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flickr.com / Presidential Inaugural Committee

Wizards of the Inauguration

While Barack Obama banned corporations and big donors from funding his inauguration so as to not trammel the public celebration, the big event’s multimillion-dollar bill is instead being footed by Wall Street executives and other financial employees acting as fundraisers. Abracadabra—no more special interests.

Posted on Jan 9, 2009 READ MORE


The Politician in Chief Works for a Stimulus

The substantive issues surrounding an economic stimulus are clearer than the politics of getting it passed fast. Here’s how Obama is trying to weave the politics and the substance together.

Posted on Jan 8, 2009 READ MORE


Beware, Mr. Obama, of Tax-Cut Seduction

Much of the business-tax package Obama contemplates fails his own test of cutting business taxes “where it makes sense and is going to work.”

Posted on Jan 8, 2009 READ MORE


Now Is No Time for Phony Thrift

As the government contemplates spending very large sums of money, it is reassuring to know that somebody still worries about waste. Or it would be reassuring, if only that somebody were not Mitch McConnell, the Senate minority leader.

Posted on Jan 8, 2009 READ MORE


Yukking It Up at the Blago Show

I am supposed to be typing out words that articulate a highly audible and terribly alarmed tsk tsk. Instead, I am laughing with unrestrained amusement at the farce that Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich has engineered. Honestly, I haven’t had this much fun since New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer’s implosion.

Posted on Jan 6, 2009 READ MORE


Let’s Pledge to Stop Being Stupid About Teen Sex

“Virginity pledges” are one of the ways that government officials measure whether abstinence-only education is “working.” They count the pledges as proof that teens will abstain. It turns out that this is like counting New Year’s resolutions as proof that you lost 10 pounds.

Posted on Jan 1, 2009 READ MORE


Swindler of the Year

In a sense, we’re all Bernie Madoff. We’ve been running our economy in accordance with his accounting principles for a generation—and now we face a most unpleasant reckoning.

Posted on Dec 31, 2008 READ MORE



AP photo / Craig Ruttle

Why I Am a Socialist

The free market and globalization, promised as the route to worldwide prosperity, have been exposed as a con game. We will either find our way out of this mess by embracing an uncompromising democratic socialism or we will continue to be fleeced and impoverished by our bankrupt elite.

Posted on Dec 29, 2008 READ MORE


Economic Death and Millionaire Taxes

For most of us, Benjamin Franklin’s words in 1789 still apply: “Nothing is certain but death and taxes.” However, millionaires, by definition, are not most of us.

Posted on Dec 26, 2008 READ MORE



Flickr / Brave New Films

Wal-Mart’s $640 Million Sneeze

Wal-Mart will pay as much as $640 million to settle 63 lawsuits around the country alleging that the retailer had exploited its workers. The payout could add up to less than 0.1 percent of the company’s revenues this year.

Posted on Dec 23, 2008 READ MORE


Regulator Gave Blessing to IndyMac Shenanigans

The Treasury Department’s inspector general has been looking into the failure of IndyMac, which set the taxpayers back $8.9 billion, and what he found isn’t pretty. It seems a certain regulator let the bank present itself as “well-capitalized” when the truth was something entirely different.

Posted on Dec 23, 2008 READ MORE



AP file photo / Reed Saxon

SAG Strikes Out

The Hollywood-centric “Membership First” faction that has controlled the Screen Actors Guild’s national board for most of the last five years chooses tactics—misinformation, tough talk and over-promising—that undermine the union’s credibility.

Posted on Dec 22, 2008 READ MORE


Bailouts

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Posted on Dec 19, 2008 READ MORE


Vegas strip
letstravelvacations.com

We Are All Las Vegans Now

A voyage to Sin City in this moment of ecological and economic crisis is a journey to a giant concave mirror reflecting back the magnified—and ugly—truths about this epoch of cataclysmic consumption and hubristic hedonism.

Posted on Dec 19, 2008 READ MORE


It’s a Man’s Meltdown

Today’s brainteaser: Name the top female executives who were forced to go before Congress, explaining why their companies made multibillion-dollar mistakes that helped wreck the economy but nonetheless deserve billions in taxpayer bailouts.

Posted on Dec 18, 2008 READ MORE


Workers Laid Off, Executives Paid Off, Bernard Madoff

Bernard Madoff’s criminal pyramid scheme, in which losses are expected to be $50 billion, paints a grim picture—unless you are a corporate executive. Read the fine print. Of the TARP bailout funds, only those that were technically spent “in an auction” carry limits on executive pay.

Posted on Dec 16, 2008 READ MORE


Killing the Big 3 Would Be Nuts

Despite the popular myth, lemmings don’t really hurl themselves off a cliff to reduce their numbers. That sort of behavior is seen only among Republicans in the Senate, who gave us a demonstration when they torpedoed legislation to bail out the auto industry.

Posted on Dec 15, 2008 READ MORE


Crippling the Auto Union Is Just a Warm-Up

I must admit that when the danger of a global financial implosion became apparent in March, I did not understand how all those worthless Wall Street credit swaps really could be the fault of an overpaid union welder at an auto plant somewhere in Michigan.

Posted on Dec 15, 2008 READ MORE


Dennis Kucinich
AP photo / Kevin Wolf

Rep. Dennis Kucinich on His Battle With the Banks

Once they were as gods, but the deities of the American banking system are now in ruins, plunged from their pedestals into the maw of taxpayer largesse. There was a time when their power was real. Come with me to Cleveland 30 years ago today.

Posted on Dec 15, 2008 READ MORE


We Told You So

With the release of three new reports, there’s no debate anymore about who was correct and who wasn’t concerning the economic collapse and the Wall Street bailout. The studies prove that progressive critics were right and the Washington ideologues and the pundits were wrong.

Posted on Dec 11, 2008 READ MORE


Say Hello to the Thrift Zeitgeist

Now, competitive consumption has been replaced by contagious anxiety. Buying hit the wall with the housing collapse, the stock market plunge, the credit card crunch and the surge in unemployment figures.

Posted on Dec 11, 2008 READ MORE



Truthdig / Peter Scheer

Redrawing the Political Map

A little-noticed California proposition could limit the kind of partisan gerrymandering that Republicans and Democrats have used to influence elections around America for decades. But is that a good thing?

Posted on Dec 11, 2008 READ MORE


Unions Aren’t the Problem

As Congress and the White House lurch toward possible approval of a loan package for the crippled auto industry, we are undoubtedly in store for more union-bashing.

Posted on Dec 9, 2008 READ MORE



AP photo / Douglas Healey

The Best and the Brightest Led America Off a Cliff

The multiple failures that beset the country can be laid at the feet of our elite universities. Harvard, Yale, Princeton and Stanford, along with most other elite schools, do a poor job educating students to think. They focus instead on creating hordes of competent systems managers.

Posted on Dec 8, 2008 READ MORE



Flickr / Franco Folini

Senator Tells GM Chief to Take a Hike

As congressional leaders, the White House and President-elect Obama came to terms with a $15-billion loan package for the auto industry, Sen. Chris Dodd suggested Sunday that not all executives should stick around to spend that money. GM CEO Rick Wagoner “has to move on,” the senator declared on “Face the Nation.”

Posted on Dec 7, 2008 READ MORE



Warren I. Cohen on China’s ‘Factory Girls’

There’s a revolution underway in Chinese culture as young women flock from villages to factory employment in the cities, leaving traditional values behind.

Posted on Dec 5, 2008 READ MORE


The Beauty of Free Money

No, the federal government isn’t going to discover new billions under some rock in a national park. But with the economic downturn, the new president’s imperative will be to spend as fast as he can, to the tune of perhaps $500 billion, to keep the economy from going belly up.

Posted on Dec 5, 2008 READ MORE



Flickr / Joe Crimmings Photography

The High Cost of Hope

Was it his charisma? His rhetorical gifts? His policy ideas? There’s a more cynical and perhaps realistic explanation for Barack Obama’s historic electoral victory over John McCain: When all was said and done, the Democrat had about $400 million more to spend than his rival.

Posted on Dec 4, 2008 READ MORE



Wikimedia Commons

U.S. Puts Fresh Cash Into the Drug War

While the rest of the world has been preoccupied with a financial meltdown, a handful of wars and a terrorist attack or two, Mexico has been waging war on its homegrown drug industry, and the death count is mounting. U.S. Ambassador Tony Garza announced that El Norte is sending a couple hundred million down south to aid the cause.

Posted on Dec 4, 2008 READ MORE



Wikimedia Commons / mlb.com

Bailout Ballpark

The U.S. taxpayer is on the hook for more than $300 billion of Citigroup’s junk investments, so where did the ailing bank find $400 million to put its name on the New York Mets’ new stadium?

Posted on Dec 4, 2008 READ MORE


Breathing New Life Into Health Care

Over the past 10 months, as the hemorrhage of jobs began to push the national unemployment rate toward its October level of 6.5 percent, about 3 million Americans were thrown off the insurance rolls or had their incomes fall so much that they became eligible for Medicaid or the State Children’s Health Insurance Program.

Posted on Dec 4, 2008 READ MORE


Not a Team of Rivals at All

When the journalistic pack bites into a tasty cliché, they often refuse to let go, lazily chewing and regurgitating a phrase like “team of rivals” long after the flavor is gone.

Posted on Dec 4, 2008 READ MORE



Flickr / SteelCityHobbies

Class Bigotry Mars Auto Debate

The auto industry bailout would have no chance of passing without the muscle of the Big Three’s unionized work force. Yet you can’t turn around without hearing someone trash autoworkers for the terrible crime of trying to earn a decent living.

Posted on Dec 1, 2008 READ MORE



Richard Ellis on ‘Diagnosis: Mercury’

Thinking of whipping up another tuna casserole? You may change your mind after reading this convincing expose by Jane M. Hightower, a San Francisco doctor.

Posted on Nov 28, 2008 READ MORE


The Peril and Promise of Interesting Times

If things get much more “interesting,” we might have a collective nervous breakdown. But along with the anxiety, there’s also a sense of rare opportunity—a chance to emerge better than we were economically, politically and socially.

Posted on Nov 26, 2008 READ MORE


Bush’s Hoover Impression Flirts With Depression

At the earliest, it is likely to be at least February or March before the first dollar of an Obama recovery plan is felt. This is a national disgrace.

Posted on Nov 26, 2008 READ MORE


The Smoke Is Clearing

This week marks a decade since a consortium of state attorneys general negotiated the landmark settlement of lawsuits against tobacco companies. The results are in: Cigarette consumption has declined by 28 percent in the past 10 years.

Posted on Nov 24, 2008 READ MORE



AP photo / Kiichiro Sato, file

Starving for Change

The swelling numbers waiting outside homeless shelters and food pantries around the country have grown by at least 30 percent since the summer. If Barack Obama continues to turn to the elites who created the mess, if he does not radically redirect the nation’s resources to assist the working class and the poor, we will become a third-world country.

Posted on Nov 24, 2008 READ MORE


book cover

Regina Marler on Ted Hughes’ Letters

A new volume of the late poet’s correspondence sheds fresh light on the anguish and art of Sylvia Plath.

Posted on Nov 21, 2008 READ MORE


Tuning Out the Braindead Megaphone

If you’re having trouble remembering what the recent election was all about, rest easy: You’re probably not going senile – you’re likely experiencing the momentary effects of brainwashing.

Posted on Nov 20, 2008 READ MORE


Sooner or Later, They’ll Bail Out Detroit

The Big Three left Capitol Hill empty-handed, but they’re bound to get some kind of federal help, however grudging. In the end, I don’t think either George W. Bush or Barack Obama wants to be remembered as the president who lost the auto industry.

Posted on Nov 20, 2008 READ MORE


Should Obama’s Army Lay Down Its Arms?

While the nation’s capital obsesses over who will be the next pick for Barack Obama’s Cabinet, the president-elect’s lieutenants are engaged with what may be a more important long-term issue: What will become of Obama’s vast grass-roots network?

Posted on Nov 20, 2008 READ MORE



finance.google.com

Dow-nward Spiral

In a little over two weeks, the Dow has tumbled more than 2,000 points as bad economic news continues to pile up. Word on Thursday that jobless claims hit a 16-year high, combined with a dreary outlook for Detroit and a lack of confidence in major financial institutions, helped drive the DJIA down to 7,552.29.

Posted on Nov 20, 2008 READ MORE



AP photo / Carlos Osorio

Bailout or Bust: How to Save the Big Three From Themselves

There’s no guarantee that a bailout would save the incompetently managed American automobile industry. However, doing nothing may be worse, especially for the state of Michigan.

Posted on Nov 20, 2008 READ MORE


book cover

Jane Ciabattari on Toni Morrison’s ‘A Mercy’

An unabashed triumph, Morrison’s new novel is a gloriously poetic and incantatory retelling of America’s tragic and redemptive story.

Posted on Nov 14, 2008 READ MORE



Collage: Meutia Chaerani / Indradi Soemardjan and Shealah Craighead / White House

Paulson Revises Bailout Strategy

“I will never apologize for changing a strategy or an approach if the facts change,” explained Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, who has retreated from his original plan of buying up near-worthless mortgage securities with taxpayer funds. Instead, Paulson will continue to pump money into troubled banks in exchange for equity, a scheme that has proved more expeditious and popular.

Posted on Nov 12, 2008 READ MORE



Flickr / Rain Rannu

What’s a Few Trillion Yuan Between Comrades?

Instead of buying lots of new cheap things, people are busy stuffing what’s left of their money in mattresses. That has China, where the goodies come from, worried. The Chinese government has decided a stimulus is in order, to the tune of 4 trillion yuan (more than $550 billion).

Posted on Nov 9, 2008 READ MORE



goodguide.com

Your Money Votes, Too

You may have knocked on doors for Barack Obama, but it’s possible you gave money to John McCain. GoodGuide has a tool that sorts donations by party, logo and industry. Tech companies seem to prefer Democrats while food companies love Republicans. The banks, of course, throw money at everybody.

Posted on Nov 7, 2008 READ MORE


Organizer in Chief

Perhaps the job that qualified Obama most for the presidency was the one most vilified by his opponents: community organizer. Yet community organizing is inherently at crosscurrents with the massive infusion of campaign cash.

Posted on Nov 5, 2008 READ MORE


Johnny 5
myspace.com

Robocalls Confuse Voters

Calls have been going out in Virginia and Pennsylvania, telling people to vote tomorrow, on Nov. 5, according to Jonah Goldman, director of Election Protection at the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights. Goldman says he doesn’t know who’s responsible, but similar misleading messages are being distributed via e-mail, FaceBook and fliers, often targeting young and minority voters.

Posted on Nov 4, 2008 READ MORE


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