The term "bankster" (rhymes with gangster) has been part of the far-right lexicon for generations.
Only recently have liberals started using it, referring to the Wall Street types whose machinations are widely blamed for the current recession. Some have even used it against Tim Geithner, the long-time bank regulator charged with cleaning things up. (The charge is he's too cozy with them.)
The civil war at CNBC features the hiring of some liberal political types, notably Howard Dean, to line up against existing talent Dennis Kneale and Larry Kudlow, who offer nothing but right-wing kant which defends every action of the bankers and attacks every action of the government.
There is a good reason for CNBC's actions. On this issue the people are way ahead of their leaders. I didn't know how far ahead until I saw that Bank of America head Ken Lewis was stripped of his Chairman title by shareholders. The board responded by doing as little as they possibly could. They named one of their own the new Chairman while Lewis stays firmly in command.
All this does is strengthen the President's hand. It's one thing to demand new behavior using just the authority of your office. It's something else to demand it when the people are demanding you do more.
Yesterday's news was reported as either a victory for the President or a welcome purging for Republicans.
What it actually did was reveal the creation of a new party, a Third Force in American politics that has always existed, but whose identity is being made increasingly explicit as the two parties separate ideologically.
I call it the Specterman Party, for its two titular leaders in the Senate, Arlen Specter and Joe Lieberman.
Good - Lower energy prices reduce the priority for alternatives, and the savings from conservation.
Bad - Energy has been lost among all the other priorities of the first 100 days.
You can't fight the market unless you either make it your top priority or have an ongoing market failure driving public opinion. We have ongoing market failures in the financial and health markets. But in energy, in the near term, the market is our friend. The recession has pushed oil prices into the $50/barrel range, and gasoline prices are half what they were at their peak.
Think of this as Volume 12, Number 17 of A-Clue.com, the online newsletter I've written since 1997. Enjoy.
Out of sight of readers there is a true Civil War going on within the world of journalism.
Part of it is the old shrinking water hole problem. Some people actually fear that advertising is disappearing, that it will soon cease to exist. That's how scarce advertisers are on the ground these days.
The evidence is all around them. Newspapers have disappeared from many cities and will disappear from many more. Magazines have gone under without telling anyone. Even giant TV companies are fading fast.
One place to watch the fun is at CNBC. Right-wing talent has become increasingly strident. At the same time management has brought in Obama supporters like Dr. Howard Dean to add balance. This is supposed to be a business channel but it has become more like a non-stop Crossfire show from the 1990s.
What this is providing is opportunity. Advertisers who step up to the plate now can get enormous concessions from any media property they talk with. Entrepreneurs who launch now can get traffic, attention, and positioning for the next recovery -- which will happen.
It's true for us, and it's true for political philosophies as well. They have sell-by dates. They expire. Often explosively.
That's the real lesson of today's Republican Party. As Markos Moulitsas notes it's strange for Netroots Democrats to be watching the edifice of the once-almighty conservative movement collapse like Sauron's eye at the end of Lord of the Rings.
But I am old enough to have seen this before. Welcome to the 1969 Game.
The 1968 election had been wicked close, so Democrats at that time had no sense they had lost the mandate of heaven, that their New Deal politics was as dead as Herbert Hoover, on whose political grave they had danced for a generation.
Their inclination was much like that of today's Republicans. In response to their electoral defeat most Democrats decided the answer was to become more like themselves. George McGovern.
The views of that era's Democrats were far, far to the left of anything which might be considered politically acceptable today. They rejected the Cold War in mid-stream, not just the Vietnam War but the entire premise. They supported truly progressive tax rates across-the-board, not just on the federal level but on the state and local level. They wanted to resume the War on Poverty and wars against every form of injustice known to man or woman, just as most Americans had grown exhausted by the effort.
My daughter Robin (right) will have her Associates Degree in a few months and has been accepted to both her first-choice schools for the B.A., one in Texas and one in Washington State.
She's leaving home, bye-bye.
It's a bittersweet moment and a long time coming. She's 21. She has looked down the barrel of both ADD and dyslexia, and faced down both. She loves reading, even if her decoding is slow.
I have seen her writing and it can be better than mine, because her process is internal. She writes after she has everything in her. My process is external. I write as though I'm talking, and nearly as quickly.
There are advantages to both methods. Internal writing is often deeper, more heartfelt, and the first draft may be more complete. External writing is what journalists do, and it's what I've been since I was old enough to want to be anything.
The writers we remember are internal writers. Those we read most days are external. That's the way it is.
If it is true that, as Rahm Emanuel says here, President Obama has no stomach for prosecution of past war crimes, because it would be "looking backward," it is the first enormous mistake of his Administration.
It could fatally wound his place in history.
We have seen this movie before. After the depredations of Richard Nixon, President Gerald Ford decided to give the former President a full pardon, so that the country could move on.
Yet it was Ford's own chief of staff, Richard Cheney, who then devised and executed the policies of lies, of torture and of unprovoked war that now burden us. It's now clear that, in some cases, this had nothing to do with getting information. It was sadism.
Let's review. The refusal to prosecute, or even fully investigate, the relatively petty crimes of Richard Nixon led directly to the torture regime of Richard Cheney.
What might that torture regime lead to?
The Constitution today lies in tatters. Just write a memo calling it meaningless, on any excuse, and do what you want. That's the precedent Cheney used from Nixon's claim that "If the President does it it's not illegal."
We already have that answer. We have it in the rhetoric of the teabaggers, whose hatred knows no bounds. We have it in the attitudes of Republicans, who think they can turn their principles on a dime, doing precisely what they opposed a year ago, and never pay a penalty for it. We have it in the rejection of elections by Norm Coleman and Jim Tedisco.
What we have seen in the last several months is the impotent rage of Republicans coalesce into something far more dark and sinister, namely a rejection of everything Americans have believed in. The Southern Strategy has become a Confederacy of Dunces.
We can ignore it today, freely ignore it, because Republicans are now deeply unpopular, largely as a result of their continuing lunacy. But they are the "other" party today, just as they were the "other" party in the wake of the 1974 Congressional blow-out, and the 1976 election of Jimmy Carter.
The wheel of history continued to spin. It will turn, turn, turn again. What will it turn to?
Until evil tendencies are confronted, directly, and put down, completely, they will metastasize like a cancer. We have seen this in our own time. The profoundly undemocratic attitudes that caused the Supreme Court to stop a recount, that caused Bush to lie us into war, that created the torture regime, the systematic wiretapping of political adversaries and the use of that for policy advantage, it didn't come from thin air.
It came from our past refusal to confront evil head-on, from our normal desire to "move on" from the previous crisis this mindset caused.
Think of this as Volume 12, Number 16of A-Clue.com, the online newsletter I've written since 1997. Enjoy.
Why have so few of us reached space? Why is even the International Space Station a fraction of the size most sci-fi writers predicted a half century ago?
Cost. Specifically the energy cost of getting out of Earth's gravity well.
It's not that people have lost interest. When a company called Solaren announced a deal to install solar panels in space and sell the resulting power to PG&E early this week, so many people rushed to the rail that Solaren's site quickly exceeded its bandwidth limit and was taken down.
The deal is pie-in-the-sky. It was the utility's presence in the story that made it newsworthy, but in fact that company risked nothing. If Solaren gets its system working PG&E will buy its power. If.
Having watched a number of recessions during my journalism career one constant remained. Those journalists who most sucked up to the hierarchy, who served their owners, were insulated and isolated from the marketplace.
They became the journalism "profession" equivalent of tenured professors. They were pundits, with high salaries for the Washington cocktail circuit, and with no responsibility other than tell the rest of us what to think.
I learned an important lesson. I'm completely unprepared.
I never replaced the laptop that blew up a year ago and so didn't have an alternate machine. I misplaced the stick memory to which I'd copied my passwords. Even if we had a burglar alarm system it would have stopped running without wall power, so I was forced to stay home.
Mostly I read, I slept, and I used my cell phone. I got cold because the heater requires electric power to turn on the gas. I couldn't eat because opening the refrigerator door would spoil all the food inside it. Had this gone on overnight no one in the house could have gotten to work tomorrow because all our clocks use wall power.