PAUL LOEB – It seemed like the afterthought in the payroll tax cut extension fight, a small consolation prize to the Republicans on what should have been the easiest of bi-partisan votes. But the two-month clock is now ticking on whether Obama will approve the Keystone XL pipeline from Canada’s environmentally disastrous tar sands. If we want him to make the right decision and deny the permit, maybe it’s time to Occupy Exxon, with creative protests at local Exxon/Mobil stations.
CHRIS HEDGES – There is no danger that the protesters who have occupied squares, parks and plazas across the nation in defiance of the corporate state will be co-opted by the Democratic Party or groups like MoveOn. The faux liberal reformers, whose abject failure to stand up for the rights of the poor and the working class, have signed on to this movement because they fear becoming irrelevant. Union leaders, who pull down salaries five times that of the rank and file as they bargain away rights and benefits, know the foundations are shaking.
PETER BERGEL: $700 billion is a number that rings a bell for most Americans these days. It was the first installment U.S. taxpayers were forced to pony up for Wall Street to “stimulate”Â the economy. But, according to analyst Don Monkrude, that sum is also, coincidentally, the amount by which the 400 richest Americans increased their net worth during the Bush years.