For my money, corporations took our democracy over a long time ago, so this is closing the barn door after the horse has bolted. Still I’m glad to hear Dr. Utopia say this:

They want to take Congress back and return to the days where lobbyists wrote the laws. It is the most insidious power grab since the monopolies of the Gilded Age. That’s happening right now. So there’s a lot of talk about populist anger and grassroots. But that’s not what’s driving a lot of these elections.

We tried to fix this, but the leaders of the other party wouldn’t even allow it to come up for a vote. They want to keep the public in the dark. They want to serve the special interests that served them so well over the last 19 months.

Cue Charles Lane and Megan McArdle whining that Obama hates free speech.

Warren’s Officially In

In her words, and here’s Simon Johnson’s take on the form of the appointment. (via)

Your moment of Marty

I don’t find Marty Peretz all that interesting as a person: there are plenty of bigoted, ostensibly-educated-but-stupid old men in this world. For my money, Jim Fucking Lehrer describes him perfectly via a fictitious character:

[Perry] was a lightweight sociology professor of no special talent or accomplishment who owned and edited the magazine The New World because his wife was a shoe company heiress who bought it for him. He was a joke in all circles except those that believed money was important. Perry was an occasional dinner guest at the Hollowells’ solely because his magazine published a long think piece by Bill Hollowell once a month. …

But I find the Marty Peretz phenomenon — would be intellectuals and wise men sucking up to a wealthy dim-wit — fascinating, because it’s so poorly hidden, e.g. on his upcoming Harvard honor:

Peretz simply said, “The notion that after teaching 45 years at Harvard and people giving money in my honor that I have to defend myself—please.” Just as a point of reference, here are the people giving the money in his honor. I wonder if Al Gore, EJ Dionne and the rest think he should defend himself?

Now, university fund-raisers are unabashed whores, as they should be (the greatness of our university system is due in part to these people’s ability to extract money from the Daniel Plainviews of the world). So what Harvard is doing here doesn’t bother me, nor does it amuse me.

What does amuse me is all the would be courageous truth-tellers in the world of journalism who at best, will timidly take a whack at Peretz once someone more important has cast the first stone, and at worst continue to kiss his ass. It will be the same with David Bradley, the rich guy who bankrolls The Atlantic, if he ever goes around the bend. In for a pony, in for a pound.

None of this is much different than what goes on at CATO or the various other serious, Koch-funded enterprises.

Two Worthy Candidates

The NYTimes is reporting that “Warren [Will] Unofficially Lead Consumer Agency“:

Elizabeth Warren, who conceived of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, will oversee its establishment as an assistant to President Obama, an official briefed on the decision said Wednesday evening.
The decision, which Mr. Obama is to announce this week, would allow Ms. Warren, a Harvard law professor, to effectively run the new agency without having to go through a potentially contentious confirmation battle in the Senate…
Ms. Warren will be named an assistant to the president, a designation that is held by senior White House staff members, including Rahm Emanuel, the chief of staff. She will also be a special adviser to the Treasury secretary, Timothy F. Geithner, and report jointly to Mr. Obama and Mr. Geithner. The financial regulation law delegated to the Treasury Department the powers of the bureau until a permanent director was appointed and confirmed by the Senate to a five-year term.
The decision does not preclude the possibility that Ms. Warren could eventually be named director, and at the least, she would play a pivotal role in deciding whom to appoint to the job, according to the official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity so as not to pre-empt the formal announcement…

And Gail Collins sends her new column from Anchorage:

… Scott McAdams, the Democratic candidate, is introducing himself to the voters. This will take some time because McAdams’s big claim to fame is being mayor of Sitka, a town of 8,700 with no road access…
The mayor’s big adventure began when it was Sitka’s turn to hold the Democratic state convention this year and the delegates were looking under every rock, melting glacier and sleeping walrus for a respectable candidate to face Murkowski. Voilà! A star was born, sort of. For weeks, McAdams ran in obscurity with no staff and a budget adequate to cover a meal for four at Red Lobster. Then the Tea Party struck, and now he’s Mr. Smith, trying to go to Washington…
The national Democratic establishment has been ignoring McAdams. So many crazy Tea Party candidates to take advantage of, so little time. If places like the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee forgot about Alaska before this week, they must be totally distracted now that the Republicans in Delaware have decided to nominate a woman who won’t tell anybody where she lives because she’s afraid her political enemies will come and hide in the bushes.
McAdams may be an imperfect candidate, but he’s also an extremely inexpensive one. An Alaskan political campaign costs less than a tenth of one in big-media states like Florida and New York. He could probably run a competitive race for a million dollars, which is about the equivalent in California of Barbara Boxer’s postage budget.

McAdams is one of the choices on Balloon Juice’s very own ActBlue page, in case you want to show him a little monetary love. Maybe, in honor of the pinnipeds seeking refugee from global warming, we can call it “Walrusbombing“?

Open Thread: Astroturfing with Chinese Characteristics

Tom Scocca at Slate poaches on Taibbi territory with a post smacking Tom Friedman’s latest idiocy: “How Will China Reckon with the Freewheeling Opinions of Its (Government-Employed) Netizens?”:

Like the Great Firewall, this mass sock-puppetry campaign is an open secret with a catchy name: the paid apologists are called the “Wu Mao Dang,” or Fifty-Cent Party, after the purported going rate (in Chinese currency) for each pro-government posting.
Again, this is not an obscure fact, except to Thomas Friedman. The policy of paying for Internet commentary is so well known that it has backfired, so that writers who express too much enthusiasm for the government are dismissed as paid plants. Fifty-cent banknotes have become a metonym for official deception; earlier this year, during an appearance by a provincial propaganda official at Renmin University, a protester threw 50-cent bills at the stage.
Can Friedman be that oblivious? Maybe the best-selling pundit is making a subtle and powerful point here. On first read, there’s no obvious connection between Friedman’s “BEIJING” dateline and the content of the column. More prepacked opinions from the globe-trotter, as usual. But by omitting any mention of the sensitive subject of the Fifty-Cent Party—or of online censorship at all—he’s capturing the authentic tone of the Chinese Internet.

Another area where America is falling behind China in properly utilizing modern technology! Why can’t the failed Obama Administration seize this bold, outside-the-box opportunity to announce a “Full Enough Employment Program” where bold Real American(tm) bloggers will be paid for pro-government posts, comments, and tweets? Just setting the proper market-competitive rates and guidelines for ideological purity would keep many newly-minted MBAs in Starbucks and iPads, not to mention the enormous potential of all those untapped MFA hipsters…