Sunday, October 26, 2014

.Jack Kelly finally talks about the income gap, ... and gets it wrong.

Jack Kelly today finally talks about the income gap with "Jack Kelly / Obama’s Raw Deal Oligarchs benefit as the middle class lags". However, as Mr Kelly gets into it, he immediately reverts to form and suggests that Obama'a most important policies are somehow the very ones benefiting the wealthy when in fact they are the ones which particularly benefit the poor and middle class. Kelly goes on to this incredibly hypotritical attack on wealthy Democrats, as if somehow they don't deserve their money.

As I often do, I commented on Mr Kelly's column. My comments are below:

Mr Kelly talks about how President Obama's hypocritical remarks can not be topped, yet Mr Kelly then goes on to make some incredibly hypocritical remarks himself.

Yes, Jack Kelly has finally decided to notice that the Obama administration has been pretty good to Wall Street. Paul Krugman, Glenn Greenwald, Robert Reich, Elizabeth Warren and others have been saying that for years (watch Charles Ferguson's "Inside Job" and note the date ... or don't and stay in your bubble) and wonder where conservatives like Jack Kelly have been. When Mr Kelly provides us with *policies* he identifies as helping Wall Street and/or wealth Democrats, he mentions the stimulus, the ACA and Obama's blocking of the Keystone XL pipeline. These are patently ridiculous examples, and show that Mr Kelly real concern is with making the poor even poorer (and wrecking the environment).

The interesting thing is that after so many conservative commenters and Republican politicians have screeched that Democrats/liberals engage in class warfare, Mr Kelly proceeded to imply that liberal millionaires don't deserve their money. Mr Kelly follows the footsteps of Pat Buchanan, who in 1996 ran for President partly using income inequality as part of his shtick. We should all know exactly how well that worked out. Now, too, Mr Kelly does get some numbers right, but mostly seems small and petty. Mr Kelly mentions the difference in middle class contributions to the national economy between 1970 and 2012. I assume that was inadvertent since it was Reagan who many economists credit with starting the increase in the rate of the income gap, and starting the stagnation of middle class wage stagnation at the median.

I think most Democrats would agree with Cornell West that there is a problem here, and those who have been talking about it for years are glad national attention is being focused on it. However, we also know that Mr *Obama* himself is also not wrong about the consequences of the Republicans taking control of the Senate. and finally we know that while Obama is responsible for the lack of prosecution of Wall Street bankers, Republican obstructionism is also primarily responsible for the growing income gap.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Jack Kelly on September 21st

Today's Jack Kelly column, Jack Kelly / Poking the hornet’s nest: Half measures won’t defeat the Islamic State is interesting in that it re-examines Kelly's view on the the Vietnam war, a war he fought in as a young man. Kelly comes back to some of his favorite themes (if one can judge by how often he brings them up), that the US military could have "won" the war if it had been let off it's leash, and that Congress betrayed the Vietnamese people by not preventing the fall of Saigon a couple of years after we had left.

I have to give Kelly this: do I think he is correct that the US military was capable of so devastating the North Vietnamese military such that it would be incapable of launching any sustained military campaign in the South? The answer is yes. In fact, to some extent that is pretty much what we did in Korea a decade or so prior; after suffering an initial defeat, we were able to drive the North Koreans back. Then the Chinese intervened and the Korean "police action" entered a new phase. Would Chinese intervention have happened in the sixties and seventies if we had let the US military annihilate the North Vietnamese military? The fact that Vietnam had several low intensity border skirmishes with China in the late seventies makes that somewhat questionable, but pre "Nixon goes to China" ... who knows?

Kelly's point with today's column is that he believes once again, the US military could accomplish the particular mission of destroying ISIS if they were given a free hand. I will say that in this instance, given those parameters, I think Jack Kelly is right.

But I think that just defeating ISIS is not, and should not be, a foreign policy in and of itself. I guess Jack Kelly thinks that if you beat the tar out of what is supposed to be a tough opponent, all the other potential opponents will respect you. But I don't think that is necessarily the case. I don't think Saudi Arabia or Nigeria is going to sell us oil cheaper if we beat the tar out of ISIS. In fact, I suspect Saudi Arabia might start jacking up the price of oil, expelling US military personnel and generally siding with the people who don't like us if we thoroughly beat ISIS. Because if we do, I think it will create a whole new recruiting campaign for radical Muslims, who will want to blow up US targets yes, but also targets in countries that are our allies such as Saudi Arabia. Because even if we do beat the snot out of ISIS, it is not clear we will act that decisively towards the next threat, whomever they may be.

I did comment on the PG website, on the page of today's Jack Kelly column. I leave it to you whether you think I covered any or all of these themes. My comment follows:

More often than not, the key to understanding foreign policy is to look at the domestic situation. President Obama's seeming half measures are what he thinks the American public is willing to accept as reasonable action right now. Are they sufficient to achieve the goal of "degrading" the forces of the Islamic State such that other nation's ground forces can deal with them? I don't know, that depends on a lot of factors I don't know about.

But past that are bigger questions like what we hope to achieve with our foreign policy actions in general. Do we want to go to full blown war against IS? If the answer to that question is yes, then I also ask *why*? Do we think that killing thousands over there will make us safer at home? How many of those thousands we would kill would have come across the Atlantic to commit acts of terror here? And then the question is how many might come over to avenge the thousands of martyrs we would end up creating if we go to full blown war again in Iraq and apparently also Syria? We might try to remember the destruction in our country 19 men created in September of 2001.

Yes, we could have won Vietnam militarily. But what would that have accomplished geo-politically? Vietnam was not about a communist take over of the world any more than Iraq (II) was about keeping WMD's from being used by terrorists. But those two illusions killed thousands and tens of thousands of Americans. When do we start learning lessons that don't involve the deaths of American soldiers?

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Jack Kelly complains about Obama's foreign policy, surprise!

Today's Jack Kelly column is "Jack Kelly: Liberals lose the high moral ground: They’re lying about GOP foreign policy". This column reads like school yard complaints with a bigger budget. It manages to have the snarkiness of Twitter but without 140 character limit. I only commented on a bit of it, although I did critique the comments of others there. Here is my comment on the PG.

The subtitle of this column is "They’re lying about GOP foreign policy ". Where? Where is there any mention of "GOP Foreign Policy"? The bit about Rumsfeld? He wasn't setting GOP foreign policy, he himself had an idea for the occupation which was voted down by the then Republican President, George Bush (or Dick Cheney or Colin Powell or whomever, just not by a liberal/Democrat).

Seriously, does Jack Kelly understand how nonsensical that subtitle is?

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Jack Kelly criticizes Obama again on Iraq, what a surprise

Jack Kelly continues (from last Sunday) his criticism of Barack Obama's current Iraq policy: Jack Kelly: The Islamic State attacks while Obama dithers: The president still doesn’t understand the terrorist threat. Now I don't specifically say Kelly is wrong about a need to get involved in this conflict, or that a consequence of not doing so could affect oil prices; in fact I don;t deal with those issues in the kind of depth they would really need. I simply point out we have a big level of responsibility for creating the circumstances for this situation (predating Obama) and oil prices may go up no matter what we do. Below is the comment I left on the PG website.

Is this situation perhaps what a seemingly prophetic Colin Powell had in mind when he invoked the (so-called) Pottery Barn "rule" before we invaded Iraq in 2003? ("You break it, you bought it") I don't think Americans want to permanently occupy Iraq, nor do the oil producing states of the region want us there for the next fifty or a hundred years, or even one year more. It is certainly true that oil speculators and traders could use the actions of this Islamic State to drive up the international price of oil, but that can happen for almost any reason, including our re-occupying Iraq.

It is true that we may well need to re-engage in Iraq to prevent a disaster, but doing so will not vindicate the various militarists on the right. It will be a further indictment of the Bush administration when he ignored the Pottery Barn rule of all our behalf's.

Sunday, August 03, 2014

When did newspapers start issuing Sunday sermons?

Jack Kelly today dons his Rabbi shawl, and reminds us the Jews are the one true chosen people - "Jack Kelly: Satan supports HamasHamas targets civilians while Israel tries to protect them.". This kind of editorial is the kind of thing that essentially says unless you agree with anything and everything we say, then you are a mixture of an Islamic zealot an a Nazi (and Kelly once again brings up how Hitler, all by himself, created the Islamic Brotherhood). The Amnesty International report I reference in my comment to Kelly column, by comparison, is a nice balance of appropriate condemnation of both sides. Here is my comment.

I didn't know that the Post Gazette had decided to declare Judaism as the one true religion, or does Jack Kelly think that Judaism and Christianity are compatible, and the Jews are just a little confused? Meanwhile, he is telling the Muslim world, as well as the Hindu, Buddhists, all other religions, atheists and agnostics where they will go when they die and apparently how worthless they are when they are alive.

I mean, I am no supporter of Hamas, but that doesn't mean I have to accept everything Israel does and embrace biblical prophecies if I reject Hamas and their methods. The despicable nature of Hamas's *documented* activities is quite clear, however the zeal of Israel and it's supporters may well have led them to exaggerate some of what Hamas has done, and in fact the zeal of at least some Israelis in carrying out their individual missions, and perhaps even the mission as whole, have been questioned by entities such as Amnesty International.

Of course, people can always express opinions about Amnesty International and it motives. But the opinions expressed by conservatives about Amnesty and about my comment with also be read by independent readers (and voters), who will consider them in forming their opinions.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Jack Kelly vs (un-named) regulation

Today Jack Kelly takes on ... regulations: "Jack Kelly / The high cost of regulations Congress should suspend all regs imposed since 2000 and assess whether they've been worthwhile".

I suppose this is supposed to be a populist thing, but I find Kelly blaming all of our economic ills on regulations, with no better than a partisan jab at the increasing income gap, to be entirely unconvincing. Below is the comment I made on the online PG.

Jack Kelly fails to name one example of a regulation he would see eliminated. That in and of itself should raise red flags.

In the last thirty five or so years, there has been steady and even somewhat spectacular productivity growth. But wages at the median, adjusted for inflation, have stagnated. Women have gone to work, families have maxed out first credit cards and then the excess value in their homes in an effort to keep up a middle class standard of living and now those who still have jobs after the great recession started on President's Bush's watch are cutting way back on spending. That strikes me as equally or maybe a more plausible explanation for the slow down in the economy as regulations. But the question is why wages are not keeping pace with increases in productivity, why the increases are going almost entirely to the people at the top, why the wealth is not, as conservatives/Republicans repeatedly reference, "trickling down".

Conservatives only bring this issue up during the Presidency of a Democrat, and always act as if it started at the beginning of the Democrats Presidency. In Obama's case, George Bush left him a ruined economy, totally mishandled by the Bush administration and the Republican Congress of January 2003 to December of 2006. The current gridlock caused by Republicans in Congress has stymied all efforts to improve the economy.

Blaming regulations for problems started in the Reagan administration with anti-tax, anti-regulation, anti-union and anti-middle class policies that were all designed to concentrate income and wealth in the hands of the 1% is the height of disingenuous commentary. .

Sunday, July 06, 2014

Jack Kelly is still a populist??? although I confess he is not wrong about Democrats corruption

So today Jack Kelly is still on the populist horse, with this column "Jack Kelly / Regulations for the rich Crony capitalism infects Washington, especially Democrats" He points out all sorts of shifty things Democrats do, and I have to say I don't think he is wrong, at least about a lot of them. Still, I think there remains ideological difference between the parties. Now, are the Democrats as agressive about going after Wall Street as I would like? Nope, but they do still vote to keep food stamps (usually) and for women's reproductive rights (unless they are Catholic or some such thing). It's a pain being a liberal Democrat in this day and age, but it would be more embarrassing to be Republican. Here's my comment about Mr Kelly's column, first published on the PG online.

OK, first of all, the funny thing is how conservatives go from calling Democrats wannabe Communists and/or Socialists (If Socialism can be stretched to include Social Security and/or Medicare as socialist programs, then the word is becoming nearly meaningless) to "Crony Capitalists". I thought Democrats hate capitalism, according to conservatives and Republicans.

But I will say on one line of thought, I actually agree with Jack Kelly. The Democrats are pretty corrupt now. I mean, conservatives thought they caught Harry Reid red-handed in something with the Cliven Bundy thing (and solar somethings, yada yada). Of course they didn't, but I will say they did shed some (more) light on Reid's corrupt escapades in Nevada. And as far as I can see Nancy Pelosi and the majority of other Democrats in Congress are much the same as Reid, to varying degrees.

The thing, in this regard I see no reason to think Congressional Republicans are any better than Democrats. If I am being honest, I believe the number of relatively uncorrupted members of Congress from either party is probably in the single digits. I think that is an unpleasant fact of life we have to deal with.

That said, I will that the difference between the parties that I see is that Democrats of all stripes and ethical inclinations can be persuaded to come together to vote for measures that protect and aid the poor and disenfranchised. Now, that use to be true of some more moderate members of the Republican party as well, but seemingly that ended maybe 35 years or more ago.

See, I could respect the Tea Party as a movement. If the rural poor don't want government aid, I am sure some accommodation could be made. But if Tea Party members really are poor, there is not much that can be done for them in terms of the federal income tax, they probably aren't paying it and in fact are probably getting refunds. So the Taxed Enough Already thing doesn't apply to them, at least on the federal level.

And if the Tea Party people are middle class or rich, what are you complaining about? Living in this country has been good to you. You are pretending you are suffering, while the unemployed and poor in this country really are suffering? This faux populism thing is just kind of insulting to the real poor.