Tag Archives: New York Times

Stephen Lendman ~ Post-Crimean Referendum Propaganda

SteveLendmansBlog March 18 2014

steveLendmanPrevious articles discussed intense anti-Russian propaganda. It raged up to Sunday’s referendum vote. On Monday, it continued.

The New York Times headlined “Global Crises Put Obama’s Strategy of Caution to the Test,” saying:

“(W)ith Russia poised to annex Crimea after Sunday’s referendum, with a mounting threat to the rest of Ukraine and with the carnage in Syria accelerating, Mr. Obama’s strategy is now under greater stress than at any time in his presidency.”

“Mr. Obama’s strategy” is his own making. He’s waging multiple direct and proxy wars. He replaced numerous independent governments with subservient Western ones.

Ukraine is his latest imperial trophy. A previous article said if he can keep it. The battle for Ukraine’s soul didn’t end. It continues. It just began. Perhaps years will pass to resolve it.

Obama’s Iranian intentions are uncertain. Nuclear talks continue without resolution. Rapprochement remains a convenient illusion unless or until proved otherwise. No evidence suggests longterm US hostility eased. Plenty indicates otherwise.

Obama elevated neo-Nazi putschists to power in Kiev. He backs lawless governance. He spurns democratic legitimacy.

Continue reading

Matt Taibbi ~ The Vampire Squid Strikes Again: The Mega Banks’ Most Devious Scam Yet

RollingStone  February 12 2014

Banks are no longer just financing heavy industry. They are actually buying it up and inventing bigger, bolder and scarier scams than ever

WallStreetPigCall it the loophole that destroyed the world. It’s 1999, the tail end of the Clinton years. While the rest of America obsesses over Monica Lewinsky, Columbine and Mark McGwire’s biceps, Congress is feverishly crafting what could yet prove to be one of the most transformative laws in the history of our economy – a law that would make possible a broader concentration of financial and industrial power than we’ve seen in more than a century.

But the crazy thing is, nobody at the time quite knew it. Most observers on the Hill thought the Financial Services Modernization Act of 1999 – also known as the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act – was just the latest and boldest in a long line of deregulatory handouts to Wall Street that had begun in the Reagan years.

Wall Street had spent much of that era arguing that America’s banks needed to become bigger and badder, in order to compete globally with the German and Japanese-style financial giants, which were supposedly about to swallow up all the world’s banking business. So through legislative lackeys like red-faced Republican deregulatory enthusiast Phil Gramm, bank lobbyists were pushing a new law designed to wipe out 60-plus years of bedrock financial regulation. The key was repealing – or “modifying,” as bill proponents put it – the famed Glass-Steagall Act separating bankers and brokers, which had been passed in 1933 to prevent conflicts of interest within the finance sector that had led to the Great Depression. Now, commercial banks would be allowed to merge with investment banks and insurance companies, creating financial megafirms potentially far more powerful than had ever existed in America.

All of this was big enough news in itself. But it would take half a generation – till now, basically – to understand the most explosive part of the bill, which additionally legalized new forms of monopoly, allowing banks to merge with heavy industry. A tiny provision in the bill also permitted commercial banks to delve into any activity that is “complementary to a financial activity and does not pose a substantial risk to the safety or soundness of depository institutions or the financial system generally.”

Complementary to a financial activity. What the hell did that mean?

Continue reading

James Hall ~ Obamacare As A Jobs Killer

BATR  February 12 2014

Obamacare_WorkForceCutsTriple

Economic illiteracy is a hallmark of most political policies. The prime example of this principle is the idiocy out of the Obama administration that maintains that the Affordable Care Act is favorable to job seekers. The ranks of progressive euphoria reporting on the joys of Obamacare want to spin the latest Congressional Budget Office’s (CBO) analysis as favorable. As these imbeciles push out their demented dreams for a neo Great Society, the facts of trade and industry need to be buried in order to institute the total welfare state.
In the face of ignoring that productive employment is a worthy and necessary goal for a healthy economy, avid Obama supporters cannot escape empirical reality. Even a flagship liberal publication like Atlantic is obliged to ask, Is Obamacare a Job-Killer After All?

“The reduction in CBO’s projections of hours worked represents a decline in the number of full-time-equivalent workers of about 2.0 million in 2017, rising to about 2.5 million in 2024. Although CBO projects that total employment (and compensation) will increase over the coming decade that increase will be smaller than it would have been in the absence of the ACA.” Continue reading

Avik Roy ~ Obamacare’s Website Is Crashing Because It Doesn’t Want You To Know How Costly Its Plans Are

Forbes  October 14 2013

A growing consensus of IT experts, outside and inside the government, have figured out a principal reason why the website for Obamacare’s federally-sponsored insurance exchange is crashing. Healthcare.gov forces you to create an account and enter detailed personal information before you can start shopping. This, in turn, creates a massive traffic bottleneck, as the government verifies your information and decides whether or not you’re eligible for subsidies. HHS bureaucrats knew this would make the website run more slowly. But they were more afraid that letting people see the underlying cost of Obamacare’s insurance plans would scare people away.

HHS didn’t want users to see Obamacare’s true costs

“Healthcare.gov was initially going to include an option to browse before registering,” report Christopher Weaver and Louise Radnofsky in the Wall Street Journal. “But that tool was delayed, people familiar with the situation said.” Why was it delayed? “An HHS spokeswoman said the agency wanted to ensure that users were aware of their eligibility for subsidies that could help pay for coverage, before they started seeing the prices of policies.” (Emphasis added.)

Continue reading

Stephen Lendman ~ Debt Ceiling Hype

stevelendman October 15 2013

The so-called deadline to raise it isn’t one at all. Lots of ways can resolve it. Prioritized spending can keep government operating. It can prevent default.

From October 1, 2013 through September 30, 2014, an estimated $3 trillion in revenue will be collected. The Treasury can mint trillion dollar coins if needed.

The Fed monetizes debt by buying Treasuries. It’s purchasing about $1 trillion annually. It can double the amount if it wishes.

Doing so, of course, is madness. What can’t go on forever, won’t. Massive monetization debases dollar value. Doing so is back door defaulting. Short-term, nothing prevents it from continuing.

Technically the debt ceiling is unconstitutional. The 14th Amendment Section 4 mandates paying public debt obligations. It states:

“The validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law, including debts incurred for payment of pensions and bounties for services in suppressing insurrection or rebellion, shall not be questioned.”

“But neither the United States nor any State shall assume or pay any debt or obligation incurred in aid of insurrection or rebellion against the United States, or any claim for the loss or emancipation of any slave; but all such debts, obligations and claims shall be held illegal and void.”

Defaulting violates the Constitution’s “general welfare” clause. Article I, Section 8 states:

“The Congress shall have power to…provide for (the) general welfare of the United States.”

Having power means using it when most needed. It means doing so for the good of the country and everyone. It requires keeping government operating. It requires funding its obligations.

The so-called debt problem is an accounting one. The Treasury can issue any amount it wishes. The Fed can buy it all if needed.

It can cancel debt it owns. It can simply forgive it. It’s a bookkeeping entry. It’s money Washington owes itself.

Doing it creates lots of wiggle room. It would end the current standoff. It would prevent default.

It won’t happen whether or not the so-called deadline is passed. Bet on it.

Here’s where things now stand. An hour from now they may change. According to Defense News.com:

Senate Democrat and Republican leaders “are close to finalizing a debt-ceiling deal…”

It buys time. It gives Congress and Obama three more months to resolve differences. It averts new defense sequestration cuts.

Senate majority and minority leaders Harry Reid (D. NV) and Mitch McConnell (R. KY) respectively agreed on 2011 Budget Control Act (BCA) funding levels.

If House Republicans concur, government reopens. It continues operating until January 15. It provides time to resolve differences.

Reid and McConnell are close to a deal to raise the debt ceiling until mid-February. In weekend talks, Democrats introduced a sequester replacement plan. Republicans balked.

Reid and McConnell agreed on $986 billion additional spending. It’ll end in mid-January without a sequester replacement deal in the meantime.

According to Senator Mark Pryor (D. AK), both leaders agreed on what 13 Republican and Democrat senators proposed. Passing a continuing resolution (CR) would keep government operating.

Doing so requires House and Senate approval.

At 9:56 AM EDT time today, The New York Times headlined “House Outlines Plan on Spending Debt Limit,” saying:

Doing so “would end the government shutdown and raise the debt limit into next year, but would also make some changes to the health care law.”

Their plan mandates Obamacare coverage for congressional and high-level administration staffers. It excludes them from receiving government subsidies.

It suspends the medical device tax for two years. It reopens government. It funds it through January 15. It increases the debt ceiling until February.

Other House and Senate Democrat and Republican proposals were floated. They’re being considered. So far, nothing is resolved.

At 11:30 AM EDT today, The New York Times headlined House “Republican Leaders Back Off New Plan,” saying:

“Republican leaders walked back from a plan that had emerged this morning. Speaker John A. Boehner told reporters there are ‘no decisions about what exactly we will do.’ ”

“We’re trying to find a way forward in a bipartisan way that would continue to provide fairness to the American people under Obamacare.”

House Republicans have different ideas on how to do it, he added.

According to The Times, they “appear intent to extract at least one concession…”

They want congressional members, Obama, Biden, and high-level administration staffers excluded from federal health insurance subsidies. They want them bound under the same Obamacare provisions as everyone else.

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor calls it “our provision of fairness. No special treatment under the law.”

Stay tuned. Ongoing toing and froing has a ways to go. Debt default won’t follow. Whatever happens, ordinary people will be harmed most.

A previous article explained. Squabbles mask Washington’s longstanding class war. Neoliberal harshness explains it.

Bipartisan complicity demands it. Destroying social America is planned. Brinksmanship is theater. It masks what’s really going on.

Expect resolution to hammer ordinary people hard. It’ll hurt America’s most disadvantaged hardest. It’ll come incrementally.

It’ll eliminate social protections too vital to lose. It’ll leave growing millions increasingly on their own sink or swim.

It’ll reveal more than ever America’s dark side. It reflects heart of darkness wickedness writ large.

Expect the worst of all possible worlds ahead. It’s baked in the cake. Both parties agree.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached
at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net.

Robert W. Merry ~ The American Public’s Foreign-Policy Reawakening

TheNationalInterest  September 11 2013 (Thanks, A.L.)

Political analysts over the next year or so, and historians well into the future, are likely to point to the fall of 2013 as a fundamental inflection point in American politics. That period, they will say, is when the American people forced a major new direction in American foreign policy. Before the events of this fall, the country’s electorate largely delegated foreign policy to its political elite—and largely supported that elite as it projected American military power with more abandon than the country had ever before seen. Even as the government steadfastly expanded the range of international problems that it said required U.S. military action, the electorate accepted that expanded international role and that increasingly promiscuous use of force.

Those days are gone now. The American people conveyed emphatically, in public opinion surveys and in communications to their representatives in Washington, that they did not want their country to launch air strikes against the Bashar al-Assad regime in Syria. Not even if Assad used chemical weapons against his people, as they generally believe he did. Not even if the strikes are limited in magnitude and duration, as Obama promises they will be. Not even if the president of the United States says the strikes are in the country’s national interest. They don’t buy it, and they don’t want it.

Poll numbers in recent days have demonstrated this turnaround in stark fashion. In addition, congressional reluctance to support the president’s authorization request was growing inexorably. The New York Times reported Tuesday that the president was “losing ground in both parties in recent days,” while the Wall Street Journal said support for Mr. Obama’s position on Syria “was slipping in Congress.” If Russia’s Vladimir Putin hadn’t interrupted the U.S. political process with his call for a negotiated end to Assad’s possession of chemical weapons, it seems inevitable that the president would have suffered a devastating political defeat in Congress. That’s still the likely outcome if it ever comes to a vote.

Continue reading

Matt Taibbi ~ Obama’s New Education Proposal: Change, Or Changed Subject?

Rollingstone  August 23 2013

JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images ~ President Barack Obama speaks during a town hall meeting at Binghamton University during his two-day bus tour.

It’s been a strange week in the history of Barack Obama’s presidency. On Sunday, the NSA scandal exploded in one of the clumsiest political gaffes in recent memory, with British authorities (with American foreknowledge) snatching up Glenn Greenwald’s Brazilian partner David Miranda and preposterously detaining him at an airport for nine hours, citing a subsection of the West’s increasingly dystopian, Matrix-like anti-terrorism laws.

By Tuesday, shameless pro-administration flacks like Jeffrey Toobin were going on TV and doing the dreary work of dirtying up Miranda in the press, comparing him to a drug mule and blasting critics who think the whole freedom-of-the-press thing confers “magic immunity sauce.” Add in the indefensible 35-year sentence for Chelsea Manning, and there were progressives following this revolting national-security story a few days ago who probably found themselves pining for the civil liberties panacea that was the Bush administration.

Think about it: on Monday and Tuesday, the Democratic Party was the face of a repressive new global security state which improbably had forced Vladimir Putin’s Russia into the role of earth’s symbolic defender of individual liberty, and in a mirroring irony had turned journalists like Greenwald into the dissidenti of our age, with Brazil the new Vermont and Greenwald’s Guardian articles the new samizdat.

But now it’s Friday, and what do we see in the news? Lots and lots of coverage of the President’s suddenly-urgent new road show around America’s college campuses, where he’s stumping for his “bold” new plan to reduce tuition costs. Obama on Monday and Tuesday was Darth Vader; today, he’s being feted in the New York Times for his ostentatiously progressive-sounding new plan to help the student demographic. From the Times editorial board this morning:

President Obama has been accused of promoting small-ball ideas in his second term, but the proposal he unveiled on Thursday is a big one: using sharp federal pressure to make college more affordable, potentially opening the gates of higher education to more families scared off by rising tuitions. While there are questions to be answered about his plan, his approach – tying federal student aid to the value of individual colleges – is a bold and important way to leverage the government’s power and get Washington off the sidelines.

The Times should have looked more closely at the fine print of Obama’s proposal, which in theory would create a government rating system that would tie student aid to performance (by both students and universities). They key number in it is a date. This is from Time:

Obama will also ask Congress to tie those ratings to federal student aid by 2018. . .

Continue reading

Greg Hunter ~ Weekly News Wrap Up August 23 2013 [Video]

USA Watchdog

I am mainly focusing on two areas today–the Middle East and the coming financial calamity.  Let’s start with Syria.  There have been new reports about another poison gas attack, and this one is particularly gruesome.  The number of reported deaths could be as high as 1,300.  The al-Qaeda backed Syrian rebels say it was the Assad regime.  So does the U.S.  The Russians say it was a false flag attack perpetrated by the rebels.  The UN has called an emergency meeting and is promising a “thorough investigation.”

Meanwhile, remember those U.S. troops and the 1st armored division I have been telling you about in northern Jordan in the Southern Syrian border?  There are also Patriot missile batteries and F-16’s stations there.   A French newspaper is reporting, “Jordanian, Israeli and American commandos moving towards Damascus since mid-August.”   Don’t think these forces will not be meeting Russian and Iranian forces on the battlefield.  This has awful implications for a wider war in the region at the very least.

In Egypt, the civil war there is just getting started.  It is between the Egyptian army and the Muslim Brotherhood.  Hundreds have been killed, and many more have been injured in violent clashes.  There is no end in sight to the bloodshed.  It’s all because the Army removed President Morsi from power.  The Suez Canal runs right through Egypt.  Eight percent of the world’s oil flows through there by tanker.  If civil war shuts down, the canal oil prices will spike.

Continue reading