is by Jon Schwarz on The Intercept. It starts as follows:
Hillary Clinton has every
right to be infuriated by the performance of the press during the 2016
election. In her new book “What Happened,” Clinton mainly indicts
television news for abandoning coverage of any actual public policy
issues in favor of its berserk obsession with her use of a private
email server. Subsidiary malefactors include Matt Lauer, for asking her
about almost nothing else at NBC’s September 2016 Commander-in-Chief
Forum on national security, and the New York Times, for its spasmodic
freak-out when FBI Director James Comey declared he was re-opening the
Bureau’s investigation into her emails just before the election.
But here’s where Clinton
and I part ways:
an interview Tuesday, she said, “I don’t think the press did their
job in this election, with very few exceptions.” She believes the
problem is something new, and the fault of bad individuals.
Clinton’s problem is
obvious: At 69 years old and after a lifetime in politics, she somehow
doesn’t understand what the corporate media’s job is.
I say?! No, I do not
think so: She has been in politics over 40 years; she has been in
the leadership of the - extremely and eagerly corrupt - Democratic Party;
she is definitely neither stupid nor
would not understand the corporate media these days? I find it extremely
difficult to believe that.
Then there is this that
fleshes out what Jon Schwarz has in mind:
Yes indeed - but to say that
Hillary Clinton doesn't understand that the media are
out to make a profit, and that the mainstream media are
only out to make a profit, is saying that the she never
read about the media, doesn't understand capitalism, doesn't
understand the shift towards buying the Senate and the House
(that has been going on since Reagan) and also never heard Milton
Friedman's (who is thought by many to be the second economist of
the 20th Century) famous words that "the only moral demand CEOs have to
satisfy is to make a profit".
Who exactly in the
corporate media has been fired for failing to provide the United States
with in-depth, sober, fair-minded coverage of the Joint Comprehensive
Plan of Action with Iran and the minutia of the Patient Protection and
Affordable Care Act?
Which suggests that
the media did do its job. Moreover, I think the media
performed incredibly well.
The New York Times, CBS,
NBC, ABC, CNN, et al., are gigantic corporations — in most cases owned
by even larger ones. And the job of giant corporations is not to inform
American citizens about reality. It’s not to play a hallowed role in
the history of a self-governing republic. It’s to make as much profit
I think that is a mistake on all four counts, for I think she
is easily intelligent and well-read enough to have known all
these things for a very long time, if only because these things have
been going on for a very long time.
Then there is this:
perspective, the media’s performance in 2016 was a shining, glorious
success. As Les Moonves effused
just as the primaries were starting, Trump’s campaign was “good for us
economically. … Go Donald! Keep getting out there!” The entire
Hieronymus Bosch-like nightmare, said Moonves, “may not be good for
America, but it’s damn good for CBS.” CNN made $1
billion in profits during the election year, far more than ever
Yes indeed. But once
again: I think Hillary Clinton knows all the things that
Schwarz supposes her not to know, and I disagree completely
with his title: She does understand what has been going on in
and around the American mainstream media for a long time.
What quite possibly
is correct in Schwarz's story is that Hillary Clinton was not able
to undo most of the propaganda
that the presenters of the shows she
engaged in for elections did indulge in.
quite probably true to me, but it is not what the title of this article
Big Question as the U.N. Gathers: What to Make of Trump?
This article is by
Peter Baker on The New York Times. It starts as follows:
Every year, the
president heads to New York to welcome world leaders to the United
Nations General Assembly. He gives a speech and meets with an
endless string of foreign potentates to discuss a dizzying array of
complicated, often intractable issues.
The days are “kind of like speed dating from hell,” as one
analyst put it, and the evenings are “the world’s most tedious cocktail
party.” In other words, not exactly President
Trump’s favored format.
But when Mr. Trump attends the first United
Nations session of his presidency this coming week, all eyes will
be on him as counterparts from around the globe crane their necks and
slide through the crowd to snatch a handshake — and, in the process,
try to figure out this most unusual of American leaders.
last quoted paragraph is true (which I don't know, because I
don't have any fact based evidence on how the political top
leaders do spend their
time), it seems to me that the political world leaders are quite
understand Trump they don't need to meet him personally, but
they do need to read good journalism about him, which there
albeit mostly in the non-mainstream press & sites.
As I said:
I have no idea about what the political world leaders do
read, but it does seem to me very naive to believe that
a personal meeting with Trump in the context of a United Nations
assembly would give them much or any factual evidence to grasp his
personality, his outlook or his ideology.
also this bit, that points out that - so far, at least - Trump has not
been quite as bad as he might have been:
The president has not launched an all-out trade war with China,
ripped up the Iran deal or the North
American Free Trade Agreement, or moved the American Embassy in
Israel to Jerusalem, at least not yet. He has belatedly reaffirmed
support for NATO and agreed to send
more troops to Afghanistan.
“But America’s friends still see dysfunctionality at the
heart of the Trump administration, as key advisers come and go through
the revolving door,” said Peter Westmacott, a former British ambassador
to Washington. “They remain disheartened by Trump’s announcements on
climate change and trade policy.” And “they fear that the fighting talk
of this impulsive president could make things worse rather than better
on the Korean Peninsula.”
the political world leaders (whom I tend to dislike, but whom I also do
not think are - for the most part - as insane as I think Trump is
- and see yesterday's Diagnosing Trump) are
correct if they believe what Westmacott said, but then that is
former British ambassador.
in U.S. Incomes Doesn’t Erase 50 Years of Pain
This article is by Patricia
Cohen on The New York Times. It starts as follows:
Incomes are up. Poverty is down. And job
openings have hit a record high. But if the economy is so
wonderful, why are so many Americans still feeling left behind?
The disconnect between positive statistics and people’s
day-to-day lives is one of the great economic and social puzzles of
recent years. It helped fuel President Trump’s political rise and
underpins the frustrations that played out in calls to build a Mexican
border wall, reopen trade agreements, and bring back well-paid work in
coal mines and factories.
In fact, I
do not think that "the
disconnect between positive statistics and people’s day-to-day lives is
one of the great economic and social puzzles of recent years" (and I wrote more
than 1680 articles and reviews on the still ongoing crisis
since September 1, 2008) but I am quite
willing to believe that
this disconnect may well exist in most of the readers or viewers of
it seems as if Patricia Cohen also does not believe it,
although she arrives there a bit slowly:
When the Census Bureau released its annual
report on the country’s economic well-being on Tuesday, it showed unmistakable
progress: For the second year in a row, household incomes —
clobbered by the 2007 recession — had grown. More Americans were
working, and more had health insurance, in 2016 than the year before.
The findings suggest that the “American
dream” — in which each generation is richer and better positioned
than the previous one — is back on track.
For many Americans, though, the recent
progress is still dwarfed by profound changes that have been building
for nearly a half-century: rising
inequality and rusted-stuck incomes.
“Over the past five decades, Middle America
has been stagnant in terms of its economic growth,” said Mark Rank, a
professor of social work at Washington University in St. Louis. In
1973, the inflation-adjusted median income
of men working full time was $54,030. In 2016, it was $51,640 —
roughly $2,400 lower.
I agree with the last two paragraphs, but I think the
first two paragraphs are more misleading than not: The first paragraph fails
to mention what the working Americans earn (namely: considerably less
than until 1980) while the second paragraph is simply false for
anybody who is not wealthy.
And indeed there is also this in the article, which is - to the best of
my knowledge - quite correct (and "median" means half earn more
The median income a man would earn over his
career peaked with those who entered the work force in 1967 and has
declined 19 percent since then. Those with lower incomes have fared
even worse while those at the very top have increased.
Yes indeed. And that had the following result:
The result was that a 25-year-old man who
entered the work force in 1967 and worked for the next three decades
earned as much as $250,000 more, after taking inflation into account,
than a man who had the same type of career but was 15 years younger.
“That’s enough to buy a medium-size house in the United
States,” said Fatih Guvenen,
an economist at the University of Minnesota and a co-author of the
study. “That is what you are missing from one generation to the next
And this is a recommended article.
Hampshire Just Decriminalized Marijuana Possession
This article is by
Philip Smith on AlterNet. It starts as follows:
As of noon Saturday, the
possession of small amounts of marijuana has been decriminalized in New
Hampshire. Now, people in New England who are caught with a joint or
two will not be subject to arrest.
Two New England
states—Maine and Massachusetts—have legalized marijuana, and all the
others have now decriminalized it. Decriminalization came when, after
years of effort, the legislature passed House Bill 640 in
June, and Republican Gov. John Sununu signed it into law the following
Under the state's
previous law, people caught with small amounts of pot faced up to a
year in prison and a $2,000 fine. Under the new law, the penalty for
possession of up to three-quarters of an ounce is reduced to a $100
fine for a first or second offense and a $300 fine for a third offense
within three years. A fourth offense within three years could be
charged as a Class B misdemeanor, but there would be no arrest or jail
I say, which I do
because I think now for the last 50 years (since 1967, when I
smoked marijuana, with quite a few others also, while I was 17) that marijuana
great lot less dangerous than alcohol and should be
it is not dangerous at all.
In fact, I also
that all other "recreational
drugs" (<-Wikipedia), as they are known, should also be
legalized, and indeed not because I favor them (I do not),
because the treatment of those who do take them will be then be very
much easier. (You may not agree, but you probably also did not have
my experiences with drugs in Amsterdam, where in fact all
recreational drugs are illegal, but soft drugs - marijuana and
hashish - are sold publicly because of an intricate system of
and legal corruption,
that now exists for over thirty years.)
There is also this on
soft drugs in the USA:
The next step would be
outright legalization, Simon said, pointing to an August Granite State
poll showing more than two-thirds (68%) of state residents support
freeing the weed.
"There is no good reason
to continue arresting and prosecuting people for marijuana possession.
Marijuana is objectively less harmful than alcohol, and Granite Staters
are ready to see it treated that way. A very strong majority of state
residents support ending marijuana prohibition altogether," Simon said.
(but don't know how Trump's government will react). And this is a
5. The Growing Danger of
This article is by
Robert Reich on his site. It starts as follows:
White House National
Economic Council director Gary Cohn, former president of Goldman Sachs,
recently that “only morons pay the estate tax.”
I’m reminded of Donald
Trump’s comment that he didn’t pay federal income taxes because he was
And billionaire Leona Helmsley’s "only the little people pay taxes.”
What Cohn was getting at
is how easy it is nowadays for the wealthy to pass their fortunes to
In fact, I also
infer that Gary Cohn (and Donald Trump and Leoma Helmsley) believes
that everyone who is not a - considerable - millionaire
is a moron, for that is an immediate logical
consequence from what he (and they) publicly say.
And I believe they do
think so, namely that millionaires and billionaires are a special
human elite that deserves all the advantages they can
Here is more on how
the wealthy and only the wealthy extend their wealth:
Now, Trump and Republican
leaders are planning to cut or eliminate it altogether.
There’s another part of
tax code that Cohn might also have been referring to – capital gains
on the soaring values of the wealthy people’s stocks, bonds, mansions
of art, when they sell them.
If the wealthy hold on to
these assets until they die, the tax code allows their heirs to inherit
without paying any of these capital gains taxes. According to the
Budget Office, this loophole saves heirs $50
billion a year.
Yes. And there is
The estate and capital
gains taxes were originally designed to prevent the growth of large
the U.S. and to reduce inequality.
They’ve been failing to
richest 1 tenth of 1 percent of Americans now owns almost as much
wealth as the bottom
I am not sure in
this, but I think considerable amounts of the estate and capital gains
taxes were imposed by Roosevelt and more or less maintained until 1970.
And in any case, if 1/10th
of 1% of the American people owns as much as the bottom
90% - 90 % - something must have gone extremely wrong
with maintaining anything like income equality and taxes.
Indeed it did,
and the key word - it seems to me, though there are quite a
number of other forces that try to reach the same end - is deregulation (<- good link)
of all laws that will, might or would lessen
the power of the very few rich and very rich over the rest of American
Here is more:
America is now on the
of the largest inter-generational transfer of wealth in history. As
boomers expire, an estimated $30
trillion will go to their children over the
next three decades.
Those children will be
able to live
off of the income these assets generate, and then leave the bulk of
them – which in the intervening years will have grown far more valuable
– to their
own heirs, tax-free.
After a few generations
almost all of the nation’s wealth will be in the hands of a few
Note that these $30
trillion dollars will be inherited for the most part by 1/10th of 1% of the American people, and Reich seems to
be quite right were this will end. (It is - as I put it - capitalism-with-an-inhuman-face,
that was introduced by Nixon and Reagan, yet even so Reich still
advertises his book "Saving Capitalism" ("For the Many, Not the Few"),
which seems to me mostly an illusion since Reagan, but OK.)
The article ends as
But taxing big wealth is
necessary if we’re ever to get our democracy back, and make our economy
for everyone rather than a privileged few.
Maybe Gary Cohn is
that only morons pay the estate tax. But if he and his boss were smart
and they cared about
America’s future, they’d raises taxes on great wealth. Roosevelt’s fear
of an American dynasty is more applicable today than ever before.
I completely agree
with the first paragraph (and I agree democracy is mostly dead
present USA) - but big wealth seems to have grasped nearly all the
powers there are in the USA, so I think this is quite unlikely without
a major crisis, as in 1929.
And I more or less
agree with the second paragraph, but my own guess is that Cohn does
believe everyone who is not a considerable millionaire is
a moron, and that he and his superrich mates are quite willing
most morons die, and especially the many really poor (since there are
too many people for the capitalism that the very rich require and
demand for their continued existence).
This is a recommended