Monday, February 28, 2011

What's At Stake, in Wisconsin and in the U.S.A.

George Lakoff, the progressives' ethical response to Frank Luntz, spells out exactly what Wisconsin public employees are fighting for, and what will likely happen to all of us if they don't succeed in their fight.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Shock Doctrine, U.S.A.

If you have been following the national news at all lately, you know that protests against Gov. Walker of Wisconsin, the man who is trying to abrogate collective bargaining rights for state employees, have been getting all the attention for the last few days.

As Paul Krugman wrote in his post in today's New York Times, titled Shock Doctrine, U.S.A., collective bargaining is not the only target of Gov. Walker's budget plan: privatization by edict of the state's resources is another, just as worrisome target.

Please stand with the protesters in Wisconsin, as the International Association of Fire Fighters has done. It's not their future alone that is at stake.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

The Attack on Unions and Corporate Tax Dodgers

Read Stop the Corporate Tax Dodgers, a timely post by Chuck Collins, co-author with Bill Gates Sr. of Wealth and Our Commonwealth: Why America Should Tax Accumulated Fortunes and director of Program on Inequality and the Common Good at the Institute for Policy Studies.

What Took Him So Long?

President Obama has finally seen the light, on equal rights for gays and lesbians at least. He has come out against the indefensible Defense of Marriage Act, an attack on the rights of fellow human beings that anyone with a conscience not ruled by their belief in the supernatural has considered unjust and unjustifiable for a long time.

Better late than never.

The situation could be FUBAR, We Could Have Had President McCain

You know, I am no big fan of President Obama. I think he is duplicitous and weak, and just another president in a big line of corporate water-carriers that goes all the way back to Reagan. (I called Obama a water-carrier and not a "corporate slave" lest the sensitive ones around take offense and cry shame, though if we were white I would have no problem doing so.) But I do recognize that things could always be worse. For example, we could have had President McCain. How bad would that have been? Take this as a telling example:
Right now there’s a certain amount you pay into Social Security, and then after that it’s not taxed. There’s a number of things you can do to that are pretty simple and are pretty gradual keep the system from going bankrupt which basically it already is, because we’ve already spent the money that’s in the Social Security trust fund. It’s a Ponzi scheme that Bernie Madoff would be proud of.

As Zaid Jilani quickly and correctly pointed out in his post on Think Progress,
A Ponzi scheme involves fraudulently manipulating investors’ money without being able to pay them back; meanwhile, Social Security is a program that has successfully managed Americans’ money since its inception and has guaranteed them safe retirements.

Indeed, it must be that Republicans are only capable of viewing any program that treats Americans as if we were all on the same boat, rather than a few on yachts and most of the rest on rafts, as a "Ponzi scheme". (You know the analogy that a rising tide lifts all boats, the disingenuous argument Republicans love to make to justify trickle down economics, don't you?)

Take Ponzi scheme as a synonym for socialism, or "redistribution of wealth" in the Republican vocabulary. It is really a very good/bad sign of which side Republicans are on. When it comes to making sure that Ponzi schemes are not possible, they obstruct any attempt at regulation of the financial industry, but when the issue is to make sure that Americans can retire with some peace of mind they have no trouble calling Social Security a Ponzi scheme. They are truly evil.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Stephen Colbert Skewers Justice Thomas

With his usual wit, Stephen Colbert (and his writing crew) does a number on Justice Clarence Thomas, a man who would be laughable if he were irrelevant.

Not Really News, But...

Media Matters, the media analysis organization that Bill O'Reilly considers hateful, perhaps because its reporters and analysts seem to hate the distortions perpetrated on an unsuspecting public by pretend-news organizations like Fox, makes a very good point: Fox Slams [Wisconsin] Protests But Cheered Tea Party Protests.

Of course Fox does not like the Wisconsin protests: They mostly feature peaceful union members, teachers and students; not true patriots like, you know, teabaggers.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

The Great 401k Hoax

A while ago I read a book titled The Great 401(k) Hoax: What You Need to Know to Protect Your Family and Your Future, in which the authors fall barely short of calling 401k's a swindle. I am pretty sure that the title of the book was setteled in concert with the publisher, and that Wolman and Colamosca, the two authors, would have preferred to go with swindle or some other stronger connotation of how 401k's really work.

And now, years later, the Wall Street Journal has an article in which--surprise surprise!--we learn that baby boomers who are starting to retire are getting the short end of the 401k stick. Keep both in mind, the book and the article, when some Laffer Curve, trickle-down, supply-side Republican economist tells you that the way to fix the wholly imaginary "Social Security mess" is to let workers invest into private retirement funds. Think Enron, think Lehman Brothers, think mortage securitization and subprime mortgage crisis, then tell them to go *!@$ themselves.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Perception Problems: Sad

This is quite sad.

Yes, it is a non-scientific CNN poll. But CNN polls usually bend slightly left of center, so the fact that so many respondents have a negative view of unions may underestimate the actual sentiments of the general population.

What is so sad about this is the fact that it is quite likely that many of the respondents *profited* from the work of unions, via better working hours, safety measures in the work place, health benefits they did not have, higher wages for both union and non-union jobs, and so forth.

Certainly unions bear some of the responsibility for this perception problem that causes unions to be viewed negatively by such a large number of people; and the mainstream media rarely present a balanced view of the positive work that unions have done and continue to do.

But the perception is also a product of the assault that conservatives have waged against unions for the last forty years, which peaked in the Reagan years and has steadily continued ever since. The fact is that Republicans know that at least two things are true: unions are a barrier and a safeguard against a number of destructive business practices aimed at maximizing profits to the detriment of everything and everybody; and, unions are one of the best answers Democrats have to the crushing supremacy of Republican moneyed interests in election cycles, due to the organizing and mobilizing work that unions do to bring voters to polling places.

Demean and fight the ever dwindling power of unions at your peril.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Obama, Friend of the Poor?

President Obama, which by a fortunate coincidence, rhymes with "Oh, mama!", a friend of the poor? Yeah, right.

As Amy Goodman of Democracy Now points out, the President's budget priorities may--quite literally--cause poor people to freeze. More literally than figuratively.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Robert Reich on the Need for Strengthening Progressive Taxation

Looks like this is Robert Reich's week. Here is another post, from last Sunday, in which Reich advocates lower tax rates for all those making less than $250,000, and higher taxes for everybody else. Or, as he puts it, "It's called progressive taxation.".

Soon after his Sunday post, his proposal found a few critics. Here is Reich's response to them.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Robert Reich's Trick Question

Former Secretary of Labor Robert Reich asked a trick question in a recent post:
Which of the 2012 presidential aspirants delivered the following words at the Conservative Political Action Convention, now underway in Washington?

"We have seen tax-and-tax spend-and-spend reach a fantastic total greater than in all the previous 170 years of our Republic.

Behind this plush curtain of tax and spend, three sinister spooks or ghosts are mixing poison for the American people. They are the shades of Mussolini, with his bureaucratic fascism; of Karl Marx, and his socialism; and of Lord Keynes, with his perpetual government spending, deficits, and inflation. And we added a new ideology of our own. That is government give-away programs….

If you want to see pure socialism mixed with give-away programs, take a look at socialized medicine."

So, do you know? I bet you are wrong, and you can see I am right if you read Reich's entire post.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Right-to-Work, Brought to You By the Republican Ministry of Plenty

It never ceases to amaze me how much of the Republican Party agenda seems to come right out of Nineteen Eighty-Four, the famous novel that George Orwell conceived to indict totalitarianism of all flavors.

We can recognize several key constructs of Nineteen Eighty-Four in the daily operations of the Republican party, such as double-think, newspeak, a state of perpetual war, constant surveillance, and a war against sexuality come to mind.

So it really comes as no shock that the party of adulterous sanctity of marriage defenders, of Muslim-hating freedom of religion soldiers, and of wealthy trickle-down economics proponents, is a staunch defender of Right-to-Work legislation. It is on this very subject that Laura Clawson has written an illuminating post at the new (and improved?) Daily Kos. The post's title is So-called right-to-work and the assault on the middle class, and it's a must-read.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Rooney's Spectacular Winner

It's not often you get to score a goal like this, let alone a derby-winning goal. Enjoy.

Friday, February 11, 2011

The Rev. Wallis Speaks of Egypt

Though I do not share his religious beliefs when the Rev. Jim Wallis speaks, I listen. Others would do well to do the same. He says it's the Egyptian people's turn to lead.

Here is the most important passage from Wallis's short post:
My government, which still calls itself the beacon of freedom, has sacrificed democracy in your region of the world (and many other places) for American "interests." And our foreign policy around the globe has put our interests before our principles. But they are not really the interests of the American people, but of oil companies, big banks and corporations, and rich and powerful people. Their interest in stability is very different from ours in democracy. So don't be fooled, don't listen to the so-called "wise" voices that have been part of the old reality and want to now thank you for your service to democracy, but are offering to take it from here.

It's Official: Fox News Is A Propaganda Organ

How ironic that the people that made it their bread and butter to rail against socialism have adopted the tactics of the Pravda, the official "information" organ of the USSR.

Here are a few notable excerpts from a Fox news insider, you might call him a whistleblower if you like, who has come clean about the Fox News operation:

  • "They’re a propaganda outfit but they call themselves news."

  • "We were a Stalin-esque mouthpiece. It was just what Bush says goes on our channel. And by that point it was just totally dangerous. Hopefully most people understand how dangerous it is for a media outfit to be a straight, unfiltered mouthpiece for an unchecked president."

  • "They were in search of these points of friction real or imagined. And most of them were imagined or fabricated. You always have to seem to be under siege. You always have to seem like your values are under attack. The brain trust just knew instinctively which stories to do, like the War on Christmas."

  • "I don’t think people understand that it’s an organization that’s built and functions by intimidation and bullying, and its goal is to prop up and support Republicans and the GOP and to knock down Democrats. People tend think that stuff that’s on TV is real, especially under the guise of news. You’d think that people would wise up, but they don’t."

And there you have it: the outfit that calls itself Fox News is actually a propaganda machine that makes stuff up as it goes. Not shocking for anyone who has an IQ over 100, but it's nice to have confirmation from an insider, and you can read it all about it on Media Matters.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Robert Reich Is Wrong (This One Time)

Robert Reich has a post on his blog in which he calls Republican attacks on job-killing regulations dumb. You won't hear me say it often, but this time I say Reich is wrong: the attacks are not dumb, they are clever. It is the people who give credit to the notion that regulations are stifling employment recovery, media figures and gullible members of the public alike, who are dumb. And the more they amplify this totally meritless message, the dumber they are, and the dumber they risk making the rest of us.

The Republican attacks against regulations are par for the course for the Republican establishment: they are dishonest, unsupported by facts, pulled out of the ass/mouth of some Republican strategist or other. In other words, another day at the office for Republicans.

The Republicans's wet dream is a return to what Paul Krugman called the Long Gilded Age, a period of not so distant American history (pre-New Deal) in which the public had nary a protection against the wealthy who wanted to raid the commons and enrich themselves even more at the expense of the working class and inequality ruled supreme. And the way the media are paving the road for them, they are not far from achieving their destructive goal.

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Gee, I Wonder Where They Got The Idea...

Frank Luntz, Republican spin-ster in chief, led a panel of Republican voters in Iowa earlier this week for Hannity, and guess what? Half of them believe that Obama is a Muslim.

Aside from the fact that I'd have absolutely no problem if he were a Muslim, after 43 Christian presidents, I wonder where they got the idea...

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

"Reagan" on HBO (or HBO on Reagan?)

Eugene Jarecki, documentary-maker extraordinaire, has directed "Reagan", a highly-recommended analysis of the life of the president that Republicans would like to name everything after, including things that Reagan contributed to gut or destroy. The documentary adds is a much needed reality-check against the Reagan mythology that has grown since he left the White House.

"Reagan" premiered last night on HBO. You can catch it next tomorrow, at 4 and 7 p.m. EST on HBO2 East and West respectively.

In the meantime, you can watch Laura Flanders interview Eugene Jarecki on GritTV.

Monday, February 07, 2011

From the Small Consolations Dept.: At Least I Called It Right

I am not a statistician, nor a labor analysts, so the fact that I was right in my interpretation of the latest unemployment figures from the Dept. of Labor is not a sign of how smart I am, but of the lousy job that the media is doing, with a few exceptions, in analyzing unemployement data.

Nonetheless, when I saw the article by Dave Lindorff titled America's Happy Talk Media: No Jobs Is Good News!, I confess I felt vindicated (and kind of hopeless, too, about the state of the mainstream media).

Ronald Reagan's Unvarnished Legacy

So you think Ronald Reagan was the greatest president, or at least the greatest one in the 20th century. That's because you don't know your history. And you know what they say about those who don't know history, right? Doomed to repeat it. With gleeful satisfaction, no less. So do me and yourself a favor, read this analysis of Reagan's legacy. Then we can talk, if you wish.

Sunday, February 06, 2011

Go Steelers! Climb That Stairway To Seven!

Alas, I do have one thing in common with Rush Limbaugh and, less damningly, with Howard Fineman: I am a Steelers fan!

I am indeed in strange company, but as a football fan only, although on Sunday I will be suffering with millions of Steelers fans around the world. And when I say suffering, believe me, I know what I am talking about.

I am a relative newcomer to football, meaning that I started following it in the 1980's, though I am a bit older than that. But I only started following football with a passion only when I came to the United States and fell in love with a Pittsburgher. And, I have to say, it was love at first sight. And I don't mean just with my soon-to-be wife. I mean the city that I landed in was nuts about its Steelers. Black and gold everywhere you went, even though the Steelers' best years seemed a bit distant, with memories of the Dynasty starting to yellow somewhat.

Never mind the fact that the Steelers' quarterback when I moved to Pittsburgh was Neil O'Donnell, a guy with the mobility and the athleticism of a post, who got screamed at by home fans every game for holding on to the ball for so long that even my dead grandmother could have sacked him. His second interception to the Cowboys' Larry Brown on a busted slant play to Andre Hastings cost the Steelers their 5th Super Bowl ring and one of the most improbable comebacks in the history of the game.

And never mind that to get to Big Ben's era we had to endure a few years of Kordell "Slash/Crybaby" Stewart's antics and Tommy Maddox's limited ability.

We had to wait ten years for the next chance at "one for the thumb", and did not blow our chance against the Seahawks in the last game of the Bus's career, in his hometown no less. Three years later we got the sixth ring, to start "dressing" the other hand. Today the Steelers will try to successfully climb the "Stairway to Seven", which for anyone who has ever listened to FM radio in the 'Burgh, particularly to DVE, is a sweetly humorous reference to the fact that Pittsburgh is still, in many ways, stuck in the 70's.

No one, in my opinion, epitomizes the spirit of the Steelers of the last 10+ years than Hines Ward, who has dished out and absorbed some of the hardest hits in football lore. Whatever happens to him, no matter what brutality he has to endure, Hines does it all with a smile on his face, a fact that has earned him the well-deserved nickname of "Psycho 86". It is no wonder that Steelers fans love him and everybody else hates him.

I don't expect today's game to be a cakewalk, for either team, and I don't think anyone does. Suffering is in the DNA of the Steelers organization. The players, coaching staff, owners, and all fans know that Steelers glory does not come easy. I am still reeling from the rollercoaster ride that was Super Bowl XLIII, when the Steelers clinched a game we had already won--and then were on the way to losing--against the Arizona Cardinals captained by coach Wisenhunt, a former Steelers offensive coordinator, only thanks to the magic concocted by Big Ben and Santonio Holmes with 35 seconds left in the game.

No matter how things go today, and no matter who ends up lifting the Lombardi trophy around 10 pm EST, the Steeler's legend can only grow because of today's game. If it is a Rooney or coach Tomlin, then the Steelers' place in the history of world sports will be further consolidated and I will have millions of happy Steelers fans around the world to celebrate with. If on the other hand, it is a Packer who gets to do it, I know they will have deserved it, and that it will not have been for the lack of effort on our boys' side. Because one thing's for sure: nobody can accuse anyone who has had the good fortune of wearing a Steelers jersey of not having left everything they had on the field.

Saturday, February 05, 2011

Beck's Street Corner Conspiracy Theories

Will Bunch, author of Tear Down This Myth: The Right-Wing Distortion of the Reagan Legacy, a highly readable book about Ronald Reagan's distorted history, nailed it when he compared Beck's conspiracy theories about the revolts that are raging in several Islamic countries to the work of street corner loons.

Celebrate Ronald Reagan's 100th Birthday, With The Truth

Ronald Reagan would be 100 if he were still alive today (give or take a few days, I don't really care what is birthday is). What I care about is the fact the conservatives revere him as the greatest president and always pray--literally, given the religiosity of many in the Republican Party--that all Republican candidates for office will shoot (figuratively, not in the Second Amendment sense) for the greatness of their prime icon. Except that, predictably, they ignore the facts about their ideological messiah.

Facts tell a very different story on the policies and principles of Ronald Reagan than his hagiographers would have you believe. Alex Setz-Wald lists a few such facts about Ronald Reagan in a post published at Think Progress. It is well worth a read, particularly for those whose view of Reagan is so distorted as to render it virtually unrecognizable from a historical perspective.

Friday, February 04, 2011

Unemployment Down, Fewer Jobs Created: Hooray? UPDATED

Look at the Employment Situation Summary, released today. It says: "The unemployment rate fell by 0.4 percentage point to 9.0 percent in January, while nonfarm payroll employment changed little (+36,000), the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today."

And also:

"The unemployment rate (9.0 percent) declined by 0.4 percentage point for the second month in a row. (See table A-1.) The number of unemployed persons decreased by about 600,000 in January to 13.9 million, while the labor force was unchanged."

36,000 jobs added
13,900,000 unemployed
36,000 / 13900000 = 0.002%

0.4 - 0.002 = 0.398

See the problem?

If unemployment declined by 600,000, or 0.4%, and there were 36,000 new jobs, as the report says, doesn't that mean that we stopped counting some people as unemployed? Does that mean that .398% of the workforce retired or died, or what?

I'd say that these feel-good figures mean nothing, but I am not an economist. Could someone explain?

Administrations, Republican or Democrats like to put a favorable spin on crap, but what does that say about the health of the economy?

So, then, I am not as bad at math as I feared. It's easy to show that unemployment has decreased if you stop counting the unemployed. Most politicians, spin-meisters, and statisticians deserve all the contempt that they usually get.

Thursday, February 03, 2011

The Attacks Against Journalists in Egypt

Nicholas Kristof, New York Times journalist, has it exactly right in his tweet: "Govt is trying to round up journalists. I worry about what it is they're planning that they don't want us to see. #Egypt."

Egypt is on the brink of a most violent repression. Civil war next?

Republican = Hypocrite, More Examples

Think Progress asks an interesting question: Why Has Every Pro-Repeal GOP Lawmaker Given Their Congressional Staff Taxpayer-Funded, Gov Health Care?
Answer: Because Republicans are hypocrites. I do hope their voters catch on. I have no hopes that they will start changing their vote, but it would be nice if they stopped giving it to the party whose behavior underscores its hypocrisy at every opportunity.

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

The Neocons' Smear Campaign Against El-Baradei

The neocons are sharpening their knives. They are after Mohamed El-Baradei, the Egyptian leader that many Egyptians (and foreign observers) would like to see lead Egypt in the post-Mubarak era.

The reason for the neocons' hostility towards El-Baradei is that he was the Director General of the IAEA, the International Atomic Energy Agency during the days that led to the Iraq War. El-Baradei, along with Hans Blix, his predecessor at the IAEA, stated that IAEA inspectors had not found any evidence of WMDs in Iraq. Remember that the danger of WMDs was cited by the Bush Administration as the original pretext for the invasion of Iraq. The IAEA, of course, was right and, the neocons never forgave the agency for interfering with the U.S. criminal war plans on Iraq.

To make matters worse, El-Baradei wrote this in an op-ed published by the New York Times in February 2004:
We must abandon the unworkable notion that it is morally reprehensible for some countries to pursue weapons of mass destruction yet morally acceptable for others to rely on them for security -- and indeed to continue to refine their capacities and postulate plans for their use.

In other words, if the U.S., Russia, Israel, France, etc., all have nukes, it is harder to tell Iran or North Korea, or other countries that are considered dangerous by the international community, to discontinue their nuclear weapon programs. Seems reasonable to me.

In 2005, El-Baradei and the IAEA were the joint recipients of the Nobel Peace Prize, for their "efforts to prevent nuclear energy from being used for military purposes and to ensure that nuclear energy, for peaceful purposes, is used in the safest possible way". As El-Baradei's entry in Wikipedia says, ElBaradei donated all his winnings to building orphanages in his home city of Cairo. How dangerous.

The shameful thing about the attacks on El-Baradei is that even conservatives who cannot strictly be labeled as neocons are joining in the bashing. As Think Progress reports, Sen. McCain and former House Speaker Gingrich have respectively accused El-Baradei of not being a friend of the United States and of being a figurehead for the Muslim Brotherhood.

Both accusations are unfounded. As Think Progress points out, to say that he is not a friend of the United States ignores the fact that El-Baradei has lived and taught in the United States (at New York University) and that he has no history of anti-American rhetoric. But I guess that what Sen. McCain is saying about El-Baradei's not being a friend of the U.S. is true, if you live under the assumption that a friend should never tell you that you made up the reasons to launch a war on another country, and that true friends should go along with your criminal plans instead.

As for Gingrich's accusation that El-Baradei as president of Egypt would be a "disaster", I guess what he is saying is that it'd be better to have a ruthless dictator in charge for U.S. interests in the region. However, that doesn't make his prediction that El-Baradei would be a disaster any more true than my prediction that Gingrich will turn into a pillar of salt if he does not stop making unfounded statements.

Lastly, the frenzy to condemn the Muslim Brootherhood as a dangerous Islamist organization is ludicrous. In fact, after the recent bombing of a church in Alexandria, Egypt, the Muslim Brotherhood condemned the terrorist act as an attack on all Egyptians. Why, they even offered to stand in front of churches to protect them against further attacks. Dangerous, eh?

Of course, that won't keep Christian fundamentalists in this country, and the neocons who pander to them, from painting them as the most dangerous enemy of the United States, one so powerful that the group it has infiltrated the U.S. government, presumably with the goal of bringing Sharia Law to our shores. I guess I side with Gov. Howard Dean on the subject of dangerous radicalism. Dean rejects the right-wing's attempts to single out "radical Islam" as a threat, and reminds us instead that "radical anything is what's bad". And that, my friends, includes Christians, politicians, and all of those who are quick to exploit falsehoods for their cause.

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

The War-rus Is At It Again

John Bolton, the man that George W. Bush appointed to be the U.S. Ambassador at the United Nations in spite of the fact that Bolton had famously said that "[t]here are 38 floors to the UN building in New York. If you lost 10 of them, it wouldn't make a bit of difference" (you know, a true diplomat--of sorts), has been known to advocate bombing things and places (Iran in particular) for no apparent good reason. His biggest regret in life must be that he was not with John McCain the day the senile Senator from Arizona sang "Bomb Iran" to the tune of "Barbara Ann".

It should come as little or no surprise, then, that the man I affectionately like to refer to as the "war-rus" (re: his moustache and his known penchant for wanting to bomb places and things) has come out in favor of bombing Iran as soon as possible because--ready for it?--Mubarak's dictatorship in Egypt has apparently come to an end.

Naturally, he made his opprobrious statement on Hannity, the show hosted by the man who is to TV interviewers as home-run derby pitchers are to Randy Johnson. This is how the exchange went down:
HANNITY: Do you think that the Israelis are going to have to strike — they are going to have to take action. … As you pointed out, El Baradei, you know, ran cover for the Iranians for all those years that he was with the IAEA. And, I just don’t think the Israelis have much longer to wait…they’re going to have to act in fairly short order.

BOLTON: I think that’s right. I don’t think there’s much time to act. And I think the fall of a Egyptian government committed to the peace agreement will almost certainly speed that timetable up.

Notice Hannity's soft pitch, right down the middle of the plate, an easy target for Bolton to hit out of the ballpark.

Truly, after witnessing Obama pussyfoot around the economy, health care, and basically anything he touched in his first two years, you have to give it to Bush: all of his appointment were a big, giant "fuck you" to the rest of us, why, the rest of the world, and even human decency, all aimed at furthering crony capitalism and the U.S. stranglehold over energy resources in the Middle-East. No brains, no spine, all huevos.

Of Francis Scott Fitzgerald and the Abundance of Second Acts in America

Earlier tonight I spent some time looking for e-books on Amazon, and I came across this forgotten gem: Dow 36,000: The New Strategy for Profiting From the Coming Rise in the Stock Market. [Insert your own joke here]

What is truly remarkable is what became of the two co-authors of this book.

Here is Kevin A. Hassett's biography, posted on the website of the American Enterprise Institute, where Hassett is Senior Fellow and Director of Economic Policy Studies.
Before joining AEI, Mr. Hassett was a senior economist at the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System and an associate professor of economics and finance at the Graduate School of Business of Columbia University, as well as a policy consultant to the Treasury Department during the George H. W. Bush and Clinton administrations. He served as an economic adviser to the George W. Bush 2004 presidential campaign and as Senator John McCain's chief economic adviser during the 2000 presidential primaries. He also served as a senior economic adviser to the McCain 2008 presidential campaign. Mr. Hassett writes a weekly column for Bloomberg.

James K. Glassman's biography, from Wikipedia, is not nearly as impressive as his co-author's. However, he can boast a couple of feathers in his cap, too:
On December 11, 2007 Glassman was nominated by President George W. Bush to replace Karen Hughes as the Undersecretary of State for Public Diplomacy. [...] Earlier he founded The American, the magazine of ideas for business leaders, published by the American Enterprise Institute, and was its editor-in-chief and from 2005 to 2007. [...] On September 3, 2009, it was announced that Glassman will head the George W. Bush Institute, a public policy institute at the George W. Bush Presidential Library.

So, to recap: in 1999, Hassett and Glassman have co-authored a book that can only be described as the most colossal failure of intelligence in the field of economic predictions. Both co-authors have associations with the American Enterprise Institute. And, most importantly, both have served the most dimwitted president in the history of the nation, though in different capacities, years AFTER they had published their colossal dump of bullshit.

Francis Scott Fitzgerald was wrong. Second acts, even wholly unwarranted ones, are as American as apple-pie. Not even colossal failure is enough in America to be consigned to shamefully earned oblivion, as the case of Hassett and Glassman proves. And it is exquisitely fitting that they received their second chances from a man, President W., who received more than his fair share of undeserved second chances himself. Which goes to prove that no incompetent deed will go unrewarded, as long as you are on the side of free market rhetoric and of the imaginary rewards of supply-side economics.
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