer? I would try alternatives like a dry herb vape pen instead of staying on the same boat and complaining. Do you stop blaming Osama bin Ladin for the World Trade Center attack?)
This is socialism! (The TARP bailout was created by some of the most ardent free market capitalists in the world and a pale faced, wide eyed president who saw his country teetering on the edge of a cliff. Socialism can only be a tool to save capitalism when its on the verge of collapse?!?)
FDR’s programs didn’t end the depression! The war did! (and what is the economic character of war? Government spending on a massive scale).
The debt is destroying the future for children and grandchildren! (To save their future we cut their present access to education and healthcare?)
And yes the national debt and the budget deficit are two different things! They are related but not interchangeable.
I could go on and on. And I am not an optimist at this time. The American public does not seem to learn lessons and Obama is no FDR or TR with the vigor or stamina to teach them.
Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.
…and a stupid economy lies frozen between those without conviction and the passionate intensity of those with a surfeit of ideology and a deficit of real-world understanding.
US FORCES DETAINED IN PAKISTAN; RELEASE IMMINENT
OBAMA INSISTS: “NO APOLOGY FOR RAID”
The dramatic events early Monday, with a firefight that ended in Osama bin Laden’s escape, the deaths of 6 American servicemen and the capture and detention in Islamabad of 66 others and a dog
(May, 9 2011) Islamabad, Pakistan—One week after the tragic raid on Osama bin Laden’s compound the Pakistani military and intelligence service says 66 American serviceman detained in Islamabad are well treated , receiving all necessary medical attention and will be released to American authorities shortly. Many of the servicemen have been allowed to call their families in the States and all have received multiple visits by the Red Crescent humanitarian service. The bodies of 6 American servicemen killed in the crash of a Black Hawk helicopter as the raid began arrived yesterday at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany and are in transit to the US. President Obama is scheduled to meet their arrival at Dover Air Base tomorrow morning.
The demand of Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari for a formal apology from the Obama administration for violation of that country’s airspace has not been met but there are signs that both Presidents may come to some compromise agreement in a mutual statement in the days ahead. Along with an apology President Zardari has demanded that every US military action within his country’s borders meet prior approval on an individual basis. Transit of US supplies and munitions to Afghanistan have also been halted over the last week although there has been no formal discontinuation of this longstanding policy agreement. Pakistan’s army chief Ashfaq Parvez Kayani who authorized the encirclement of the compound and accepted the surrender of the 66 American pilots, Navy Seals and CIA officers has not made a public statement since removing his prisoners from the compound one week ago. At that time his incendiary comments about the incursion led many international leaders to criticize the US raid but to also call for a peaceful, diplomatic resolution to the incident.
The whereabouts of Osama bin Laden are currently unknown although there have been unverified reports that he was inside the compound at the beginning of the raid but escaped during the confusion as Pakistani troops surrounded and disarmed the US raiders.
—————– ———————— ————————
So let me get this straight: If this was the headline story who would be accepting responsibility? Would FoxNews be running countless stories about how George Bush should share the blame? Would those e-mails be circulating that it wasn’t Obama who ‘got’ bin Laden; it was a US soldier? Would anyone be blaming the Navy Seals for ineptitude?
You know the game.
For right-wing talkers, FoxNews and conservative bloggers and e-mailers Obama can only receive blame when things go right…or wrong.
Its the inversion of that famous quote of Richard Nixon: “I accept the responsibility but not the blame…”
What if this had been the final story about the what happened in Abottabad?
Who would get credited with the failure? Isn’t that the same person who should be given credit for its success?
FoxNews ran clips of the Wisconsin demonstrations while a FoxNews reporter describes how liberal organizations (of which he could not name one–there were just too, too many of them!) were busing in out of state agitators. Funny how when Americans for Prosperity bused protesters into Madison from out of state (25 buses from Pennsylvania!) FoxNews was cheerleading them on.
For days we’ve been told how bitter cold and snowy its been in Madison, Wisconsin, that despite inclement weather a hundred thousand protesters showed up. Obviously, the main stream media is caught lying again. Its sunny and warm in Madison according to FoxNews! Protesters wear short sleeve shirts (CORRECTION: It has been pointed out correctly that no short sleeve shirts are visible in the video). Its almost tropical! Why Madison even has palm trees!
Take a look at the video:
Gotta love Steve…I’ll never forget the time he railed into the microphone about Saddam having VX, sarin, anthrax and WMD. It was clear he was reading directly from NEWSMAX and didn’t know that WMD was an acronym (these were the early days of warmongering). I asked him what WMD stood for and he said it must be the chemicals in a poison gas. “Noooo,” I replied and began crooning the ‘Jeapardy’ theme song. I gave him the first word but he still didn’t get it.
If Steve heard that Obama was a ‘Keynesian’ he’d cite that as proof of his citizenship…
“Fire a couple of rounds of rubber bullets into that crowd. That’ll take care of those demonstrators in Wisconsin,” opined the loudmouth swimmer in the pool at my condo. He’s from the same city as Carl Palladino with the same crude and bellicose manner. “A couple of rounds of rubber bullets will teach ‘em a lesson,” he bellows loudly, bouncing up and down in the pool as if addressing everyone poolside. He’s the same guy who brags about what he’ll do to a burgler with the .45 on the nightstand next to his bed and complains about Obama and the socialists ruining the country. I never respond. I come to swim and relax in the sun.
Among the other comments I’ve heard over the last few days are:
“They should’ve never been allowed to organize in the first place.”
“We need someone to do what Reagan did when he busted the Air Traffic Controllers union.”
“Unions were good at one time but we don’t need ’em anymore. They’ve outlived their usefulness.”
So let’s not pussyfoot around the issue. This isn’t about pensions or healthcare contributions. It isn’t about the deficit or the recession. It isn’t even about the election (although Governor Walker collected endorsements from the Milwaukee Police Association, the West Allis Professional Police Association, the Milwaukee Professional Firefighters and the Wisconsin Troopers Association during his campaign and they are state workers exempt from his new limitations. What a coincidink!).
It’s about an ideology with a goal to destroy unions.
Union leaders conceded to the Governor and legislature’s plan on financial matters last week. They agreed to the difficult concessions required by fiscal hard times. What they will not and cannot concede is the right of their workers to collective negotiation. Without it a union is not a union. It is a fraternal organization.
What Governor Walker proposes is to strip some municipal unions of any right to negotiate ANYTHING other than salary and that to cap even that right to CPI index. In effect even that negotiation is now negligible. He would also allow workers to enjoy the benefits of union membership without paying “fair share” dues. This would essentially contribute to destroying the union (why pay dues when you get benefits for free?)
I watched FOXNEWS Friday and Saturday to understand how this organization would frame this. They did so in their usual fashion: They lied. They presented it as an issue of union intractability on contributing to pension and medical funds even though unions had already agreed to do so. By Sunday this lie became to unsupportable even for FoxNews and they began to reframe. Now the issue was about phoney doctor’s notes and the Tea Party counter demonstration. Although 70,000 turned out to demonstrate against Walker and only 2,000 showed up from the Tea Party they became equal expressions of discontent.
Rush Limbaugh called unionized workers “bottom feeding freeloaders” “using children as human shields”. Who are the real workers of America? “Real Working Non-Unionized People” he proclaimed on Friday, Feb. 18th. He also mocked protestors who compared their political solidarity with those who took to the streets in Egypt complaining that such a comparison could only be made by an ‘idiot’.. Perhaps he will change his mind when he discovers that Republican Paul Ryan was the first to make this comparison on national television. (“It’s like Cairo’s moved to Madison these days,” Ryan said on MSNBC. “All of this demonstration … it’s fine. People should be able to express their way.” Feb 17.) Doesn’t Limbaugh do the minimum of homework before he goes on the air?
What constantly bemuses me is how Teabaggers can become incensed about an employee who spent years on an advanced degree of education receiving a salary of 48,000 a year (with healthcare, pension, vacation etc benefits of $24,000). Yet there has not been one protest against the financial wizards who walked away with hundreds of millions while destroying the American economy…Guides like Limbaugh and Dick Armey and FoxNews point them in the wrong direction at every turn, I guess.
But some unions, the ones who supported Walker politically and help him practically (by hunting down wayward Democrats) i.e. the Wisconsin Troopers’ Association and the police and firefighters’ statewide unions issued statements praising the Governor for recognizing their jobs are more important and thus their unions should be exempted from destruction.
I recognize that some unions have been guilty of corruption. As I stated in previous posts on this site I also favor sensible caps on union pensions and rules that prevent egregious abuses on how those pensions are calculated. But for a movement that derided Rahm Emanuel’s suggestion to ‘Never let a crisis go to waste’ the radicals of the Tea Party are quick to embrace this philosophy. This is not about solving the problem of statewide deficits. From the beginning their rhetoric has been anti-worker, anti-union, strangely recognizing only ‘capital providers’ as ‘THE PRODUCERS’. Capital investment is surely a necessary, central element of the American economy but it is labor that actually accomplishes production so it is an odd way to label the components. FoxNews would have its viewers frame this issue as ‘the unions vs. the taxpayers’, not even acknowledging that union workers pay taxes themselves.
I support the concept that a crisis can provide an opportunity, to learn, to change, to readjust how things are done. But when there is corporate corruption or abuse we don’t attempt to abolish corporations. We attempt to remedy the corruption and abuse to prevent ongoing damage.
As to the Democrats who absconded from the legislature, it may certainly seem hypocritical for those who decried the obstructionism of a Republican minority over the last two years to now applaud the obstructionism of Democratic representatives. But likewise, those that applaud and admire representation that will not yield on core principle (as I often hear Teabaggers assert) should understand the support many give to these 14 representatives. I sent money to support their efforts last Friday.
Surely, elections do have their repercussions and effects. And Walker and Republican legislators were elected in 2010. But they ran on platforms of fiscal responsibility not on promises to obliterate unions entirely. Politifact has a chart of Governor Walker’s campaign promises concerning education. Look at it and tell me which one justifies stripping the union of collective bargaining rights:
On the other hand, Obama DID run on a promise to initiate health insurance reform and he did win his election as did Democrats in both houses. Yet Republicans acted like they were surprised when Democrats fulfilled their promise. To Republicans healthcare reform was “rammed down our throats” and they virulently opposed his fulfillment of that promise. If Walker had run on a platform of abolishing unions and then fulfilled that promise one might say he was fulfilling his pledge to the voters. But he didn’t do that.
I should reveal that I am a proud member of three unions. Throughout my years in broadcasting my unions have supported me when I needed support as an actor or a broadcaster. I am such an ardent union member that I have paid my dues to every union twice annually for forty years though I could have taken a leave of absence during those hard times when I was not working. That’s how strongly I feel an obligation to union membership. It’s also true that for many years I made so much money in my profession that I probably had more direct power as an individual negotiator than I did as a union member. But I did not forget how purposeful and important union membership was to my career and my life.
It is undeniable that there are 13 states that prohibit or restrict collective bargaining by teachers and other state employees. It is interesting to note that most of those states have budget SHORTFALLS. A handful of them have deficits of 20% to make up somehow EVEN WITHOUT UNION WORKERS. Its also an historical fact that Franklin Roosevelt, perhaps our most pro-labor president was extremely wary of allowing municipal workers to unionize. Teddy Roosevelt’s most succinct statement supporting labor organization is mute on the organization of public employees: “It is essential that there should be organization of labor. This is an era of organization. Capital organizes and therefore labor must organize.”
Yet it is also an ironic fact that Wisconsin was the very first state to authorize the collective bargaining rights of public employees and workers in many other states fought hard over years to follow in securing that right. That was in 1959, more than fifty years ago when Eisenhower was president. It is a right with more history than the right of interracial marriage, integration of public enterprise, the right to counsel in a courtroom and a woman’s right to choose.
Madison, Wisconsin was the birthplace of the Sixties Anti-war movement and the subject of a documentary film called THE WAR AT HOME. That movement spread across the country, galvanizing others, energizing millions.
Perhaps the rallying events of the past week will inspire a sequel.
I heard about the shooting of Representative Giffords while sitting by my uncle’s hospital bed. He was sleeping and the television was turned down with the audio low. The newscaster, Alex Witt on MSNBC referred to her at first as Garbrielle and the chyron banner similarly misspelled her name. For the next hour I flipped back and forth between MSNBC and FoxNews hoping to get information the other network missed. My first reaction was that it was Arizona, she must have been a Republican and indeed FoxNews was immediately highlighting that Giffords was pro-life and fighting for a stronger immigration force at the borders. They identified her as a moderate Democrat but FoxNews was attempting to grab her for one of their own. The politicization of assassination had begun at first report.
It is possible for an assassination of a political figure to be non-political. Bremer and Hinkley come to mind (both failed assassins are now free men, by the way). This attack has led to countless internet and media attempts to place the shooter in one or the other political camp. The point here, I think, is not whether Jared Loughner is a ‘liberal’ or a ‘teabagger’. He was obviously disturbed and not a distinct representative of any cogent political ideology. Yet vititriolic right wing expression today is not cogent, it is inchoate anger. The important point is that extreme right wing hate speech creates an atmosphere that ignites such people to violence.
But speaking of inchoate expression, who warned us of government mind control BEFORE Jared Loughner?
“The government is gearing up to conduct one of the biggest scientific experiments ever and you get to be a part of it.It’s called H.R. 3247. It’s a bill proposed by Congressman Brian Baird. Oh, this is fantastic. Remember the book “1984”? Sure. It’s nothing like that. Really, this is completely different. There’ll also be a director of social and behavioral research. Oh man, I doubt if it will be, you know, like anybody with crazy beliefs, you know, like every other “czar.” This one is going to be totally just like you. They’re going to study us and find ways to essentially trick us into driving crappy hybrids and I bet that’s just the beginning. As Time magazine summarized on April 2: “The president — President Obama is still relying on behavioral science. But now, his administration is using it to try to transform the country” — they didn’t say this like it was a bad thing, either — “because when you know what makes people tick, it’s a lot easier to help them change.” Well, that doesn’t sound creepy at all. It doesn’t. And interestingly enough, it doesn’t sound very American, either. But what is that now that we’re in a global community? When has that ever stopped Barack Obama before? I mean, hey, if it’s for the betterment of the collective — you know what I’m saying?” …GLENN BECK
Does that sound any more attached to reality than Loughner’s complaints about mind control?
In 2008, a man walked into a ‘liberal’ church and began shooting, killing two and wounding others. He felt that the Democrats had tied his country’s hands in the war on terror and they had ruined every institution in America with the aid of major media outlets,” the affidavit said. “Because he could not get to the leaders of the liberal movement … he would then target those that had voted them into office.” He was an ardent fan of Savage, Hannity and O’Reilly who helped to shape his hatred and directly motivate his actions. He used Bernard Goldberg‘s book ‘The 100 People Who Are Screwing Up America’ featured repeatedly on O’Reilly as an original menu for his targets. When he couldn’t get to them he shot the liberals who supported them.
Yes, Laughner will probably not turn out to be a card carrying Teabagger. But that is not the point. The reckless politicians and right wing broadcasters who create the milieu that justifies spitting on Congressmen, threatening them with guns and requiring police protection for public officials and their families, also create the atmosphere where tragedies like this take place.
Representative Giffords was shot through the head yesterday.
–A rifle site was placed over her district by Sarah Palin a few months ago. Beneath it read the exhortation: “Don’t retreat! Instead: RE-LOAD!”
–Giffords pleaded for civility on national television: “We’re on Sarah Palin’s targeted list, but the way she has it depicted she has the cross hairs of a gun site over our district. When people do that, they’ve got to realize there are consequences to that action.” …..Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords
–Giffords office was trashed the night after she voted for Health Insurance Reform.
–Giffords’ opponent held an M-16 shooting rally to vanquish her. The invitation read: “Help remove Gabrielle Giffords from office shoot a fully automatic M16 with Jesse Kelly”
— Her father when asked if she had enemies replied: ‘Yes. The entire Tea Party.’
–In August 2009 at another “Congress on Your Corner” event at a Douglas, AZ Safeway the police were called after an angry constituent dropped a gun and left it behind.
—Judge John Roll was murdered yesterday. He showed up unannounced as a friend and supporter of Giffords, so his murder was neither premeditated nor totally unrelated to politics. Death threats against him were directly related to the vitriol of right wing talkradio:
— In February 2009, when U.S. District Judge John Roll presided over a $32 million civil-rights lawsuit filed by illegal immigrants against an Arizona rancher, the Marshals Service was anticipating the fallout. When Roll ruled the case could go forward, U.S.David Marshal Gonzales said talk-radio shows cranked up the controversy and spurred audiences into making threats.In one afternoon, Roll logged more than 200 phone calls. Callers threatened the judge and his family. They posted personal information about Roll online. “They said, ‘We should kill him. He should be dead,’ ” Gonzales said. Roll, who is the chief federal judge in Arizona, said both he and his wife were given a protection detail for about a month.
–The Tucson Tea Party has announced it has no plans to tone down its rhetoric.
–The local Sheriff who is in the community and understands what has gone on has spoken out. Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik said: “I think people who are unbalanced are especially susceptible to vitriol… When you look at unbalanced people, how they respond to the vitriol that comes out of certain mouths about tearing down the government. The anger, the hatred, the bigotry that goes on in this country is getting to be outrageous.”
And what of the other national stories urging Americans to get their guns if they don’t get their way voting?
–In Nevada Teabagger candidate Sharon Angle said:
Angle:When you read that Constitution and the founding fathers, they intended this to stop tyranny. This is for us when our government becomes tyrannical…
Interviewer : If we needed it at any time in history, it might be right now.
Angle: Well it’s to defend ourselves. And you know, I’m hoping that we’re not getting to Second Amendment remedies. I hope the vote will be the cure for the Harry Reid problems.
…well, it wasn’t. So what is the ‘cure’ for Harry Reid now, Sharon? And since Representative Giffords beat a Teabagger in the last election what ‘cure’ is appropriate for her?
-In my district in Florida right wing host Joyce Kaufman told her followers:
“If ballots don’t work, bullets will. I’ve never in my life thought the day would come that I would tell individual citizens that you are responsible for being the militia the Founding Fathers designed. They were very specific: you need to be prepared to fight tyranny….I’ll put my microphone down on November 2nd and I mean it! Because at that point I’m going to go up in the hills of Kentucky, I’m going to go out into the mid-West, I’m going to go up in the New Hampshire outreaches and I’m gonna gather together men and women who understand some things are worth fighting for and some things are worth dying for.”
…..Joyce Kaufman, right wing radio host offered the position of chief of staff for Teabagger representative Alan West.
–“Let me tell you what you’ve got to do: You’ve got to make the fellow scared to come out of his house. That’s the only way that you’re going to win. That’s the only way you’re going to get these people’s attention.” Teabagger Representative Alan West
I spent years broadcasting talk radio. And during every one of those years, including the current one, I’ve heard right wing talkers dredge up the same story about Al Sharpton. In 1995 he told protesters angry about the eviction of a black store owner: “We will not stand by and allow them to move this brother so that some white interloper can expand his business.” One of the protesters later entered the store with a gun and flammable liquid, shot several customers and set the store on fire. For years right wingers have continuously blamed Sharpton for these murders and arson and Sharpton has expressed regret for his remarks. Sharpton’s words, though racist, did not explicitly call for violence but right wingers have blamed him for years for using provocative language in a volatile political atmosphere. It seems for them cause and effect only applies when it is politically expedient.
Many bloggers and the few left-leaning broadcasters that remain have warned Americans about the consequences of this hateful incendiary (and yes, even treasonous) rhetoric. You didn’t have to be Cassandra to see it coming.
I never thought much of Ben Affleck as an actor but he was very good in THE TOWN And even better as the movie’s director. Still the moment you began thinking about it the plot had some holes in it you could drive an armored car through….’The Event’ just jumped the shark for me after only four episodes. I gave it a chance, even excused the gorgeous model playing a government assassin–but last week they lost it completely. One more slot open now on the DVR….Why do people keep saying tax cuts for the rich and corporations will create jobs? Business is already sitting on a trillion dollars that hasn’t created jobs. The richest Americans already have the second lowest marginal tax rate in almost a century. No entity (except government, perhaps) will create a job without demand for the product. There is low demand for products because consumers in debt, jobless, with stagnant wages have little money for discretionary spending. If the hundreds of millions in the middle and working classes had money to spend jobs would arise to service their demand…I would never even think of giving Christine O’Donnell a vote. But I always feel a strong urge to give her a big hug and tell it will be alright. Is it just me?…I just finished THE HUNGER GAMES by Suzanne Collins. It was written for teens but a great read for adults as well. Hundreds of years after the destruction of America workers are oppressed by the rulers in the Capitol of a dystopian country called Panem. Every year, each of its 12 states must sacrifice 2 children between the ages of 12 and 18 for a fight to the death in a reality show broadcast throughout the realm. A great page turner, solid characters, a bit of social commentary and a plot that races along as swiftly as its athletic heroine. Even kids are being drawn into the apocalyptic zeitgeist of our age!…After attending this weeks debate between my Democratic representative and Teabagger challenger Col. Alan West I realized there is no enthusiasm gap. There’s a fanaticism gap…I ate at OUTBACK for the first time in my life and IT WAS REALLY GOOD. Steak (Pittsburgh style-never heard of it), baked potato loaded with everything and broccoli: $9.99! Service was excellent as well…WE needed a more soulless version of THE VIEW like we need new versions of REAL HOUSEWIVES but we do need one wife–THE GOOD WIFE. Every time I watch it I end up laughing in amazement that a show so good made it through the gauntlet of idiot network programmers. How did THAT happen?…Political candidates are the new reality stars—folks with no special talents, experience, intelligence except unbridled audacity and a passion for grandstanding in the media. Is THE REAL HOUSEMEMBERS of–(fill in the location), far away?….With all the cries of ‘MAN UP!’ in this campaign it might be time to remember Macbeth’s words (Shakespeare’s commentary on political ruthlessness): ‘I dare do all that may become a man, Who dares do more is none.”…Another year without one hurricane in Florida but homeowners insurance keeps going up 10% a year…I understand Don Draper–I think…. NPR’s firing of Juan Williams for his comments was ridiculous but don’t be fooled into thinking that FOXNEWS is now a promoter of diverse and unbridled opinion….Just a reminder for those interested: I will be on Sirius Left for Lynn Samuels all next week, Channel 146 1-3, the following week for Alex Bennet Channel 146 9-12 AM….and why do the days seem so short in Florida?