Syriza won, Greece pulls back from the brink

In Greek elections yesterday, the so-called the radical left-wing Syriza party won the overwhelming support of the Greek people. After five years of austerity, the Greek people have said “enough.” Syriza has pledged an end to austerity, but intends to retain the Euro as their currency. That may not be possible. The Greek meltdown was caused by Goldman Sachs selling them bad paper, possibly backed by US mortgages that went bad worldwide and caused the Great Recession. After five years of severe economic pain, the Greek people have voted an end to austerity. I wish them luck.

This is what Greg Palast had to say about the tragedy that was Greece in his book Vultures’ Picnic. Thomas Friedman voices the Washington consensus that the remedy for the Great Recession is austerity. The GOP tried to impose austerity here in the US, but lucky for us, they mostly failed. With our own currency, the US was not tied to the Euro as Greece is.

“So, while the streets erupted, while the bank burned, while in the midst of his sleepless, humiliating begging sessions with the IMF and the German Chancellor, Greece’s new Prime Minister George Papandreou was called away to a luncheon with a stout man with a combed-down mustache. Others in the Athens restaurant could be forgiven for mistaking him for a misplaced Bavarian Burgermeister. The mustache belongs to Thomas Friedman, the world’s most influential writer on economics. He is not actually an economist, but he plays one in the pages of The New York Times.

“Friedman had flown business class and had already visited the burnt bank, a ‘shrine,’ as he called it, to globalization.

“Friedman then arrived at the restaurant beaming with delight and, by his own account, dug into his fish with gusto. Greece had been ‘profligate’ but now faced the wonderful opportunity for ‘regeneration.’ The bubbly pundit was so excited by the prospect that Greece would now have to ‘cut public sector pay, freeze benefits, slash jobs, abolish a range of welfare entitlements, and take the axe to programs such as school building and road maintenance’ that you feared he would soil his underpants before the courier delivered his fresh ones.

“Friedman  ticked off with relish: 20 percent wage cuts, social security slashed by 10 percent, retirement age increased by four years, and massive cuts in government spending. While incomes fell, the national value added sales tax would rise by four percentage points. Friedman was thrilled.”

And that is what the Koch brothers want for the US.

“Je Suis Barack”: Barack Obama’s Accomplishments Must Always Remain In The Forefront Of The American Mind

Originally posted on

You’re probably familiar with the Ronald Reagan Legacy Project, an effort launched by veteran right-wing activist Grover Norquist nearly twenty years ago to promote, in perpetuity, the idea that Reagan was the modern-day equivalent of the Founding Fathers. (I first heard about this project in early-2007, when then-Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick rejected Norquist’s call to issue a proclamation naming February 6 “Ronald Reagan Day” in the Bay State).

Those who endlessly promote Reagan’s “accomplishments” argue that they have to do so because progressives have a vested interest in tearing Reagan’s legacy down. (Of course, what they don’t acknowledge is that there’s so muchto tear down!) The right’s argument is pure projection. In reality, it is progressives who must go the extra mile in defending the legacy of Barack Obama.

This November marks the thirty-fifth anniversary of Reagan’s victory over President Jimmy Carter. For the past thirty-five…

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Fear part 3

“The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” President Franklin Delano Roosevelt on March 4, 1933.

Since fear is a more powerful human emotion than hope, I believe that it helps explain the election results of November, 2014. The Republican Party uses fear to sell it message of intolerance and hate of others, including other Americans. I propose that we label the GOP a terrorist organization and cut off funding for their sponsors among the 1%.

“Deliberate And Systemic”: Inequality Isn’t Inevitable, It’s Engineered. That’s How The 1% Have Taken Over

Originally posted on

Who will look after the super-rich and think about their needs? It’s not easy for them: the 1% of the world’s population who by next year will own more global wealth than the 99%. Private security costs a fortune, and with the world becoming an increasingly unequal place a certain instability increases. It could be dangerous!

Very smartly, Oxfam International is raising such questions at the World Economic Forum at Davos, where the global elite gather to talk of big ideas and big money. Oxfam executive director, Winnie Byanyima, is arguing that this increasing concentration of wealth since the recession is “bad for growth and bad for governance”. What’s more, inequality is bad not just for the poor, but for the rich too. That’s why we have the likes of the IMF’s Christine Lagarde kicking off with warnings about rising inequality. Visceral inequality from foodbanks to empty luxury…

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Rubio and Juliet

O Rubio, Rubio, wherefore art thou, Rubio? Question from TEA Party activist Juliet to Marco Rubio due to his shifting positions on the issues. Mitt and others also shift their positions as public opinion shifts, but Mitt is so much more practiced at it than Marco. I admire consistency, even when it’s wrong, such as Mike Huckabee.

I watched the movie Wind again recently, starring Jennifer Grey and Matthew Modine, about sailboat racing and the America’s Cup. Winning is much about skillfully tacking back and forth to catch the wind and deny it to your opponents. Catching the wind of public opinion is a skill practiced too much by our politicians. Tacking to the wind is something that belongs in sailing and not in politics.

Excellent movie and I recommend it highly.