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Comments of the Week: Scott Walker, Obama's 'Kill List' and American Elites | The Nation

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Comments of the Week: Scott Walker, Obama's 'Kill List' and American Elites

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This week our readers had a number of astute points to make on the Wisconsin recall election, the revelations regarding Obama’s “Kill List,” and the excerpt we published from Chris Hayes’ highly anticipated book Twilight of the Elites: America After Meritocracy We're taking questions for Chris regarding his book and recent cover story in the comment threads and at comments@thenation.com. Our editor and publisher, Katrina vanden Heuvel, will ask the best at an event at the New School next Thursday, June 14th.

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Earlier this month, we joined Know Your IX to call on Congress to give the Department of Education the tools to hold colleges responsible for campus sexual assault. A bill introduced this morning would do just that.

Amid pressure from progressive and women's right organizations, President Obama has nominated Janet Yellen to head the Federal Reserve. 

DH Fabian: Thank you Laura Flanders! Over the past couple of years, any time that the poor almost had the microphone, it was pulled away, restricting the public discussion to "middle class workers." Clinton "made it cool" to turn our backs on the poor, and at the time we probably didn't realize how many of us would become poor ourselves. Reality: not everyone can work and there aren't enough jobs for all who need one. We've shipped out hundreds of thousands of working class jobs. The last I heard, there are five or six people in desperate need of jobs for every job opening. Almost one-third of the middle class has disappeared, falling into that void of US poverty. Our only response to date is to call for job creation, as we've been doing for 30+ years, but guess what: you can't rent a room with promises of eventual job creation. Did you know that among America's poor, the infant mortality rate now exceeds that of some Third World nations? Or that the life expectancy of our poor has been on a downhill slide? This is what the celebrated Bill Clinton gave us.
In response to Laura Flanders’ “Do We Need a Poor People’s Coming-Out Movement?” June 1, 2012

Old Dem: I applaud you, Chris and Jeremy, for your honest coverage of this most important issue. I'm appalled and saddened to read of the abuse Jeremy has had thrown at him by Obama tribalists. I really do think it's Obama tribalists and not Democratic Party tribalists who are so enraged at anyone who would dare criticize their idol.

It wasn't long ago that I thought that the deplorable state of our economy was the Number One issue, what with approximately half of the U.S. population classified as "poor" and one recent study finding that about 15% of seniors are "food insecure". But I now believe that our most important problem is the continuing assault on our civil liberties. I can't help but believe that this targeting of people on the flimsiest of evidence (and sometimes apparently no evidence) is just a dry run for trying a version of this targeting at home, not with drones, but with criminal charges thrown at people on the say so of authorities.

Another thought: this targeting is obviously a recipe for blowback. I can't help but think that this may be a feature, not a bug, one that ensures perpetual war that enriches private contractors and opens the way for an even greater at-home "security state".
In response to Chris Hayes’ “Jeremy Scahill: Obama’s Assassination Program.” June 4, 2012

Staten island Bob: Win or lose the people of Wisconsin have shown us all how to stand up to power. The key thing is to stay focused from here on in. That is one thing the right wing has learned to do. When they lose an election they regroup and make plans for the next one. The left could learn something from this. Like "limoman" says below, "this is what democracy looks like." If we all stay engaged we will be better off. I just wish President Obama had decided to get involved, instead of pulling his disappearing act. One plane ride to Wisconsin, and a few kind words for Mayor Barrett, is that too much to ask?
In response to John Nichols’ “A Wisconsin Recall FAQ.” June 5, 2012

ChristopherS: I hope John Nichols is right that the principal cause of this result is the money power of the right. Because the alternative is the sickening thought that a majority of people have been kicked around by the plutocrats for so long that all they want to do is take it out on those who are doing only slightly better than they are.
In response to John Nichols’ “Recall Campaign Against Scott Walker Fails.” June 5, 2012

KAK1958: I never understand why people complain about government excess (e.g. public sector unions and their employees) but when the same tax dollars are given to defense contractors and other private businesses which have historically and chronically been guilty of waste, fraud and abuse, it never seems to bothers people. It doesn't matter how many bipartisan commissions find billions wasted or simply unaccounted for on reconstruction projects, or on engines for planes that the military doesn't even want. We just keep funding private industry with no taxpayer revolts. Just a slap on their hand while it's simultaneously held out for more of the tax dollars that at least those greedy public employees won't be getting anymore.
In response to John Nichols’ “Recall Campaign Against Scott Walker Fails.” June 5, 2012

Khartyr: As a Vietnam era veteran I personally would like to thank Chris Hayes for having the courage to express a simple and overlooked truth. One might trace the use of the word "hero" throughout the history of war and find the use is in the broadest sense an all-too-convenient rationalization for not only the grieving but for the continued sustainability of the war machinery, for fighting the "just fight". I do hope one day we will come to understand war is a failure by its very nature. War is self-perpetuating and as long as we create and use the "heroic" symbolism of war we will continue to fail.
In response to The Editors’ “Chris Hayes and ‘Heroes.’” June 6, 2012

tbedf: First I will admit that I am a fan of Chris Hayes. I believe Chris Hayes would consider himself a serious intellect, but he has achieved some celebrity status amongst us geeks. While I concur with the gist of this article for the most part, I want to make a few points of my own. I know something about the intellectual elite from the inside. While my family background is one of extreme poverty, I was able to attend an elite college prep Catholic high school, because of Catholic charity in the late sixties. I graduated at 15; all students at this high school graduate at 15 or 16. We skipped 7th and 8th grade. I had good SAT scores and being African American, I was bombarded with invitations to apply to almost every Ivy League school in the country in 1970. I did attend one of the nation's most elite universities. While I was able to more than compete academically, (the high school I went to was really awesome) I was not able to compete socially, nor financially. Financial aid in 1970 was not what it is today. After 3 years of financial hardship, I dropped out and went into the army. I never returned, which is probably a tragic mistake because I left in good standing. In 1970 the zeitgeist in the elite academe still contained some idealistic hangover from the sixties. The culture in the academy talked about things like critical thinking, developing one's qualitative and quantitative abilities, developing that intellectual muscle, expanding the frontiers of knowledge, aspiring to do something big to improve the condition of humanity; you get the gist. Now, it seems the culture of the academy is about getting that credential, reaching the highest echelon of the professional world, making lots of money. The elite and their progeny cannot only get the credential which is their passport, but they can do this by doing four years of fluff. Then they can do more fluff and get higher credentials. I have met Harvard MBAs who can barely do arithmetic. These people ascend to the pinnacle of authority, power and wealth. They are amassing at the top of the pyramid. We have people steeped in credentialed fluff running the world. It is no wonder that their mistakes are of epic magnitude. They bring down world economies, destroy social fabrics, bring about senseless wars that cause death, destruction, and misery to millions, with nothing to show for afterwards. Then they go on their merry way. More and more, the elite on both the left and the right are vacuous, fluff credentialed and incompetent. Avarice is a virtue to them. America is spiraling down to a cataclysm. It might happen in our lifetime, it might occur in a generation or two. But we are living in the downward spiral. It might be that mass societies don't operate well. I believe that after the cataclysm, a different societal model will emerge. One would need to be prescient to know what this model will be. The elite think they are engineering a new world order. But their schemes never work. The biggest reason for this is not rocket science. There is a concentration of people at the top, who have nothing but fluff and empty air beneath their credentials.
In response to Chris Hates’ “Why Elites Fail.” June 6, 2012.

R.G. Price: One of the problems with America's founding design is that its founders took great pains to mitigate against the rise of oligarchy within the government. They went to great pains to ensure that government power would be as meritocratic as possible, but in the process what they did was they made government so weak that it could easily be co-opted by outside forces. Our government ensures that the people in government don't amass too much power, but as a result, our government officials become puppets of those with power outside of government. Instead of remaining agents of democracy, they simply become puppets of the private oligarchy. This flaw in design by our founders is quite understandable, since their experience was with government corruption and government oligarchy, so that's what they were mitigating against, but in the process they opened up the government to subversion by outside non-democratic power. This is because the players in government are constantly changing and constantly having their power removed, but the powerful private interests are not, they are the ones that stay in place year after year, generation after generation, and the rise of corporations has only compounded this issue, which was, incidentally, something that Thomas Jefferson was very mindful of and worried about.
In response to Chris Hates’ “Why Elites Fail.” June 6, 2012.

George_W_Obama: You hit the nail right on the head when you write "the assassinations violate laws put in place in the 1970s after scandals enveloped an earlier era of CIA criminality." Barack Obama has essentially delegated his foreign policy in Yemen and Pakistan to the CIA and his shadow Secretary of State John Brennan. Killing one or two leaders is not the proper measure of success in either war or foreign policy. Before the drone strikes began in Yemen there was a minimal AQ presence there. After four years of drone strikes that have killed hundreds of civilians all US has accomplished is the radicalization of an entire country. Lawless killing didn't work in Vietnam and it won't work in Yemen.
In response to “Kill the ‘Kill List.’” June 6, 2012.

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