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Bill USA

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Member since: Wed Mar 3, 2010, 05:25 PM
Number of posts: 6,436

About Me

Quotes I like: "Prediction is very difficult, especially concerning the future." "There are some things so serious that you have to laugh at them.” __ Niels Bohr Given his contribution to the establishment of quantum mechanics, I guess it's not surprising he had such a quirky of sense of humor. ......................."Deliberate misinterpretation and misrepresentation of another's position is a basic technique of (dis)information processing" __ I said that

Journal Archives

The Idiot Culture - by Carl Bernstein, from 1992, but it's a great critique of the media which is

only more relevant today ....


[div class="excerpt" style="box-shadow: 10px 10px 5px #888888;"]
...increasingly the America rendered today in the American media is illusionary and delusionary—disfigured, unreal, disconnected from the true context of our lives. In covering actually existing American life, the media—weekly, daily, hourly—break new ground in getting it wrong. The coverage is distorted by celebrity and the worship of celebrity; by the reduction of news to gossip, which is the lowest form of news; by sensationalism, which is always a turning away from a society’s real condition; and by a political and social discourse that we—the press, the media, the politicians, and the people—are turning into a sewer.


I do not mean to attack popular culture. Good journalism is popular culture, but popular culture that stretches and informs its consumers rather than that which appeals to the ever descending lowest common denominator. If, by popular culture, we mean expressions of thought or feeling that require no work of those who consume them, then decent popular journalism is finished.

...... What is happening today, unfortunately, is that the lowest form of popular culture—lack of information, misinformation, disinformation, and a contempt for the truth or the reality of most people’s lives—has overrun real journalism.


The point is not only that this is trash journalism. That much is obvious. It is also essential to note that this was on an NBC-owned and –operated station. And who distributes Geraldo? The Tribune Company of Chicago, who owns the stations on which these cross-dressers and transsexuals and skinheads and lawyers for serial killers get to strut their stuff? The networks, the Washington Post Company, dozens of major newspapers that also own television stations, Times-Mirror and the New York Times Company, among others.

..... And last month Ivana Trump, perhaps the single greatest creation of the idiot culture, a tabloid artifact if ever there was one, appeared on the cover of Vanity Fair. On the cover, that is, of Conde Nast’s flagship magazine, the same Conde Nast/Newhouse/Random House whose executives will yield to nobody in their solemnity about their profession, who will tell you long into the night how seriously in touch with American culture they are, how serious they are about the truth.


Today the most compelling news story in the world is the condition of America. Our political system is in a deep crisis; we are witnessing a breakdown of the comity and the community that has in the past allowed American democracy to build and to progress. Surely the advent of the talk-show nation is a part of this breakdown. Some good journalism is still being done today, to be sure, but it is the exception and not the rule.

Good journalism requires a degree of courage in today’s climate, a quality now in scarce supply in our mass media. Many current assumptions in America—about race, about economics, about the fate of our cities—need to be challenged, and we might start with the media. For, next to race, the story of the contemporary American media is the great uncovered story in America today.

..... We need to start asking the same fundamental questions about the press that we do of the other powerful institutions in this society—about who is served, about standards, about self-interest and its eclipse of the public interest and the interest of truth. For the reality is that the media are probably the most powerful of all our institutions today; and they are squandering their power and ignoring their obligation. They—or more precisely, we—have abdicated our responsibility, and the consequence of our abdication is the spectacle, and the triumph, of the idiot culture.

Shocking New Evidence Reveals Depths of 'Treason' and 'Treachery' of Watergate and Iran-Contra

... a Good Read and a Must Read....from Robert Parry...


A favorite saying of Official Washington is that “the cover-up is worse than the crime.” But that presupposes you accurately understand what the crime was. And, in the case of the two major U.S. government scandals of the last third of the Twentieth Century – Watergate and Iran-Contra – that doesn’t seem to be the case.

Indeed, newly disclosed documents have put old evidence into a sharply different light and suggest that history has substantially miswritten the two scandals by failing to understand that they actually were sequels to earlier scandals that were far worse. Watergate and Iran-Contra were, in part at least, extensions of the original crimes, which involved dirty dealings to secure the immense power of the presidency.

Shortly after Nixon took office in 1969, FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover informed him of the existence of the file containing national security wiretaps documenting how Nixon’s emissaries had gone behind President Lyndon Johnson’s back to convince the South Vietnamese government to boycott the Paris Peace Talks, which were close to ending the Vietnam War in fall 1968.In the case of Watergate – the foiled Republican break-in at the Democratic National Committee in June 1972 and Richard Nixon’s botched cover-up leading to his resignation in August 1974 – the evidence is now clear that Nixon created the Watergate burglars out of his panic that the Democrats might possess a file on his sabotage of Vietnam peace talks in 1968.

The disruption of Johnson’s peace talks then enabled Nixon to hang on for a narrow victory over Democrat Hubert Humphrey. However, as the new President was taking steps in 1969 to extend the war another four-plus years, he sensed the threat from the wiretap file and ordered two of his top aides, chief of staff H.R. “Bob” Haldeman and National Security Advisor Henry Kissinger, to locate it. But they couldn’t find the file.

Price Waterhouse Coopers AutoFacts predicts PHEVs and Hybrid cars will reach 6.3% of market by 2020

.[font size="3"].. survey indicated most consumers willing to pay a premium for the technology of less than $5,000.[/font]


Charging stations and battery swap locations are the most crucial to developing a sustainable electric vehicle (EV) infrastructure, according to more than 40 percent of respondents to PwC's Electric Vehicle Survey 2012. Global hybrid and EV market share is forecast to reach 6.3 percent by 2020, according to PwC's Autofacts. As municipalities continue to work with the private sector to meet future demands and develop Smart Cities, finding the ideal ratio between integrated public charging stations and the number of EVs on the road is a prevailing challenge when investing in existing and future infrastructure.

"Continued investment to improve upon the electric vehicle value chain, along with the pace of advancement in competing alternative fuel solutions will ultimately determine the level of success EVs are able to achieve," said Brandon Mason, senior analyst, PwC's Autofacts. "While we don't expect one to be parked in every driveway anytime soon, there is no doubt that EVs are here to stay."

Approximately 25 percent of survey respondents said one public station for every 20 EVs is an ideal ratio, while 20 percent indicated one station for every five vehicles is ideal. Roughly 80 percent of respondents also indicated that 30 minutes or less charge time is considered fast charging for EVs.

Focusing on price, nearly 46 percent of respondents felt that long-term total cost of ownership savings is the most likely reason consumers would be willing to pay an upfront premium for an EV. Automakers continue to evaluate the price premium consumers are willing to pay for an EV. Survey respondents indicated that consumers willing to pay a premium price would need to remain under $5,000 (PHEVs 57.9 percent, PEVs 47.7 percent).


While rising gas prices increases the appeal of hybrids and PHEVs (Pure Electric Vehicles).. they also negatively impact economic growth and job creation and as a result tend to elevate unemployment rates which works against the public embracing the higher cost electrics and hybrids.

Longer Workweek results in equivalent jobs of 329,000 more jobs


The 236,000 jobs the economy added in February lifted markets Friday — and hidden in the details of the jobs report may have been the equivalent of 300,000 more.

That's because the average workweek inched up to 34.5 hours last month, up from 34.4 in January and 33.8 in 2009. It's also within sight of the 34.7 hours per worker per week when the economy peaked in 2006.

[font size="3"]
That means employers are near the end of their ability to get more work done by extending workweeks, said Drew Matus, an economist at investment bank UBS. If demand keeps rising — not a certainty with federal budget cuts that began March 1 — hiring should accelerate through the year, he says.

"If people working hourly get more hours, it's more money in their pocket,'' said Matus, who estimated that the gain in hours, multiplied by all private-sector workers, was the equivalent of 329,000 new jobs. "It leads to more demand, more retail hiring and eventually more hiring generally.'' [/font]

Unemployment rate without Government cuts (GOP gift to Obama and the rest of us): 7.1% - WSJ

(emphasis my own)

7.1%: What the unemployment rate would be without government job cuts.

While most industries have added jobs over the past three years, the recovery has largely bypassed the government sector.

Federal, state and local governments have shed nearly 750,000 jobs since June 2009, according to the Labor Department‘s establishment survey of employers. No other sector comes close to those job losses over the same period. Construction is in second worst place, but its 225,000 cuts are less than a third of the government reductions. To be sure, construction and other sectors performed worse during the depths of the recession, but no area has had a worse recovery.

A separate tally of job losses looks even worse. According to the household survey, which is where the unemployment rate comes from, there are nearly 950,000 fewer people employed by the government than there were when the recovery started in mid-2009. If none of those people were counted as unemployed, the jobless rate would be 7.1%, compared with the 7.7% rate reported on Friday.

of course if there were 950,000 more people employed their combined spending would impact business sales to an extent that would lower the unemployment rate a bit more (the multiplier effect). Thus, the unemployment rate might drop from 7.1% to something below 7%.

The Myth of Bob Woodward

Woodward's recent flap reveals a grotesquely swollen ego fed by 40 years of hero worship. In Newsweek, Max Holland asks: why is this man an American icon?


For the past week Washington has found itself debating Bob Woodward. The occasion: his very public argument with White House senior official Gene Sperling, in which Woodward left the impression that Sperling had somehow tried to intimidate him—only to see this accusation undermined by the release of an email exchange in which the pair sounded rather conciliatory.

Almost all the commentary about this flap fits neatly under the heading, “What the Hell Happened to Bob Woodward?” But posing that question, as New York magazine did last week, implies a transformation that never occurred. Woodward is the same now as he ever was. His misrepresentation of his interaction with Sperling is only the latest in a long string of questionable journalistic episodes.

To understand how this started, one has to begin near the beginning: Woodward and Carl Bernstein’s book about their Watergate exploits, All the President’s Men. The authors enjoyed titanic-sized credibility when the book appeared in the spring of 1974; not too many reporters could point to having received a public apology attesting to the veracity of their work from a press secretary to the president of the United States. (“I would apologize to the Post, and I would apologize to Mr. Woodward and Mr. Bernstein,” Ron Ziegler had said on May 1, 1973, retracting his earlier criticism of the newspaper’s articles on Watergate.) The natural assumption was that Woodstein’s book would meet that same high standard. Why would their nonfiction for The Washington Post differ from nonfiction written for Simon and Schuster?

Yet there was a vast difference that went all but unnoticed at the time. For the Post they had written about the president’s men; in the book they were writing about themselves and their sources. Simultaneously, they adopted a style that was all the rage at the time—the so-called New Journalism, a technique that employed literary devices normally considered the domain of novels. In the hands of an apostle like Tom Wolfe or Norman Mailer, the result might be categorized as literature. But the critic Dwight MacDonald argued it was actually a bastard form that tried to have it both ways: “exploiting the factual authority of journalism and the atmospheric license of fiction.”

Forget Spending Cuts, the U.S. Economy Really Needs a $2 Trillion Stimulus

... more testimony - to be ignored by Joe Scarborough - that backs up Paul Krugman's position - among true economists the overwhelming majority feel that austerity is the last thing you want to engage in when in the midst of a recession (or depression). .. In other words - NO Paul Krugman is NOT out in left field by urging more spending in the short run to stimulate economic activity and job growth.


More than five years after the start of the Great Recession in December 2007, the U.S. economy is still mired in a depressed state of output, and economic growth has decelerated below rates needed to bring us out of this slump. But our current macroeconomic policy — driven entirely by a contractionary fiscal approach — is poised to further slow near-term growth and delay recovery. What is needed at the moment is renewed pursuit of an expansionary fiscal policy in order to restore full economic health. The signs calling for additional targeted stimulus and cautioning against austerity are all there, if only policymakers would recognize them.

History and international experience teaches that policymakers must fight deep economic slumps until they are ended. We cannot afford to repeat the “Mistake of 1937,” when policymakers prematurely withdrew fiscal and monetary support, pushing the economy into a steeper contraction than experienced during the Great Recession.

This lesson has not been heeded on the other side of the Atlantic, and the results of prematurely pulling back fiscal support have become unambiguous. Austerity measures pushed the United Kingdom back into recession in late 2011, and the U.K. economy has contracted in five of the nine quarters through the end of 2012. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, on the other hand, recently announced a large infrastructure stimulus program and is pressuring the Japanese central bank to loosen policy to get the economy out of its prolonged slump. But Japan is trying to exit from an adverse equilibrium of slow, saw-toothed growth, big deficits, disinflation, and low interest rates that has lasted roughly two decades — and which is widely attributed to past self-induced macroeconomic policy failures.

Since emerging from recession in July 2009, the United States has outperformed our austerity-infatuated peers in the advanced world. Regrettably, though, many U.S. policymakers are increasingly turning a blind eye to the mounting international evidence and historical experience — [font color="red"]as well as an overwhelming consensus of economic research— that austerity wreaks havoc on depressed economies[/font] . And the opportunity costs of prolonging this depression are staggering.

Read more at http://www.thefiscaltimes.com/Columns/2013/03/05/Forget-Spending-Cuts-the-US-Economy-Needs-a-2-Trillion-Stimulus.aspx#UwlZZm0PBLmYblJV.99

Senate Democrats Threaten To Reignite Filibuster Reform


The Senate’s leading champion of filibuster reform called for renewing the effort to weaken the minority’s obstruction power, concluding that a modest rules change enacted in January has failed to discourage Republicans from grinding the chamber to a halt.

In an interview on Wednesday afternoon, Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR), the author of a proposal to place more of the burden of sustaining a filibuster on the minority party, including forcing filibustering senators to speak on the floor, echoed remarks by Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL) earlier in the day about the need to revisit filibuster reform.

“Senate Republicans have demonstrated that they have absolutely no intention of ending their assault on the ability of the U.S. Senate to function,” Merkley told TPM, saying he had hoped the bipartisan rules change would ease gridlock. “Many of my colleagues are absolutely beside themselves with frustration, and that frustration is rapidly turning to fury.”

Senate Republicans have unleashed a string of filibusters since the rules reform deal, which did not change the 60-vote threshold, and was enacted in January. They include the first-ever filibuster of a secretary of defense nominee (Chuck Hagel), a letter by 43 senators vowing to filibuster any nominee to lead the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the filibuster of a bill to avoid sequestration, and the filibuster of judicial nominee Caitlin Halligan. It was the Halligan filibuster Wednesday morning that set off Durbin and Merkley.

“I know that my leadership is incredibly determined to make this body work,” Merkley said, adding that the Senate GOP’s “unacceptable conduct .. in such a short period” shows that they have “no interest in enabling the Senate to function.” He cited earlier remarks by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), and Wednesday’s comments by Durbin on the floor, that if the January deal failed to ease gridlock, Democrats would reconsider rules reform.

Our deeply unbalanced fiscal debate - Greg Sargent, WaPo

.. this is a great article by Greg Sargent... worth the time to read and mention.... across the web..


[font size="3"]The GOP position is explicitly that there is nothing Democrats can offer that will get them to agree to new revenues. Nothing.

.....Therefore, any offer from Dems — no matter how much in serious spending cuts it contains — is automatically a nonstarter for Republicans if it closes any tax loopholes to generate new revenue.

There is no scenario under which Republicans can be induced to compromise — if we take Republicans themselves at their word.

The only option for avoiding the sequester is for Democrats to propose only cuts to replace it — cuts that Republicans themselves won’t even propose.

No “leadership” can avert the sequester. Only giving Republicans 100% of what they want can.

On “spending,” Republicans are immune to facts - Jamelle Bouie, WaPo

(emphasis my own)

This morning, the Republican National Committee released a web video asking Democratic leaders to admit the United States has a “spending problem.” After showing footage of House Democratic leaders each denying a federal “spending problem,” it ends with this statement: “The first step to fixing a problem is to admit you have one.”

It’s a clever message, but it runs into a big problem: The facts. Democrats, including President Obama, have consistently acted to cut the deficit and reduce spending. As part of the 2011 Budget Control Act, Democrats agreed to over $1 trillion in spending cuts over the next ten years. This was followed by $600 billion in new revenue as a result of the “fiscal cliff” deal, and then another $700 billion in interest savings. Altogether — excluding the sequester — Congress and the White House have passed nearly $3 trillion in deficit reduction. When you include sequestration — which amounts to $1 trillion in across-the-board cuts — that jumps to almost $4 trillion worth of deficit reduction. That comes close to the full amount of deficit reduction pushed by debt hawks like Alan Simpson and Erksine Bowles.

[font color="red"]It should be said that Democrats are right — the United States doesn’t have a spending problem. The massive deficits of the last four years are a product of the Great Recession and our slow recovery. With faster economic growth — and lower unemployment — a good deal of our deficit “problem” would disappear. [/font]And while we do have long-term spending challenges, those have less to do with new programs, and everything to do with growing health care costs and an aging population. The Republican push for entitlement cuts won’t do much to address that problem unless its also paired with real reforms to the health care system overall.

In any case, if Republicans aren’t going to agree that spending isn’t as big a problem as it looks, they should at least acknowledge that Democrats have been more than cooperative when it comes to reducing the size of government. That Republicans haven’t acknowledged this — and likely won’t — is a good sign that deficit reduction isn’t their real goal. Rather — as outlined in the last three years of Republican budgets — they’re looking to dismantle key parts of the social safety net. Anything less is “too much spending.” There’s nothing Democrats can do — short of abandoning their agenda, which is to defend the safety net — to accommodate the GOP demand.
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