John Banner

John BannerOn this day in 1910, the fine character actor John Banner was born. And 63 years later — to the day — he died. He had gone back to visit his home town. So apparently, you can go home — but it will kill you.

Banner is known for one thing: he played Sergeant Schultz in Hogan’s Heroes. As you may know, I was crazy about the show when I was a kid. And I’ve never really abandoned that, although my interest has become much more about what the show said about American attitudes about its place in the world. There was the bumbling, by-the-book British Colonel Crittendon. There was the mysterious and never quite trustworthy Russian spy Marya. But most of all, there was Sergeant Schultz: the good German who is just caught in the middle of a bad situation.

In one episode where Hogan manages to convince the Nazis that the war is over, we learn that Schultz was the owner of Germany’s largest toy maker before the government took it over to convert it to military uses. He’s probably a social democrat. He doesn’t like the Nazis. But mostly, he just doesn’t like conflict, “When it comes to war, I don’t like to take sides.” But there are times when the plot is used to turn Schultz into a real Nazi as when he takes over as commandant and when he is put in charge of making a movie. As I wrote before, “Schultz was the heart of the show.”

A lot of people seem to have the idea that Banner died during the series run. This is not true. He went on to star in another situation comedy, The Chicago Teddy Bears. I don’t know much about it except that it took place in Chicago during Prohibition. Banner starred with Dean Jones (who by federal law had to star in every Disney movie from 1965 to 1980) as partners in a speakeasy. It sounds like a decent show, but few watched it and it was canceled after 13 episodes. The only thing I’ve found is this terrible copy of the opening credits:

Happy birthday John Banner!

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Tune in Tomorrow and the Search for Light Comedy

Tune in TomorrowBack in 1990, I walked into a movie theater cold, and was treated to Tune in Tomorrow. It is a very clever film adaptation of Mario Vargas Llosa’s 1977 novel Aunt Julia and the Scriptwriter. It stars Barbara Hershey, Keanu Reeves, and Peter Falk. Set in 1950s New Orleans, it features a great score by Wynton Marsalis, much of which is in situ in clubs and restaurants. It also has a beautiful pastel themed art direction that captures the period in all its rose colored nostalgia. Tune in Tomorrow is a sweet and funny comedy that should delight everyone.

So why did it bomb? Why do critics generally dismiss it? Why has no one I know ever seen it? I think I know the answer to this question. The problem is with me. There are many films that I think are anywhere from good to classic that other people dismiss. A partial list will do: Medicine River, Krippendorf’s Tribe, French Kiss. And the problem seems to be that these are sweet and funny comedies. Had they been made in France, well that would be fine. The French are into that sort of thing. So films like My Best Friend, Romantics Anonymous, and The Dinner Game get a fair hearing because the French are allowed to make such movies.

But big budget comedies are somehow not okay in America — at least as long as they aren’t Dumb and Dumber or one of the Farrelly brothers’ films. It’s a strange thing. “Critics” like to complain that Hollywood doesn’t make films for adults, but when Hollywood does make films geared toward escapist fun for adults, these same people savage the films. Apparently, films for adults are supposed to be limited to deadly serious films like Schindler’s List.

I’ll admit, I tend to like French comedies (and generally, European ones) more than American comedies. They tend to be more emotionally complex. They also tend to have relatively low budgets. It seems that Hollywood can’t make a film only for adults; they also worry if it will play with the kids. And God help us when Hollywood decides to remake one of these foreign films. A good example is the remake of The Dinner Game. The original was basically just a filmed play. Almost the entire thing took place in a single location. But the remake, Dinner for Schmucks, became some kind of bloated frenzy, designed to appeal to the only demographic Hollywood is really interested in.

But Tune in Tomorrow really is worth watching. I fully admit, the film would have been better if the French had made it. But I doubt the great care in art direction and music would have been shown. It really is a beautiful film to watch and hear. It was clearly a prestige film — just look at the cast for some of the minor roles: Peter Gallagher, Elizabeth McGovern, Dan Hedaya. I suspect that the studio intended to kill it, because I would have thought it would have played reasonably well. It’s hard to say. But lucky for you, the whole thing is available on YouTube — at least for now.

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Libertarian Fail on Fifth Amendment

Richard EpsteinIn the most recent issue of Washington Monthly, Michael O’Donnell wrote, SCOTUS Heads Toward the Cliff. It is ostensibly a review of two books about the Supreme Court — mostly, Damon Root’s Overruled: The Long War for Control of the US Supreme Court. I’ll present a quote from the article tomorrow. Right now, I just want to comment on one thing mentioned in the review as a side note. O’Donnell mentioned Richard Epstein, the “dean of judicial libertarians” — who Root apparently talks about with much admiration. But Epstein has a curious take on the Fifth Amendment of the Constitution. According to him, the government doesn’t just have to pay for land they take away from a citizen, “It also owes a business money if its regulations have the effect of ‘taking’ the business’ profits.”

By this theory, if the government enacted a law that banned the use of lead in gasoline, the oil companies would have to be paid not only for the cost of doing so but for any related loss in sales because, for example, people used less gasoline because their cars didn’t run as well with unleaded gas. This would effectively tie the hands of the government. As a practical matter, the government would never be able to regulate anything at all. And that, of course, is the point. That’s the point of “judicial libertarianism”: to tie the hands of democracy so that the public sector has no power to do anything.

This is a ridiculous theory. Consider a similar situation in which property rights are set like a fly in amber: the invention of flying. In the distant past, it was generally accepted that the space above your property was your own. The government had no right to tell you that you couldn’t shoot birds that flew over your property. But then planes came in. People were flying over private property. Sound silly? Maybe so, but there was a court case where a farmer sued to stop planes from flying in his air space. Because the aircraft industry had a lot more political power than the farmer, the courts found the way they almost always do: for the powerful. And as a result, air traffic is a common thing.

But not according to Epstein. Or rather, it wouldn’t have been according to Epstein a century ago. Now, I’m fairly sure, he would make some argument about how property rights have a limit in their vertical extent. But there is nothing obvious about that. I doubt very seriously that 19th century farmers would have liked the idea that they only owned a finite box of air. And like all libertarian thought, this idea starts to rattle apart with the slightest of pressure from practical implementations.

Think about what would have happened if the courts had claimed that airplanes couldn’t fly over private property without permission. The airplanes would have ignored the laws. The private property owners would have then had to sue the owners. But how would they have known what airplane violated their property rights? And even if they did, they would have to hunt down the owners and then start legal procedures. That would be pretty hard if the plane belonged to a foreign corporation. And what if a hundred planes flew over? A hundred lawsuits? In the end, the property owner would just give up in frustration. So much for your property rights!

But let’s go back to the leaded gas example. It is more complicated than I just said. Leaded gas is highly toxic; it makes people stupid. Every seller of gas should be culpable for the damage done by the lead that is poisoning society. But in Epstein’s world, the government couldn’t stop them. So every person who was harmed would have to sue every oil company. And that would be hard because it is pretty much impossible to show individual damages, even when it is trivial to show collective damages. And what about the secondary effect of lead: a more violent society. Should people knifed in the park be able to sue?

The situation clearly gets out of hand quickly. And this is why we do allow the government to regulate. Libertarianism may have an impressive simplicity in theory, but it always becomes ridiculously complex in practice. Consider just what a mess it would be if all the roads were owned by various people and we all had to pay tolls on them all. Now compare that to the very simple alternative of public roads funded by gas taxes. Gas use is correlated with road use. It’s a wonderful, simple solution. But it is unacceptable to libertarians because it doesn’t fit into their theory.

Libertarians live in a fantasy land in most of their thinking, but they are most delusional when it comes to the judicial system. They claim that the government can’t do anything right, yet it is going to have a perfect judicial system. Or maybe it is going to be a private system that somehow won’t be corrupted by money. It’s just madness. O’Donnell started a sentence with, “Libertarianism, so principled, so carefully thought out, does not appear to have grappled with…” But you could put anything that is concrete at the end of that. It hasn’t grappled with the real world consequences of anything. Why people take it seriously is beyond me.

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Europe Should Let Greece Democracy Work

Francesco SaracenoIt is most likely that from the elections of January 25 will emerge a Syriza-led government, the main uncertainty being how large a coalition Alexis Tsipras will have to gather to obtain a comfortable parliamentary majority. This is seen with a fair deal of preoccupation in Europe. A preoccupation that does not seem warranted. Syriza is no longer the radical party of the beginning, which called for the exit from the euro and for a default on Greek public debt. Today it is party whose program can hardly be defined revolutionary, and whose label of “radical” left is justified mostly by the drifting of other social democratic party in Europe (for example in Italy and in France) towards the center of the political spectrum, and towards a de facto acceptance of the European macroeconomic orthodoxy. Syriza’s leader, Tsipras, as the prospects of victory become more concrete, has further softened his tones and is already actively negotiating with the Commission and with the major countries, in view of a compromise on the key points of his program. However, some of the media and some political leaders around Europe continue to present the Greek elections as an incoming Armageddon, and the possibility of a Syriza victory as the beginning of the end for the monetary union…

On closer inspection, it seems far more radical the position of those who, despite having grossly underestimated the negative effects of austerity, ask for more of the same; of those who insist on advocating supply-side reforms to cope with a chronic lack of demand; and of those who boast having achieved a balanced budget one year ahead of forecasts, when Europe would benefit from a recovery of domestic demand in Germany…

Europeans should stop worrying and let democracy play its role. A Syriza-led government (possibly forming an alliance with George Papandreou’s To Kinima) would not cause an earthquake. Rather the contrary, it could help stirring things up, and bring within the European debate discussion about measures the need for which is now obvious to all except to those who will not see.

—Francesco Saraceno
Who are the Radicals in Europe?


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Organic Macromolecules on Comet P67

Comet Churyumov–Gerasimenko (67P)You may remember back in November, I went a little crazy about the Rosetta mission to comet Churyumov-Gerasimenko (67P). And I was especially crazy about the lander, Philae, because I thought that through it, the science team would be able to test for organic compounds. This is my main interest in comets: the idea that the building blocks of life (or life itself) could have been seeded onto earth. So when Philae did its big bounce and got jammed up against a cliff wall, my hopes were dashed. But I was mistaken. It turns out that Rosetta can do a whole lot more from a distance from the comet than I had realized.

Last week, Science Magazine put out a special issue on new research from the Rosetta mission. Joseph Stromberg over at Vox provided a good overview, The Rosetta Probe Discovered That Comet 67P/C-G Is Light as a Cork. As the title indicates, 67P has a very low density: roughly that of a cork. It’s porosity is more than 70%. Associated with that, I think, is the fact that the comet has very little water. I assume that the comet once had water, which it outgassed, leaving behind all these pores. So that’s interesting. Also of note is the fact that the water that is on the comet is much “heavier” than earth water — as a percentage, there is three times as much deuterium (“heavy hydrogen” or hydrogen with a neutron).

But the big news is a paper by F Capaccioni and 77 colleagues, The Organic-Rich Surface of Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko as Seen by VIRTIS/Rosetta. The satellite has a spectrometer that looks at visible and infrared light. And looking at the light that bounces off the surface of the comet, they can tell what bandwidths are absorbed and thus determine which chemicals are on the surface. Based upon this, they found very little water and lots of organic compounds. Well, what they say is very much what we expect from scientists: their results are “compatible with opaque minerals associated with nonvolatile organic macromolecular materials.” I have to wonder if creatures had evolved and were building high rises, would they be willing to say much more than that the buildings were compatible with the existence of higher life forms?

Unfortunately, we don’t know what the organic chemicals are. All the spectral data can tell us is that they are “a complex mixture of various types of carbon-hydrogen and/or oxygen-hydrogen chemical groups, with little contribution of nitrogen-hydrogen groups.” DNA and RNA consist of carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, nitrogen, and phosphorus. But long carbon compounds are primarily concerned with carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen. The fact that the data indicate macromolecular materials, that would have to be what we are talking about.

This is all very exciting. And this is just what scientists managed to discover so far. In fact, this article isn’t even based on the results of Rosetta while orbiting it. The paper was submitted to Science Magazine back in the middle of October. The main thing to remember is that it is this kind of science that the Rosetta mission is all about. Here in the United States, we tend to focus on the technology side of it, “Hooray! We got a spaceship to orbit a comet! We landed on a comet!” But that’s just the means of doing something much greater. The objective of the mission is to better understand the origins of the solar system. And that work will be going on for years to come. It’s great stuff — the best of what we are.

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Mozart Again!

MozartOn this day in 1756, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was born. Look: I know. I did him last year. And it is also Lewis Carroll’s birthday. But I’m crazy for Mozart. As I noted last year, “Mozart is the sweet spot between the intellectual excesses of the Baroque period and the emotional excesses of the Romantic period.” But that isn’t to say that I think Mozart is some kind of singularity. Mozart was undoubtedly the greatest of the Classical period composers. But Haydn and Gluck are great too. So are a number of other composers that I don’t want to take the time to list.

I am not, however, a Mozart idolator. One thing I hate is this idea people have that Mozart was born a great composer. “This man had written his first concerto at the age of four — his first symphony at seven — a full-scale opera at twelve!” Yeah, but they sucked. I mean, not for a four, seven, or twelve year old. They show great potential. But Mozart learned a great deal over the years. In particular, it was his formal study of counterpoint that really moved his music from charming to great. And the music that I love the most was written during the last couple of years of his life. That’s the great tragedy of his short life.

Anyway, let’s listen to some music. I can’t help but present to you this performance of his D major flute concerto. It is not one of his great works. It is a total hack job, yet it is still wonderful. But the flutist is Emmanuel Pahud, who is 45 today:

Since we listened to the G minor symphony last year, let’s do some opera today. I wanted to provide something from his first unquestionably great opera, Idomeneo, King of Crete. But there really isn’t anything good online. The same is true of The Abduction from the Seraglio. So let’s just cut to the chase and present Bergman’s filmed version of The Magic Flute:

Happy birthday Mozart!

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May Democracy Work for Greece

SyrizaGreece has had its election, and the left-wing Syriza won. In fact, it came just two votes short of an outright majority. This is huge news. And good news. Unless you are the European equivalent of a Villager. In that case, Syriza is just a bunch of “far-left radicals” who won by being “committed to ending years of austerity.” You know: that’s the austerity that has worked so well for Greece and the rest of Europe.

I think that the Very Serious People of Europe who are so upset that Syriza won should hope that the coalition succeeds. Because if the people are failed by Syriza — which has shown itself to be quite reasonable — then the people will turn to a fascist party. The establishment is so used to being able to dictate terms that they are going to be angry about any government that actually stands up for the best interests of its people. The problem is not Syriza but rather these Serious People who think that austerity is just about to work and it only needs another year or two or three or a decade or two. They are the ones who need to change what they think and start looking out for the best interests of the EU as a whole and not the people at the very top of the food chain.

To get an idea of just how bad things have been in Greece, consider the unemployment rate. In 2010, when the austerity demands first started, the unemployment rate was 12.5%. In 2013, after years of crushing austerity that was supposed to “fix” Greece, the unemployment rate was more than double: 27.3%. Last year, it is 25.8% — which I suppose is making the Very Serious People of Europe scream, “It’s working!” It isn’t. Yesterday, Paul Krugman put together a couple of graphs, The Greek Stand-By Arrangement. The stunning one shows Greek government spending (apart from debt maintenance). It has two lines. The blue one is what the power elite of Europe planned for Greece in 2010. But over time, the demands became much bigger. It is very much like bleeding a patient, and when she doesn’t get better, bleeding her some more. And if you think I’m comparing modern economic policy to witch-doctors of the past (and the present), you are right.

Greek Government Spending

Meanwhile, Greek GDP is 20% below the level it was at in 2010. And there is no indication that it is improving. It isn’t surprising that the people of Greece are angry. Any group of people is willing to put up with temporary pain in the name of improving things. The problem here is that the pain doesn’t seem to be temporary and it doesn’t seem to be improving anything. Krugman explained why this continued course of economic bleeding has gone on:

How did they get it so wrong? In the spring of 2010 both the ECB and the European Commission bought fully into expansionary austerity; slashing spending wasn’t going to hurt the Greek economy, because the confidence fairy would come to the rescue. The IMF never went all the way there, but it used an unrealistically low multiplier, which it arrived at by looking at historical examples of austerity while ignoring the difference in monetary conditions.

The idea of “expansionary austerity” is that cutting government spending during a recession wouldn’t hurt the economy, even though regular economics indicated that it would. But there was work by a couple of heterodox economists that showed that it would. The mechanism was as simple as it was unbelievable. By cutting government spending, the business community would see that Greece was getting serious. So the businesses would start investing and hiring and there would be a boom. It’s been almost five years and the boom has not come. But the Very Serious People of Europe don’t believe that. Just another course of bleeding and the Greek economy will be saved!

Krugman summed up the current outrageous situation, “The thing is, we now have essentially the same people who so totally misjudged the impacts of austerity lecturing the Greeks on the need to be realistic.” There’s that tired old saying that politicians love to quote about the definition of insanity: doing the same thing and expecting a different result. But it would be wrong to apply that to the power elite of Europe. Because oppressing the Greek people with austerity is working great for the power elite of Europe. Hopefully democracy will work in Greece and Syriza will be able to serve the people and not the Very Serious People of Europe.


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The Bad Side of Obama’s SOTU Address

Barack ObamaObama’s failure to reconcile words to deeds detracts mightily from the grab bag of ideas he offers under the catchy title “middle class economics.” As noted, these policies could really improve people’s lives. But while he’s out thumping for them, he’s in hot pursuit of what he hopes will be his last coup, approval of the Trans Pacific Trade Partnership. It’s such a popular idea he chose not to breathe its name in his speech. What he did say was worth sampling if only to savor its cleverness: “China wants to write the rules for the world’s fastest-growing region. We should write those rules… That’s why I’m asking both parties to give me trade promotion authority to protect American workers, with strong new trade deals from Asia to Europe that aren’t just free, but fair.”

He doesn’t want another free trade fiasco like that awful NAFTA, just “trade promotion authority to protect American workers.” Surely we can all be for that.

Nearly all left-leaning Democrats oppose the TPTP: Paul Krugman, Joe Stiglitz, Bob Reich, Elizabeth Warren. One can’t imagine Obama changing his mind on it any more than one imagines him asking any of them to help craft his new populist agenda. As he likes to reassure his donors, “I’m a market kind of guy,” meaning he comes as close as a Democrat can to being a market ideologue. And yes, there is such a thing.

Market ideologues aren’t the sort to throw bombs or ruin dinner parties but they’re ideologues nonetheless. Their solution for every problem known to mankind is to adopt “market principles.” Their influence on Obama’s generation of Democratic elites has been profound. It’s why so many of them apply market theory to issues to which it is ill-suited, such as carbon reduction, health care and public education.

Obama doesn’t get that free trade can be as good as he says for business and still be a terrible deal for workers. He doesn’t get that markets by their nature do a great job of creating wealth and a poor one of distributing it; that absent a strong government to encode and enforce a social contract there is no middle class; that pitting our workers against those lacking such support will eventually impoverish them. It’s why he opposed raising the minimum wage when he had the votes to do it in his first term. It’s why he bailed out banks but not homeowners, and abandoned the public option.

—Bill Curry
Let’s Not Morph Obama Into Elizabeth Warren Quite Yet

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American Double Standard Regarding Democracy

King AbdullahThere is this constant question about American foreign policy. Why is it that some countries are our allies when they are so horrible? Of course, the claim is always that we support “democracy” and “the rule of law” and “respect for human rights.” But that doesn’t seem to ever be the case. For example, I think that the United Kingdom is a democracy that supports the rule of law and respects human rights. But I don’t think that’s the reason that the UK is our ally. I think we decide whether to have an ally and only afterward do we apply those nice sounding labels on them.

More often, these labels are not used in the affirmative. We don’t generally say that we have an ally because of these things. Instead, we claim that a country is our enemy because they are not a democracy or whatever. And that fact came very much to the fore recently when King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia died. He was a horrible man — a despot. This is a man who was fine with beheading another for the “crime” of witchcraft. A real class act from a real classy country. But who needs class and, you know, the Enlightenment, when you have huge oil reserves and the biggest military in the world willing to do anything for you?

Hugo ChávezLast Friday, Glenn Greenwald put together a great compare and contrast, Obama’s Reaction to the Deaths of King Abdullah and Hugo Chávez. As readers of this site know, I’m fairly fond of Chávez. It wasn’t that he was an especially great leader. But he distinguished himself in that he wasn’t totally corrupt and he actually tried to make the resources of his nation work for the good of the people. (Imagine in a US president did that!) And that puts him well ahead of most leaders. That, of course, also put him at odds with the US government. If Chávez had been willing to make deals with US interests that made him and his friends rich at the expense of his people, the US government (and its lapdog media) would have been fine with him — regardless of what else he did.

How do I know? Well, just look at Abdullah. For a good rundown of what a great guy he was, check out Murtaza Hussain’s obituary, Saudi Arabia’s Tyrant King Misremembered as Man of Peace. He was a vile man who not only supported just about every horrible thing the US does, but also did a lot of his own war making. Check out this example of his commitment to peace and democracy:

In Bahrain, Saudi forces intervened to crush a popular uprising which had threatened the rule of the ruling al-Khalifa monarchy, while in Syria Saudi-backed factions have helped turn what was once a popular democratic uprising into a bloody, intractable proxy war between regional rivals which is now a main driver of extremism in the Middle East.

But really, you don’t need to look any further than the 9/11 hijackers. Of the 19 men, 15 were from Saudi Arabia. Osama bin Laden himself was from Saudi Arabia. Any normal country would have to answer for that. If those 15 had instead been from Venezuela, we would have invaded the country. As it was, we helped stage a coup in 2002. It appears that to the US government, “democracy” is just another word for “countries that do as they’re told.” What’s even more frustrating is that the US media were universal in their condemnation of Chávez when he mocked Bush at the United Nations. No mention was ever made of the coup, of course, because that would have been unfair to Bush.

When Chávez died, this was the official response, which is as close to “good riddance” as these things ever get:

At this challenging time of President Hugo Chávez’s passing, the United States reaffirms its support for the Venezuelan people and its interests in developing a constructive relationship with the Venezuelan government. As Venezuela begins a new chapter in its history, the United States remains committed to policies that promote democratic principles, the rule of law, and respect for human rights.

Translation: unless you idiots in Venezuela elect a pro-corporate government, you won’t have a government committed to policies that promote democratic principles, the rule of law, and respect for human rights. It’s really that simple. Meanwhile, Obama had “deep respect” for Abdullah. Most of the statement is about all the great work that he did for peace and the education of his people. No mention is made of the Saudi Arabian government being committed to policies that promote democratic principles, the rule of law, and respect for human rights. That’s because it isn’t.

But it doesn’t matter. All this disingenuous nonsense means is that any country that plays nice with the US, allowing our corporations and military access, is fine. And if it doesn’t, then it is terrible. And expect the US to do everything it can to destroy that country. Because it isn’t okay to have oil reserves used to help the poor. There are needy corporations here in America!

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Shameless Republican Ad on 60 Minutes

60 MinutesI should have my head examined. Mental illness is the only explanation that I can think of for why I ever watch 60 Minutes — but most especially last night when the first segment was a Scott Pelley interview with John Boehner and Mitch McConnell. Now I’ll admit, these two did a fine job of embarrassing themselves. But mostly, it just provided an opportunity for these two bozos to state their talking points without fear of harassment. And there were all kinds of things they had to say that are, at best, total distortions — the kind of things you normally have to be a committed Fox News viewer to see. And 60 Minutes, as usual, was there to comfort the comfortable.

The interview started with the two Republican leaders expressing their dismay that Obama didn’t come to the State of the Union address with cap in hand. McConnell noted that Obama seemed like he was campaigning for a third term. Later in the segment, Boehner bemoaned the fact that Obama offered no olive branch, “I can tell you, we’re interested in working with him!” I’m curious just what these guys think that Obama would have gotten by showing up as a naughty boy who’d been caught. Because we know what happened in 2011, after the Democrats lost the House, when Obama did reach out to the Republicans. We came incredibly close to breaching the Debt Ceiling and only avoided it with, by far, the worst policy of the Obama years: savage cuts to government spending.

Boehner did most of the talking. He seemed like he really needed a cigarette. And he pushed the Republicans’ newest lie: the Democrats are responsible for income inequality. This came after Pelley asked if Obama shouldn’t get credit for the improving economy. As far as I can tell, he shouldn’t get credit for the improving economy, but he should get credit for increasing inequality. He’s like the opposite of God: when something good happens, he gets no credit; when something bad happens, he gets all the blame.

So why is it that the rich keep getting richer and the poor keep getting poorer? Well, they weren’t willing to talk about how it was all due to the rich being over-taxed. But they did use the second standard Republican Economic Solution for Everything ™: regulation. But the only regulation that Boehner could think of was Obamacare. It, apparently, is the reason that the economy is getting more unequal. Or something.

There is a further discussion of Obamacare, which is part of the internet extras at the link above. Pelley actually pushed back against the Republican leaders — especially on the fact that they have no ideas for what they are going to replace it with. But eventually, Boehner was allowed to go on about what the Republicans want to do. Regular readers of this site should be able to list everything that Boehner said because it is the same list they always have, none of which lower healthcare costs: buy insurance across state lines (all insurers would run to the least regulated state and provide useless coverage) and tort reform (wouldn’t lower costs because doctors don’t actually over-treat because of insurance concerns). He didn’t mention high deductible plans, but maybe they just cut that. He did mention allowing small employers to group together. But Obamacare not only does that for small employers, but for everyone. And the Republicans hate it. At the beginning he mentioned “allowing states to create their own exchanges.” I assume this is just a new talking point to push King v Burwell.

The whole thing was totally disingenuous. At one point, Pelley did a lot of heavy lifting by allowing the two to dump all over Harry Reid for not allowing some of the crazy bills coming out of the House to have a vote in the Senate. This was somehow wrong, but the idea of sending a whole bunch of crazy bills to the president for his veto was just how the system works. Like I said, these two bozos dig their own graves just by talking. But most people don’t know much about this stuff. And instead of countering them as Mike Wallace would have done decades ago, 60 Minutes is just fine to let lies transmit to televisions all over the nation. Because who’s to say what is true? Certainly not Scott Pelley! He lives in a world full of fairies and elves, where you can have all the candy you want: the postmodern world where reality is whatever you say it is. Sadly, I don’t live in that world. If I did, 60 Minutes would have been canceled long ago, and the Republican leaders would have committed seppuku for the great shame they have brought to their families and their nation.

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