Left Out is a public affairs program produced by WRCT 88.3FM that discusses the news from a perspective left out of the mainstream media. Left Out is co-hosted by Bob Harper and Danny Sleator. Today's program is produced by Molly Meyer. Listeners are welcome to call us at (412) 268-WRCT (9728), or send us email.
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Giuliana Sgrena, an Italian journalist for Il Manifesto was kidnapped and has been reported as murdered in Iraq today. Giuliana was a much-loved reporter who courageously sought out the truth in a war-torn area, and has apparently paid with her life. The reality-based community mourns her death.
Note added February 22: She's apparently still being held, but is alive.
The Bush administration released its proposed budget this week, proudly stating that it "reduces and eliminates redundancy". Of course it all depends on what you mean by "redundancy". Predictably, the deepest cuts were in the Education Department (cutting 48 programs), the Environmental Protection Agency (cut a half billion dollar program to help poor communities build wastewater treatment plants), and the Energy Department (eliminate oil and gas research and development programs). Of course it includes $1.1 trillion dollars in tax cuts (through 2015), and increases in military spending, but does not include any costs for implementing the Republican privatization scheme for Social Security (which will cost several trillion dollars over several years), or for the war of choice in Iraq (already costing in the hundreds of billions of dollars, and sure to cost much more). The reality is, as ever, unrelated to the rhetoric.
Check out this article by Rick Perlstein from the Village Voice.
Among many good observations, he points out that once everybody's retirement benefits are tied to the the stock market, this then allows a new class of arguments to be made against any of a broad range of progressive causes. Just point out that it is "hurting your retirement". It applies to things like minimum wage, environmental regulations, corporate taxes, etc. Anything that "hurts" corporate America is bad for your retirement.
Most good games have the property that once you start to get ahead, your advantage increases. This is true in Chess and in Monopoly, just to name two examples. It's beginning to look like the Bush junta has reached that point. The media is firmly under control (witness CBS firing 4 people for one possibly bogus but mild anti-Bush story), congress is firmly under control (even most democracts are voting for losers like Rice, and impeachment of anybody is out of the question), and the justice department is about to be headed by a Bush crony who advocates torture, and breaking international law (thus eliminating any possible justice dept investigations into anything in the administration).
In a democracy, we're supposed to vote out the bad guys. But that can't happen because of the media -- people have no idea what's really going on. So being pessimistic, maybe people will only find out the damage done when they start to see it in their own lives. Like if the standard of living goes down drastically. Of course there will always be other boogymen to blame, and if the public remains as gullible as they have been lately, this will be easy to pull off.
Paul Krugman has weighed in with another good article, this time pointing out that Bush is not going to be interested in compromise on social security. He's out to kill the program.
Mentioned on the air: ThinkProgress.org and There Is No Crisis.
Bernie Sanders (an independent congressman from Vermont) prepared this scathing note about the decline of US manufacturing, and Bush's do-nothing attitude about this.
After pointing out how impossible it is to buy anything not made in China, Sanders writes:
While the stark reality of America's industrial might moving abroad may have escaped the president and his economic advisers, a growing number of members of Congress see with their own eyes the devastating effect that the president's trade policy is having on manufacturing jobs in their own districts. It's high time that Congress brought the president down to earth, and made him understand that our current unfettered free trade policies have been a disaster for the working families of this country - and need a fundamental overhaul.
In addition to controlling majorities in both houses (and can seemingly count on democrats to support their agenda -- see the story above) and the mainstream media, the White House is working hard get a death grip on the courts. This article by Glenn Scherer discusses the process by which their working to get control of the courts, and what this might mean.