06/22/2015 archive

Anti-Capitalist Meetup: Leftist Analysis of Gilbert & Sullivan “Utopia Ltd”

or the Flowers of Progress

By Waldmarschall

Hello, all.

Here’s the piece I promised the comrades at Kos on Utopia.  It’s one of Gilbert and Sullivan’s last collaborations, and most critics and enthusiasts alike seem to scorn it.  My partner and I came very close to getting this staged at our college two years ago, and I still crave a chance to be involved with this show, or at least see it in its entirety.  (I’ve listened to every version of the soundtrack I can find including one which includes the full libretto).

I’d particularly recommend finding “In Every Mental Lore/Let all Your Doubts Take Wing”, “A King of Autocratic Power We”, “Zara’s Return”, “It’s Understood, I Think”, “Some Seven Men form an Association”, Act 1 Finale, “Society has Quite Forsaken” (the show stopper) and the libretto-heavy penultimate song (the finale is a shameless tribute to British superiority, apparently thrown in to soften the blows landed earlier in the show) on youtube before reading this, but to each her own.

Punting the Pundits

“Punting the Pundits” is an Open Thread. It is a selection of editorials and opinions from around the news medium and the internet blogs. The intent is to provide a forum for your reactions and opinions, not just to the opinions presented, but to what ever you find important.

Thanks to ek hornbeck, click on the link and you can access all the past “Punting the Pundits”.

Follow us on Twitter @StarsHollowGzt

Paul Krugman: Slavery’s Long Shadow

America is a much less racist nation than it used to be, and I’m not just talking about the still remarkable fact that an African-American occupies the White House. The raw institutional racism that prevailed before the civil rights movement ended Jim Crow is gone, although subtler discrimination persists. Individual attitudes have changed, too, dramatically in some cases. For example, as recently as the 1980s half of Americans opposed interracial marriage, a position now held by only a tiny minority.

Yet racial hatred is still a potent force in our society, as we’ve just been reminded to our horror. And I’m sorry to say this, but the racial divide is still a defining feature of our political economy, the reason America is unique among advanced nations in its harsh treatment of the less fortunate and its willingness to tolerate unnecessary suffering among its citizens.

Of course, saying this brings angry denials from many conservatives, so let me try to be cool and careful here, and cite some of the overwhelming evidence for the continuing centrality of race in our national politics.Of course, saying this brings angry denials from many conservatives, so let me try to be cool and careful here, and cite some of the overwhelming evidence for the continuing centrality of race in our national politics.

David Cay Johnson: Goldman Sachs enters retail lending. What could go wrong?

Investment bank takes page from Michael Milken playbook, seeks to profit from high-risk loans

Goldman Sachs, the investment manager of choice for the super rich, is about to pursue new profits by lending to the merely prosperous.

This is an epochal change on Wall Street worthy of the Tuesday morning placement at the top of the New York Times front page, even though the news actually broke a year ago.

Potentially Goldman will make it easier, faster and cheaper for people and businesses to take out loans from a few thousands of dollars to a few tens of thousands of dollars. But in doing so, it just may weaken retail banking, resulting in less competition and more power for Goldman. It also is not without risk to taxpayers and Goldman customers, not least because the law has yet to define the relative rights and duties of such borrowers, lenders and investors in the new banking trend that Goldman said it will join next year.

So while this new venture may be an economic and social good, we should be wary, given Goldman’s long and troubled history of taking advantage of customers and taxpayers alike. Keep in mind that Goldman tarnished its reputation for decades because it took care of itself first in 1929, ruining the fortunes of many famous clients.

Robert Kuttner: Are the Dems Being Sucker-Punched on Trade?

Thanks to a last-minute deal last Thursday between President Obama and the Republican leadership in Congress, the fast-track bill is still alive. Its passage depends on whether a handful of Senate Democrats can be persuaded to go along. [..]

Republicans have tried to frame the legislative situation as a fair trade-off: if they can get their reluctant caucus to vote for adjustment assistance, Democrats are somehow honor-bound to support the whole package. (Republicans don’t like TAA both because of its budget impact and their ideological belief that the free market will take care of displaced workers.)

But if Democrats fall for this ploy, they are dupes. For starters, the money in TAA is a pittance, compare to the direct damage that this deal will do to American workers. And it does nothing to protect consumers and citizens from the other elements of the deal that weaken regulatory standards.

Trade Adjustment Assistance is not really about doing much for workers. Mainly, it’s about giving Democrats who are in bed with corporate elites some political cover. The cover is pretty threadbare.

Robert Reich: How to Punish Bank Felons

What exactly does it mean for a big Wall Street bank to plead guilty to a serious crime? Right now, practically nothing.

But it will if California’s Santa Cruz County has any say. [..]

The county’s board of supervisors just voted not to do business for five years with any of the five banks felons.

The county won’t use the banks’ investment services or buy their commercial paper, and will pull its money out of the banks to the extent it can.

“We have a sacred obligation to protect the public’s tax dollars and these banks can’t be trusted. Santa Cruz County should not be involved with those who rigged the world’s biggest financial markets,” says supervisor Ryan Coonerty.

The banks will hardly notice. Santa Cruz County’s portfolio is valued at about $650 million.

But what if every county, city, and state in America followed Santa Cruz County’s example, and held the big banks accountable for their felonies?

What if all of us taxpayers said, in effect, we’re not going to hire these convicted felons to handle our public finances? We don’t trust them.

Rep. Carolyn Maloney: If we don’t change our permissive gun laws, we’ll never end gun violence

Over the past few months, I’ve introduced three gun safety bills and fought for a proposal by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives to keep cop-killing bullets off the street.

The ATF’s proposal was shelved before its comment period even ended because of the uproar from the gun lobby and its allies in Congress, and my own proposals have triggered a wave of invectives and false attacks in an attempt to get me to back down and scare off others from supporting responsible gun safety reforms. [..]

I’m doing this because more children die in the United States from bullets than from cancer, and it’s a scandal that the federal government hasn’t done more.

But instead of a reasoned and measured debate about how to reduce gun violence, the response has been an onslaught of gun-obsessed fanatics who strongly – and wrongly – believe that the second amendment guarantees unregulated access to anything that anyone might wish to add to their own personal arsenal. The armchair-constitutionalists among them can make the case against pretty much any regulation of guns, and the courts be dammed.

On This Day In History June 22

This is your morning Open Thread. Pour your favorite beverage and review the past and comment on the future.

Find the past “On This Day in History” here.

Click on images to enlarge.

June 22 is the 173rd day of the year (174th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 192 days remaining until the end of the year.

On this day in 1944, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signs into law the Servicemen’s Readjustment Act of 1944, commonly known as the G.I. Bill.

The G.I. Bill was an omnibus bill that provided college or vocational education for returning World War II veterans (commonly referred to as G.I.s) as well as one year of unemployment compensation. It also provided many different types of loans for returning veterans to buy homes and start businesses. Since the original act, the term has come to include other veteran benefit programs created to assist veterans of subsequent wars as well as peacetime service.

By the time the original G.I. Bill ended in July 1956, 7.8 million World War II veterans had participated in an education or training program and 2.4 million veterans had home loans backed by the Veterans’ Administration (VA). Today, the legacy of the original G.I. Bill lives on in the Montgomery G.I. Bill.

Harry W. Colmery, a World War I veteran and the former Republican National Committee chairman, wrote the first draft of the G.I. Bill. He reportedly jotted down his ideas on stationery and a napkin at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington, DC.[2] U.S. Senator Ernest McFarland was actively involved in the bill’s passage and is known, with Warren Atherton, as one of the “fathers of the G.I. Bill.” One might then term Edith Nourse Rogers, R-Mass., who helped write and who co-sponsored the legislation, as the “mother of the G.I. Bill”.[citation needed] Like Colmery, her contribution to writing and passing this legislation has been obscured by time.

The bill was introduced in the House on January 10, 1944, and in the Senate the following day. Both chambers approved their own versions of the bill.

The bill that President Roosevelt initially proposed was not as far reaching. The G.I. Bill was created to prevent a repetition of the Bonus March of 1932 and a relapse into the Great Depression after World War II ended.

An important provision of the G.I. Bill was low interest, zero down payment home loans for servicemen. This enabled millions of American families to move out of urban apartments and into suburban homes. Prior to the war the suburbs tended to be the homes of the wealthy and upper class.

Another provision was known as the 52-20 clause. This enabled all former servicemen to receive $20 once a week for 52 weeks a year while they were looking for work. Less than 20 percent of the money set aside for the 52-20 Club was distributed. Rather, most returning servicemen quickly found jobs or pursued higher education.