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Susan Shillinglaw at The Washington Post writes 75 years after ‘The Grapes of Wrath,’ we need Ma Joad in the White House:

President Ma Joad wouldn’t cut food stamps. She wouldn’t deny education to immigrant children. She wouldn’t trim funds for the homeless. She would remind each American that lending a hand to those at the bottom is a quality of the species, Homo sapiens.

She would fire up the country with collective energy, too. “Maybe if we was all mad in the same way,” Ma offers to Tom when he first comes home. Ma’s notion of the American spirit would hardly be inherited privilege or wealth or capitalist fervor; as she puts it: “If you’re in trouble or hurt or need — go to poor people. They’re the only ones that’ll help — the only ones.” Pulling together is the Joad way, pure American democracy.

Rebecca Traister at The New Republic writes How to Be Less Stupid About Hillary Clinton's Future Grandchild:
Dear political media,

On the occasion of Chelsea Clinton announcing that she is pregnant two and a half years in advance of an election in which her mother might run for president:

- Please be less stupid.

- Seriously: way less stupid.

- So you know, about four million babies are born every year in the United States.

- You were born. Chances are good that your gestation did not have any impact on your grandparents’ strategy regarding higher political office.

- Hillary Clinton is not having a baby. If she were, that shouldn’t matter either.

Jeff Faux at The Nation writes Thomas Piketty Undermines the Hallowed Tenets of the Capitalist Catechism. Not only does capitalist growth not reduce inequality, it increases it Piketty writes in his much discussed new book:
The ultimate solution, he writes, is a worldwide progressive tax on private capital. Piketty understands that this is now utopian. But he argues that the tax is technically feasible and could be gradually adopted region-by-region.

Here Piketty seems out of his political depth. In order to avoid Marx’s apocalyptic conclusion, he skips around a central implication of his own analysis: that the upward redistribution of wealth also generates an upward distribution of political power that perpetuates inequality. An enforceable global tax on capital ownership would require dramatic political shifts to the left within the major economies—at least the United States, Europe, China, Japan—and unprecedented cooperation among these economic rivals to face down transnational capital and force the rest of the world to accept it. Eyes will roll.

More excerpts from pundits can be found below the fold.

The Editorial Board at the Los Angeles Times asks Does fracking cause quakes? California needs to know:

Many concerns have been raised about hydraulic fracturing—also known as fracking—but the one scientists know the least about is the potential for earthquakes.

Until recently, evidence linking earthquakes to fracking — the high-pressure injection of water and chemicals into rock to release the oil or gas locked within — has pointed to post-drilling operations as the culprit. In other words, the problem didn't seem to be the original fracking but the re-injection of wastewater into wells. That suggested that if a safer disposal method could be found for the wastewater, perhaps the risk could be avoided.

New events, though, indicate that the fracking process itself might also cause seismic instability. [...]

California should have better answers before it allows large-scale fracking in the Monterey Shale, a vast geological formation in the San Joaquin Valley that is believed to hold up to 15 billion barrels of oil.

Leonard Pitts Jr. at the Miami Herald writes in Let’s hear it for the Washington Slurs about NFL football team owner Dan Snyder's wobbly launch of a foundation for Indians in an effort to whitewash that the Slurs' racist name:
So what Snyder seeks to buy is not just the right to use an execrable name in peace but also the self respect of a people already long brutalized.

And while scholarships are important, it is also important to be able to look at oneself in a mirror.

Nearly 400 years ago, Peter Minuit took Manhattan from people who had no concept of land as a thing that could be bought or sold.

Turns out some of them feel that way about dignity, too.

Juan Cole at Informed Comment writes Fox News asks Rand Paul if Reid is right to “call Americans” “Domestic Terrorists”:
Not since George W. Bush complained that the problem with the American economy was that “too many of our imports come from abroad” has such hilarious use of the English language been on display. The furor on the Right about Harry Reid terming “domestic terrorists” the militiamen who brought sniper rifles across state lines to confront the Bureau of Land Management produced the following interview by Fox News of Rand Paul.

Eric Bolling asked Sen. Paul, “Is there any reason to call Americans domestic terrorists?”

So, Mr. Bolling, you see, the category of “domestic terrorist,” when used inside the United States, cannot be used for foreigners, only for “Americans.”

If you meant to ask whether there are any domestic terrorists, I think Timothy McVeigh might be an answer to your question.

So, yes, there is sometimes a reason to call Americans domestic terrorists. When they are.

Sean McElwee at Mother Jones writesHow to Tap Latent Conservative Support for Climate-Change Policy:
Internationally, the environment isn’t so polarized. Right-leaning politicians like David Cameron and Nicolas Sarkozy have embraced the environment, and Angela Merkel won reelection in part by promising to phase out nuclear energy in favor of renewables. And within the U.S., some Democratic governors in red states have had success pursuing environmental issues. In Wyoming, the most conservative state in the country, Dave Freudenthal’s administration focused on a long-term strategy for resource extraction that included, among other things, preserving the state’s forests and regulating hydraulic fracking. The result: a reelection margin of 20 percent and a reputation as one of the most popular governors in the country, including 66 percent approval among Republicans.

But at the national level in the United States, environmental progress has been stymied by elites with a vested interest in fostering denial and the economic means to do so. This is not an easily surmountable challenge, but the polling reveals that underlying support offers hope for moving climate-change policy forward; and unlike hot-button issues like abortion or gay rights, the policy solutions are well agreed-upon. Yet the environmental movement has not helped itself by framing the issue in terms that appeal mostly to the converted. Activists will find more success if they focus on promoting sanctity and responsibility, showing how protecting the environment is economically beneficial and leaving a legacy for future generations.

Gary Younge at The Guardian writes On race, the US is not as improved as some would have us believe:
"I have lived out the promise of LBJ's efforts," Obama told an event marking the passing of the act at Johnson's Presidential Library and Museum in Texas this month."[Because of those efforts] new doors of opportunity and education swung open for everybody … They swung open for you, and they swung open for me," he said. "And that's why I'm standing here today, because of those efforts, because of that legacy."

The freedoms this legacy bequeathed should be neither denied nor denigrated. The signs came down, space was created, opinions evolved. Recent years have shown a big increase in minorities moving to suburbs and all groups entering mixed-race relationships. It is a different and better country because of them. But nor should those freedoms be exaggerated. It is not as different or as improved a country as some would have us believe. For as some doors opened, others remained firmly closed—providing two main lessons that challenge the mainstream framing of this era's legacy.

Sarah Jaffe at In These Times writes The Rise of the Digital Proletariat:
The conversation about the impact of technology tends to be binary: Either it will save us, or it will destroy us. The Internet is an opportunity for revolution; our old society is being “disrupted”; tech-savvy college dropouts are rendering the staid elite obsolete. Or else our jobs are being lost to automation and computers; drones wipe out families on their wedding day; newly minted millionaires flush with tech dollars are gentrifying San Francisco at lightning speed.

Neither story is completely true, of course. In her new book, The People's Platform: Taking Back Power and Culture in the Digital Age, out now from Metropolitan Books, Astra Taylor takes on both the techno-utopians and the techno-skeptics, reminding us that the Internet was created by the society we live in and thus is more likely to reflect its problems than transcend them. She delves into questions of labor, culture and, especially, money, reminding us who profits from our supposedly free products. She builds a strong case that in order to understand the problems and potentials of technology, we have to look critically at the market-based society that produced it.

Old power dynamics don't just fade away, she points out—they have to be destroyed. That will require political action, struggle, and a vision of how we want the Internet (and the rest of our society) to be. I spoke with Taylor about culture, creativity, the possibility of nationalizing Facebook and more.

Paul Krugman at The New York Times writes Sweden Turns Japanese:
Three years ago Sweden was widely regarded as a role model in how to deal with a global crisis. The nation’s exports were hit hard by slumping world trade but snapped back; its well-regulated banks rode out the financial storm; its strong social insurance programs supported consumer demand; and unlike much of Europe, it still had its own currency, giving it much-needed flexibility. By mid-2010 output was surging, and unemployment was falling fast. Sweden, declared The Washington Post, was “the rock star of the recovery.”

Then the sadomonetarists moved in.

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