Tim Egan is my favorite book reviewers for the NY Times. He lives in California, but the Times does not publish his reviews often enough. The Times is one of the few publications that pay book reviewers a decent wage. Once I wrote an e-mail to the NY Times that why was Tim Egan’s review during the week for much than the review by a busy person in the Sunday Book Review for the same book. The Sunday review was ideology than an assessment of the quality of the book. Don’t miss his article below.
MSNBC has made it difficult to find Ed Schultz website for his too liberal views. Even googling for it is not always easy. He speaks truth to power. Here is the link. http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/30031533/
Ed Schultz first editorial today, Nov 3, 2010, about Obama’s Press Conference is exactly the right interpretation. He was furious at Obama by emphasizing his need to compromise with Republicans. I urge you to watch it tomorrow unless MSNBC deletes it. Remember the news will be taken over by Comcast which is very conservative. His polls of the number of viewers are said to have dropped sharply. I almost think it was a fix by Comcast to lower his popularity so they could drop him.
They might do the same to Rachel Maddow and perhaps Keith Olbermann. Most audience viewers are determined more by the cable operators than anything else. Please watch his program at 6 PM ET or 3 PM PT to keep him on the air. I find DVR is a necessary expense for me now.
Unless it is on the list of most e-mailed which it is now, most Times newspaper readers won’t see this blog which is only online. The NYTimes blogs are quite good. Take the time for a look. Krugman also blogs. For the Washington Post also has good blogs. Take a look at http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/ Ezra Klein is quite good at the Washington Post. Here is one about politics which I found quite good.
“'Citizen- legislators' empower the very special interests they're meant to fight.
In this year of "tea partiers" and political insurgents, we keep hearing the same refrain: The founders envisioned not career politicians but citizen-legislators -- decent folk who'd leave the farm to serve the public, then return home before they became corrupt fat cats. It's this idea that lends term limits such perennial appeal.
And yet, says David Canon, a political scientist at the University of Wisconsin at Madison and the author of "Actors, Athletes, and Astronauts: Political Amateurs in the United States Congress," term limits would actually have the opposite effect. He explains: "If you have a bunch of rookies in there who don't have much experience, you're basically turning power over to the permanent government in that town: the staffers and the lobbyists the newcomers end up relying on."
… Lobbyists don't run the show.
That's the conclusion of the new book "Lobbying and Policy Change: Who Wins, Who Loses, and Why," which is easily the most comprehensive study of lobbying ever published. The authors randomly chose 98 legislative fights and then sifted through more than 20,000 lobbying reports and 300 interviews with key players to come up with a surprising result: Usually, the lobbyists lost.
In fact, the best predictor of action wasn't the money spent or the lobbyists involved. It was the politicians. Action became more likely when major players decided they wanted to act (think Barack Obama winning the White House and deciding to pursue health-care reform) or suddenly were given the power to act (recall how the embarrassment of the Abramoff scandal empowered ethics legislation that had long been stalled in Congress).
"Our research indicates that members of Congress don't listen to lobbyists unless they want to," says Beth Leech, a political scientist at Rutgers and one of the co-authors.
Politicians should talk to political scientists.
This one may not be so surprising, but it is convincing: As the 24-hour news cycle accelerates into the 1,440-minute news cycle, distracting us with an incessant stream of meaningless one-liners and manufactured outrages, the considered, rigorous, historical examinations favored by political scientists offer an increasingly valuable antidote.
"The 24-hour news cycle is really focused on little, tiny swells and waves on the surface of the ocean," says John Sides, a political scientist at George Washington University. "But in fact, most of the big things affecting the ocean are these currents underneath. They're what's moving the water." And that's what political science studies.
So political science is often accused of a sort of nihilism: Lobbyists don't much matter, it says. Speeches are ineffective. Voters are driven by the economy, and campaigns barely move the needle. Most of the stuff that obsesses us during election season has no effect on the eventual outcome.
But if politicians took these findings to heart, it would free them to do their jobs better. "The fact that much of what cable news is talking about on any given day is not important probably is empowering," Sides says. Particularly combined with the finding that what does matter, both for elections and for people's lives, is how well the country is doing. Worrying less about tomorrow's polls and news releases and more about the effect of today's policies could make for better bills -- and happier, more successful politicians.
Ezra Klein blogs on domestic and economic policy for The Washington Post at www.washingtonpost.com/ezraklein
Jim Kawakami, Nov 3, 2010, http://jimboguy.blogspot.com
November 2, 2010, 11:59 PM
How Obama Saved Capitalism and Lost the Midterms
By TIMOTHY EGAN
http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/11/02/how-obama-saved-capitalism-and-lost-the-midterms/?src=me&ref=general Timothy Egan on American politics and life, as seen from the West.
If I were one of the big corporate donors who bankrolled the Republican tide that carried into office more than 50 new Republicans in the House, I would be wary of what you just bought.
For no matter your view of President Obama, he effectively saved capitalism. And for that, he paid a terrible political price.
Suppose you had $100,000 to invest on the day Barack Obama was inaugurated. Why bet on a liberal Democrat? Here’s why: the presidency of George W. Bush produced the worst stock market decline of any president in history. The net worth of American households collapsed as Bush slipped away. And if you needed a loan to buy a house or stay in business, private sector borrowing was dead when he handed over power.
As of election day, Nov. 2, 2010, your $100,000 was worth about $177,000 if invested strictly in the NASDAQ average for the entirety of the Obama administration, and $148,000 if bet on the Standard & Poors 500 major companies. This works out to returns of 77 percent and 48 percent.
But markets, though forward-looking, are not considered accurate measurements of the economy, and the Great Recession skewed the Bush numbers. O.K. How about looking at the big financial institutions that keep the motors of capitalism running — banks and auto companies?
The banking system was resuscitated by $700 billion in bailouts started by Bush (a fact unknown by a majority of Americans), and finished by Obama, with help from the Federal Reserve. It worked. The government is expected to break even on a risky bet to stabilize the global free market system. Had Obama followed the populist instincts of many in his party, the underpinnings of big capitalism could have collapsed. He did this without nationalizing banks, as other Democrats had urged.
Saving the American auto industry, which has been a huge drag on Obama’s political capital, is a monumental achievement that few appreciate, unless you live in Michigan. After getting their taxpayer lifeline from Obama, both General Motors and Chrysler are now making money by making cars. New plants are even scheduled to open. More than 1 million jobs would have disappeared had the domestic auto sector been liquidated.
“An apology is due Barack Obama,” wrote The Economist, which had opposed the $86 billion auto bailout. As for Government Motors: after emerging from bankruptcy, it will go public with a new stock offering in just a few weeks, and the United States government, with its 60 percent share of common stock, stands to make a profit. Yes, an industry was saved, and the government will probably make money on the deal — one of Obama’s signature economic successes.
Interest rates are at record lows. Corporate profits are lighting up boardrooms; it is one of the best years for earnings in a decade.
All of the above is good for capitalism, and should end any serious-minded discussion about Obama the socialist. But more than anything, the fact that the president took on the structural flaws of a broken free enterprise system instead of focusing on things that the average voter could understand explains why his party was routed on Tuesday. Obama got on the wrong side of voter anxiety in a decade of diminished fortunes.
“We have done things that people don’t even know about,” Obama told Jon Stewart. Certainly. The three signature accomplishments of his first two years — a health care law that will make life easier for millions of people, financial reform that attempts to level the playing field with Wall Street, and the $814 billion stimulus package — have all been recast as big government blunders, rejected by the emerging majority.
But each of them, in its way, should strengthen the system. The health law will hold costs down, while giving millions the chance at getting care, according to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office. Financial reform seeks to prevent the kind of meltdown that caused the global economic collapse. And the stimulus, though it drastically raised the deficit, saved about 3 million jobs, again according to the CBO. It also gave a majority of taxpayers a one-time cut — even if 90 percent of Americans don’t know that, either.
Of course, nobody gets credit for preventing a plane crash. “It could have been much worse!” is not a rallying cry. And, more telling, despite a meager uptick in job growth this year, the unemployment rate rose from 7.6 percent in the month Obama took office to 9.6 today.
Billions of profits, windfalls in the stock market, a stable banking system — but no jobs.
Of course, the big money interests who benefited from Obama’s initiatives have shown no appreciation. Obama, as a senator, voted against the initial bailout of AIG, the reckless insurance giant. As president, he extended them treasury loans at a time when economists said he must — or risk further meltdown. Their response was to give themselves $165 million in executive bonuses, and funnel money to Republicans this year.
Money flows one way, to power, now held by the party that promises tax cuts and deregulation — which should please big business even more.
President Franklin Roosevelt also saved capitalism, in part by a bank “holiday” in 1933, at a time when the free enterprise system had failed. Unlike Obama, he was rewarded with midterm gains for his own party because a majority liked where he was taking the country. The bank holiday was incidental to a larger public works campaign.
Obama can recast himself as the consumer’s best friend, and welcome the animus of Wall Street. He should hector the companies sitting on piles of cash but not hiring new workers. For those who do hire, and create new jobs, he can offer tax incentives. He should finger the financial giants for refusing to clean up their own mess in the foreclosure crisis. He should point to the long overdue protections for credit card holders that came with reform.
And he should veto, veto, veto any bill that attempts to roll back some of the basic protections for people against the institutions that have so much control over their lives – insurance companies, Wall Street and big oil.
They will whine a fierce storm, the manipulators of great wealth. A war on business, they will claim. Not even close. Obama saved them, and the biggest cost was to him.