Allison Kilkenny December 30, 2010

December 30, 2010

Allison is, with Jamie Kirstein, the founder of Citizen Radio. She tweets as @allisonkilkenny.

She and I have been in some interesting discussions with other folks on twitter, which led to my inviting her to the program.

The plan is to structure our talk in two areas. First, is the new Austerity narrative that is taking over the Beltway. Allison put up a great post documenting its emergence in TIME. The idea that regular Americans are just gonna have to suck it up is dominating the discussion, moving today into the idea that union contracts, and state employee pensions are not really contractual commitments. See DDay’s video in the previous post.

Second, is more on Wikileaks, because the implications keep growing, multiplying and spawning.  Here I refer you an earlier post, and to this interesting NYTimes editorial, also pointed out to me by Allison’s tweet stream, beating out the dead tree edition:

But a bank’s ability to block payments to a legal entity raises a troubling prospect. A handful of big banks could potentially bar any organization they disliked from the payments system, essentially cutting them off from the world economy.

The fact of the matter is that banks are not like any other business. They run the payments system. That is one of the main reasons that governments protect them from failure with explicit and implicit guarantees. This makes them look not too unlike other public utilities. A telecommunications company, for example, may not refuse phone or broadband service to an organization it dislikes, arguing that it amounts to risky business.

Our concern is not specifically about payments to WikiLeaks. This isn’t the first time a bank shunned a business on similar risk-management grounds. Banks in Colorado, for instance, have refused to open bank accounts for legal dispensaries of medical marijuana.

Still, there are troubling questions. The decisions to bar the organization came after its founder, Julian Assange, said that next year it will release data revealing corruption in the financial industry. In 2009, Mr. Assange said that WikiLeaks had the hard drive of a Bank of America executive.

What would happen if a clutch of big banks decided that a particularly irksome blogger or other organization was “too risky”? What if they decided — one by one — to shut down financial access to a newspaper that was about to reveal irksome truths about their operations? This decision should not be left solely up to business-as-usual among the banks.

All by itself, this editorial raises a host of issues–not just the Times noticing that policies like this put them at risk.  Just for starters, are these banks properly regarded as private institutions? Is this action really the action of an operator in a functional marketplace?

Please post questions, suggested issues in comments. I’ll have an update before the program.


Journalist/Ethnographer C W (Chris) Anderson interviewed by the Council on Foreign Relations on WikiLeaks. (He stopped by Virtually Speaking last August.)

Glenn Greenwald on the integration of government spokepeople and “journalists”.

digby on “the idea that the press is actually hostile to the leaking of secret government documents is…down the rabbit hole.”



David Dayen on State Government Finance

December 29, 2010

David Dayen (At VS on foreclosure fraud and with mcjoan) talks with Sam Seder on Countdown, guest-hosting for KO. David talks about the collapse of state finances, particularly states like California and Illinois that were in trouble before the Great Recession because they were not really covering their annual current expenditures, and future obligations like debt issuance and pension liabilities.  The Recession, with its extended period of extreme unemployment has decimated tax collections,and left some states and municipalities at risk of default.

Naturally,  rather than propose long overdue tax increases to address shortfalls, governors, especially Republican governors, are targeting unions and pension funds. As David points out in the clip, it’s interesting that contracts for banks, and their bankster employers are apparently inviolable, while union contracts and pension obligations are, as they say, on the table.

Ari Berman, December 23, 2010

December 23, 2010

Ari Berman joins us tonight, to talk about Herding Donkeys, and to talk about how the Obama administration has moved away from the grassroots model that got the President elected.

As always, you can attend in Second Life, or listen on BlogTalkRadio. I will be monitoring the test window at the Virtually Speaking auditorium, and the chat log at BTR, passing any questions on to Ari

Susie and Digby

December 19, 2010

Here’s last night’s broadcast. This is an open thread.

Fodder: Aristocrats

December 19, 2010

Digby’s discussion of the multifarious tax code changes that serve to lock in the new American aristocracy shouldn’t be missed. It’s not just preserving the low marginal rates for people earning millions a year, it’s also about wealth preservation, and even lower marginal rates for unearned income.

When you add this to the stealth attack on Social Security, it adds up to an acceleration of the accumulation of productivity improvement in the hands of the top half a percentile. (It’s worse in 2010, by the way.)

The American deal has always been that as workers get more skilled, and work in more productive environments (better tools) their wages reflect that productivity growth. That has entirely stopped happening. Real wages, despite enormous increases in productivity over the period, are about the same as they were in 1974. The increase in productivity has gone almost entirely to the holders of capital, not wage earners.

The tax code that has emerged in the President’s compromise locks in these transfers. And by funding, for the first time, contributions to the SS trust fund through general revenues, the administration sets the stage for rebutting the argument that social security benefits are prepaid, and earmarked, through at least the mid 2030s.

All in all, the tax code changes continue to move us to Versailles on (or about) the Potomac.

Fodder: Transcripts

December 19, 2010

MTP Transcript

This Week

Face the Nation

The Bobblespeak Translations

MTP folks also put up video clips of the Biden interview.

Fodder: My daughter! My sister!

December 19, 2010

One of the very strange things about the government, and the Village, response to WikiLeaks is that it has fallen into two absolutely contradictory spheres. The first is “ZOMG! This is terrorism as threatening as Saddam Hussein’s WMD al Qaeda!” and “Well, actually, anybody actually paying attention already knew all this stuff.”

Glenn documents this week’s version of this running contradiction, with side-by-side clips of Joe Biden saying one thing, and then the other, first to Andrea Mitchell, and then to Dancin’ Dave.

I suppose you could say that means that Gregory never really went to school on Russert’s Gotcha on Tape! journalism, but I suspect complicity is the more likely explanation.