Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Rise in Consumer Confidence Explained

A decrease in gas prices has apparently contributed to a rise in consumer confidence.  As one consumer analyst points out, however, consumer confidence is still not great.


Via Bloomberg News On line --


“Consumers are definitely getting some benefit from lower gasoline prices and that is freeing up some income,” Gus Faucher, a senior economist at PNC Financial Services Group Inc. in Philadelphia, said before the report. “Confidence is OK, it’s not great. We need better job growth.”


 See post below.


U. S. Consumer Confidence Up in Latest Survey

via Bloomberg News On Line -- 


The Conference Board’s index increased to 65.9 this month from 62.7 in June, figures from the New York-based private research group showed today. Economists projected a reading of 61.5, according to the median estimate in a Bloomberg News survey. The report showed a gain in the share of consumers anticipating better labor and economic conditions in six months.





Breaking Story: Consumer Confidence Unexpectedly Rises in July

Bloomberg News is reporting that consumer confidence unexpectedly rose for the first time in five months.  Details coming shortly.

Some at Federal Reserve Are Arguing for a New Stimulus


The New York Times is reporting that some at the Federal Reserve would like to see a new stimulus effort to avoid what they say could be a self-energizing spiral later this year. 

As many Americans already feel themselves to be in a spiral such contemplations are behind the curve, but urgently necessary nonetheless.  Why is the American government so slow on its feet?  Neither public institutions nor the private Federal Reserve have been able to prevent a softening of the economy, nor been able to deal with the underlying weaknesses at the root of the new economic uncertainties. 

It is long past time for the federal government, from the top down, to address the malaise with bona fide, proven policies, such as those used by Franklin Roosevelt in a similar time of uncertainty.  The 2009 stimulus was clearly too small to affect long-term confidence, as prize-winning economists such as Paul Krugman have long said.  I call for a new round of stimulus, plus a return to protective instruments such as the Glass-Steagall Act to shore up our economy and promote long-term health.  The alternative is a new period of prolonged pain and even a new fiscal crash such as occurred in 2008.  We do, in fact, need change we can believe in. 


New York Times article on possible new economic stimulus effort at the Fed

European Confidence Down

Headlines say that consumer confidence in Europe is down.  This is certainly not surprising given all the turmoil in Europe, including an increase in unemployment.  The economy worldwide should now be issue number one, assuming the nuclear stockpile is safe, a matter which may not be completely resolved.

Economic Figures Due Today

Your Musical Patriot is looking for the latest figures on the economy due out this morning.  Of particular interest is the latest report on consumer confidence.  With most recent reports running negative, it will be interesting to see whether the latest news brings a ray of hope or more cause for concern.  At this point it seems doubtful there will be any great cause for optimism, sad to say.  Please check back here later for the latest.

Friday, July 27, 2012

The Importance of the Electoral College

Every four years, especially, the issue of the Electoral College appears in American politics.  This year, the matter is more important than ever as my research indicates four states have enacted laws which effectively end their voice in the Presidential election.  To understand why, click on the link shown below. 

After considerable debate, and based on a careful reading of history, the Founding Fathers decided on a system which would help insulate the Presidential selection process from demagoguery.  That populations can be whipped into momentary frenzies is well-known by both historians and politicians.  Witness what happened in the mid-term elections of 2002, little more than one year after the horrific events of September 11, 2001.  In contrast to almost every mid-term election in history, the President's party actually picked up seats in Congress that year, returning the U.S. Senate to Republican control and thus the entire government, in actuality, since a mafjority of the U.S. Supreme Court was then -- as now -- acting in a partisan fashion on election issues.  It is a very defensible position that this would not have happened if there had been no September 11 event, as G. W. Bush, being a minority and illegitimate President was struggling to remain effective in the early months of his Presidency. 

It is ever so important that the Presidency not be decided on the basis of a simple public vote.  Remember junior high when only the most popular were elected to any office?  Certainly, being likable is an important consideration but should never be the only reason to vote for anyone for such an important office.  Ideally, knowledgeable and responsible electors carefully selected by our democratic process would retain the power to make the ultimate choice based on each state's aggregate choice. 

But mandating that a state's electoral votes go to the supposed winner of the popular national vote is a shocking delegation of power, and essentially an abdication of duty*.  Those states which have enacted such an idiotic law should repeal such law, and no more states of commonwealths should pass such attractive-sounding yet dangerously harmful legislation. 


N.B.  This blog has often referred to parties or entities which although not in and of themselves deserving of out-right endorsement, nevertheless hold certain positions of value.  The American Policy Roundtable linked to below may be such a group. 



Protecting and Defending the Electoral College


*  Recall the 2004 election after which the U.S. Congress for the first time in over 100 years held a formal debate over doubts that G. W. Bush had actually won the vote!  

Thursday, July 26, 2012

We Need Mother Jones's Great-Great Grand-daughter

Mother Jones was a social reformer, union organizer and firebrand speaker at the turn of the last century.  Seeing the plight of coal workers she adopted the persona of an old-fashioned feisty grandmother to rail against big corporate bosses who she said destroyed family life by keeping women, children, and fathers in virtual slavery. 

Today it is time for another Mother Jones.  Perhaps she could be called Grandma Jones.  In fact, we could use several Grandma Joneses.  There is angst and disquietude in the land.  Where are the women of maturity today?

I believe I have an answer.  They are there right in plain sight, but made silent by a roistering, festering media titillated by shocking mass shootings, European economic panics, and celebrity divorces (if indeed the couple happens to be married).  That is, anything except the plight of American workers.  I know one such church lady who heads the Peace and Justice committee of her state-wide church.  She works steadily and sacrifically to advance the cause of migrant workers among others.  These are the modern day Mother Joneses.  I say to the press and the media, "Will you interview them fairly?" 


More about Mother Jones


Wednesday, July 25, 2012

The U.S. House Overwhelmingly Passes Fed Augit Bill

The House of Representatives, in a rare display of bi-partisan unity, today passed a bill requiring an audit of the Federal Reserve.  The bill was passed amid concerns that the Federal Reserve knew of shady dealings on the part of Barclays regarding  LIBOR, the agency which sets interest rates world-wide.  All this according to Huffington Post today.

The bill put forward by Ron Paul had 270 co-sponsors.  The final vote was 327 to 98.  I applaud the House for passing this bill.  This is the first real praise I have had for this House. 

May this be the beginning of a new openness and transparency in our nation's financial matters.  The people are supposed to be in charge of the money in this country.  This is hardly the case.  Today's vote shows there can yet be a turn toward sanity regarding the nation's economy. 

Read more here:
House Votes to Audit Federal Reserve

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Time to Put the Brakes on Monsanto

From my e-mail In-Box --


So-called "Monsanto riders," quietly slipped into the multi-billion dollar


FY 2013 Agricultural Appropriations bill, would require -- not just allow,

but require -- the Secretary of Agriculture to grant a temporary permit for

the planting or cultivation of a genetically engineered crop, even if a

federal court has ordered the planting be halted until an Environmental

Impact Statement is completed.



That's why I created a petition on SignOn.org to Congress and President

Barack Obama, which says:  "Stop the Monsanto Riders."

Unless a citizen's army of farmers and consumers

can stop them, Congress is likely to ram these dangerous riders through

any day now.



Click here to add your name to this petition, and then pass it along to

your friends.



Thanks!



--Robert Shepherd



This petition was created on SignOn.org, the progressive, nonprofit

petition site. SignOn.org is sponsored by MoveOn Civic Action, which is

not responsible for the contents of this or other petitions posted on the

site.


Visible links

.. http://civic.moveon.org/signon_feedback/?id=47059-23347113-SrNl8Ax&t=3

.. http://www.moveon.org/r?r=277161&id=47059-23347113-SrNl8Ax&t=4





Monday, July 23, 2012

Confusing Polls Addressed

Gallup is reporting a plurality of Americans (49%) disapprove of President Obama's performance, with 44% approving.  Yet the race for President is essentially tied between Mr. Obama and Mitt Romney.  Given the choice at hand it seems Americans are willing to either a) Give Mr. Obama another chance; or b) Vote against Romney;  or c) Possibly give Mr. Romney a chance to lead.  That the sitting President would have minority acceptance of the population for the job he is doing and fare this well in the Presidnetial race speaks, it seems to me, of the weakness of his opponent. 

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

"Tricky Mitt" Ad Creates a Stir

What do you call a Presidential candidate who won't release more than a year's worth of tax returns?  Secretive?  What do you call this candidate when he parks his money in foreign bank accounts?  Does the word "tricky" come to mind?  That's the word the Move On organization came up with to describe Mitt Romney as he has attempted to run for the highest office in the land while seemingly hiding as much of the details about his financial past as possible.

Those of a certain age will remember the last Presidential candidate who was called "tricky."  Long before Watergate, voters were asked whether they wold buy a used car from this man.  There just seemed to be something a bid shady about the fellow. 

So now thanks to modern technology Mitt Romeny can morph into Richard Nixon and -- quick! -- back again.  The ad which can be viewed below courtesy of CBS News, is clever indeed.  Mitt Romney is suddenly very much on the defensive with nothing much to recommend him for the White House except the fact that he helped pass a health care act in Massachusetts which later become something of a model for the federal Act. 

The Romney campaign has sprung a leak.  Time to call the Plumbers?  


via CBS News --


Monday, July 16, 2012

Occupy D.C. Protests Bank of America

At this time in America there continues a vast unsettled feeling, particularly among the twelve million who are unemployed.  (This figure does not include those who have stopped looking for work.)

Occupy D.C. will be continuing its protest of Bank of America this week.  This is a most useful and admirable protest.  Likewise, the program which appears, in brief, on the Occupy D.C. web site is apropos and necessary.

At the same time it is good to remember that Bank of America is but one institution among ever so many which are fostering the system of ruthless greed which continues in the U.S. now.  Let the protest of Bank of America be a harbinger of more protests, not only of other institutions but of this evil system, so against the hopes and dreams of our citizens. 


http://occupydc.org/news

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Occupy News: Police Break Down Door at Private Residence

Rush post:

Police have broken into an apartment in Seattle used by organizers of Occupy events there.  This has been reported by the Occupy Wall Street web site.  More is found at the link below.


http://www.occupywallst.org/article/swat-raid-organizers-occupy-seattle-e4e/

Monday, July 09, 2012

Writer Foresees Permanent Protest Movement

It is hard to disagree with the thesis of the writer at this article who says there will be a continuing protest movement replenished and strengthened by new college graduates each spring.  These graduates will be unemployed and burdened by debt.  A certain percentage will become protestors each year.

This makes perfect sense.  The economic malaise of now is no more necessary than was the malaise of the Great Depression.  When money was put into meaningful programs during Roosevelt's 100 Days, people's lives were changed.  When union rights were strengthened, more people entered what had been a small middle class. 

What worked then can work now.  We need a new Glass-Steagall at the very minimum.  Then we need a new stimulus package.  These are the minimum actions.  Others should quickly follow.  Where is the program in Washington?  

http://truth-out.org/opinion/item/10125-the-aftermath-of-occupy-will-surpass-the-sixties

Friday, July 06, 2012

PRI Candidate Wins in Mexico According to Electoral Office

Rush post:

According to the Mexican elections office, Pena Nieto, candidate of the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) has won the Presidency of Mexico.  In what seem to be convincing results Nieto has been announced the winner over Andres Obrador, the leftist candidate.  While I might have preferred Obrador, the PRI has traditionally stood for Mexican sovereignty and at least nominally for the rights and welfare of the general Mexican population.  Reports indicate the PRI has in the past stood against large international financial firms which seek to rook and rob nations.  More at the link below. 

http://www.france24.com/en/20120706-mexicos-pena-nieto-wins-presidential-election

Help Stop the Deafening and Death of the Whales

Special:

At this link you can possibly help stop the intentional deafening and death of multiple numbers of sea life by a Navy program.  The link provides information as well as a petition you can sign.  It is a real shame that such a program is even contemplated.  I am being told that time is short to stop this tragic outcome.  Please read the information and respond as you are able.


http://signon.org/sign/navy-under-water-sound?source=s.em.cr&r_by=4882565&mailing_id=4893

Thursday, July 05, 2012

Even Swamis Like the Fourth of July

It is rather charming to learn that a swami was moved by the spirit of July 4th.  This makes sense as the aspirations expressed in the Declaration of Independence have crossed all political boundaries and inspired everyone from world leaders to field workers in India.  And the inspiration goes on.  Here is the poem.


--By Swami Vivekananda (Swami Vivekananda passed away on the 4th of July)



Behold, the dark clouds melt away,


That gathered thick at night, and hung

So like a gloomy pall above the earth!

Before thy magic touch, the world

Awakes. The birds in chorus sing.

The flowers raise their star-like crowns --

Dew-set, and wave thee welcome fair.





The lakes are opening wide in love

Their hundred thousand lotus-eyes

To welcome thee, with all their depth.





All hail to thee, thou Lord of Light!

A welcome new to thee, today,


O sun! today thou sheddest LIBERTY!

Bethink thee how the world did wait,

And search for thee, through time and clime.


Some gave up home and love of friends,

And went in quest of thee, self banished,

Through dreary oceans, through primeval forests,

Each step a struggle for their life or death;



Then came the day when work bore fruit,

And worship, love, and sacrifice,


Fulfilled, accepted, and complete.

Then thou, propitious, rose to shed

The light of FREEDOM on mankind.

Move on, O Lord, on thy resistless path!

Till thy high noon o’erspreads the world.

Till every land reflects thy light,


Till men and women, with uplifted head,

Behold their shackles broken, and

Know, in springing joy, their life renewed!

Featured Post

Bill Clinton Warns on Rising Nationalism

Rush Link -- Bill Clinton on Rise of Nationalism