You see, there has been a class war going on for years – perpetrated by the rich (who aren’t smarter or better) against everyone else.
By Lee Camp
Special to Consortium News
We live in a time when there are more billionaires walking around than ever before. (They don’t actually walk. They have someone do that for them.) And one can’t deny billionaires are billionaires because they’ve worked harder than anyone else—roughly 300 times harder than an average worker. They are smarter, cleverer, more intuitive and show more initiative than anyone else, too. That’s why they’re billionaires and we’re not. That’s why they will always be billionaires and we will never be. That’s why we can all see ourselves in the reflection on Jeff Bezos’ bald head and yet can never touch it.
Now, I must say—everything stated in the first paragraph is utterly false. No part of it is true (except the part about the walking). Most billionaires don’t work harder, don’t think harder, and don’t know more. They have nothing over your average person except: a) luck b) sometimes inheriting a fortune and c) being more sociopathic. So I guess you could say they’re extraordinary on the sociopathy front. They are more willing to crush other humans to get what they want and thereby they are more able to get what they want.
All of this might slightly explain why a vein bulges in my forehead when I read that billionaires are doing better than ever during this global viral outbreak that has killed hundreds of thousands.
Billionaires in the U.S. have seen their fortunes skyrocket, increasing by 12.5 percent since the pandemic began. The Institute for Policy Studies released a study “showing that, in the eight weeks between March 18 and May 14, the country’s super wealthy have added a further $368.8 billion to their already enormous fortunes.”
That’s a jaw-dropping-fall-over-and-have-a-seizure level of wealth, yet nothing new. Even before the pandemic, the vaults of the rich bulged with unbelievable amounts of shiny things. Even before coronavirus was a household name the three richest Americans had more wealth than the bottom 50 percent of our country.
For those of you keeping score at home, that’s 164 million people. (Now is the appropriate time to dry heave.) This isn’t inequality—it’s the inequality equivalent of a bloodbath. And I mean, like, a bathtub full of gross diseased squirrel blood—not good healthy virgin cashier at American Outfitters blood. (If you think that line was anti-women, I never said it was a woman. Men can be virgins too! You disgust me with your gender stereotypes!)
Besides this ridiculous state of inequality, the rich also don’t pay their fair share in taxes. (Are you shocked?) They received a giant tax cut from Donald Trump, and the crazy rich hide $32 trillion in offshore tax havens worldwide.
Meanwhile, for average Americans, things are, um… not as good. As Alan Mcleod writes for MintPress, “A record 36 million Americans have filed for unemployment insurance, with millions more losing their employer-based healthcare plans, and around a third of the country not paying its rent.”
Once you lay it all out and look at the cards we’ve been dealt, you have no choice but to ask yourself, “How is our society not collapsing? Why are far more things not on fire? Why is cashew butter still available in the grocery stores? Why do people continue to jaunt around on e-scooters with smiles underneath their pandemic masks? Why is the stock market not so low it can see up my shorts? Why aren’t we all paying for homemade cans of gasoline with homemade cans of moonshine—gasoline we’ll need to power our protection chainsaws??”
We Live in a Plutonomy
Well, one of the reasons is that we now have a plutonomy – a term used by Citigroup analysts and others to describe a system in which the wealthy (the 1 percent) are the driving force as well as the beneficiaries of economic growth.
Basically, in today’s America, it only matters what the rich do—what they buy, what they sell, what they invest in, what they hump, and what they listen to. You and I simply don’t matter.
We matter as much as a gnat. … As much as a gnat matters to another gnat … that’s not that into him. Just like totally ignoring him. (I never should’ve brought us this deep into this analogy. I have no exit plan.)
Recent estimates are that only 20 percent of people have 85 percent of the wealth, so as long as the government serves those 20 percent, they can almost completely ignore the bottom 80 percent of people.
This explains why our government has not seen the need to truly bailout average people during this crisis. They have sent a check for $1,200 to regular citizens while giving 4.25 TRILLION dollars to big banks and corporate America.
Do you understand how much that is? No, you can’t. No one can. It’s not possible. It’s meant to not be possible. If someone gave you a million dollars a year—just handed $1,000,000 to you—do you know how long it would take you to amass 4.25 trillion dollars? It would take you 4.25 million years. … By which time dollars won’t mean anything because currency will have been replaced with hand jobs. And humans will have been replaced with squid-like kangaroo creatures, and therefore a “hand job” will be a far more complicated procedure that involves taxidermied human hands that the Squidgaroos call “5-pronged sex-pumps.” (I can back that all up with primary sources.)
Anyway, this idea of the plutonomy was actually leaked out in a Citigroup analyst note several years ago. They accidentally said the quiet part out loud to their super rich clients. It read:
“The world is dividing into two blocs – the plutonomies, where economic growth is powered by and largely consumed by the wealthy few, and the rest. …What are the common drivers of Plutonomy? Disruptive technology-driven productivity gains, creative financial innovation, capitalist-friendly cooperative governments, …and overseas conquests invigorating wealth creation, the rule of law, and patenting inventions.”
Let’s take a moment to break down what some of this means in human-speak. For example, “creative financial innovation” translates to “unique news ways to steal from people.” Then “capitalist-friendly cooperative governments,” should be read as “governments controlled by the rich designed to fuck the people at every turn.” That’s what it means when a government “cooperates” with Citibank. And finally, “overseas conquests invigorating wealth creation, the rule of law, and patenting inventions.” That gobbledygook means, “invading and taking over other nations and people and then stealing their resources.”
It’s a lovely language they speak over there at Citibank, isn’t it? I think it’s Scandinavian derived.
The Citigroup note ends with, “Often these wealth waves involve great complexity, exploited best by the rich and educated of the time.” They’re saying that the plutonomy is too complicated for us troglodyte masses with our T-shirts that say things and our extra long straws with the spoon on the end to get at our Slurpees. It’s best if we just leave it all to the rich smart people. They’d prefer we just go back to scraping the ants out of our porridge bowl that we’re sharing with an unclaimed baby.
The Class War
Now back to the Mintpress article about how awesome the rich are doing – “The fact that billionaires’ wealth is rising so rapidly in a period of economic collapse is a sign that the rich’s wealth is barely even connected to productive forces anymore and has more to do with how much wealth one can take from public coffers.”
You see, there has been a class war going on for years – perpetrated by the rich against everyone else. In a study covered in the Proceedings of The National Academy of Sciences, researchers found that higher social class predicted an increase in unethical behavior. They showed that the rich are more likely to make unethical decisions, steal from others, break the law while driving, and cheat in contests.
And yet the rich are the ones who control our government and our economy. Not only should they be kept out of leadership positions, they shouldn’t even be out on the streets. We have to keep our kids safe, don’t we?
The exorbitantly rich should be put in facilities where they can be monitored and receive the treatment they require. And then – while they aren’t looking – the rest of us will create a sustainable, egalitarian, peaceful, eco-positive, utopian wonder-world where hugs don’t cause death anymore.
If you feel this column is important, please share it.
Lee Camp is the host of the hit comedy news show “Redacted Tonight.” His new book “Bullet Points and Punch Lines” is available at LeeCampBook.com and his standup comedy special can be streamed for free at LeeCampAmerican.com.
The views expressed are solely those of the author and may or may not reflect those of Consortium News.
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It’s a good point that when they speak of trillions, it’s almost like a foreign language, it’s difficult even for a mathematician to really grasp. I think of the awesome distance of a light-year, 5.88 trillion miles, so 4.25 would be like 8-9 months, travelling at 186,000 miles/SECOND, it would take 8+ months to finally get to that number, it’s totally mind-boggling, and they do it non-chalantly, And even more sick and twisted, speaking of trillions, is that the poor students struggling, the future of our country are currently at about 1.6 TRILLION in debt, debt they can never get rid of in bankruptcy, a privilege that even a compulsive gambler enjoys. It is really strange that even with all the protests, the truth that poor lives don’t matter hasn’t been the big focus to change, and to have politicians of both parties, heck, Pelosi’s worth over 100 million, tell us all that there isn’t enough money to even give them health care? It’s a very, very horrible and sadistic state of affairs.
Some other number tidbits mixed with opinionated statements.
1. From “vendian.org”: A billion grains of salt would fill a bathtub. A trillion would fill a decent sized classroom (volume equal to 1000 bathtubs).
2. Assuming an average price of $600 per Apple iPhone, 1.67 billion phones could be purchased with a trillion $ (US dollars). 2.2 billion Apple iPhones (give or take) have been sold in history. Thus, with the aforementioned price assumption, with a trillion $, you could have purchased 76% of ALL Apple iPhones every made. (Side Note: Most of those phones are no longer in service, so odds are, with a trillion you could easily buy ALL Apple iPhones that exist today and still have some money left over unless of course some of the final “owners” started hoarding their phones. Of course, if just about nobody has an iPhone since they have all been bought, then those few left being hoarded probably would be worthless, and everyone could laugh at the stupid hoarders).
3. Per “quora.com”, moderate speed rail can be built for 2.4 million per mile on average and high speed rail can be built for 82 million per mile on average (probably above average cause the cost was through difficult terrain). The distance between New York City and Los Angeles via I-80 is 2,800 miles. You can figure out the math as easily as me, but if your not in the mood, then I’ll just add that with trillion $, even at the high end of the cost range, the US could build a high speed rail line between NY and LA and still have enough left over to build another one back to NY for the hell of it, and then still have enough left over for another 6300 miles of track that would sure be of value to our economy. Plus, I know I would enjoy riding that rail to get from point A to B.
If the money was spent on Option #3 above, the value of the US Dollar probably would increase, because the US dollar is based upon NOTHING but “good faith”. Improving infrastructure is a no-brainer, and when is the last time somebody from the “Made up City” of DC made that happen in a substantive way?
Where the hell is all this money (DEBT) going? It is time to end the FED.
The successful all say success is due to hard work. The unsuccessful say success is down to luck. The correlation is perfect, but correlation is not causality. As a prof I knew used to say, ‘If you go to a military mess hall, you’ll see that every single one of the fat people eat a small salad with oil-free dressing, small portions of boiled meat and boiled veggies, and an apple for desert; and you’ll see that all the very thin people eat a huge potato salad, fried meat and French fries, and for dessert a thick slab of chocolate custard pie. Clearly, it was those meals that made the fat ones fat and the thin ones thin. (In reality, it was the fact that they were fat that got them tiny meals with no flavour, and the fact that they were thin that got them huge meals with lots of fat and sugar, not the other way around.)
Not everyone is good at cheating, but we have a system where those who are best at it get almost all the money, since there’s nothing to stop a skilled cheater.
There was a system to stop the great cheaters from taking too much money when Ike was president: the Federal tax on excessive (like, more than 5 times the average wage) incomes was 91%, and, with state tax of 10%, it meant an exec who paid himself more than 5 times the average wage got a top tax rate of 101% on the money he made that was more than 5 times the average wage. So top execs earned just 5 times as much as the average worker.
Those who are in charge now note how terrible this was: the best cheaters deserve at least 1,000 times as much as the peons, and probably a lot more, since they are just being fairly compensated for their great contributions.
Great analysis, a totally fubar culture is more easy to take with a little humor and satire-avoids the urgent need to puke. I like the study of unethical behavior as related to social class. Fits in with the old saying, “nice guys finish last”. Ridicule is a good weapon against the powerful.
“They are more willing to crush other humans to get what they want and thereby they are more able to get what they want.”
In a four part Netflix series on Trump, a much younger Trump explains, “There are victims and there are predators, you can be one or the other.” No need to wonder for long what his choice is. This is the definition of a psychopath; and is right out of the playbook of Nazi propaganda minister, and minister of the press, theatre, music, radio, tv and film, Joseph Goebbels. He made films of bugs and animals fighting to the death to illustrate and promote the party’s basic philosophy (religion) of social Darwinism.
So much for so called pillars of the community. Way to go Lee.
The trouble is a psychopath is born a psychopath. I don’t think we are going to change anything before we fully understand genetic engineering and can engineer those psycopathic genes out of their system somehow. At the very least, they should be uncovered and then monitored through some sort of regulatory system. Of course, some of that psychopatic behaviour and greed has also produced some interesting technological advances, so it isn’t that easy or straightforward
As for RT, who knows who actually funds these things. The assumption that anything other than ‘American’ is of questionable value is one of the reasons we’re in such a mess in the first place. I’m quite partial to teh Hill Rising with Krystal Ball and Saagar Enjeti. And, then of course, there’s Jimmy Dore. He repeats himself a lot to get his point across, but his points are often good though he too tends to cherry pick some of his facts.
Olde, what technological advances have been made as a result of psychopathic behavio(u)r and greed?
Psychopaths are not the problem and, quite rightly are not even referred to in the article. The behaviour accurately described therein is SOCIOpathic. Psychopaths have a physical defficiency which impairs their ability to tell right from wrong. They can, in the midst of a psychotic episode, harm somebody but they don’t mean to do that. Sociopaths on other hand have no problem with telling right from wrong; they simply don’t give a damn if they have to step over dead bodies to get what they want. Their cognitive abilities are not impaired and are often products of elite education. It is just that they are a disgrace to the human race. That’s what billionaires are. You should not confuse them with psychopaths who are genuinely ill people who need help.
Lee, your characterisation of the plutomony (or plutocrat-controlled economy) makes clear to me why hyperinflation has not yet totally crushed whatever life force remains within the 99.9999%. All the new money created from nothing by the Fed’s seeming endless extension of debt is simply not accessible to the world’s great unwashed. It exists only to be possessed and used by the top 0.0001%, the few dozen oligarchic families on the planet that hold title to near everything.
Actually, most of that money does not even exist in the form of coin or currency, but only as line item entries in bank records. And, at that, its only purpose is to maintain the pecking order amongst the plutocracy by quantifying the relative values of their myriad holdings of real estate, natural resources, infrastructure, means of production, precious metals, gemstone trinkets, professional sports leagues and other baubles that might be flaunted as bread and circuses before the public and considered forms of undeniable forms of “wealth.” The Bezos’s, Gates’s, Buffet’s, Koch’s, Musk’s and Walton’s used to compare the size of their dicks in units of millions of dollars, then it was billions and, at the rate new money is fabricated out of the ether, it will soon be in the trillions, all of which is irrelevant to most families amongst the other 7.8 billion members of the species.
That’s the true purpose of most of the imaginary cash being churned out by the central banks and curated by Wall Street. Because it is not available to the masses it is of little relevance to them. We have always been hard up because the plutocrats have always played this game. They will always limit our access to the necessities of life strictly to accommodate their need of our services, which grows increasingly rare with technological advancement. And they will distribute only crumbs sufficient to avoid charges of willful mass genocide. Besides, in their view, it is the role of government to take the fall for such sins as war, famine and pestilence, not the aristocracy that controls the government.
Superb comment, Realist.
RT is really a mixed bag. But what is really good, like Lee, Chris Hedges’ interview show on Saturdays, On Point, the appearances of George Galloway as a contributor, and some other things, are better than anything in US commercial media. With exceptions, of course, that prove the rule. The accusation that it is “Putin propaganda” is utterly fatuous. Rick Sanchez is no worse than he has ever been. And Larry King is Larry King. “What’s your favorite kind of cookie?” But he is as old as the hills, and hasn’t even lost a half-step. Which is one heck of a lot more than you can say about our presumptive presidential nominees.
Glad to see you writing! Thanks for the links to the articles/sources you cite!
For whatever reason, Lee, like Caitlin Johnstone, prefers to describe the billionaire ruling class as sociopathic rather than psychopathic. The former condition is learned and can be changed; the latter is a genetic brain disorder that is neither treatable nor curable. The primary characteristic of the psychopath is an insatiable hunger/ greed for control, power, perks, and wealth, and he (they’re primarily male) will do whatever it takes attempting to satisfy that greed: murder, lying, cheating, stealing are his daily tools. Occupations which attract them the most are law, military, police, church, politics.
Fmi read or refer to Dr Robert Hare.
It is of great relevance to reflect that it is not the rich who will become immoral, but the immoral who will become rich.
The other observation I would make is that probably 80% imagine that they belong to the 20%, or at least hope to do so.
The capitalist system, now Late Capitalism, becomes ever more competitive, requiring ever more vicious actors to administer its institutions.
The SYSTEM promotes such people, because if they don’t, their competitors will, and they will go under.
So we need Einstein’s system (Search “Why Socialism”!)
We used to say “Socialism or Barbarism”.
Now it’s “Socialism or EXTINCTION”.
Another reason they love this is that it shuts down small, local, Mom & Pop businesses so that their corporate franchises can replace them. Or just buy them up for pennies on the dollar. The fact that small businesses employ 4/5 non gov’t employees is not important. Sux 2BU.
One Trillion Dollars = If Jesus Christ spent One Million Dollars each day, He would have 719 YEARS still to go before He spent One Trillion Dollars. At a Million Dollars a day, One Trillion would be 2,739 Years.
“And then- while they aren’t looking-the rest of us will create a sustainable egalitarian, peaceful, eco-positive, utopian wonder world….”
Yes. Let’s do that.
I’m glad that Lee Camp can make humor of such a grotesque reality, although a bit silly at times. The rich are “more likely to make unethical decisions, steal from others, break the law while driving, and cheat in contests” because it is the unethical who float to the top in an unregulated market economy. Their creed of money=power=virtue no matter how they get it, goes a long way in the US criminal enterprise.
Thanks to Lee for this article. Viewing the many interviews and talks by Prof. Richard Wolff gives possible solutions!!
Hoarding in normal people and conversations is not something to b admired- it is a sort of mental disease. Those who continue to accumulate impossible-to-spend billions (except to buy power) and refuse even to pay their workers enough to live on while using their power to increase this “wealth” need to be incarcerated while those in US hellholes are released. None if the present inmates could do the damage of the plutocrats.
Lee Camp for President! Not really, but it sounds good to me
Is the Scandinavian reference something to do with pillaging Vikings? Or is there something else to it?
You know them Vikings were fierce-some and for good reason. When they went to pillage it was all business. If you as an individual pillager got a little benefit on the side consider yourself lucky (I suppose), but from my perspective that would have been foolish behavior over the long-term quickly leading to an earlier demise versus your comrades in pillaging.
Don’t forget either, many times in history the locals fought back, and if not for this (somewhere on the southeastern coast of that island there – Kentish area I think), I’m damn near sure I would not be typing this now! In fact, a significant percentage of those typing here would not exist.
History – ain’t it something?
Here is some text from Wikipedia on this topic:
Viking attacks: 825–1066
The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle records that Kent was first attacked by Viking raiders in the late eighth century. Kent and southeast England would have been an attractive target because of its wealthy minsters, often located on exposed coastal locations. In 804, the nuns of Lyminge were granted refuge in Canterbury to escape the attackers, while in 811 Kentish forces gathered to repel a Viking army based on the Isle of Sheppey. Further recorded attacks occurred on Sheppey in 835, through Romney Marsh in 841, in Rochester in 842, Canterbury (Battle of Aclea) and Sandwich (Battle of Sandwich) in 851, Thanet in 853, and across Kent in 865. Kent was also attractive for its easy access to major land and sea routes. By 811, it is recorded that Vikings built fortifications on the Kentish north coast, and over-wintered their armies on Thanet in 851–852 and Sheppey in 854–855. At this point, Canterbury and Rochester still had Roman walls that could have been refurbished, but they were nevertheless attacked by the Vikings: Rochester in 842, Canterbury in 851, and Rochester again in 885, when they laid siege until it was liberated by Alfred’s army. The Burghal Hidage lists the construction of the Eorpenburnam fort, possibly Castle Toll. Hoards have been found, particularly around the West Kent coast, that might have been wealth hidden from the Vikings.
(Sorry if that was boring)
Not boring at all. I’m English and I don’t know enough about that period in our history, nor its many connections and consequences in the present day, such as land ownership and cultural practices.
The Jutes, along with some Angles, Saxons, and Frisians, sailed across the North Sea to raid and eventually invade Roman Britain, from the late fourth century onwards, either displacing, absorbing, or destroying Romanised British kingdoms in south-east Britain, particularly in the county of Kent where their capital – Canterbury – was established.
Not boring BK. There’s a tiny cohort of pedantic losers who groove on this info. We know who we are. Cheers!
Hey SRH, Francis Lee, and RBC.
I suppose what is boring to some is not to others, and the Jutes, Angles, Saxon, and Frisians (need to look that one up) were all just trying to survive. Still – they must of been desperate to pillage. Most of the time, for most cultures…for most little towns and places, the best way to survive wasn’t via pillaging, but rather via Mutual Aid.
Mutual Aid makes so much sense it is just amazing to me that everybody doesn’t realize this. It is not tricky.
It could turn out that being a billionaire offers no advantage in the future, and if anything, it just makes you a target. That is why I am happy just to be a simple peasant! So many with more money than they know what to do with…..I think they have a fatal illness.
Nothing in this piece is not factual, which makes me furious at the wonder of so many citizens either not believing it, not understanding it, or just not caring. Anyone who still supports this blatant plutocracy or tries to rationalize it is sick. And it’s only going to get worse before it gets better.
THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU, LEE.
Ta very much Lee for this openly, this forthright with humor account of the world – especially the US – we dwell in. (Your math is helpful, too! I can’t even imagine a million dollars, let alone numerous trillions.)
There was a great article a few months ago in Transcend Media Service(!) by Marilyn Langlois called “What your mother told you-nobody should be too rich or too poor” which gives a great, clear explanation of what these numbers, in dollars and weight, mean.
My appreciationto Lee Camp.
He has identified the actual reality of things, and begun the identification of the individuals who are behind the symbols of oppression, as represented by statues and the police.
He has even made clear that this is not a recent development in the U$. Indeed, the wealthy have controlled everything from colonial days, through the “Revolution”, through all the wars and economic depressions, through politics and policy to this very moment.
Beyond the symbols, however, still reigns the damnable mythology of exceptionalism, superiority, and indispensableness, all well assimilated by the many, to the appalling extent that far too many of the many actually still, somehow, imagine that the U$ is a “democracy” and that their votes, somehow, matter, when ample evidence, genuine factual evidence, makes crystal clear that elector “change” is utter nonsense and has been from the beginning. It is merely a ruse to con the schmucks into believing that they too, if they work hard, can become rich socio or patho-logical powers that can have, as an old song once proclaimed, “Whatever I want, when I want it!”(Whomever or whatever it may harm).
However, I would suggest that now is the time for serious discussion about the necessity of a sane, humane, and sustainable human society, fully cognizant of its utter dependence, for actual existence, upon a planetary environment already precariously trashed.
Further, while among certain “liberal” and “progressive” sensibilities, it is fashionable to exclaim, “When some leader presents me a sure-fire, guaranteed plan, which will magically transform everything, with little or no effort on my part, I will gladly, and immediately, sign on!”
That, frankly, is a continuation of the current mindset, of, “Let others do the thinking”, of not wishing to sully oneself with embracing the efforts, and the danger, of daring to imagine, and then finding the courage and stamina of building something larger than one’s own portfolio or “pile”.
Doubtless, social conditioning in an “ME!” society, of instant gratification, of “meritorious” mendacity, and of everyone as a “brand” and “profit center” with a longstanding motto of, “Greed is Good” (remember that?), will not be easy to overcome, yet because such a “philosophy”really must be held at the individual level (in an individualist society), it is at precisely that level that it must be confronted, must be changed.
If the lifestyles of the Rich and Famous, are to be fully understood, in terms of the harm which they do, and it is global in scale, then visions of other measures of “success” and contribution must be envisioned and applauded, must be respected and even venerated.
Until there are socially valued and emulated options to greed, destruction, domination, and control, there cannot, will not, be the energy, the will, the inspiration to build a better human world.
The first step is to imagine that things do not HAVE to be as they are.
The second is to realize, to understand, fully, that there is no viable future if things continue as they are.
The third is to admit that things are not as they are because some deity or mindless fate insist upon it, but because a very few individual human beings have created self-serving policies, social patterns, and narratives that reinforce myths and belief systems which blind the many to the actual truth of things.
As the blinders fall away, or are intentionally torn off, reality is revealed.
Who you gonna believe, the “official” narratives?
Or your lyin’ eyes?
very nicely put
Hey Lee, I see this was a special to CN. That was great, funny and right on the money. The prim and proper contingent probably will sniff, but so what. You’re correct that one can’t possibly SAY anything as profane as what is actually happening.
“It’s a lovely language they speak over there at Citibank, isn’t it? I think it’s Scandinavian derived.”
Remember when Jesus trashed the Temple of the Scandinavians?
Be sure to catch Lee’s show on RT. You know, that station where Americans covering American news are called foreign agents by our government that’s protecting us from becoming Putin’s puppets.
I don’t know what to make of RT. It’s funded by the Russian government but it has numerous lefty types making interesting-sounding programmes. Can someone give me a notion of its reliability?
I find RT much more reliable (and interesting) than most other televised news; I also like Democracy Now! and the Daily Show.