Posts Tagged ‘Real News Network’

Thomas Frank on the Democrats’ future

September 11, 2017

Scroll down for links to six recent Thomas Frank interviews on the Real News Network

Thomas Frank, who understands American politics as well or better than anyone else I know of, is giving a series of interviews on the state of the Democratic Party to the Real News Network.   I link to them below.

Most of my friends are liberal Democrats, like me, and they can’t understand why a working person would go against their own interests by supporting Donald Trump.  But then they themselves go against their own interests by supporting Hillary Clinton.

The problem is not Clinton as an individual.   As an individual, she is much more qualified to hold public office than Trump.

The problem is that the Democratic Party has come to depend on wealthy donors to finance its campaigns and it looks to well-to-do salaried professionals as its core voters.   Working people are coming to realize that the Democratic Party does not represent them.

It is not that large numbers working people are turning to Donald Trump.   The GOP is even worse than the Democrats.  It is that increasing numbers of working people—black, white and brown—see no point in voting for either party.

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We probably don’t know the worst about torture

December 11, 2014

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Via The Real News Network

Every time something has come out about torture by Americans, starting with the original Abu Ghraib reports, it has been worse than I thought it was, and I have felt I did not know the whole story.

guardian.senatetorturereportThat’s how I feel about the Senate torture report.  It gives official confirmation to a lot of things that have been reported, but some of the details are worse than I would have imagined.

I don’t have anything important to say about torture that I haven’t said before and I can’t imagine that making another post on my web log is going to make much difference in the total scheme of things.

I post partly out of a sense of honor.  I don’t want people in the future to be able to say that no American in this era spoke out against crimes against humanity.  I realize this is a pretentious thing to say.

I don’t believe I am a dangerous enough truth-teller to draw the wrath of the U.S. government, and reading and writing about torture will not, in themselves, change anything.  But it is better than not doing or saying anything.

We Americans must not let ourselves accept torture as the new normal.  If we do, the torturers will have won.

∞∞∞

The Ethics of Torture 101 by Ian Welsh.  The moral issue defined.

10 Craziest Things in the Senate Report on Torture by Matt Taibbi for Rolling Stone.

Torture report highlights consequences of permanent war by Andrew Bacevich for the Boston Globe.

The American people have a right – indeed a responsibility – to know what was done in their name by Senator John McCain on the Senate floor.   I disagree with Senator McCain about a lot of things, but he knows from personal experience what torture is.

Torture and the Myth of ‘Never Again’: the Persecution of John Kiriakou by Peter Van Buren.  President Obama is doing more to deter truth-tellers than torturers.

The legacy of Eric Holder

September 29, 2014

The Real News Network interviewed Bill Black, an expert on white-collar crime and a former financial regulator, on the legacy of Attorney General Eric Holder.  Here is part of what he said:

Eric Holder has surprised me.  I always predicted that he would at least find one token case to prosecute some bank senior executive for crimes that led to the creation of the financial crisis and the global Great Recession. … …

Well, he’s actually going to leave without even a token conviction, or even a token effort at convicting

So, in baseball terms, he struck out every time, batting 0.000, but he actually never took a swing.  So he was called out on strikes looking, as we would say in baseball.

Too-big-to-jailAnd I couldn’t believe that he would leave without at least having one attempted prosecution against these folks.

So he hasn’t done the most–he never did the most elementary things required to succeed. He never reestablished the criminal referral process, which is from the banking regulatory agencies, who are the only ones who are going to do widescale criminal referrals against bank CEOs, because, of course, banks won’t make criminal referrals against their own CEOs.

Holder could have reestablished that criminal referral process in a single email on the first day in office to his counterparts in the banking regulatory agencies, and he’s going to leave never having attempted to do so.

On top of that, if you’re not going to have criminal referrals from the agencies, the only other conceivable way that you’re going to learn about elite criminal misconduct of this kind is through whistle-blowers.  And as you mentioned, this administration, and Eric Holder in particular, are known for the viciousness of their war against whistle-blowers.

What the public doesn’t know—and it doesn’t know because of Eric Holder—is that in the three biggest cases involving banks–again, none of them, not a single prosecution of the elite bankers that drove this crisis—all three of those cases, against Citicorp, against JPMorgan, and against Bank of America, were made possible by whistle-blowers.

via After Eric Holder Resigns, A Look at His Record on Bank Prosecutions.

Instead of prosecutions, Holder negotiated settlements in which the big banks agreed to pay big fines.  That would have shifted the penalty from the actual wrongdoers to the stockholders.  Black pointed out that the stockholders didn’t suffer, either, because when the settlements were announced, the stock prices of the banks rose by more than the amount of the settlements.

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Who in Ukraine will benefit from an IMF bailout?

March 23, 2014

Economists Michael Hudson and Jeffrey Sommers, in this informative interview with the Real News Network, said that most people in Ukraine will suffer, because the condition for an IMF loan will be lower living standards for a country already poor by European standards, higher taxes and fewer public services and a bankruptcy sale of the Ukraine’s rich farmland and other assets at bargain prices.

IMF loans never go to the people of the country receiving the loan.  They go to pay off the country’s creditors.  An IMF loan to a country is like a debt consolidation loan to a private individual.  In the case of Ukraine, the country’s creditors fall into two groups — the Russian Federation and its Gazprom natural gas company, to which Ukraine has billions of dollars owing and which no longer will sell Ukraine gas at a below-market price; and banks in western Europe and the United States, which have made billions of dollars in loans to the previous government.   Whichever group to which the IMF loans flow (I’m not betting on the Russian Federation), they won’t go to help ordinary Ukrainians.

Ukraine will then be in debt to the IMF, which will demand repayment by squeezing the money out of the Ukrainian people and by selling off Ukrainian national assets at bargain prices.  Rich Ukrainians may acquire some of these assets.  They will be the only Ukrainians who will benefit.

Hudson and Sommers pointed out that U.S. energy companies are planning for a disruption in Russian natural gas exports to western Europe, and building LNG (liquified natural gas) terms in U.S. ports so as to be able to sell gas in Europe.

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Qualitative Easting III: bank bailout continues

September 27, 2012

Michael Hudson, a research professor of economics at the University of Missouri at Kansas City, said the Federal Reserve Board’s Qualitative Easing is a continuation of the bank bailout under another name.

Ben Bernanke, chair of the Federal Reserve, announced a commitment to buy mortgage-backed securities (toxic assets?) while keeping interest rates low.  Pumping more money into the economy will supposedly make more money available for business loans and consumer purchases in the United States.  But Hudson noted that so far the banks have found more profitable things to do with the Fed’s money than to invest it in the real U.S. economy.

At present the rate of inflation is low.  But one cause (or definition) of inflation is too much money chasing too few goods.  If money is created, but the money is not used to produce more goods, then (as I see it) inflation could return.  Moderate inflation is supposed to be a cure for economic stagnation, but I can recall the “stagflation” of the 1970s when there was very serious inflation and economic stagnation at the same time.

Click on Fed to Buy More Bonds in Bid to Spur Economy for the Wall Street Journal’s explanation of the Federal Reserve’s rationale for QE.

Click on QE3 – Another Fed Giveaway to the Banks on the naked capitalism web log and scroll down to the discussion thread for the pros and cons of Hudson’s analysis.

Click on Michael Hudson | On finance, real estate and the powers of neoliberalism for Michael Hudson’s home page.

Winds of change in Quebec

September 26, 2012

The Parti Quebecois has come to power in Quebec, after months of protests against the incumbent Liberal government involving hundreds of thousands of people, led by students but not limited to them.  The new government has agreed to cancel university tuition increases, the original cause of the protests.

The new government also announced an indefinite moratorium not only on hydraulic fracturing for natural gas, but on exploration for shale gas as such.

It goes to show what a determined and well-led mass protest movement can accomplish.

Click on Quebec’s Not-So-Quiet Revolution for cartoonist Ted Rall’s graphic report on the Quebec protests.

Click on ‘A beautiful day’ for environmentalists for background on the shale gas issue from the Montreal Gazette.

Thomas Ferguson on the choice of Paul Ryan

August 21, 2012

Thomas Ferguson, a political scientist at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, Boston, is one of the most astute political observers I know about.  He is going to be a regular on the Real News Network.  I’m just now catching up with his first broadcast, which was last Friday.  Here it is.

Click on Paul Ryan – Insider Trading and Attacks on Medicare for a transcript of the broadcast.

Click on The investment theory of politics for my account of Ferguson’s idea that American political parties represent conflicting business interests rather than the public, and that voters only get a choice on issues that don’t affect corporate profits or on which corporate interests are in conflict.  In the post, I review Ferguson’s 1995 book, Golden Rule: the Investment Theory of Political Parties and the Logic of Money-Driven Politics.

Click on Business, not politics, driving nation rightward for my review of Right Turn: the Decline of the Democrats and the Future of American Politics, which Ferguson co-authored with Joel Rogers in 1986.

Unfortunately both books are out of print and a lot of his current writing is in scholarly publications not available on-line, so the Real News Network is doing a good service to the public by giving Ferguson a public platform.

[8/26/12]  I had hoped for a follow-up interview with Thomas Ferguson this weekend, but it didn’t happen.

“A hair trigger away from economic calamity”

August 18, 2011

The great economist John Maynard Keynes once wrote:

Speculators may do no harm as bubbles on a steady stream of enterprise. But the position is serious when enterprise becomes the bubble on a whirlpool of speculation. When the capital development of a country becomes a by-product of the activities of a casino, the job is likely to be ill-done.

It seems paradoxical that while government is more intrusive than ever before into the lives of ordinary citizens, it gives free rein to powerful institutions and wealthy speculators to put the economy at risk.

Bart Chilton, commissioner of the Commodities Futures Trading Commission, gave interviews to The Real News Network describing how speculators and “dark markets” put the economy at risk, and drive up the prices of food and fuel.

The first interview in the series is above and the others are below.

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