Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Commentariat Central

By reader request, here's another one of my irregular New York Times comment dumps. Look out below!

Maureen Dowd, King Kevin vs. Queen Cersei, Nov. 26.

This is an annual holiday tradition for the center-left Dowd, as she relinquishes her entire valuable column space to her ignorant right-wing brother. As we are constantly being informed by Democratic Party-leaning blogs and pundits, no family Thanksgiving dinner is complete without the presence of at least one ignorant right-wing jerk to give us agita. Except mine, of course. My right-wing relatives are either dead and in their graves, or they're permanently banished from my sight. Maureen is game though, and this year Kevin  comments as non-factually as humanly possible on all the presidential candidates.)

My response:
Hey, Kevin!
You seem to be getting your disinformation on Bernie from the Wall Street Journal. You obviously missed the response by economist Gerald Friedman, who's used actual math to prove that HR 676 (Medicare for All) would save $5 trillion over 10 years, because it would get rid of private insurers and also enable lower drug and device prices through the process of negotiation. This is money that would go back into people's pockets until they spend it to stimulate the economy. It would help stop the great carve-out of the middle class! It would be good for businesses, allowing them to invest the ton of money saved from the clutches of a greedy private insurance system back into salaries for a loyal workforce and to expanding their businesses. More here:


Economist Joe Firestone, in his book "Fiscal Myths of the 2016 Campaign" estimates the savings from Medicare for All at as much as $11 trillion over 10 years, when you factor in how it would limit the rise in our current out-of-control health care costs to the level of inflation. His figures are based on the efficiency of Canada's own single payer program.

HR 676 - covering medical, dental, drug therapy, and mental health - is not only humane. It is fiscally responsible.

Health care is a basic human right in every other advanced country.

You don't want America to be unexceptional, do you, Kevin?

Feel the Bern!


Paul Krugman, Inequality and the City, Nov. 30.

In another in a continuing series of increasingly tone-deaf columns, Krugman this go-round summons up his shallow inner Carrie Bradshaw to kvetch how cool and hip, but expensive, New York City is getting to be. But the Mayor is aware of income disparity, by golly, and Krugman himself vows to return to the lesser people's housing difficulties in another column, someday. Today, though, it's all about gentrification being a glass half-full (of Dom Perignon, presumably.)

My comment:
While Mayor de Blasio "understands" that the less well off are being driven out by high rents, and housing policy is a subject that Prof. Krugman says he "has to return to another day," the people affected certainly aren't twiddling their thumbs, waiting for the elites to do something or say something on their behalf.
The Movement for Justice in El Barrio, a grassroots coalition, has been fighting against gentrification and the expulsive forces of global capitalism for years now. And the mayor's plan to build luxury housing in East Harlem would force people out of neighborhoods they've called home for generations.

"Affordable" as defined by the mayor is an income between $46,620 and $62,150 for a family of three. Yet, the median income for a family of three in East Harlem is only $33,600. Since families and small businesses would be driven out by his plan, they're demanding that existing housing and small businesses be left intact.

They've presented a 10-point plan to "prevent El Barrio from becoming a gold mine for large corporations and a paradise for the rich."

So far, their proposal has fallen on deaf official ears. But the protests will continue. The civil rights song "We Shall Not Be Moved" is both a blast from the past, and a blast of fresh air overcoming the stench of an oligarchy gone wild.


David Brooks, The Green Tech Solution, Dec. 1. 

Without mentioning Bill Gates by name, Brooks dutifully echoes the green energy marketing ploy of America's godzillionaire and self-anointed policy guru. (see yesterday's post.) Instead, Brooks pretends to be inspired by Alexander Hamilton, the founding father of American banking and now a resurrected hip-hop musical sensation on Broadway. Brooks says the Republicans are pretend-stoopid for not believing in climate change, when there is so much money to be made in pretend-climate amelioration!

My response:
At the Paris summit, world leaders are spending at least as much time strategizing over wars in Syria and elsewhere as they are over climate change amelioration. While they're all preening for their photo-ops and spouting their platitudes, another group of global bigwigs is gathering in Brussels to plot the secretive Transatlantic Trade & Investment Partnership (TTIP).

According to documents obtained by the Guardian, climate change cover-up artist Exxon Mobil has been given "unique access" to the sessions. The company is providing input on how to circumvent/repeal US law, establish ties with cooperative US government officials, and hoodwink the public and environmental groups so as to grease the skids for the now-banned export of US fossil fuels to Europe.

 Should the TTIP pass, the ensuing liberalization of oil and gas trade would dramatically spike global emissions and feed Big Oil's profits to even more grotesque proportions. Some of these profits, as we well know, go into the campaign coffers of the American congress critters who do industry's bidding and vote against legislation and treaties attempting to halt climate change.

He wasn't a founding father, but I'll go with Abraham Lincoln:

"The money powers prey upon the nation in times of peace and conspire against it in times of adversity."


Parul Sehgal, The Profound Emptiness of 'Resilience,' Dec. 1. I loved this magazine piece about neoliberal buzzwords and class/racial privilege. Readers know that I have long mocked President Obama's obsession with this exact dog-whistling propaganda phraseology in order to justify war, austerity, the New Economy, and crapification in general. Thanks to the hard work, sacrifice, grit and determination of the American people, we are able to oppress a whole nation full of docile sheep and greatly reward and expand an unprecedented oligarchic ruling class to make America Great Again has been the subliminal theme-song of many a campaign speech and Saturday address by Big Guy.

My comment:
This was a joy to read, because Resilience and its mawkish cousin, Grit, have been my pet peeves for years.

They are neoliberal-speak for "Get used to it, plebs, because you are so, so screwed."

Last week it was moralizing pundit David Brooks who applauded survivors of war and terror as having that certain resilience that enables them to bounce back stronger than ever. If perchance you can't bounce back, then there must be something wrong with you.

Last year, President Obama announced a $1 billion National Disaster Resilience Competition. May the best Apocalypse with the most smiley-face emojis win!

And from his second Inaugural:

is generation of Americans has been tested by crises that steeled our resolve and proved our resilience. A decade of war is now ending. (Applause.) An economic recovery has begun. (Applause.) America’s possibilities are limitless, for we possess all the qualities that this world without boundaries demands: youth and drive; diversity and openness; an endless capacity for risk and a gift for reinvention. My fellow Americans, we are made for this moment, and we will seize it — so long as we seize it together. (Applause.)"

Whenever I feel that dread Resilience gremlin approaching, I immediately seize it before it gets the chance to attack me.

Resilience is the civic passivity that lulls us into voting for a pre-vetted candidate every four years while pretending that we still live in a democracy.

Embrace your rage, and live to tell the tale.


Meredith NYC said...

Krugman is becoming an embarrassment to the Times op ed page. He keeps showing that in reality he identifies with the 1 percent elites, while pretending to be the conscience of a liberal, vilifying the Gop crazies. Prestige is all. He keeps showing he’s in the In Group not the Out Group (as Larry Summers might say).

Krugman’s made sure to let readers know that he’s moved to Manhattan Upper West Side for his new job with the City University.
First, in the blog a few days ago, he told us ’’ I awakened, long before dawn, to the sound of helicopters patrolling the Upper West Side.” (Just picture it).

This is right where Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade balloons were being set up for big crowds to view. I was out on the nearby Central Park reservoir last Wed night, looking at the full moon, hearing those 2 loud copters hovering above.

So we know which n. hood Krugman’s now in, (not in a rent controlled apt) near the Museum of Natural History, near or on Central Park West. He wants us to know this, or why mention it?

And now in this ‘Equality in the City’ column--He seems to worry about lack of affordable housing for the middle/working/poor classes—let’s call them mwp’s---who keep the city and it’s myriad of crucial functions and lovely amenities going, as the billionaires have moved in.
He says..... “ Truly, it’s a golden age for the town I recently moved to — if you can afford the housing....(and he can).....But more and more people can’t. ...Today our urban cores are providing ever more amenities, but largely to a very affluent minority.”

What’s his message? He can afford to live here, but sympathizes with those who can’t. He nicely separates himself from the 1 percent who disdain the masses. He’s respected for his concern for the lower orders, thus he’s got the prestige of wealth, plus the reputation of good character and social responsibility.

A reader comment by Susan in NYC says... “As someone who moved from tony Princeton to Manhattan fairly recently, Professor Krugman is an exemplar of the phenomenon he decries.”

I just discovered some articles about Krugman's whopping salary with very few duties at his new job at the City University Grad Center, in the Luxembourg Institute for Study of Inequality. This is in a public university, which was once tuition free and now isn’t and was famous for educating millions for new economic mobility generations ago.

See article---“Krugman gets whopping $225, 000 salary to study income inequality”. (at a public, not private university). Calls him a millionaire. I think the rw is after him on this, but in this case they have a case.

Btw, I myself paid $200 for a continuing education class at CUNY Hunter College a couple years ago, but am now charged $300---quite a price hike percentage for a 6 session course. Are my higher class fees helping pay Krugman’s salary to study income inequality?

Ah well, the Central Park reservoir is free and so beautiful with the full moon above, shining on the water.

Meredith NYC said...

Krugman reviewed Robert Reich's new book "Saving Capitalism" in the NY Review of Books. Links to it in today's blog post.

Meredith NYC said...

Taking Trump at His Word

"A Times politics article last week described what would have been quite a newsworthy event: 100 black pastors were to endorse Donald Trump. The article, which was based on a Trump campaign news release and an interview with a single pastor, turned out to be too credulous."

Pearl said...

Lots of 'heart warming' responses to Bernie Sanders:Your cool Socialist Grandpa in the NYTimes.
The title suggests the usual comments about Bernie and the readers really came out punching. Made me feel good to know people see through the sham of Hillary among other things. Hope he hangs in there to stir things up. It is so dull reading the latest shenanigans of the Donald.

Kat said...

Your socialist grandpa: I wish Bernie would stop calling himself a socialist. It does a disservice to both his campaign and socialism. He is not a socialist. Anyone holding up NATO ally Denmark as an example of the very essence of socialism (and calling Hugo Chavez a "dead dictator") is not a socialist.
The cool appealing to millenials part reminds me of another candidate. Hmm... Which brings me to the Bernie canvasser that came to our door to get him on the primary ballot. I'm not a registered Democrat so he was looking for my husband who still is. He signed the petition and asked if he would be supporting Sanders. My husband said he is not sure, but I added we definitely would not be supporting Hillary. This brought out some enthusiasm in him. I told him I did not support Obama, so I definitely would not be supporting Hillary. His tone softened and his look was kind of quizzical and he just said "He promised a lot of progressive things that did not happen." I wanted to scream at him "he did not promise a lot of progressive things. He was a damn blank slate!". I had to figure he might very well have been canvassing for Obama in the last dog and pony show. I do wonder about the enthusiastic Obama supporters who have no interest in Hillary. What is behind this?

Kat said...

Meredith-- I don't normally read Krugman, but wanted to see what he had to say about this golden age of the city. You are right-- it was an embarrassment. really? Land use restrictions? That is the problem? Nothing to say about the conversion of public housing to market rate housing? Nothing about our feeble measures to promote "affordable" housing-- low income housing tax credits. He lives in a bubble if he thinks NY (and perhaps SF and few other cities) are the only ones having problems with gentrification. Every damn city has used the same consultants and has decided that turning the "core" into a yuppie playground is the way forward. Housing should be a right. Frankly, for all this talk about millenials, I think that the target demographic of most of these developers is well heeled empty nesters. The most recent announcement here is for condos being built on the border of a park (just recently finished using public and private funds). The prices will range from 400K to 2.1 million. The demand is so high! So high in fact that they qualified for a 15 year tax abatement! What a racket.
And good god Krugman-- perhaps well paying jobs might be more useful than easing land use restrictions. Shouldn't he get that?

Kat said...

So... will Rahm survive the day? Thoughts?

Pearl said...

Kat: this is in response to some comments you had after Karen's last column. I appreciate your thoughts but I hope you saw Bernie Sander's video on Socialism in his speech to the Georgetown University (?)students in Washington D.C. which I listed access to recently on Sardonicky.

He clarifies his position well along with many other issues which are not normally available to everyone.

Regardless, having a voice and educating citizens to the realities of our politically corrupt system in the U.S. is highly unusual.
The angry reports from NYTimes readers about the paper's lack of acknowledging Bernie's efforts or printing articles that are biased, are unprecedented.

He has an important role in speaking out for the millions who have no voice and regardless of whether or not there is a chance for him becoming president, his presence on the stage as an official runner in the presidential race has already affected Hillary's chances by exposing her true history. That alone for me is worth it all.

He also is encouraging the voters of the future to rethink the propaganda spewed out by the media and the administration which is a giant step forward.

I am grateful to have Bernie around, warts and all. He reminds us what could be possible if enough organizations and people cooperate and start making changes step by step.

The recent meeting in France on Environmental concerns is an important beginning to the realization that if we don't act quickly to prevent further deterioration on our planet, nothing else will survive. His voice, the new Canadian Prime Minister's voice, along with others are helping make this a major priority now.

I think this coming year is going to have a lot of surprises coming up. Let's hope they will be good ones.

Meredith NYC said...

A new mass shooting in CA. has arrived. Inevitable, but this soon? The answer from our rw will be ---more guns in our hands when we leave our homes. If the victims had been armed....
This insults the dead/wounded as somehow being too passive, and makes the cause of the epidemic the solution. They'll never change their minds, lest their whole demented system of thought be 'shot down' so to speak.

Bill Sprague said...

Well, I hate to put this to you because you'll get even more angry, but I was married to a French Canadienne and know whereof I speak (so I'm angry, too - but boy can I clean house), and I actually went to Quebec lots and all the doctors there that I ever met (and I met lots of 'em) who are on fixed salaries because they have NATIONALIZED HEALTH CARE (which of course is a good thing - don't get me wrong) want to come to the U.S. of A. so they can earn LOTS and LOTS of money (which is normal in a capitalist society such as the one we have here in amerika)! There's no escaping the fact that a highly-trained person wants to earn a highly-piled pack of money for their skill!!

It's a paradox, isn't it? Or perhaps the good doctors just want to GET shot instead of giving them...