Webster Quote

Webster Quote

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

The 2008 Financial Melt-down: An Anniversary to Remember

Sometimes historical events -- no matter how painful -- simply must be recalled, in order to learn from them and try to prevent a recurrence.  Regarding the financial melt-down of 2008 which happened seven years ago at this time of the year, however, there is reluctance in certain quarters.

 Yet, we know that the cause of the problems has not really been dealt with.  Policy-makers decided in 2008-2010 to essentially kick the can down the road and wait for another day -- if ever -- to deal with the underlying weaknesses in the economy.

Consider these facts of now:
  • The regulation of derivatives -- has it been implemented successfully?
  • "Too big too fail" -- have we had a solution?
  • Speculative dealing -- are the regulations strong enough?

Meantime experts are writing that there is not enough actual money in the economy -- not nearly enough -- to pay off all the debt.  Can this situation merely be waved off, or should we be concerned  -- very concerned?

So, we start with questions.  In coming weeks I plan to relate what the facts show about these various vitally important questions.  Please join me here.  



CNBC Coverage As It Happened. September 2008

Republicans Flirt With Fascism

I have good news and bad news.  The good news is Donald Trump's numbers have been falling of late and with the fall the media is not showering him with the same adulation as earlier.  The bad news is Trump and all the others are still around.  It is true certain of the candidates such as John Kasich have had words of rebuke for Trump.  Yet others, such as Cruz and Rubio, embrace the same misanthropic view of immigrants.   [Story concludes below.]

Mussolini, Italian fascist dictator

Donald Trump, American fascist whatever
There is more to the story, of course.  The article below is a good place to start:

Is Trump On the Side of Fascism?

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Saving the Constitutional System

Re-posted from Patriot in Exigency -- 

At the article linked to below, writers and scholars Thomas Mann and Norman Ornstein write about the problems now besetting the U.S. government.  Built-in safeguards are breaking down, they say, and paralysis is the result.

The authors offer useful, though not necessarily easy solutions.

Useful Article on Current Problems With the U.S. Federal Government

Thomas Mann (l), Norman Ornstein.  Courtesy You Tube

Monday, September 28, 2015

Making Sense of House on Fire

The scorched earth policies of a minority of Republican renegades has turned political Washington into a maelstrom of confusion.  At least that is the impression I am coming to after reading through material over the week-end.  High-flying right-wing representatives are so busy giving each other high-fives, neither they nor anyone else seems to know what is going to happen in the next weeks before John Boehner loads up his caravan and drives into the Ohio sunset.

When I get a better fix on the situation I will be back.  In the meantime, good luck staying out of the way of the firemen.  We're going to need them to douse this scary conflagration.  

Friday, September 25, 2015

Noam Chomsky: Republicans No Longer an Actual Political Party

In a speech this past week-end, Noam Chomsky has echoed something I have been hinting at here for weeks if not months:  the Republicans of today do not so much represent a political party as an insurgency.  Or maybe he and I have had the same thoughts and he has articulated the idea better.

Whatever the case, the article here is well worth reading.


Noam Chomsky on the Changed Status of Republicans

Boehner Influenced by Pope

Earlier today, before I knew about the resignation of John Boehner, I wrote here of my concerns about having the Pope, or any religious leader addressing Congress.  It appears my concerns may have been prescient. *

We sometimes forget that members of Congress are people with emotions.  John Boehner is one of the more overtly emotional members.  That, as a Roman Catholic, he would be deeply influenced by the Pope is understandable.  It is also why John Kennedy needed to diffuse concerns about his loyalty before he was elected as the nation's first Roman Catholic President.

As I said earlier I plan to have more to say about this important matter in the future.



*Salon online, September 25, 2015

Blogging the Boehner Resignation

This afternoon I am reviewing various online articles about the resignation of John Boehner from both the Speakership and the House itself, effective at the end of October.  When I come across something useful I will pass it along here.  

Shocking News: John Boehner to Resign Speakership, Leave Congress

While it was well-known that Boehner’s job was in jeopardy, his announcement Friday morning came as a shock.
It is more than a little interesting that Mr. Boehner announces his resignation one day after the Pope's speech to Congress.  However, the press had reported that Congress had resumed squabbling the very afternoon following the Pope's words of inspiration and challenge.

Boehner had become the voice of reason, relatively speaking, amongst a den of rabble-rousers on the political right in the Republican house caucus.  He was a northerner who spoke with a different tone compared with Newt Gingrich of twenty years ago, he of Southern temperament.

McCarthy of California is said to be in line to succeed Boehner.  But who knows what may happen?

It is time to return a Democrat to the Speakership.  Let sanity return.  But first, there must be a Democratic majority.  Is this too much to ask for in 2016?  


John Boehner Will Leave Congress

Atlantic Monthly: John Boehner to Resign, Leave Congress



John Boehner to Leave Congress: Report

The Atlantic is reporting that Speaker of the House, John Boehner will resign in October rather than continue to deal with rebellious House right-wingers.


More soon

The Pope's Visit to America: A First Draft

Pope Francis is the most popular Pope since John Paul II.  Okay, yes, that is supposed to be humorous.  Leaving aside Pope Paul II, he is the most popular since John XXIII, who shared a Camelotan glow with John F. Kennedy in the early '60s.

I found Pope Francis' arrival in Manhattan yesterday quite moving as I watched on television.  The sight of joyful, expectant faces of citizens lining the streets, their exuberance and humility was quite taking.  On television one saw little of the pope except for his outstretched arm as he hurtled down a deserted Fifth Avenue bound for St. Patrick's Cathedral.  How must those onlookers be feeling today?
Pope Francis in D.C. homeless shelter.  Thanks to:  religionnews.com
There has already been a whirlwind of activity by this Pope on his trip to the U.S.  There has been much that is admirable, especially his trip to the homeless shelter in D.C.

But otherwise, his trip to Washington was disappointing, if not troubling.  I speak specifically of his speech before Congress.  And here I will be a rather sharp dissenter owing to our long-held doctrine of separation of church and state, something hinted at in the Constitution but developed and honed over more than two centuries of jurisprudence.  Is there not a reason why the Pope (any Pope) has never addressed Congress before?  Why now?

As I say, this is a first draft.  I plan to give more backing for my statements of concern soon.  But for now I say simply:  What America needs is not the Pope in Congress.  What America needs is Congressmen and -women in church.  We need them in weekly Bible study groups, orthodox Christian history study groups, and spiritual discipline groups.  And I am talking about local congregations, not groups led by other Congresspersons on Capitol Hill.  What an idea! -- our representatives in church Bible study!

N.B.   This is not to give short shrift to the temple.  However, I confess I am not much interested in Congressmen in the Mosque.  My apologies to Muhammad.  

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

New York Times Suggests Why Scott Walker Failed

The race has been nationalized, and early, says Matt Moore, the chairman of the South Carolina Republican Party.  As a result, it is harder for candidates to stay alive until the voters actually are able to cast votes.  This is powerful evidence for what, in effect, is an early national primary run by and for the media.  Does this sound over-the-top?  The article linked to below tells more.

We already have two candidates who have dropped out, Walker, and before him Rick Perry.  I don't see these particular drop-outs as any particular loss.  However, especially in the case of Walker, he was a person of limited means, effectively being pushed out of the race, at least in part, because of it.
So we have a money-media "primary."  This is purely and simply unacceptable in America.  The candidates this time may have been marginal.  Next time it could be a Jimmy Carter who is kicked out for not being wealthy.  That would be a travesty.



New York Times On Why Scott Walker Failed to Catch Fire

Trump's Goose May Be Cooked

Digging into the data via National Review last evening, I had the chance to see of just what type Donald Trump's support actually is.  It appears to be deep, but narrow.  He also has little support among Independents and Democrats -- not a good set of numbers for a future President.

Likewise, Princeton Election Consortium is saying both Trump and Fiorina are likely to be short-term wonders owing to opposition of Republican Party leadership as well as insufficient support among Republican primary voters.

I'll have links to the respective sites shortly.  Now posted -- see below.

It appears that elect-ability is likely to become of more importance as the Republican contest continues.  That would be good news, at least as far as the electorate is concerned.  With any luck we will relatively soon be spared the diatribes of the sophomoric Mr. Trump.  Then we can say, "Donald Trump, you're fired!"


Here is the article to read for a special in-depth review of latest polling on the Republican side:
http://www.nationalreview.com/article/422924/donald-trump-poll-data-frontrunner-republicans

As always, Princeton Election Consortium has the best take, even if abbreviated:
http://election.princeton.edu/

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Washington Post Gives Detailed Information on U.S. Classification Procedures


Today's Washington Post gives a good explanation of the problems inherent in the government's procedures regarding stamping documents "classified."   The explanation is reported under the "Five Myths," column title.  This is the explication which has been missing from the mainstream media during all these months of alleged controversy over the Hillary Clinton e-mails during her time as Secretary of State.

Certainly, Mrs. Clinton could have acted less complacent about the questions stirred up by her use of a home system.  However, it is still unclear and totally unproven that she did anything illegal at all.  There remains some question in my mind as to the level even of impropriety involved.  Because of overstatements by persons such as the chairman of the Republican National Committee, the attacks on Mrs. Clinton have every appearance of a red herring.  The article by the Washington Posts details all this.

As a matter of fact, I could have wished for even more details in the article by Elizabeth Goitein, co-director of the liberty and national security program at the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University's School of Law.  In a follow-up discussion, I'd like to see more examples of what Mrs. Clinton had to deal with.  However, it is quite possible one reason for the lack of specifics from Mrs. Clinton has been the fear of making matters worse in this murky area.  Again, the article will help the uninitiated reader make some sense of this whole issue. 

So, forward blog readers!  Once again, the Internet can help spread legitimate (if rare) quality articles from the mainstream press, articles which the entire press should be promulgating on their own. 

Friday, September 18, 2015

Islamic State Crisis, Already Hot, Heats Up Further: The Solution

A True Emergency
Expert on Chemical and Biological Weapons Puts Threat to Europe from ISIS at a "7"


Overshadowed in the U.S. by Republican Presidential shenanigans as reported by a distracted media, is the continuing crisis in the Mid-East over the strengthening of what is called the Islamic State.  At the article hyperlinked below, Middle East expert Jill Belamy describes in seering detail the extreme danger posed by this movement which is rapidly strengthening its power.

With U.S. policy toward Syria and ISIS failing, cooler heads are beginning to weigh in on a policy of cooperation with Russia which has a chance of succeeding.  This is not the policy the U.S. government wanted.  However, through a strenuous diplomatic effort, the U.S. and Russia must be brought together in purpose to quash the Islamic State.  Reading this article makes it crystal clear why the Islamic State is to be opposed.  And, I say swiftly, a change in how the U.S. sees the people of the Mid-East would be welcomed.  This change in attitude must involve American economic interests as well as the "re-set" of Pres. Obama.


The Threat from ISIS Is Real

Stock Market Reacts Negatively to Good News from the Federal Reserve

Leave it to the stock market to react negatively to news that the Federal Reserve will continue to make it easy for citizens to afford loans.  Those who stand to benefit from finance, of course love the higher interest rates.  But higher interest rates now make no sense in an economy which can hardly fly much above ground level as uncertainty continues to plague world markets.

It's not that low interest rates alone can lift such a stubborn economy.   But discouraging investment at a time like this would have been folly on the part of the Fed.  Members of the private board avoided that description by deciding to hold the line on interest rates for now.  


Stocks Plunge on Federal Reserve News

Thursday, September 17, 2015

To Err Is Human?

Does that excuse the misstatements of this "debate?"

How important is the truth?  Can the truth simply be left to experts after the candidate is already put in the White House?  Just how much do the (actual) facts mean on the campaign trail?  And if candidates can't get their facts straight under the glare of the national television spotlight, what are we to expect behind closed doors at the White House after the person is installed in the Oval Office?

There is a web site dedicated to checking out the assertions of the various candidates.  Its hyperlink is below.  Politicians of both parties have been known to shade the truth.  But somehow this collection of individuals on the GOP side contains more than its share of whopper-generators.


Fact-Checking the Republican Debate

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

An Emergency Rep. Debate Play-by-play Manual

The Washington Post today has several useful articles on the situation with the Republican race for President.  Particularly useful is an article on the nature of bullying and the Trump candidate.  (And it is more the candidate rather than any Trump campaign.)  Also included are articles on the lack of substance on the part of the so-called leading candidates, Trump and Carson,  as well as related issues.

It is depressing to see that a bullying candidate has gotten so much attention so far.  According to the description of schoolyard bullying which is given by The Post, the press are themselves enablers of this kind of behavior.  The press needs to cut it out and get to the business of dealing with someone who has, in effect, a personality disorder and who furthermore is supported by and cheered on by others with (I say politely) issues.

So this is where we are in this already long political year.  It is time to put behind us this season of circus-making and get to the serious business of governing, because the country must still be run -- as responsibly as possible under some quite trying circumstances.  

Monday, September 14, 2015

The Republican Game of Chance

The Republican contest for the Presidential nomination is beginning to look like a combination of "Catch Me If You Can," and "Ring Around the Rosey ('ashes, ashes, we all fall down').   Donald Trump is singing out, "Catch me if you can."   And everyone else is wailing, "No, I'm NOT falling down, no matter what it looks like."   The one exception to the latter is someone named Dr. Carson; he has been growing rather more popular relative to Mr. Trump.

It all looks like something of a carnival, or a sideshow of games:  craps, roll-of-the-dice or whatever. To some it is all deadly serious.  But it is hard to treat this collection of Presidential "wannabes" terribly seriously.  There is too much hubris, too little thoughtfulness as to actual foreign policy, and even less actual experience in this area.

It is sad and depressing for America to be subjected to this kind of a political party, one which is essentially fascist.  (Just read the actual statements of Trump, Cruz, and others.)   Even though I support what I call Smart Immigration (that is an orderly policy, which limits immigration, but doesn't do nasty things like break up families), the rhetoric of too many is harsh, even inhumane.

And the ordinary American doesn't fare much better, with domestic economic policy reducible to the ever-popular trickle-down.

I'll be dealing with the Democrats on my sister blog dedicated to the topic.  For now, it is critical that a Republican of the nature of the current crop of candidates not be elected to the most powerful office in the world.   

Friday, September 11, 2015

Democrats To the Fore

Today I have placed my energies into my sister blog, Democratic Campaign Watch.  It is clear the Democrats are already at an important juncture with months left before the early caucuses and primaries of 2016.

And it is a crucial time for the country as Americans begin forming their impressions.  You can follow the link at the left for Democratic Campaign Watch.



Coming here:  More on Campaign 2016 and other vital issues of the day, including the anniversary of the 2008 financial melt-down.

Also, see links at right for news and information on the September 11, 2001, events.

Tuesday, September 08, 2015

More Potential Candidates the Media Is Not Mentioning (Not So Satirical)

Due to the popularity of my previous post of potential candidates missing on the press radar screen I offer the following "new" available quality candidates no one in the media is mentioning.


Democrats
Bob Graham.   Very successful Governor of Florida in the 80's.  Stellar member of the U.S. Senate and 9/11 truth seeker.  Expert on Intelligence matters.  Disadvantage:  age (78), but same age as Reagan upon his retirement

Jim Webb.  Yes, I know he is an announced candidate, but that hasn't stopped the media from failing to mention him.  Hails from a "purple"  (what's that exactly?) state.   Has military background, plus Senate experience (one term).  Disadvantage:  not afraid to wear a gun into the Senate chamber.

U. S. Sen. Cory Booker
Sen Cory Booker.  Well-liked and successful mayor of Newark, New Jersey, now a U.S. Senator.  Advantages:  Would continue legacy of Barrack Obama in the field of race relations.  Demonstrated skills working with people.  Excellent on economic and justice issues.  Honest charisma.   Disadvantage (NOT):  Relatively little national governmental experience yet more than Donald Trump.



Republicans
Bob Michel.  Just missed being second in line to the Presidency as the House minority leader.  Popular, works well with people.  A moderate.  Disadvantage:   Now 92, Mr. Michel is older than Jimmy Carter.

Fred Thompson.  Very little wrong with him.  A Watergate hero.  Former U.S. Senator.  No older than Bernie Sanders.  Is a lawyer and served as a U.S. Attorney.  From a border state and is another Republican uniter.  Has already announced for the Presidency once before and thus is experienced at this level.   Disadvantage:  Has to inhabit the same party as Ted Cruz.

Mitt Romney.  Looks like an angelic, compassionate George McGovern next to most current Republican candidates.  Governor of the only state George McGovern won in 1972 campaign.  Invented Obamacare as Romneycare.  Learned a degree of humility from Ted Kennedy in 1994 Senate debate.  Has ran once and would never, ever mention the 47% ever  again.  Disadvantage:  No one thinks he could (or should) win.   However, he deserves the chance to prove them wrong.  Would have to be drafted at this point as he refused to run.  Also -- is on the wrong side of the economic divide.  Extra advantage: wouldn't a Hillary Clinton-Mitt Romney match-up be great?!

Susana Martinez.  New Mexico Governor, the state's first female governor and the nation's first female Hispanic governor.  Fielded speculation Mitt Romney would choose her as Vice-Presidential candidate.  Wants to expand Republican fold by appealing to Hispanics.  Disadvantages:  Virtually unknown, but that would change with nomination.  Mother Jones calls her weak, vindictive, and weak on policy;  but has worked to appear warm and caring while in office.  The only Republican woman I could find.


****************

And so, dear reader, we see once again that all is not as bleak as it appears.  My purpose here, partly, is to expand our horizons.  I'm sure there are many other candidates of the younger generation who will eventually show themselves as having Presidential timbre.  We especially need Republicans of the Whig variety (not a dirty or out-dated word), who, like the one-time Whig Abraham Lincoln, joined the party of progressives known as Republican in the mid-19th Century.  Is it too much to ask for a return of that grand old party?   








"No One In Charge"

More Satire  

A number of years ago there was a television series called "Charles in Charge," which starred Scott Baio, and Willy Aames as Buddy.

I recommend a new reality show to be entitled "No One in Charge."   This series will be set in the economic planning office of a fictional* White House.  Scott Baio will reprise his role as Charles, now a White House director of economic planning.  The part of Buddy, however, will be re-written for two characters and re-cast with Mitch McConnell playing the part of Mr. Utley from the Newhart show, and on alternate weeks John Boehner playing the part of Wilkins, a Republican Presidential candidate who runs Godparents' Pizza but is also an ordained Baptist minister.

The director will be Bob Dole, Jr., if there is one, or Ron Reagan, if available.  Production facilities will be Television City in Hollywood where "The Price Is Right" is also taped.

Network executives are planning a January 2016 premiere, expecting to replace the "American Idol" replacement which is itself expected to bomb in the ratings.

TV critics cited the possible involvement of Ron Reagan as the only saving grace of the show.  The acting talents of both McConnell and Boehner were said to be better than expected in the pilot episode but still below par for a show with expensive production digs at Television City.

Advertisers which had been lined up as of press time were Buggy King (a monster truck sales conglomerate), Sarah Palin Associates, and Kissinger Disassociates.  The series business office was expected to complete advertising deals with Corslight Beer and the John Wayne Museum, soon.

Inquiries on the new and very exciting series are to be directed not here, but to the 45rpm record store in Hollywood.

The show had not been slotted as of press time due to the uncertainty over whether Wilkins would still be in the race by debut week.


* The use of "reality" and "fictional" here is intentional for this piece of satire.  

Bernie Sanders Has It Right

Quick Quote 


Regardless of what one thinks of the candidacy of Sen. Sanders, he has it right on the subject of worker's rights.  Congratulations to Sen. Sanders for supporting unions -- the only sure way to protect workers under capitalism.

Sen. Sanders outside the Capitol last spring

The middle class is at a tipping point, and it won't last another generation if we don't boldly change course now.

The surest path to the middle class for American workers is with unions. The security and strength of a union job means that workers can have good pay, health care, and a voice at work.

Today our country celebrates Labor Day in honor of the working people who fought for our rights to regular hours, fair pay, and a decent living. For decades, the labor movement propped up the middle class in America by ensuring a level playing field for workers.

There are many reasons for the growing inequality in our economy, but perhaps the most significant reason for the disappearing middle class is that the rights of workers to join together and collectively bargain for better wages, benefits, and working conditions have been severely undermined.
That is why this fall I will introduce a bill in Congress whose sole purpose is to restore and encourage workers' rights to bargain for better wages, benefits, and working conditions. It's called the Workplace Democracy Act, and if it is made law, it will help rebuild the middle class.
Click here to celebrate Labor Day by signing the petition to support the Workplace Democracy Act.

Monday, September 07, 2015

Happy U.S. Labor Day!

As parades are held around the country today, it is a good time to remember the sacrifices of so many people of the past who slaved and even gave their lives for the 8-hour day, to end child labor, and to provide for basic benefits.  All this is too often unknown history to too many.  Let's work to change that.  

Friday, September 04, 2015

Here In My Little Corner of the Web

...any step toward financial responsibility is better in the long run, but it could be devastating in the short run. Since money printing and government borrowing are the only real drivers of economic growth right now, giving them up would trigger the market cliff very quickly, and put us in deep financial turmoil. However, it would also bring us one step closer to working our way out of the mess. We don't have much faith that will happen, though. No politician wants to be blamed for a tanking economy, which is what will certainly happen to sitting elected officials—right or wrong—when we hit the cliff.
                                                            -- Aftershock Publishing


The upshot of this statement is that the profit system is unable to provide for solid, sustainable growth either in the short-term or the long-term.  We can count on down-turns in the short-term.  We have just seen one.  And various experts are absolutely convinced there will be a major down-turn eventually due to the nature of the foundation of our economic growth, which is money printing -- a bubble economy, in other words.

This is the hidden message in passages such as the one above.  Of course, it seems almost impossible for anyone to come right out and say that the profit system is finished.  Even Bernie Sanders can't utter those words.  (He might want to, but he cannot do so politically.)

Fortunately, here in this little corner of the World Wide Web, I can say it -- boldly and with confidence.  For my view is based on years of experience and quite a bit of research as well.


                                                                                       

A Confused Situation: Jobs Report

Today's jobs report from the U.S. government presents a Rorschach test for investors and the public.  While unemployment did fall -- to 5.1% according to the report -- employment gains in August were the smallest in five months.

Such data make it hard to tell in which the direction the economy is going.  However, with such weak growth in August this is certainly no time for the Federal Reserve to raise interest rates, unless they want to make some sort of statement and at the same time throw people out of work.

While the stock markets are highly overrated as barometers of the economy, they do present an indicator of public confidence in the whole profit system.  When the market falls precipitously it does tend to represent a loss in confidence which has already occurred among people at large.  Thus the markets continue to merit close watching over the next several business days.


Source:  Data via MarketWatch, September 4, 2015

Wednesday, September 02, 2015

Canada Said to Now Be in Recession

According to CNN Money, Canada has fallen into recession as falling crude oil prices have impacted the wider economy.  The country's housing market is over-priced and household debt is continuing to increase.

This is all sad news for a great nation, our sister democracy to the north.  As China continues to suffer from volatility, the IMF says it can no longer bail out Greece, and Europe in general frets;  how much longer can this go on before the United States is also affected?

We are a big economy and changes usually take time to be noticed here.  However, over-priced housing and mounting consumer debt are also problems here.  It doesn't have to be this way.  With big financial overlords in charge, the average person is advised to take whatever defensive measures he can.


Canada Dips Into Recession Says CNN On-Line

Tuesday, September 01, 2015

Via CNN Money --

North and South American markets are sharply lower today with shares in U.S. off the most. The S&P 500 is down 2.27% while Brazil's Bovespa is off 2.01% and Mexico's IPC is lower by 1.33%.

I will be monitoring the stock market situation during the coming week.  Clearly, there are reasons for concern, but also joy as an unjust economy shudders.

Featured Post

Bill Clinton Warns on Rising Nationalism

Rush Link -- Bill Clinton on Rise of Nationalism