Sunday, September 20, 2015

Why the Rich Are So Much Richer

James Surowiecki

The fundamental truth about American economic growth today is that while the work is done by many, the real rewards largely go to the few. The numbers are, at this point, woefully familiar: the top one percent of earners take home more than 20 percent of the income, and their share has more than doubled in the last thirty-five years. The gains for people in the top 0.1 percent, meanwhile, have been even greater. Yet over that same period, average wages and household incomes in the US have risen only slightly, and a number of demographic groups (like men with only a high school education) have actually seen their average wages decline.

Dean Baker: The Elite's Childlike Commitment to Austerity

The landslide victory of left-wing candidate Jeremy Corbyn for Labor Party leader in the United Kingdom has many establishment types bent out of shape. The Blair-wing of the party was literally obliterated, with Corbyn drawing more than four times the votes of his nearest competitor. After giving the country the war in Iraq and the housing bubble whose collapse led to the 2008-2009 recession and financial crisis, the discontent of the Labour Party's rank and file is understandable.

But naturally the elite types are fighting back. In this vein we get a lengthy piece in the New Yorker by film critic Anthony Lane warning us of the evils of Jeremy Corbyn. I will leave for others the discussion of Mr. Corbyn's friends and associates. I am mostly interested in Lane's treatment of Corbyn's economic agenda.

Citigroup Was Using Taxpayer Bailout Funds While Committing Its Foreign Currency Felony

By Pam Martens and Russ Martens

While the U.S. taxpayer was involuntarily shoveling over $2 trillion in bailout funds and loans into Citigroup from 2008 to 2010, the bank was committing at least one admitted felony on its foreign currency trading desk. And if ongoing testimony in a London court is to be believed, the U.S. Justice Department could have brought charges against individuals instead of settling its case for one single felony charge against the banking unit only.

Citigroup’s banking unit, Citicorp, along with three other global banks (JPMorgan Chase, Barclays and RBS) admitted to a felony charge of rigging the foreign currency market brought by the U.S. Justice Department on May 20. Approximately $5 trillion in foreign currency trades are made globally each day, with billions of dollars to be made through advance knowledge of where prices will be fixed.

Are Neocons an Existential Threat?

Exclusive: Despite a record of unprecedented error, American neocons remain the dominant foreign policy force in Official Washington, demanding more “regime change” in the Middle East and a new Cold War that could heat up and end all life on the planet, writes Robert Parry.

By Robert Parry

The neoconservatives arguably have damaged American national interests more than any group in modern history. They have done more harm than the marginal Communists pursued by Sen. Joe McCarthy in the 1950s, more than the Yippies of the 1960s, more than Richard Nixon’s Watergate burglars in the 1970s or the Iran-Contra conspirators in the 1980s.

The neocons have plunged the U.S. government into extraordinarily ill-considered wars wasting trillions of dollars, killing hundreds of thousands if not millions of people, and destabilizing large swaths of the planet including the Middle East, much of Africa and now Europe. Those costs include a swelling hatred against America and a deformed U.S. foreign policy elite that is no longer capable of formulating coherent strategies.

The Republican base’s “patriotic” treason: The shocking new poll that exposes the dangerous extremism of the American right

A chilling new poll reveals just how sympathetic Republicans would be to a military coup

Heather Digby Parton

Last week, as the nation observed the anniversary of 9/11, one could not help but look back at that time and contemplate the reaction by our fellow citizens and foreign nations. Rick Perlstein wrote a very poignant piece a couple of years back about the solidarity that horrible day inspired among all Americans and people around the world — and how it was lost.

Perlstein describes how bills such as the vote to authorize war and the Patriot Act passed nearly unanimously and without debate, which he says happened because in that moment of oneness,”it seemed unimaginable that this extraordinary grant of executive power could possibly be abused.” The man who should have been president, Al Gore, famously said, “George W. Bush is my commander in chief.”

David Dayen: Officials Cover Up Housing Bubble’s Scummy Residue: Fraudulent Foreclosure Documents

EVERY DAY IN AMERICA, mortgage companies attempt to foreclose on homeowners using false documents.

It’s a byproduct of the mortgage securitization craze during the housing bubble, when loans were sliced and diced so haphazardly that the actual ownership was confused.

When the bubble burst, lenders foreclosing on properties needed paperwork to prove their standing, but didn’t have it — leading mortgage industry employees to forge, fabricate and backdate millions of mortgage documents. This foreclosure fraud scandal was exposed in 2010, and acquired a name: “robo-signing.”

World loses trillions of dollars worth of nature's benefits each year due to land degradation

50 million migrants may be created in a decade

United Nations University

To better inform the tradeoffs involved in land use choices around the world, experts have assessed the value of ecosystem services provided by land resources such as food, poverty reduction, clean water, climate and disease regulation and nutrients cycling.

Their report today estimates the value of ecosystem services worldwide forfeited due to land degradation at a staggering US $6.3 trillion to $10.6 trillion annually, or the equivalent of 10-17% of global GDP.

American Media Freaks Out After Socialist Wins UK Labour Leadership

Should we expect the same reaction if Sanders pulls off a similar feat?

By Adam Johnson / AlterNet

This morning, Jeremy Corbyn won the vote for Britain’s Labour leadership election - basically the equivalent to the American democratic party primary - in a blowout, garnering almost 60% of the vote while the runner-up, Andy Burnham could only muster 19% of the vote. Jeremy Corbyn, a self-described socialist, outflanked his opponents to the left on many issues, including militarism, immigration, unions - breaking ranks on a whole host of centrist orthodoxy that Labour had embraced since the mid-90's.

The American media, perplexed as to how someone labeled with the dreaded “s" word could not only capture a major party nomination but do so with the largest mandate in the history of the party, went into full smear mode:

Paul Krugman: Japan’s Economy, Crippled by Caution

TOKYO — Visitors to Japan are often surprised by how prosperous it seems. It doesn’t look like a deeply depressed economy. And that’s because it isn’t.

Unemployment is low; overall economic growth has been slow for decades, but that’s largely because it’s an aging country with ever fewer people in their prime working years. Measured relative to the number of working-age adults, Japanese growth over the past quarter century has been almost as fast as America’s, and better than Western Europe’s.

US War Theories Target Dissenters

Exclusive: In the Orwellian world of Official Washington, the U.S. government is now wedded to the theory of “information warfare,” meaning that Americans who challenge national security policy may be treated as “unprivileged belligerents” under the new Law of War doctrine, retired JAG Major Todd E. Pierce writes.

By Todd E. Pierce

When the U.S. Department of Defense published a new Law of War Manual (LOW) this past summer, editorialists at the New York Times sat up and took notice. Their concern was that the manual stated that journalists could be deemed “unprivileged belligerents.” The editorial explained that as a legal term “that applies to fighters that are afforded fewer protections than the declared combatants in a war.” In fact, it is far more insidious than that innocuous description.

Here is the manual’s definition: “‘Unlawful combatants’ or ‘unprivileged belligerents’ are persons who, by engaging in hostilities, have incurred one or more of the corresponding liabilities of combatant status (e.g., being made the object of attack and subject to detention), but who are not entitled to any of the distinct privileges of combatant status (e.g., combatant immunity and POW status).”

Evidence Keeps Piling Up: Unions Are Very, Very, Very Good for Workers

'When working people speak with one voice, our economy is stronger, and all workers do better.'

by Deirdre Fulton, staff writer

With most of the largest organized workforces in the U.S. going to the bargaining table before the end of next year, "it is likely that more workers will be seeking raises through the collective bargaining process in 2015–2016 than at any other point in recent American labor history."

So says the AFL-CIO, whose report, released Friday, offers a comprehensive look at the current state of collective bargaining in a period when an estimated 5 million American workers will bargain for new contracts.

This Could Change Everything About School - For Kids, Teachers and Everybody Else

By Valerie Strauss, The Washington Post | Op-Ed

For years, veteran educator Marion Brady has argued on this blog that no matter the level of a learner's ability, much higher levels of academic performance are possible. The means to that end, he says, is learners' understanding and deliberate use of their "master mental organizer"—the information organizer we all begin developing at birth and routinely use (except in schoolwork) to make sense and communicate.

Acknowledging and accommodating institutional resistance to the idea, he and his brother have written, for middle or high school students, three illustrative, ready-to-use, year-long courses. The first helps learners understand the sense-making process; the other two use world history and American history as vehicles for exercising and elaborating the sense-making process. To encourage examination, criticism, use, and collaboration in their improvement, the three courses are and will remain free for the downloading. Links are at the end of the post.

Don't Believe the Corbyn Bashers - The Economic Case Against Public Ownership Is Mostly Fantasy

Though cowards flinch and traitors sneer, Jeremy Corbyn is putting public ownership back on the political agenda. Time to examine frequent claims that public ownership is inherently bureaucratic and inefficient.

by Joe Guinan, Thomas Hanna

E.P. Thompson, the great historian of the English working class, famously warned of the need to rescue our labour movement forebears from “the enormous condescension of posterity.” Today, with Jeremy Corbyn poised to take over the leadership of the Labour Party on a wave of popular acclaim, we can appreciate Thompson’s injunction all the more. Virtually the entirety of the Westminster political class and their hangers-on in the house-trained media have lined up to denounce Corbyn – and the economic ideas he represents – as a ridiculous throwback, a ghost or revenant from Labour’s troubled past who must be exorcized in order that the party may again, as a famous manifesto once put it, face the future. Centrist technocrats always fetishize the future – “our comfort zone,” as Tony Blair has proclaimed it – not least because, unlike the past, it holds no dangerous lessons. “History teaches,” Gramsci wrote, “but it has no pupils.”

TPP Terms Are Even Worse For U.S. Than NAFTA?

Dave Johnson

In the 2008 campaign President Obama promised workers he would renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) that had cost so many jobs and wages, and devastated so many communities. When he took office, he didn’t.

Recently, the administration declared that the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is that promised renegotiation. So why does it look like the terms of TPP will hit us even harder than NAFTA?

CIA and the Drug Business

Special Report: The corrupt connections between U.S. intelligence and drug enforcement go back more than seven decades as American spies and drug investigators routinely crossed paths and collaborated — with the interests of average citizens never high on the agenda, as author Douglas Valentine describes.

By Douglas Valentine

The outlawing of narcotic drugs at the start of the Twentieth Century, the turning of the matter from public health to social control, coincided with the belief that the U.S. government had an obligation to American industrialists to create markets in every nation in the world, whether those nations liked it or not.

Civic institutions, like public education, were required to sanctify this policy, while “security” bureaucracies were established to ensure the citizenry conformed to the state ideology. Secret services, both public and private, were likewise established to promote the expansion of private American economic interests overseas.

America's Poorest Are Getting Virtually No Assistance

Here’s how this came to be.

Jared Bernstein

People who pay attention to poverty, including the poor themselves, know one thing all too well: Over the past few decades, anti-poverty policy in this country has evolved to be “pro-work.” This means that if you’re a low-income parent who’s well connected to the job market, the government will help you in a variety of ways. But, if you’re disconnected from the job market, public policy won’t help you much at all.

How do people in that second group survive? That’s a question that Kathryn Edin and H. Luke Shaefer, a sociologist and a social-work professor, answer in their new book, $2.00 a Day: Living on Almost Nothing in America. It is, as the title suggests, a devastating portrait of families struggling to get by on impossibly low incomes.

Paul Krugman: Trump Is Right on Economics

So Jeb Bush is finally going after Donald Trump. Over the past couple of weeks the man who was supposed to be the front-runner has made a series of attacks on the man who is. Strange to say, however, Mr. Bush hasn’t focused on what’s truly vicious and absurd — viciously absurd? — about Mr. Trump’s platform, his implicit racism and his insistence that he would somehow round up 11 million undocumented immigrants and remove them from our soil.

Instead, Mr. Bush has chosen to attack Mr. Trump as a false conservative, a proposition that is supposedly demonstrated by his deviations from current Republican economic orthodoxy: his willingness to raise taxes on the rich, his positive words about universal health care. And that tells you a lot about the dire state of the G.O.P. For the issues the Bush campaign is using to attack its unexpected nemesis are precisely the issues on which Mr. Trump happens to be right, and the Republican establishment has been proved utterly wrong.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

A Crisis of Public Morality, Not Private Morality

Robert B. Reich

At a time many Republican presidential candidates and state legislators are furiously focusing on private morality – what people do in their bedrooms, contraception, abortion, gay marriage – America is experiencing a far more significant crisis in public morality.

CEOs of large corporations now earn 300 times the wages of average workers. Insider trading is endemic on Wall Street, where hedge-fund and private-equity moguls are taking home hundreds of millions.

Inside climate politics

tudy: Pattern of winners and losers explains US policy on fuel subsidies

Massachusetts Institute of Technology

The politics of climate change are often depicted as a simple battle, between environmentalists and particular industries, over government policy. That's not wrong, but it's only a rough sketch of the matter. Now a paper co-authored by MIT economist Christopher Knittel fills in some important details of the picture, revealing an essential mechanism that underlies the politics of the climate battle.

Specifically, as Knittel and his colleagues demonstrate, at least one climate policy enacted by Congress -- on transportation fuels -- contains a crucial asymmetry: It imposes modest costs on most people, but yields significant benefits for a smaller group. Thus, most people are politically indifferent to the legislation, even though it hurts them marginally, but a few fight hard to maintain it. The same principle may also apply to other types of climate legislation.

New Program Takes Rare Approach of Treating Homeless People Like Human Beings—And It Works

A new program moves homeless encampments into a safe, clean space with food, laundry, showers and case workers who care.

By Emily Wilson / AlterNet

Alan Nethe, who spent 15 years on the street, answers succinctly when asked what he likes about the new Navigation Center in San Francisco’s Mission District.

“Everything,” he says. “What’s not great about it? You’ve got food, laundry, showers, and everybody in here cares about the program and how it runs.”

The Douglass Option

Frederick Douglass believed there was an alternative. So should we.


In February 1866, alarm was spreading through the Republican North over President Andrew Johnson’s Southern course. Politics in the occupied South seemed to be careening toward something like a neo-Confederate restoration.

Johnson’s entire career had fit the archetype of a hill-country Jacksonian: the Herrenvolk democrat, the striver from humble roots, the anti-monopoly champion of the poor white man — and therefore, the bitter enemy of the West Tennessee “slaveocracy.” Yet he believed with equal vehemence that the United States was and should remain “a country for white men.” And so under his reconstruction policy, white state governments in the South had imposed a series of draconian “Black Codes” on the freed slaves, and the planter oligarchy now seemed on the brink of a revival.

America's Oligarch Problem: How the Super-Rich Threaten US Democracy

By Markus Feldenkirchen

The two candidates currently attracting the most attention in the American presidential primaries seem to be polar opposites. First, there's self-declared socialist Bernie Sanders, who can pack entire arenas with as many as 20,000 supporters. And then there's a man who claims to possess $10 billion, Donald Trump, who is leading in the broad field of Republicans. The two do, however, have one thing in common: They reject the US campaign finance system. One out of conviction; the other because he has the resources to finance his own campaign.

One, Bernie Sanders, takes pride in stating that he doesn't want rich people's money. Some 400,000 largely middle class Americans have contributed to his campaign so far, donating $31.20 on average. The other, Donald Trump, proudly announced recently that he had rejected a $5 million donation from a hedge fund manager. And that he is prepared to pump $1 billion of his own wealth into the campaign. One of Trump's most popular arguments so far is that his rival Jeb Bush has managed to raise over $150 million. "Jeb Bush is a puppet to his donors," Trump says disparagingly. Sooner or later, he argues, they will call in their favors. "I don't owe anyone any favors." It's a message that is proving popular with potential voters. But is it really any more democratic that a billionaire can buy his own election instead of allowing himself to be bought by others?

As Vanguard for Climate Action, Low-Carbon Cities Could Save $22 Trillion

In 'urban era,' ramping up building efficiency and public transit in cities could help save money—and the planet

by Deirdre Fulton, staff writer

Compact, connected, and efficient "low-carbon" cities could generate global savings of up to $22 trillion, while sharply reducing greenhouse gas emissions, alleviating poverty, and improving public health, says a new report out Tuesday from leading international economists.

Accelerating investment in building energy efficiency, public transit, and better waste management techniques "has the potential to generate sustained urban productivity improvements and a wide range of economic, social and environmental benefits," reads the document (pdf) from the New Climate Economy, the flagship project of the Global Commission on the Economy and Climate. The project was established by seven countries—Colombia, Ethiopia, Indonesia, Norway, South Korea, Sweden, and the United Kingdom—as an independent initiative to examine how countries can achieve economic growth while dealing with the risks posed by climate change.

America’s silent-but-deadly billionaires: How our tight-lipped overlords are waging stealth campaigns against the middle class

New research reveals the surreptitious ways in which the richest of the rich try to influence politics

Sean McElwee

Teddy Roosevelt famously argued that, when it comes to foreign policy, one should “Speak softly, and carry a big stick.” Similarly, an apt summation of the political inclinations of billionaires might be, “Speak softly, and carry a big check.”

While some billionaires, like Warren Buffett, are outspoken on political issues, most tend to say very little, or speak in vague generalities. But a new working paper by political scientists Benjamin Page, Jason Seawright and Matthew Lacombe finds that what billionaires say and what they do are dramatically different. While billionaires rarely go on the record discussing Social Security and taxes, they work behind the scenes to oppose policies favored by average Americans. Often, there are deep disconnects between what billionaires say regarding policies and which organizations they fund.

Why Ending Homelessness Is Political Poison

By Bill Boyarsky

On a hot, sultry day in July, I walked through Los Angeles’ Skid Row, the largest and most infamous of the city’s numerous homeless encampments. It is a little-visited part of a city better known for its celebrities and showy materialism—a city where the very rich build mansions with a dozen or more bedrooms while the poorest of the poor live on sidewalks, under freeways or in parks.

Buildings trapped the street’s heat. Some residents sat in tents or under tarps in stifling conditions. Others were standing or sitting on the sidewalk, with their backs against the buildings. So packed were the sidewalks with people, tents and possessions that sometimes I had to walk in the street. I was so intent on observing the scene that at one point I stumbled and almost fell. A homeless man asked if I was OK. I assured him I was. He patted me on the back and told me to be careful.

How Austerity Economics Is Fraying Europe's Social Contract

It's a new kind of barbarism, one that sacks countries with fine print.

By Conn Hallinan

On one level, the recent financial agreement between the European Union and Greece makes no sense: Not a single major economist thinks the $96 billion loan will allow Athens to repay its debts, or get the economy moving anywhere but downwards. It’s what former Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis called a “suicide pact,” designed to humiliate the left-wing Syriza government.

Why construct a pact that everyone knows will fail?

Paul Krugman: Other People’s Dollars, and Their Place in Global Economics

Sydney, Australia — Soon after arriving here, I stopped at an A.T.M.; I needed some dollars, and all I had were dollars.

O.K., weak joke. What I needed were Australian dollars — Aussies — not U.S. greenbacks. There are actually four English-speaking countries with dollars of their own; the others are the Canadian loonie and the New Zealand kiwi. And you can learn a lot about the global economy, busting some popular monetary myths, by comparing those currencies and how they serve their economies.

Paul Krugman: When the Default Is to Classify Everything

The Hillary Clinton email "scandal" continues - and there is still no sign that she broke any rules when she was secretary of state, and no sign that she sent or received anything labeled "classified" - but she may have received and even forwarded items that were later classified, or that "should" have been classified.

By normal human standards, this is a big nothing. But in this case Clinton Rules - under which malign behavior is the default assumption - apply: Where there's smoke there must be fire, even if everyone knows that the usual suspects are using big smoke machines.

Economic security requires new measures of well-being

UB researcher says personal savings, policy change are needed to achieve goals, economic stability

University at Buffalo

BUFFALO, N.Y. - Economic well-being for low-income families in the U.S. is often determined by federal measures that establish basic requirements for essentials such as food, shelter and clothing, but a new study by a University at Buffalo research team suggests that such a definition is unrealistically narrow.

To help families move out of poverty, the existing perspective of economic well-being and its short-term focus on basic needs should reflect possibilities for long-term stability, including a savings plan, rather than day-to-day survival, says Yunju Nam, an associate professor in the UB School of Social Work.

Michael Hudson’s New Book: Wall Street Parasites Have Devoured Their Hosts — Your Retirement Plan and the U.S. Economy

By Pam Martens

The riveting writer, Michael Hudson, has read our collective minds and the simmering anger in our hearts. Millions of American have long suspected that their inability to get financially ahead is an intentional construct of Wall Street’s central planners. Now Hudson, in an elegant but lethal indictment of the system, confirms that your ongoing struggle to make ends meet is not a reflection of your lack of talent or drive but the only possible outcome of having a blood-sucking financial leech affixed to your body, your retirement plan, and your economic future.

In his new book, “Killing the Host,” Hudson hones an exquisitely gripping journey from Wall Street’s original role as capital allocator to its present-day parasitism that has replaced U.S. capitalism as an entrenched, politically-enforced economic model across America.

Jonathan Kozol Explains What’s Wrong With Health Care And Education

Jeff Bryant

I don’t think anyone who read “Savage Inequalities: Children in America’s Schools” by Jonathan Kozol would easily forget it. It took me, a child of the leafy suburbs of affluent North Dallas, to a place that was unimaginably cruel and dehumanizing, where schools go without basic needs, such as heat, textbooks, running water and functioning bathrooms; where there are holes in the floors and ceilings, dead rodents and roaches in classrooms, plaster falling from walls into the hallways, and sewage invading the lunchroom.

These were the schoolhouses I never knew existed, that low-income black and brown children attended in ghettoized cities across America – a sharp rebuke to a generally agreed-upon narrative in the media at the time that so much progress had been made in America on race.

Dean Baker | The China Syndrome: Bubble Trouble

The financial markets have been through some wild and crazy times over the last two weeks, although it appears that they have finally stabilized. The net effect of all the gyrations is that a serious bubble in China's market seems to have been at least partially deflated. After hugely over-reacting to this correction, most other markets have largely recovered. Prices are down from recent peaks, but in nearly all cases well above year ago levels.

But the stock market is really a side-show; after all back in 1987 the US market fell by almost 25 percent for no obvious reason, with little noticeable effect on the US economy. The more serious question is what is happening with the underlying economy, and there are some real issues here.

Brian Beutler: The Rehabilitationists

How a small band of determined legal academics set out to persuade the Supreme Court to undo the New Deal—and have almost won.

In November 2013, a who’s who of America’s conservative legal establishment descended on the Mayflower Hotel in Washington, D.C., for an annual meeting of the Federalist Society, the most influential conservative legal organization in the country. Current presidential candidates Scott Walker and Ted Cruz each made appearances, ingratiating themselves with the influence peddlers in attendance. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas was a featured speaker at the event’s black-tie-optional dinner.

One of the biggest stars of the conference, however, was neither a Senate-confirmed official nor an elected politician, but a libertarian law professor at Georgetown named Randy Barnett. This wasn’t Barnett’s first turn as a Federalist Society eminence, but his reception that year was especially rapturous.

Sunday, September 6, 2015

The Myth of the Middle Class: Have Most Americans Always Been Poor?

Posted By Alan Nasser On August 28, 2015 @ 2:00 am

One of the most firmly entrenched myths of the American Ideology is that the U.S. is a “middle class society,” a “land of opportunity” where anyone who works hard has the opportunity to achieve the standard of living which has made America “the envy of the world.” A common, and spot on, rejoinder has been to remind us that America has always had a sizable class of permanently poor people and that it is just factually false that those ready, willing and able to work are on the path to middle class status.

But does this reply concede too much? Has there ever been a substantial middle class in America? Or has a poor working class been able to mask its condition by accessing an institution that has disguised a large portion of a poor working class as a middle class? The best place to start is with the history of the modern American middle class.>

Paul Krugman: A Heckuva Job

There are many things we should remember about the events of late August and early September 2005, and the political fallout shouldn’t be near the top of the list. Still, the disaster in New Orleans did the Bush administration a great deal of damage — and conservatives have never stopped trying to take their revenge. Every time something has gone wrong on President Obama’s watch, critics have been quick to declare the event “Obama’s Katrina.” How many Katrinas has Mr. Obama had so far? By one count, 23.

Somehow, however, these putative Katrinas never end up having the political impact of the lethal debacle that unfolded a decade ago. Partly that’s because many of the alleged disasters weren’t disasters after all. For example, the teething problems of were embarrassing, but they were eventually resolved — without anyone dying in the process — and at this point Obamacare looks like a huge success.

David Cay Johnston: Donald Trump — Man Of War

We should all give thanks to Donald Trump’s reality-TV-show run for the Republican presidential nomination because of what it reveals about his fan base.

Assuming Trump’s supporters have actually listened to what the narcissistic real estate developer has been saying, what they want is multiple ground wars, an America that steals from other countries, an America that kills people because of their religion, and a massive police state constantly checking people (especially Hispanics and Latinos) to determine whether they’re undocumented and should be arrested and deported, and even have their citizenship taken away.

David Cay Johnston: 21 Questions For Donald Trump

I have covered Donald Trump off and on for 27 years — including breaking the story that in 1990, when he claimed to be worth $3 billion but could not pay interest on loans coming due, his bankers put his net worth at minus $295 million. And so I have closely watched what Trump does and what government documents reveal about his conduct.

Reporters, competing Republican candidates, and voters would learn a lot about Trump if they asked for complete answers to these 21 questions.

Tomgram: David Bromwich, The Neoconservative Empire Returns

By David Bromwich
Posted on August 23, 2015, Printed on September 6, 2015


Playing the Long Game on Iran
The Neoconservatives, Benjamin Netanyahu, and the Republicans Game the System
By David Bromwich

“We’re going to push and push until some larger force makes us stop.”

David Addington, the legal adviser to Vice President Dick Cheney, made that declaration to Jack Goldsmith of the Office of Legal Counsel in the months after September 11, 2001. Goldsmith would later recall that Cheney and Addington were the first people he had ever met of a certain kind: “Cheney is not subtle, and he has never hidden the ball. The amazing thing is that he does what he says. Relentlessness is a quality I saw in him and Addington that I never saw before in my life.”

Paul Krugman | What Does the US Gain From the Dollar's Special Role?

China is claiming that it's not devaluing the renminbi to gain a competitive advantage, it's adding flexibility to prepare for the yuan's new role as an international reserve currency, becoming part of the International Monetary Fund's special drawing rights basket and all that. That's a highly implausible story about what's happening right now, but it may be true that China's urge to loosen capital controls is driven in part by its global-currency ambitions. But why, exactly, should China be eager to manage an international reserve currency?

Rick Perlstein: Jimmy Carter: Prophetic President

James Earl Carter is nearing the end. In an extraordinary press conference last week, the 39th president discussed his impending death from metastasizing liver cancer, with a grace, humor, and wisdom the rest of us can only hope to emulate when our own time comes.

Soon will come the eulogies: then, the assessments. Forgive me if I jump the gun with a gust of affection. I’ve been grappling with his 1976 candidacy and presidency for most of my workdays for at least a year now for my next book on Ronald Reagan’s rise to the presidency. I want to loose some thoughts while they are fresh in my mind.

Why we should get three-day weekends – all the time

David Spencer

As we approach the August bank holiday and a three-day weekend, it is worth reassessing the amount of time we devote to work. What if all weekends could last for three or even four days? What if the majority of the week could be given over to activities other than work? What if most of our time could be devoted to non-work activities of our own choosing?

To even pose these questions is to invite the criticism of Utopian thinking. While a fine idea in principle, working fewer hours is not feasible in practice. Indeed, its achievement would come at the expense of lower consumption and increased economic hardship.

Richard Eskow: In Troubled Times, the Federal Reserve Must Work for Everyone

It’s been a chaotic few days for the world’s markets. Recent events do not paint the picture of a stable economy guided by rational minds. Instead, the world of global finance looks more like a playground in need of adult supervision.

Like other nations, we have a central bank. What should the Federal Reserve do in troubled times? For that matter, what is the Fed’s role in preventing troubled times from occurring in the first place?

WTO Ruling Against India's Solar Push Threatens Climate, Clean Energy

"The U.S. should be applauding India’s efforts to scale up solar energy—not turning to the WTO to strike the program down."

by Nadia Prupis, staff writer

The World Trade Organization (WTO) on Wednesday ruled against India over its national solar energy program in a case brought by the U.S. government, sparking outrage from labor and environmental advocates.

As power demands grow in India, the country's government put forth a plan to create 100,000 megawatts of energy from solar cells and modules, and included incentives to domestic manufacturers to use locally-developed equipment.

Paul Krugman: Crash-Test Dummies as Republican Candidates for President

Will China’s stock crash trigger another global financial crisis? Probably not. Still, the big market swings of the past week have been a reminder that the next president may well have to deal with some of the same problems that faced George W. Bush and Barack Obama. Financial instability abides.

So this is a test: How would the men and women who would be president respond if crisis struck on their watch?

Our Forgotten Labor Revolution

After the Civil War, workers struggled to make wage labor go the way of chattel slavery.

by Alex Gourevitch

The Founding, the Civil War, the New Deal. The holy trinity of the American political tradition.

n the beginning was the word, the sacred text celebrating the end of arbitrary colonial government and the creation of a constitutional republic. Then there was the redemptive war, a punishment for the original sin of slavery and whose reward was the Union reborn. The new United States declared the primacy of the national state, declared free labor the foundation of its economy, and established national citizenship. Finally, the third deed put a human face on the capitalism that the Civil War unleashed.

This, anyhow, is how the standard undergraduate syllabus is arranged. It is how publishing houses organize their books; it is how the typical historical survey punctuates the American story. To be sure, other moments, like the Civil Rights Movement and the Reagan revolution get honorable mentions.