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Paul Krugman slams Wall Street for “undermining our economy and our society”

Paul Krugman slams Wall Street for "undermining our economy and our society"

Paul Krugman (Credit: AP/Lai Seng Sin)

I know this is the second consecutive Salon article, but economist, Paul Krugman has something to say and I wanted to share it…

Salon

The New York Times columnist argues that America’s large financial sector has done more harm than good

In his latest column for the New York Times, best-selling author and award-winning economist Paul Krugman argues that the financial sector of the American economy is not only outsized but that it’s hurting the economy and making Americans’ lives worse.

Citing journalist Michael Lewis’ new book on high-frequency trading — which opens with a story about an expensive tunnel being drilled for fiber-optic cable to cut down the communication time between Chicago’s futures markets and the stock market in NYC by three milliseconds — Krugman argues that American public policy has become overly influenced by high finance, with inequality and economic instability as a result. “[American] society,” Krugman writes, “is devoting an ever-growing share of its resources to financial wheeling and dealing, while getting little or nothing in return.”

After claiming that the large financial sector in the U.S. doesn’t increase overall prosperity and doesn’t promote economic stability, Krugman writes that its primary function seems to be to prey off of less powerful economic actors. “[Wall Street's] playing small investors for suckers,” Krugman says, “causing them to waste huge sums in a vain effort to beat the market.” The result, Krugman posits, is a select few Wall Street players making a lot of private profits while contributing little to the overall public.

Krugman continues:



In short, we’re giving huge sums to the financial industry while receiving little or nothing — maybe less than nothing — in return. [NYU Professor Thomas] Philippon puts the waste at 2 percent of G.D.P. Yet even that figure, I’d argue, understates the true cost of our bloated financial industry. For there is a clear correlation between the rise of modern finance and America’s return to Gilded Age levels of inequality.

So never mind the debate about exactly how much damage high-frequency trading does. It’s the whole financial industry, not just that piece, that’s undermining our economy and our society.

 

‘I WANT TO ELECT THE NEXT PRESIDENT’

fox news roger ailes

Fox News CEO Roger Ailes poses at Fox News studio in New York in this 2006 file photo. (AP Photo/Jim Cooper) | ASSOCIATED PRESS

The Huffington Post

How Fox News Chief Roger Ailes Tried To Win Republicans The White House

Around 5 p.m. on Election Day 2012, Fox News chief Roger Ailes realized that Mitt Romney would not make it to the White House. “Thank you, Chris Christie,” Ailes groused.

Ailes was frustrated that the New Jersey governor appeared alongside President Barack Obama days earlier to survey the damage of Hurricane Sandy. When Ailes was told polling data suggested the incident hadn’t hurt the Republican Party’s chances, he responded: “Well, hugging the guy couldn’t help people feel good about Romney, either.”

This wasn’t how the race was supposed to end. During an afternoon meeting before the 2010 midterm elections, Ailes told executives he wanted “to elect the next president.”

Fox News already ruled the ratings and boasts annual earnings of around $1 billion. Most network chiefs would be ecstatic. But Ailes isn’t like most –- or really, any -– other top cable news executives. A visionary in the world of political messaging on television, Ailes had advised three past Republican presidents on how to use the medium to their advantage. And now he planned to use his talents for the party once more.

With the exception of former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, Ailes had privately knocked the 2008 Republican field as the “seven dwarves” and wasn’t impressed with the crop of 2012 contenders. He unsuccessfully tried twice to convince Christie to run in 2012 and sent an emissary to Afghanistan with hopes that Gen. David Petraeus would enter the race.

During a meeting at Fox, Ailes told candidate Jon Huntsman, who had a solid conservative record as Utah governor, he was “not of our orthodoxy” because of his views on climate change. He grew frustrated with Fox News contributor Sarah Palin, who ended up sitting out the 2012 race, and had misgivings about the party’s eventual nominee, Mitt Romney. Ailes once privately told a Fox host that Romney is “like Chinese food — 20 minutes after you eat it, you can’t remember what you had.”

How Ailes tried to get a Republican president elected in 2012 is revealed in The Loudest Voice In The Room, author Gabriel Sherman’s sweeping biography of the television luminary, from his humble Warren, Ohio, roots to becoming the “most powerful opposition figure in the country.” The book will be on sale Tuesday.

Sherman recalls Ailes’ early days as a young hot-shot producer on the “Mike Douglas Show” and his entrance into politics in 1968 as a media adviser to then-presidential candidate Richard Nixon, who had faltered eight years earlier in the first televised president debate against the telegenic John F. Kennedy. Sherman exhaustively covers Ailes’ career, from an upstate New York newspaper war to building the lucrative cable network where his TV instincts, ability to frame political narratives and conservative worldview all coalesced: Fox News.

Continue reading here…

Stephen Colbert Calls Out Don Lemon For Obama, Rob Ford Comparison (VIDEO)

The Huffington Post

Stephen Colbert poked fun at the various comparisons that pundits are making about the failure of the Obamacare rollout on Monday, specifically CNN Don Lemon’s recent argument that Rob Ford and Obama are in a similar boat.

The glitches in the president’s health care exchange system have been defined as the worst thing to happen to the country “since slavery,” and have been compared to numerous past disasters like Hurricane Katrina.

But Colbert’s favorite Obamacare comparison as of late was CNN anchor Don Lemon’s recent statement pinning President Obama and Toronto’s crack-smoking mayor Rob Ford side-by-side.

Lemon stated on CNN’s “NewsRoom” that “you won’t find two politicians who’ve had worse weeks…. President Obama saying ‘I’m Sorry’ over and over for his so-called signature achievement Obamacare, Rob Ford though admitting to crack– to be a crack smoker.”

To this, Colbert was completely perplexed, and called out what he believed was the absurdity in “comparing the first black president to the first blackout mayor.”

“Yeah, they’re both in trouble. Therefore it’s an entirely fair comparison,” he mocked. “The same way that since they’re both on video, it’s fair to compare Don Lemon’s reporting to this dog milking a goat.”

Watch the video for the full clip. 

WAPO COLUMNIST SMEARS INTERRACIAL MARRIAGE!

richard cohen

WASHINGTON, DC – FEBRUARY 20: Exterior view of the Washington Post building on L street on February, 20, 2013 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Bill O’Leary/The Washington Post via Getty Images) | TDB

Some people are stubbornly myopic when it comes to accepting *social norms.  However, Cohen’s article is pure vitriolic dribble.

The Huffington Post

Richard Cohen Writes Yet Another Racist Column

Richard Cohen is back at it again, this time with incendiary comments about interracial marriage and lesbians.

In his November 11 column in the Washington Post entitled “Christie’s tea-party problem,” Cohen said that the GOP has had trouble embracing some of the country’s cultural shifts. He wrote:

Today’s GOP is not racist, as Harry Belafonte alleged about the tea party, but it is deeply troubled — about the expansion of government, about immigration, about secularism, about the mainstreaming of what used to be the avant-garde. People with conventional views must repress a gag reflex when considering the mayor-elect of New York — a white man married to a black woman and with two biracial children. (Should I mention that Bill de Blasio’s wife, Chirlane McCray, used to be a lesbian?) This family represents the cultural changes that have enveloped parts — but not all — of America. To cultural conservatives, this doesn’t look like their country at all.

deBlasio campaign ad…

*In fact, according to a Gallup poll conducted earlier this year, 87 percent of Americans approve of interracial marriage between blacks and whites.

Two scandals deflated, one persists

Salon – Joan Walsh

The Obama administration started Tuesday mired in three scandals the GOP seemed able to tie “into one ‘Big Brother Obama’ storyline,” in the words of Greg Sargent, and ended it appearing to face political culpability on only one, the Department of Justice’s broad subpoenas obtaining phone records from the Associated Press. It’s not to say Benghazi or the IRS mess went away, but the GOP’s creepy plot line got a whole lot less plausible.

The Benghazi “scandal” lost velocity thanks to CNN’s Jake Tapper reporting that an email key to the notion that the White House doctored talking points to protect the State Department didn’t at all read the way ABC’s Jonathan Karl reported it. Karl quoted White House national security communications advisor Ben Rhodes’ email specifically saying the talking points should “reflect all agency equities, including those of the State Department,” but the actual email obtained by Tapper didn’t mention the State Department at all. Karl ended the day with the shocking admission that while he’d reported on air that he’d “obtained” the emails in question, and wrote online that he’d “reviewed” them, in fact he’d only heard about them from the notes of a source – presumed to be a House GOP staffer.

Amazingly, Karl insisted Tapper’s reporting didn’t challenge the basic facts of his story, even though he acknowledged for the first time that he hadn’t actually “obtained” or “reviewed” the actual emails, but rather had notes about them read to him by his source. The fact that Karl put the purported email from Rhodes within quotation marks – which in actual journalism means you’re reading a direct quote from someone – seriously damages his credibility. But the ABC reporter reported concluded his self-defense by blaming the White House for failing to release all the emails – rather than blaming his source for misleading him, or himself for misleading his readers by using quotes around the Rhodes email.

Here’s hoping ABC News explains why the paraphrased depiction of notes about an email from a hostile source wound up within quotation marks attributed to Rhodes, and whether that’s the news organization’s policy.

On the IRS mess, the day closed with the release of the Inspector General’s report on the improper review of applications by Tea Party-related groups for tax-exempt “social welfare” status. The report blamed “inadequate management” for the review process, which began under Bush-appointed leadership, and it reads like everyone’s worst nightmare of incompetent government. But it finds no evidence that anyone higher than middle management was responsible for the review. Moreover, although it’s clear that groups with Tea Party or Patriot in their names came in for more scrutiny and delay than most liberal groups,  more than two thirds of the groups flagged for review had nothing to do with the Tea Party. And none of the conservatives were denied tax-exempt status, though many faced long delays.  Ironically, the only group that saw its status denied (for 10 of its chapters) was Emerge America, which works to elect Democratic women to office.

Within hours, President Obama sent a scathing statement about the IG’s findings, calling them “intolerable and inexcusable” and promising that Treasury Secretary Jack Lew would make sure all of its recommendations to correct the flaws in the IRS’s review process were implemented.

It’s the DOJ’s subpoena of phone records for 20 AP phone lines used by at least 100 reporters, in pursuit of a government official who leaked information about the U.S. foiling another al Qaida underwear-bomb plot, that has the capacity to damage the Obama administration. This White House is already shadowed by the fact that it has prosecuted more government “leakers” – also known as whistleblowers – than all previous administrations put together.

As Marcy Wheeler explained in Salon, the DOJ’s own guidelines require it to go directly to the news agency in question with its subpoena, which would have given AP the right to negotiate over it, or challenge it in court. The DOJ may subvert that requirement if going to the news agency would “pose a substantial threat to the integrity of the investigation.” Since the investigation into the identity of the leaker was already big news – in fact, congressional leaders in both parties had demanded it – it hardly constituted a secret operation that would be blown by negotiating with the AP.

So did Tuesday’s developments on the Benghazi and IRS fronts break scandal fever in the Beltway? Sadly, no. On Wednesday MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” remained scandal central, setting the day’s agenda. The Washington Post’s Dana Milbank’s wispy, fact-light “President Passerby” seems to be the top talking point: Even if some of the smoke is clearing, Obama hasn’t done enough personally to put out the fires. That’s leading the Drudge Report as I write.

Obama is not without blame here; the AP scandal particularly seems to stem from his administration’s overall approach to secrecy. With hindsight, he probably should have directed Jack Lew to take bolder steps on Friday night, when the IRS story broke. On Benghazi, the Beltway is determined to punish the president for insisting the talking points scandal is a “sideshow” – when that’s exactly what it is.

As I wrote Monday, before the AP news, some of the same bad actors who paralyzed the country during the Clinton years over phony scandals are getting ready to do it again. It’s too bad the genuine overreach by the DOJ is going to give some progressives understandable pause about wholeheartedly defending the administration. But people need to acknowledge that two of these three scandals were concocted by the GOP outrage machine.

Meanwhile, the headline crawl on “Morning Joe” announced: “U.S. deficit shrinks far faster than expected.” But the words sat there silently, drowned out by noise about mostly made-up scandals.

 

The New York Post gets the Onion treatment

The New York Post gets the Onion treatment

Back home in New York City, I rarely read The New York Post, for the same reasons…

Salon

The news outlet spread rumors that a Saudi suspect was in custody, and the satire site is holding them accountable

The Onion’s bold attempts at humor are not always successful, but today the satire news site took a risk in the wake of a national tragedy, and hit the nail on the head. In a column satirizing the New York Post, the Onion ridiculed the Post’s poorly sourced story that disseminated virtually no new information, and instead fueled fears of Islamophobia during a period of heightened anxiety.

Under the headline “This Is A Tragedy—Does It Really Matter Exactly How Many People Died Or What Any Of The Details Are?” the Onion writes as a New York Post columnist:

Yesterday’s violent attack at the Boston Marathon has left all of us struggling to come to terms with such a senseless display of carnage. In the wake of this devastating tragedy, we at the New York Post join the nation in mourning those who were lost in this horrible event so that we may console one another and ultimately emerge from this catastrophe stronger and with a greater compassion for one another.

And so, as we attempt to begin the healing process, let us not bicker over such trivial matters as the actual death toll and what exactly happened at yesterday’s bombing. After all, is it really important, in the aftermath of an event so disastrous and sad, to pick apart the so-called information surrounding this horrific situation and find out what actually happened?

Soledad O’Brien To Rudy Giuliani: ‘Stop Putting Words In My Mouth’ (VIDEO)

Soledad O’Brien has been on a roll putting her guests in check when they wander of topic…

The Huffington Post

Soledad O’Brien and Mayor Rudy Giuliani had a very heated exchange over President Obama’s response to Libya on Monday’s “Starting Point.”

O’Brien replayed a clip of Matthew Dowd, a former member of George W. Bush’s administration, defending the White House against criticism that it doesn’t have the answers about the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi. He said that it took far longer than two weeks to get to the truth about weapons of mass destruction.

O’Brien asked Giuliani if Dowd had a point. “So we’re gonna blame this on Bush too?” Giuliani said.

“You gotta stop putting words in my mouth, sir,” O’Brien interjected. After some back-and-forth, she continued, “Every time I ask you a question, you like to push back as if somehow the question being posed to you is unfair. It’s not. I’m a journalist, you said some things. I’m trying to get some accurate responses from you. You are welcome to answer.”

Giuliani said that Dowd’s response seemed like an attempt to blame Bush for the Benghazi attack. He also argued that Obama should have disclosed any knowledge about previous attacks on the consulate and how the U.S. reacted.

“That’s not what Matthew Dowd is saying,” O’Brien objected.

“But it doesn’t take a long time for the president of the United States to tell us whether or not he was aware that this consulate was attacked twice before and if he was aware what did he do to protect the consulate?” Giuliani countered.

“But the point and my question is, does Matthew Dowd have a point?” she said.

Jobs Report Covered Through 2012 Election Lens, Media Not Focused On Impact To American People

Jobs ReportIn my opinion, the media needs to report the real news and not just what’s happening in Washington or who gave the most millions to the latest super-pac.

So yes, I completely agree with the HuffPo’s Michael Calderone‘s article…

The Huffington Post

Romney’s up. Obama’s down.

That’s the takeaway from much of Friday’s media coverage of another disappointing monthly jobs report and unchanged unemployment number of 8.2 percent. Like clockwork, political reporters quickly sized up whether the addition of 80,000 jobs in June would help or hurt President Barack Obama’s chances of keeping his own job, rather than the broader impact on millions of unemployed Americans.

The Washington Post‘s Chris Cillizza tweeted that June’s number presents a “major political problem for Obama.” He later suggested in a blog post that any hope the president “will be able to run for reelection bolstered by an improving financial picture is rapidly disappearing.”

Kicking off MSNBC’s “The Daily Rundown,” host Chuck Todd said that “another disappointing jobs report puts more pressure on the president with just four months until election day.” On Twitter, Politico’s Ben White said the report is “not good news for Obama.”

In covering the campaign horse race, reporters often make snap judgements following statements, reports, or “gaffes” that are mostly forgotten days later amid the stream of non-stop election coverage.

Earlier this week, the consensus among reporters was that Team Romney was down, following adviser Eric Fehrnstrom’s comment that the individual health care mandate is a “penalty” rather than a “tax.” Similar to health care — where the media focused more on the politics of the bill rather than its contents — the jobs numbers could be reduced to a win or loss in a long election season.

But as the summer holiday week came to a close, Team Obama was on the defensive, as Friday’s news was ruled a tough blow for the president — at least according to the news media.

“The U.S. unemployment rate remained flat in June, which is bad news for President Obama,” began an ABC News piece.

Continue reading here…

Ann Coulter Defends Robert De Niro’s First Lady Joke

I’m not an Ann Coulter fan…at all.  On the other hand, Robert De Niro has topped my favorite actor list (he and Al Pacino) for over 35 years, so imagine my surprise when I read that Ms. Coulter defended Mr. De Niro from Newt Gingrich’s outrage, over a joke he told at a fundraiser for First Lady, Michelle Obama…

The Huffington Post

Ann Coulter tweeted her defense for Robert De Niro on Tuesday after the actor came under criticism for a joke he quipped at a fundraiser for First Lady Michelle Obama.

De Niro kicked off a New York City fundraiser in support of the First Lady Monday night by joking about the wives of the GOP candidates. “Callista Gingrich. Karen Santorum. Ann Romney,” De Niro said. “Now do you really think our country is ready for a white first lady?”

GOP candidate Newt Gingrich condemned De Niro’s joke, calling it “utterly and totally inexcusable.” Because the satirical remark was made at a fundraising event for the First Lady, Gingrich demanded an apology from President Obama, stating that he should be held “accountable.”

The First Lady’s campaign press secretary Olivia Alair did not apologize but called the joke “inappropriate.”

Coulter, on the other hand, felt differently. “Can we please stop the fake ‘offended’ routine? Pls explain what was allegedly offensive about DeNiro’s joke,” she tweeted.

Coulter staunchly supports GOP candidate Mitt Romney and has railed against Gingrich in the past. She also previously defended individuals who Gingrich publicly criticized. When Gingrich attacked CNN’s John King during a GOP primary debate,Coulter defended King during her an appearance on Fox News.

‘Morning Joe’ Confronts Rev. Franklin Graham Over Obama’s Christianity: ‘That Is An Amazing Double Standard’

I have a limited tolerance for Morning Joe  and this is one of those rare instances of tolerance…

The Huffington Post

The “Morning Joe” roundtable had a heated confrontation with Rev. Franklin Graham, the son of televangelist Billy Graham, for questioning whether President Obama is a Christian on Tuesday’s show.

Graham has come under fire for controversial statements about Obama’s faith before. On Monday, he was responding to a recent comment by Rick Santorum that initially appeared to criticize the President’s religious beliefs. Graham refused to definitively say that President Obama is a Christian.

When asked if he believed that he was, Graham said that people would “need to ask President Obama” to get an answer. “He has said he’s a Christian, so I just have to assume that he is,” Graham said.

He defined a Christian as someone who puts “faith and trust in Jesus Christ,” and contrasted that with what he claimed was Obama’s arrival at Christianity. He said that Obama joined a church after the Chicago neighborhood where he was a community organizer asked him to.

When co-host Willie Geist pressed him to say whether he believed Obama was a Christian, Graham maintained that he “cannot answer that question for anybody.”

However, his answer on Rick Santorum’s Christianity was a resounding yes. “His values are so clear on moral issues,” he said. “No question, I believe he is a man of faith.”

Contributor John Heilemann took issue with this. “That is an amazing double standard you just applied,” he alleged.

“You have to look at what a person does with his life,” Graham defended.

He also would not say whether he believed Romney is a Christian. “Most Christians would not recognize Mormonism as part of the Christian faith,” he said. He noted that Gingrich has been married several times, but that he believed that he was a Christian.

Geist questioned this. “So Newt Gingrich is a Christian, but you’re not sure that President Obama is. And you said based on the way they lived their lives.” Someone off-screen could be heard saying, “Wow.”

“All I know is under Obama… the Muslims of the world, he seems to be more concerned about them than the Christians murdered in the Muslim world,” Graham responded.

Watch the video here…