From the Right – The Forest

This piece says a lot about why the left needs organizations like The Commonweal Institute to counteract the web or right-wing organizations. The article is about the far-right National Journalism Center, training lots of busy-bee right-wing so-called journalists. It’s remarkable how far to the right the prespective of the piece’s auther is, even though it’s in the supposedly respected The Christian Science Monitor.

As I wrote in Seeing the Forest II, “It’s a new era. The information business isn’t about journalism anymore and you’ll be frustrated and disappointed as long as you hold the old-fashioned notions that it is “supposed to” be. That’s all gone. Now it’s different and the public is only getting one side of the story. The public is getting its information from the likes of Rush Limbaugh. As old and worn-out as this sounds, a few large corporations now own almost all of the sources of information and they are using that power to benefit themselves, not the public. This is the forest.

Moon Bush

People are finally looking into Bush’s business relationships and turning up all sorts of stuff, from cronyism (Krugman, today’s NY Times) and S&L crisis involvement to the notorious bailouts and buyouts of Bush Junior’s businesses by Middle East connections involving BCCI (here and here).

If this keeps up, maybe people will start looking into the weird connections between the Unification Church – also known as the Moonies – and the Bushes. At first it sounds pretty weird, but if you know about the influence on the “Conservative Movement” of The Washington Times – owned by the Moonies – then you know that the Moonies are a big part of what is going on with the current crop of right-wing Republicans. Somehow the Moonies have TONS of money and they spread it around.

Here are some links:

Moon background – Detailed background of Moon’s organization and an extensive collection of links to other sources.

Consortium News with 15 different articles

Two Online Journal pieces (One, Two)


An ex-Moonie site with lots of info including Moon links to “conservatives”.

ABC Australia piece, about Moon in Brazil

Assorted pieces here, here, here and here.

The Commonweal Institute

There’s a new think tank starting up, intending to bring a progressive voice to the general public. It’s called The Commonweal Institute. “Commonweal” means the public good. Think of them as a Heritage Foundation for the left. They are starting to raise funds now, and from what I have heard and seen they’re going to be a force for progressive ideals. Wish them luck. Help them out.


Yesterday’s arrests of the Adelphia executives made me think of Jay Leno’s comment during the 1996 election, after Bob Dole said that drinking too much milk is just as dangerous as smoking, “Sounds like the milk people forgot to mail their check. Maybe these guys forgot to pay their Club dues.

More Breadth

Bob Herbert’s column in today’s NY Times talks about what I wrote about a couple days back. “What we have here is a massive breakdown of the internal controls that are supposed to protect customers and promote confidence in the industry.”

The Other Kind of Corporate Irresponsibility

Arianna writes, “We are up in arms — and rightly so — about corporate greed that leads to massive shareholder rip-offs, but shouldn’t we be even more irate about corporate greed that leads to loss of life? “

The Breadth of It

I’m amazed by the breadth of the failures of the institutions involved in the stock failures. Corporate executives were supposed to watch the interests of their shareholders. Accountants – well, we all know what they did. The SEC was supposed to be monitoring these companies. Analysts were supposed to be taking a close and careful look at the companies they analyze – not just accept the word of the company but actually look in warehouses to see if the goods are there. Mutual Funds were supposed to manage their holdings and their real value was supposedly in a bear market carefully screening out companies that wouldn’t hold their value. Brokers were supposed to watch out for the interests of their clients instead of putting the assets of retired people into tech stocks with PE ratios of 100 in an obviously overvalued market. The Media was supposed to be keeping an adversarial eye on all of these, informing and warning the public..

And The Democratic Party was supposed to be the protector of working families, opposing the moneyed interests.

As I look at it I can’t think of a single institution that did its job.

Irrational Exuberance

Paul Krugman points out that the stock market has now fallen below the level it was at when Federal Reserve Chairman Greenspan felt it necessary to warn that it was too high, with his “irrational exuberance” remark. Krugman writes, “Our economic problems are real, but by no means catastrophic. What scares me is the utter inflexibility of the people who should be solving those problems.” What would Cinton do?

The current PE ratio of the S&P 500 is 22.1. Still high, and the E (earnings) is based on accounting that is not necessarily credible.

They’re Still At It

Read this editorial to remind yourself what Republicans are really like. This is from Richard Mellon Scaife’s newspaper, just last week. Scaife is the guy who funds many of the Republican “think tanks” and “policy committees” and various activities of the Republicans – particularly the Federalist Society where so many Bush Administration figures and judicial appointments came from. Scaife funded much of the anti-Clinton investigations as well as those nasty magazines that were full of smears (read the editorial and remember). Ted Olson, now Solicitor General, helped run the anti-Clinton activities for Scaife. Ken Starr was associated with several Scaife organizations, and after the impeachment even tried to leave his position as Special Prosecutor to take a Scaife-funded professorship. Read this editorial and ponder that THIS is the crowd that is now running the country.

ANOTHER Corporate Accounting Problem?

Because of the stock market drop many corporations are going to have to ante up a bunch of cash into their pension funds to cover stock losses, which is likely to affect their own stock price. Which will, of course, affect any pension funds that are invested in those companies, which could mean … Get it? ANOTHER accounting problem that might be big news in a few days.

Read about it here. “Topping off an underfunded pension plan hurts company profits because it soaks up cash flow that could otherwise be used to pay debt or buy new equipment. But some companies got even more mileage out of their plans’ investing success: In the late 1990s, pension-fund holdings grew so lush that companies could properly account for excess fund profits as part of their earnings.