Saturday, October 31, 2009
An aside: I think Ninotchka and The Russians Are Coming are must sees when you want to raise your spirits.
Friday, October 30, 2009
Whichever path we take, like it or not, we will be moving away from current arrangements, the dollar-reserve system. There are only two questions: will the movement away be orderly or disorderly, and will America play a part in shaping the new system that will emerge? I believe that the transition to the new system will be smoother and that both the United States and the world will benefit if we stop putting our heads in the sand and help create the worldwide reserve system that the globalization of financial markets requires. Keynes recognized the need for such a global reserve currency seventy-five years ago. At the Bretton Woods meeting of 1944, in a costly act of self-interest, the United States blocked the full implementation of Keynes’s scheme. This is an old idea whose time has finally come.
Thursday, October 29, 2009
Tuesday, October 27, 2009
- No Child Left Behind. Forget about abolishing the Department of Education. Bush made the federal government a much more intrusive and costly part of local schools.
- Project Safe Neighborhoods. A draconian law that further guts the 2nd Amendment, like 20,000 other unconstitutional gun laws before it.
- Medicare Prescription Drug Benefit. This the largest expansion of the welfare state since LBJ and will cost the already bankrupt Medicare system trillions more.
- Sarbanes-Oxley Act. Possibly the most expensive and restrictive change to the securities laws since the ’30s. A major reason why companies will either stay private or go public outside the U.S.
- Katrina. A total disaster of bureaucratic mismanagement, featuring martial law.
- Ownership Society. The immediate root of the current financial crisis lies in Bush’s encouragement of easy credit to everybody and inflating the housing market.
- Nationalizations and Bailouts. In response to the crisis he created, he nationalized Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and passed by far the largest bailouts in U.S. history (until OBAMA!).
- Free-Speech Zones. Originally a device for keeping war protesters away when Bush appeared on camera, they’re now used to herd in opponents.
- The Patriot Act. This 401-page bill, presented for passage only 45 days after 9/11 (how is it possible to write something of that size and complexity in only 45 days?) basically allows the government to do whatever it wishes with its subjects. Warrantless searches. All kinds of communications monitoring. Greatly expanded asset forfeiture provisions.
- The War on Terror. The scope of the War on Drugs (which Bush also expanded) is exceeded only by the war on nobody in particular but on a tactic. It’s become a cause of mass hysteria and an excuse for the government doing anything.
- Invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq. Bush started two completely pointless, counterproductive, and immensely expensive wars, neither of which has any prospect of ending anytime soon.
- Dept. of Homeland Security. This is the largest and most dangerous of all agencies, now with its own gigantic campus in Washington, DC. It will never go away and centralizes the functions of a police state.
- Guantanamo. Hundreds of individuals, most of them (like the Uighurs recently in the news) guilty only of being in the wrong place at the wrong time, are incarcerated for years. A precedent is set for anyone who is accused of being an "enemy combatant" to be completely deprived of any rights at all.
- Abu Ghraib and Torture. After imprisoning scores of thousands of foreign nationals, Bush made it a U.S. policy to use torture to extract information, based on a suspicion or nothing but a guard’s whim. This is certainly one of the most damaging things to the reputation of the U.S. ever. It says to the world, "We stand for nothing."
- The No-Fly List. His administration has placed the names of over a million people on this list, and it’s still growing at about 20,000 a month. I promise it will be used for other purposes in the future…
- The TSA. Somehow the Bush cabal found 50,000 middle-aged people who were willing to go through their fellow citizens’ dirty laundry and take themselves quite seriously. God forbid you’re not polite to them…
- Farm Subsidies. Farm subsidies are the antithesis of the free market. Rather than trying to abolish or cut them back, Bush signed a record $190 billion farm bill.
- Legislative Free Ride. And he vetoed less of what Congress did than any other president in history.
Monday, October 26, 2009
Concerning a staff meeting: Though they don't talk about it, they seem ever aware of President Barack Obama's iron-handed control of decisions. [emphasis mine]
Also he describes Clinton as more moderate than others in the administration: Clinton has a hard edge to her foreign-policy views and generally positions herself to the right of her colleagues in national security.
Friday, October 23, 2009
From the Atlantic: I think we finally have hit the wall of deficit spending.
Thursday, October 22, 2009
What I am saying is that the government's actions to date have not fixed the underlying problems or helped stabilize the economy. The government has been doing all of the wrong things and made the situation worse by, among other things:
(1) Throwing trillions of dollars at the "too big to fails", instead of admitting that many of them are insolvent
(2) Undermining trust of nations all over the world in the American economy
(3) Failing to restore Glass-Steagall, reign in credit default swaps, or do anything else necessary to stabilize the financial system
(4) Attempting to restart high levels of leverage and securitization
(5) Failing to take real measures to decrease employment and increase manufacturing
(6) Creating an enormous debt overhang and trashing our currency
Wednesday, October 21, 2009
"People have predicted the end of America in the past and been wrong," Ferguson concedes. "But let's face it: If you're trying to borrow $9 trillion to save your financial system...and already half your public debt held by foreigners, it's not really the conduct of rising empires, is it?"
Given its massive deficits and overseas military adventures, America today is similar to the Spanish Empire in the 17th century and Britain's in the 20th, he says. "Excessive debt is usually a predictor of subsequent trouble."
Frontline has a program on how Greenspan and Congress helped cause the breakdown of the go-go 1990s.
In The Warning, veteran FRONTLINE producer Michael Kirk unearths the hidden history of the nation's worst financial crisis since the Great Depression. At the center of it all he finds Brooksley Born, who speaks for the first time on television about her failed campaign to regulate the secretive, multitrillion-dollar derivatives market whose crash helped trigger the financial collapse in the fall of 2008.
"I didn't know Brooksley Born," says former SEC Chairman Arthur Levitt, a member of President Clinton's powerful Working Group on Financial Markets. "I was told that she was irascible, difficult, stubborn, unreasonable." Levitt explains how the other principals of the Working Group -- former Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan and former Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin -- convinced him that Born's attempt to regulate the risky derivatives market could lead to financial turmoil, a conclusion he now believes was "clearly a mistake."
Born's battle behind closed doors was epic, Kirk finds. The members of the President's Working Group vehemently opposed regulation -- especially when proposed by a Washington outsider like Born.
Also see "How did America fall so fast?"
In 2000, America was described as the sole remaining superpower - or even the world's "hyperpower". Now we're in real trouble (at the very least, you have to admit that we're losing power and wealth in comparison with China).
Thursday, October 15, 2009
The data posted Thursday was the result of the government's initial attempt at counting actual stimulus jobs. Obama administration officials stressed that data was partial -- it represented just $16 billion out of the $339 billion awarded -- but they said it exceeded their projections.
This mean there will be a total of around 650,000 jobs created if my math is correct when all of the money get spent. There could be a multiplier effect resulting in more jobs, but this doesn't give a lot of hope to the unemployed.
Michigan has only created 397 jobs from 650 million in stimulus, not the 19,500 claimed.
The Bureau of Labor has made a mistake and the job losses are worse than first estimated.
When we combine the weak job numbers with declining wages, tight credit, record household debt and the impending explosion of home foreclosures, the chances of a sustainable economic recovery looks exceedingly slim. Yet, for the third time in this decade the stock market is off on another binge not based on reality. Such flights into fantasy always end badly.
Bush's policies = 85,000 dead.
Gateway Pundit has an interesting video on what Secretary of State Albright said in 1996.
Lesley Stahl on U.S. sanctions against Iraq: We have heard that a half million children have died. I mean, that's more children than died in Hiroshima. And, you know, is the price worth it?
Secretary of State Madeleine Albright: I think this is a very hard choice, but the price--we think the price is worth it.
Saturday, October 10, 2009
But it is true. For the last 11 years we have not observed any increase in global temperatures.
And our climate models did not forecast it, even though man-made carbon dioxide, the gas thought to be responsible for warming our planet, has continued to rise.
And the Antarctic ice melt is at its lowest level in history.
Friday, October 09, 2009
Wednesday, October 07, 2009
Monday, October 05, 2009
Friday, October 02, 2009
With an incredible rapidity, America's status as the world's pre-eminent superpower is now passing away. This is a function both of the nearly systematic abandonment of U.S. interests and allies overseas, with metastasizing debt and bureaucracy on the home front.
And while I think the U.S. has the structural fortitude to survive the Obama presidency, it will be a much-diminished country that emerges from the "new physics" of hope and change
It is Bush's fault according to Senator Burris (D, Illinois)
Two examples from just the past week. A few days ago, I was sent a link to a screed by MSNBC's left-wing anchorman Ed Schultz, in which he explained opposition to the president's health-care reform. "The Republicans lie. They want to see you dead. They'd rather make money off your dead corpse. They kind of like it when that woman has cancer and they don't have anything for us." Next, a link to the syndicated show of right-wing radio talker Alex Jones, on the subject of the U.S. military, whose security efforts at the G-20 Summit in Pittsburgh show them to be agents and lackeys of the New World Order. "They are complete enemies of America. . . . Our military's been taken over. . . . This is the end of our country." Later, "They'd love to kill 10,000 Americans," and, "The republic is falling right now."
Thursday, October 01, 2009
Goolsbee peppered an otherwise expected stump speech on the Obama administration's goals with subtle asides that constituted a humorous, sarcastic, self-deprecating and conspiratorial insight into the administration's most accessible punchlines. The targets? Hillary Clinton, Sen. Ben Nelson, Rod Blagojevich, Sarah Palin and Fox News.