... There's Debt and There's Debt. Andrew Fieldhouse of the Economic Policy Institute explains high school-level economics to David Brooks.
Robert Scheer of Truthdig writes a column about Obama's use of drones. CW: I have some fundamental disagreements with Scheer (I also agree with a number of his specific criticisms), but I expect his piece will resonate with a lot of readers, & I consider his POV, in general, well-worth reading.
E. J. Dionne: "Only about a quarter of those who went to the polls [in Wisconsin] Tuesday said that a recall was appropriate for any reason.... Most voters ... rejected the very premise of the election in which they were casting ballots.... It's worth comparing what happened in Wisconsin with what happened last year in Ohio, where unions forced a referendum on the anti-labor legislation pushed through by Gov. John Kasich (R) and the Republican-controlled legislature. The unions and the Democrats won 61 percent in that vote, repealing the law. But this remedy was not available in Wisconsin." ...
... ** David Dayen of Firedoglake: "The real culprit was an obscure state campaign finance law that allowed Walker, the incumbent, to raise unlimited money while recall petitions were processed.... Barrett's donations were term-limited.... But the most important point: ... The policy of defunding the left ... was the entire point of Scott Walker's agenda. And it was successful when he signed Act 10, the anti-worker law, last year.... As a result, labor couldn't keep up with outside spending to compensate for the massive loophole-induced funding lead Walker had. Walker divided and conquered.... This becomes a downward spiral; labor cannot get back their rights, workers see no reason to keep paying dues for nothing, and the organization fades away." Read the whole post. ...
... Jonathan Chait of New York magazine: "Walker's win will certainly provide a blueprint for fellow Republicans. When they gain a majority, they can quickly move to not just wrest concessions from public sector unions but completely destroy them, which in turn eliminates one of the strongest sources of political organization for the Democratic Party. And whatever backlash develops, it's probably not enough to outweigh the political benefit. Walker has pioneered a tactic that will likely become a staple of Republican governance."
** David Kay Johnston of Reuters: "Six American families paid no federal income taxes in 2009 while making something on the order of $200 million each. This is one of many stunning revelations in new IRS data that deserves a thorough airing in this year's election campaign.... Congress has created two income tax systems, separate and unequal, burdening millions much more heavily than the few, those with gigantic incomes and a propensity to make campaign contributions." ...
... Robert Reich: actually, Bill Clinton agrees with me -- the Bush tax cuts must end. ...
... John Harris & Alexander Burns of Politico: Obama & Clinton aides agree: Bill Clinton is a doddering old fool who can't keep his foot out of his mouth.
... "The New Feudalism":
Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) in a Washington Post op-ed: "I've reintroduced the SAFE Banking Act, which would end 'too big to fail' once and for all by placing sensible size limits on our nation's megabanks and ensuring that if they gamble, they have the resources to cover their losses."
"Estonian Rhapsody" in Three Four Movements. As a follow-up to his contretemps with the two Brits in the video posted in yesterday's Commentariat -- (Presto:) one of whom held up Estonia as a model of successful austerity -- Paul Krugman produced a chart showing the progress of Estonia's economy and wrote, (Vivace:) "So, a terrible -- Depression-level -- slump, followed by a significant but still incomplete recovery. Better than no recovery at all, obviously -- but this is what passes for economic triumph?" ...
... Liz Goodwin of Yahoo! News: "Estonia's president Toomas Hendrik Ilves struck back on Twitter. (Agitato:) 'Let's write about something we know nothing about & be smug, overbearing & patronizing: after all, they're just wogs,' Ilves wrote, using the derogatory British slang term for dark-skinned people from Africa or the East. 'Guess a Nobel in trade means you can pontificate on fiscal matters & declare my country a "wasteland". Must be a Princeton vs Columbia thing,' he added, referencing the two men's alma maters." ...
... Krugman responds (Adagio) with a chart of New Deal recovery results.
Richard Yeselson of The New Republic on "the long, slow death spiral of the American labor movement": most people don't care about unions.
Scott Shane of the New York Times, reporting on his own reporting. Congressional sieves concerned about leaks: "Prompted in part by recent articles in The New York Times on the use of drones to carry out targeted killings and the deployment of the Stuxnet computer worm against the Iranian nuclear program<, the Republican and Democratic leaders of the House and Senate intelligence committees issued a joint statement on Wednesday urging the administration 'to fully, fairly and impartially investigate' the recent disclosures and vowing new legislation to crack down on leaks."
This long New York Times Magazine piece by Amos Kamil, who went to the private, prestigious Horace Mann School in the Bronx, relates how a number of the teachers at Horace Mann sexually abused students. CW: I might be wrong, but I think we're going to be seeing a lot of these pedophiles-in-prep-schools stories. The story is an easy, if disturbing, read.
Lisa Abend of Time: Amid an economic crisis, Spanish officials at the state & local levels are considering ways to eliminate some of the tax exemptions the Catholic Church receives; the Church threatens to retaliate by cutting back social programs.
Justin Sink of The Hill: "Mitt Romney and the Republican National Committee raised $76.8 million in May, outpacing President Obama in the first full head-to-head month of the campaign. The president's reelection campaign said Thursday that it had raised $60 million in May, itself an improvement of more than 30 percent from April."
Michael Barbaro of the New York Times: the neighbors around the Romneys' La Jolla, California, home, which he has plans to quadruple in size, are neither thrilled with his plans nor with him. ...
... Max Read of Gawker: "Mitt Romney is a narc."
Steve Peoples of the AP: "Though an early supporter of the Vietnam War, Romney avoided military service at the height of the fighting after high school by seeking and receiving four draft deferments, according to Selective Service records.... Because Romney, now 65, was of draft age during Vietnam, his military background -- or, rather, his lack of one -- is facing new scrutiny as he courts veterans and makes his case to the nation to be commander in chief. He's also intensified his criticism lately of Obama's plans to scale back the nation's military commitments abroad, suggesting that Romney would pursue an aggressive foreign policy as president that could involve U.S. troops."
Washington Post: "With a July 1 rate increase on education loans approaching, President Obama told students [in Las Vegas, Nevada] on Thursday that it is Congress's job to move swiftly to prevent the rise, even as Republicans in Washington accused him of ignoring their most recent proposals and refusing to negotiate":
Bloomberg News: "Fewer Americans applied for unemployment insurance payments last week, indicating limited progress in the labor market after a two-month slowdown in hiring."
Washington Post: "Nasdaq said Wednesday afternoon that it would hand out $40 million in cash and credit to reimburse investment firms that lost money on Facebook's opening day because of computer glitches at the exchange. Nasdaq's chief rival, the New York Stock Exchange, fired off a statement condemning the move, saying Nasdaq was giving itself an unfair advantage and rewarding itself for its own mistakes."
New York Times: "Leon E. Panetta, the United States defense secretary, arrived in Afghanistan on Thursday, after the deadliest day for civilians this year and amid controversy over a NATO airstrike the day before in which Afghan officials say 18 women and children were killed. President Hamid Karzai condemned the strike in the strongest terms and decided the incident was serious enough to cut short his trip to China...."
Washington Post: "... on Wednesday, under questioning from skeptical Republicans, [Doug Elmendorf,] the director of the nonpartisan (and widely respected) Congressional Budget Office, was emphatic about the value of the 2009 stimulus. And, he said, the vast majority of economists agree."
Al Jazeera: "A top US bank regulator [-- Thomas Curry, who heads the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency --] has told legislators that 'inadequate' risk controls at JPMorgan Chase led to a $2 billion derivatives loss, as senators questioned him and others over a failure to prevent the debacle.... Senators expressed concern thatregulators were too lax in monitoring huge trades."
AFP: "US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton laid out a Syria strategy calling for a full transfer of power from the regime of President Bashar al-Assad, a senior State Department official said."
Guardian: "The judge presiding over [Bradley Manning's] trial at Fort Meade in Maryland has ordered the US government to hand over several confidential documents relating to the massive leak to the whistleblower website WikiLeaks. In particular, the Obama administration must now disclose to Manning's lawyers some of the damage assessments it carried out into the impact of the leak on US interests around the world." (CW: not reported in the New York Times.)
Guardian: "Spain is warning that Europe's single currency will unravel unless its leaders decide within weeks to centralise budget and tax policies in the eurozone and agree on a strategy to pool responsibility for failing banks."