Wednesday, December 31, 2008
President Bush who was awakened by the Secret Service to be informed of this announcement reportedly said, "Hunh?" Laura Bush was reported to have said, "Let the damn fool to try to do it." After he finished his brief announcement, Vice President Cheney introduced two army colonels who reportedly backed his coup d'état. My inside source at the White House, Omar Fishbein Muhammed, said that no general in any of the services was willing to support this bizarre attempt at usurping the power of the presidency. When President-elect Barack Obama was informed of Vice President Cheney's announcement he reportedly said that he had dispatched Joe Biden to help arrange for appropriate psychiatric care for the vice president.
In Hollywood, Paris Hilton volunteered to be the vice president's personal nurse, and see to it that he is restored to his full mental health, or what remains of it. Senator John McCain said he had suspended his campaign and was rushing to Washington to be of help in this new crisis. Mrs. Cheney was unavailable for comment, and was last seen boarding a plane for Abu Dhabi.
Monday, December 29, 2008
A recent study showed that people will inflict pain on someone just because a person in authority tells them to do so. There is much good in people but there is a mindless cruel side. Mindless following of instructions can happen in any society.
Tuesday, December 23, 2008
Ms. Kennedy has no background or experience in dissembling on important issues. She also has little if any experience in correcting a previously inaccurate statement she had made to the press or media. It's also highly likely she has no experience with one of the most important political issues of our time, working with corporate lobbyists. She's likely to be an independent-minded person voting on issues based on the merits rather than on the important input from highly paid former members of Congress who are trying to buy her vote. We can't afford to have too many people like this in Congress. If our elected representatives don't take money from lobbyists it would put these poor people out of work. Lastly, it's unlikely she has any experience at all with bribery, either as a recipient or a giver. The importance of this issue can be demonstrated by what is happening in the state of Illinois.
The people of the State of New York are entitled to senators who are not only qualified for the office, but have the same set of ethical and moral values. Former Governor Eliot Spitzer could speak at length to this issue. Favoritism and nepotism must be nipped in the bud so that if one of the Bush daughters is ever elected president we can be sure that she earned it
Monday, December 22, 2008
It's the economy stupid. Increasingly larger numbers of people are either getting laid off, or having their hours of work reduced. Most Americans have less money as a result of the decline in whatever investments they had, if they had any. The recession, which is worldwide in nature, has resulted in reduced demand in almost all countries. As a result, OPEC, which has always functioned better when prices were rising as opposed to falling, can't seem to cut oil production quick enough to match falling demand. As a result, many experts are predicting that the price of a gallon of oil may fall as low as $25 a barrel. Oil-producing countries which generated budgets based on $90-$100 a barrel oil are experiencing significant budget shortfalls and cutting production with falling prices only makes the problem worse. It's hard to imagine anyone in America are crying for Venezuela (or is it Argentina?), and certainly not for Iran or any Middle Eastern sandbox that got rich selling oil.
What we cannot afford to do is wait for the price of oil to rise again draining billions of dollars from our economy and going into the coffers of countries that bear us little goodwill. We must proceed with wind driven energy projects, all electrical cars, hybrid cars, and all other possibilities that will decrease our use of gasoline. The omission of ethanol was not an accident because this project has been a farce in terms of not saving energy costs and costing the American public billions of dollars in subsidies to businesses that didn't need such subsidies. Lower gasoline prices combined with the current economic situation will likely produce headwinds for alternative energy projects. However, the next president has his head on straight about this issue, and will not allow the country to be diverted from the all-important task of a comprehensive energy policy. While the president doesn't owe big oil anything, there are too many in Congress who are deep in the pockets of big oil. This is where alternative energy projects are likely to be slowed down. "Drill, drill, drill baby" is a hollow mantra that will do little to solve the long-term energy needs of this country.
Thursday, December 18, 2008
One new factor is that because he illegal immigrants are finding it more difficult to obtain jobs many are returning to Mexico, although no one has a way of approximating such numbers at this time.
A key aspect of the debate and disagreement on illegal immigration relates to its costs. Based on my review of six studies I came to the conclusion that no one really knows the cost of illegal immigration. There are two main problems. Almost all of the studies purporting to document the cost of illegal immigration are written by groups with a particular point of view. I will say more about this later. Secondly, the economic benefits of the illegal immigrants in this country have typically not been adequately addressed.
The Eagle Forum produced a well-documented report addressing many of the cost factors in illegal immigration. However, it is important to know that the Eagle Forum has been a leading advocate for the pro-family movement since 1972 and is therefore not without its biases. The report is worth reading if you are interested in more details about this issue. The Center for Immigration Studies sponsored a report written by Stephen Camorata written in 2004. This report focused on the "High Cost of Cheap Labor." It is important to know that The Center for Immigration Studies is a Pro-immigrant, think-tank which seeks fewer immigrants but a warmer welcome for those admitted. The report is important because it addresses the cost-benefit aspect of illegal immigration, which has all too frequently been neglected.
Some of the costs of illegal immigrants are obvious and indisputable. Examples of these include costs incurred by hospitals, costs incurred by the states and federal government to incarcerate illegal immigrants convicted of crimes, and costs to local school systems.
Mr. Camorata documents important "benefit" issues such as the fact that, "On average, illegal households pay more than $4,200 a year in all forms of federal taxes. Unfortunately, they impose costs of $6,950 per household.” It is important to note that in addressing taxes paid by illegal immigrants Camorata neglects to factor in sales taxes paid for food, clothing and other purchases made by illegal immigrants and property taxes paid by the illegal immigrants. The reduced cost of services and products as a result of the cheap labor provided by the illegal immigrants has a significant but unknowable effect on the overall cost of living in this country. This had been particularly true in the construction of housing where many illegal immigrants are employed. With the tremendous decline in the number of new houses being built it would be interesting to know if the proportion of workers building these houses who are illegal immigrants has changed.
Wednesday, December 17, 2008
Friday, December 12, 2008
In the meantime, we'll all stay tuned to the further adventures of Miley Cyrus.
Tuesday, December 9, 2008
Now that the great recession has officially arrived its easy to look back and blame the all the people that were involved in loans that people couldn't pay, the institutions that bundled these loans into toxic packages of so-called assets, and all the people whot thought that housing prices would rise forever. But it isn't that simple, because the vast majority of the people in this country contributed in one way or another to the economic crisis in which we find ourselves. If you think you weren't involved, think again, because you probably were. Consider the following questions:
Did you buy a house you couldn't really afford, but assumed that future salary increases would eventually make the house of affordable?
Were you spending more money then you earned?
Do you have new, or almost new, clothing in your closet that you never wore?
Do you live in a house that had more than 1000 square-feet per person?
Are you paying more than $100 a month on credit card debt?
Did you do impulse shopping and buy things that you didn't really need?
Do you drive a gas guzzling car?
Did you think that the value of your house was always going to increase?
Did you take out a new mortgage on your house so that you could have extra money to spend on something that wasn't a necessity?
Did you buy a condominium or second house so that you could "flip it" and make money.
If you answered yes to one or more of these questions you were either directly or indirectly involved in the current economic crisis. If you answered yes to three or more of these questions you should be sentenced to three counseling sessions with Susie Orman. All of the above constituted the Collective National Stupidity that led to the current economic recession.
How could buying a few things that we didn't really need to contribute to the recession? Easy. We became a nation of shoppers on an endless buying spree that eventually had to end in a catastrophic bust. Counties, cities, and states became dependent upon sales taxes which would one day drop off a cliff. That day is here now. Companies built more stores so that we didn't have to travel far to buy things we didn't really need. When we stopped buying things in abundance, stores began to close. People lost jobs, and companies went bankrupt, which resulted in defaulted loans at banks. And finally, banks stopped loaning money.
Saturday, December 6, 2008
Tuesday, December 2, 2008
Now that the recession is official, the next order of business is comparing it to all the other recessions and estimating how long the current recession will be. A number of official and unofficial sources have already stated that this recession will be worse than probably all the other recessions since the Great Depression. Again, what was their first clue? The bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers and the disappearance of Merrill Lynch, Bear Stearns, and the near disappearance of the rest of the great brokerage houses might have given them an inkling that the economy was in very bad shape. The great brokerage houses didn't go broke during the great depression, probably because they hadn't had the opportunity to create trillions of dollars of “bad assets."
How can an asset to be bad? Easy. That's when an asset is really a liability. It's very similar to giving a mortgage to someone who can't pay it back. Of course the brokerage houses and the giant national banks told us that the assets weren't bad at first. Then they admitted they were slightly bad, but we shouldn't worry. At the same time, chairman of the Federal Reserve Bernanke and Secretary of the treasury Paulson were also telling us that things weren't that bad. When enough people tell you that things aren't that bad it's time to really worry. We all have denial in our personal lives, but when denial takes place on a national level, it's generally a catastrophe.
The official acknowledgment of the recession comes at a time when the people of this country are supposed to be spending themselves into oblivion for the holidays. The spending orgy this year is likely to be much smaller than previous years. The greatest gift that people can give themselves for the holidays is remembering what's truly important in life. Relationships and family are precious and can't be purchased in any store.
Friday, November 28, 2008
For many months we have been hearing about the worsening state of the economy, which is now in a significant recession. We have watched our investments shrivel up, our neighbors lose their homes, and we are told the worst is yet to come. It is important for everyone to have some enjoyment in life and not live in a perpetual state of gloom. This post will focus on one of the nation's favorite pastimes, and the best way we know of to keep the population growing, sex. This post is also intended for those people who enjoy having sex, or at least want to give it a try.
Recently, a minister in Grapevine Texas urged his married couples to have sex all week long. Minister Ed Young said, “In these days of financial crisis, rampant divorce and debates over same-sex marriage, it's time to turn the whining into whoopee." I couldn’t agree more. He went on to say, “Sex is like Super Glue. It's a spiritual thing, an emotional thing.” I’m not so sure about the super glue metaphor. It creates an image of two people physically, not emotionally bonded to each other. A lot of the functions of daily life could become problematical if two people were super glued to each other. This kind of exhortation of the congregation to have more sex is not unprecedented. Earlier this year a minister in Florida encouraged his congregation to have 30 days of sex. I let my few readers decide if that’s pushing the envelope.
Recent research has found that even thinking about sex has beneficial health effects. In an article in the New England Journal of Medicine, `Karen Weatherbee stated, “Just 10 minutes of staring at the charms on the well endowed female is roughly equivalent to 30 minutes of aerobic workout.” The article went on to state that this improves blood circulation and can extend a man’s life by as much as five years. Hugh Hefner’s whole life purpose has just been vindicated. Maybe men can get a prescription from their doctor making the purchase of Playboy magazine a medical deduction.
A Forbes magazine article cites many significant physical benefits of having sex. Among them, “Immediately before orgasm, levels of the hormone oxytocin surge to five times their normal level. This in turn releases endorphins, which alleviate the pain of everything from headache to arthritis to even migraines. In women, sex also prompts production of estrogen, which can reduce the pain of PMS.” Wow! Evidence that sex cures headaches and doesn’t cause them.
EVERYBODY BE HAPPY!
Tuesday, November 25, 2008
Fear is pervasive in the country as a great recession is upon us. One of the most important things that Obama can do is give the people a sense that someone is in charge and there is some hope. Hope is not a solution for the problems that beset this country, but the absence of hope is desperation which will only make the problems worse. By all appearances Obama has put together an "economic team" of experts, and will not hesitate to utilize the expertise of persons in business and finance. Currently, we have Paulsen and Bernanke talking with Barney Frank and Chris Dodd, which scares the hell out of me. Barney Frank, for those who forget, is one of the people who helped turn Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac loose to become financially bankrupt. While the Republicans were largely responsible for much of the deregulation that led to the current economic crisis, the Democrats were all too eager to implement a philosophy where everyone was entitled to own a home of their own. Utter nonsense! Owning a home isn't a right, it's not guaranteed in the Constitution, nor did Thomas Jefferson ever refer to it in the Declaration of Independence.
Among the things Obama needs to do is to is work with, and give direction to, Nancy Pelosi, Barney Frank, and other liberal Democrats. None of these people are capable of running the country, and collectively all of them are capable of running it into the ground. A better metaphor might be a nautical one. If the country were likened to a ship at sea, its financial and economic systems are taking on water and in danger of sinking. Responsible programs, not just any programs, need to be put in place. Someone needs to be in charge and make sure all the pieces fit together. So far Obama seems to be doing a good job. But what he has done is a drop in the bucket compared to what he will have to do. He has commendably surrounded himself with very capable people. This was the relatively easy part. Now comes the hard part of tackling the enormous problems and making things better, not worse.
Tuesday, November 18, 2008
The most important thing that Obama can do is restore some sense of hope in the country. The performance of the stock market, and the unwillingness of financial institutions to loan money even after they were given billions of dollars by the government, are both strong evidence of the sense of absence of hope and presence of despair. At the present time the country is devoid of any leadership, as President Bush has gone missing, and Secretary of the treasury Paulson appears to be the leader of the country. How important is hope? Ronald Reagan understood the need for people to feel good about themselves and their country, and that better times lie ahead. Businesses are composed of people, and therefore have the same need.
He must provide strong leadership, because even the best of economic recovery plans will not work unless they are fully implemented, and the people of this country believe that they will work. When the giant banks of this country are given tens of billions of dollars and still do not lend money, but contemplate large bonuses for their staffs, there is a need for a leader who will send a quick direct message telling them what they need to do.
Obama's willingness to form a diverse Cabinet with people who don't completely share his vision is evidence of a man with a strong ego. A strong ego should not be confused with a big one. A person with a strong ego is able to tolerate differences of opinion, and even learn from them. We have had few presidents with strong egos in recent decades. The interview with the heads of his campaign gave a prescient insight into his leadership style. He wants to surround himself with strong and capable people who can carry out their mission with a minimum of guidance.
Lastly, Obama consistently points out that the task ahead of us cannot be accomplished by one person. There is no one human being who can carry the country on his or her back.
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
Even now there are many who say why bother to save General Motors when its market capitalization as of Tuesday, November 11, 2008, is less than $2 billion. Most people who have been following the long-term demise of the American automotive industry have been well aware of the overindulgent benefits provided to retired auto workers. Many of the automotive industry retirees have never had to deal with Medicare because they had perpetual gold plated medical coverage. Now, like the rest of American retirees, they have to deal with the intricacies of Medicare. Couldn't they, along with management, have seen long ago that this benefit was too excessive to last at a time when the automotive industry in America was continuing on a downhill path?
It has been pointed out that most companies declaring bankruptcy under Chapter 11 don't go out of existence. Instead, they shed debt, reorganize, and emerge as healthier companies. That's what United Airlines and Delta Airlines have done and Circuit City is planning to do. However, this requires special financing which most lenders are not willing to do at the present time at a time when the credit market is still mostly frozen.
The government must do more than just give money to the automakers. The automakers must present a workable plan for how they will become profitable and how they will pay the money back to the people of America. The next administration must be extremely vigilant in its monitoring of the automakers, as well as other companies that have been given government money. While no one wants to government to take over the auto industry, or the banking industry, the people in charge of the companies that have been bailed out have shown themselves to be clueless at times. The most egregious example has been the plans for multimillion dollar bonuses on Wall Street and the expensive road trips at AIG. While Guantánamo must be emptied out of its current occupants, perhaps it should not be entirely
Saturday, November 8, 2008
Before anyone accuses me of being ignorant of the terrorists and other forces around the world who seek our destruction, let me assure you that I am aware of what Al Qaeda and others would wish to do to us and to Israel. However, you can't fight darkness with darkness, or evil with evil. I am uncertain of how President Bush saw the world before he became president. Certainly, after 9/11, with the advice of the people around him, he became convinced that the world was dangerous place and this got translated into making Iraq a focal point for fighting terrorism. Al Qaeda was not present in Iraq before our invasion and Saddam Hussein had no ties with this organization that viewed him as an enemy.
Thursday, November 6, 2008
Before anyone accuses me of being a socialist, let me make it clear that I am all for free-market capitalism because that is the best way known to produce material goods and most services. A planned economy is usually a planned disaster. However, when the greed driven folks on Wall Street, in banks throughout this nation and abroad, and other assorted crooks and scoundrels didn't have proper supervision, they created a debacle of bad loans, packages of assets that soon became worthless, and trillions of dollars of derivatives that will take years to resolve. To complain about the free-market system being taken away, is like a child crying because the parents are finally taken away the matches that have been used to set several fires.
What started as a meltdown in financial institutions and banks soon became a meltdown on Main Street throughout the world. Commodity prices which had been going straight up have come straight down. Oil prices which had been gushing through the roof came tumbling down and countries that had been strutting around like peacocks (Russia, Venezuela, and Iran as well as many others) suddenly found themselves faced with potential budget shortfalls of enormous magnitude. Venezuelan may have to postpone the launching of its Pacific Fleet while it deals with 30% inflation and an economy that cannot be supported with oil selling for under $70 a barrel. The only benefit out of the economic chaos for America has been the reduction in the price of a gallon of gasoline from over four dollars to just over two dollars. However, if people resumed their SUV driving habits we will soon be in the four dollar a gallon gas crisis again.
The financial free-market system will never be the same, nor should it. The people who should have been supervising it were contemptuous of government regulation and assumed that the people who ran financial institutions could be trusted (ouch) to "watch out for their own good." Fiduciary responsibility was all but abandoned and now we all have to pay to fix a system that is almost broken beyond repair. It will take cooperation in this country, not recently a practiced art, as well as cooperation with other countries to avoid another Great Depression. We can only hope.
Tuesday, November 4, 2008
If the people of this country were paying close attention to what Senator, and soon to be President-elect, Obama did to defeat Hillary Clinton, and then John McCain, they would have seen that he does what he has to in order to accomplish his goal. This is the very definition of a politician. As soon as Obama became the apparent nominee for the Democratic Party, he moved to the center much to the dismay of the screaming, out of touch ultra liberals who immediately predicted his demise. As we have seen, such was not the case. According to articles I have read, Senator Obama has studied President Reagan's presidency in great detail. Regardless of what one thinks of President Reagan, he was immensely popular and had the backing of much of the country.
Obama will not move to the left, but rather government pragmatically. Some of his ideas are no doubt construed as "socialism" by those on the right, but the last two elections have shown that those on the right to have been very wrong. New Democratic senators and Congresspersons have been added from traditionally "red" states and are much more moderate than their first cousins on either coast. If Obama is to bring about change, it can only be done from somewhere in the middle with the cooperation of his many Republicans as possible. Newt Gingrich is warming up his campaign for 2012 in the expectation that an extremely liberal President Obama will run the country further off the tracks. It is likely that President Obama will spend the next four years trying to get the country back on track and actually worked to see that the needs of the majority of the citizens of this country are met, as opposed to the very affluent. This will leave little room for Newt Gingrich, or any other right wing Republican, to run his little train into the White House.
Saturday, November 1, 2008
There are differences among the polls on a state-by-state basis, but Obama has a lead in almost all of the battleground states. It would take a significant shift for McCain to win the 270 Electoral College votes he needs to become president. While this is not impossible, it seems unlikely at this point. McCain seems to be making some gains in some states according to different polls: however there is no way to be certain what will happen on Election Day based on any of these polls. Of note, is the fact that recent research has shown that the vast majority of people who say that they are "undecided" have in fact made up their mind even though they don't know it. Sounds screwy? Well, there are ways to elicit opinions and preferences that are the basis for formation of a final judgment.
As Yogi Berra is alleged to have said, "It's not over till it's over" which should make for a very interesting Tuesday evening. It is likely that Obama helped McCain when he talked about redistributing the wealth. While this occurs all the time, it's not something a liberal Democrat should say. However, Republicans have redistributed the wealth of the last eight years, but in this instance the money has gone to the affluent and to the major corporations. Opinion? Go to factcheck.org or some other unbiased sources. On Tuesday, the endless campaign will finally be over and Americans can go on to arguing about other things.
Thursday, October 23, 2008
Greenspan provided even more shocking testimony when he said, "Those of us who have looked to the self-interest of lending institutions to protect shareholder's equity -- myself especially -- are in a state of shocked disbelief." It's hard to imagine that someone with his knowledge of history of the way economic markets work could even be mildly surprised that lending institutions failed to protect shareholders equity. Perhaps he had forgotten about the savings-and-loan debacle of the late 1980s and early 1990s. This resulted in the failure of 2412 savings and loan associations. The ultimate cost of the crisis is estimated to have totaled around $560.1 billion, about $324.6 billion of which was directly paid for by the U.S. government—that is, the U.S. taxpayer.
The type of delusional thinking that Greenspan was engaging in was recently termed "market fundamentalism" by George Soros the famed investor and someone who could've provided better guidance for the supervision of the financial institutions than those who were actually in charge. Mr. Soros recently provided a stinging denouncement of the notion that financial and credit markets could be self-monitoring. When children play with money some grown-ups need to monitor them.
Tuesday, October 21, 2008
Telephone polls also encounter the language problem. There are many American citizens who speak primarily or only Spanish, or another language. These people are excluded from telephone polls and become an important population subset that is not represented in the findings. The fact that these people tend to vote Democratic skew the results towards Republicans.
This year there is a special subpopulation that isn't accounted for in the sampling procedure used by telephone surveys. The Democratic Party has enrolled millions of new voters across the nation, and particularly in key so-called battleground states. If the Democratic Party enrolled these people, it is logical to assume that a significant majority of them will vote Democratic.
Telephone surveys never include people who refuse to talk to the pollsters. So by definition, telephone poles leave out a population subset that is hard to replicate.
If you are a McCain supporter hoping that he will close the gap, don't rely on poll information to support your belief that the race is getting closer. If you are an Obama supporter, you can't be sure whether all your supporters are included.
People have all too often said that bad data is better than no data at all. That is one of the most shortsighted, ignorant statements possible.
Saturday, October 18, 2008
Given Ms. Spears state of mind at the time of the accident it's a miracle she had any kind of driver's license. Fortunately for her, at the time of the accident, her faithful following of paparazzi was right there to help extricate her from any danger. We all remember the Los Angeles city criminal justice system from its botched prosecution of the O.J. Simpson trial to its brutalization of Rodney King. In an apparent effort to rescue its tarnished reputation, the Los Angeles criminal justice system has focused its laser like vision on poor Ms. Spears. This comes at a time when Britney seems to have gotten her act together, at least for a few months. For the first time since 1999 she has a hit single that has gone to the top of the Billboard chart. What could be more important!
No doubt millions of Americans will spend this weekend in prayer that justice is rightfully done for Ms. Spears. The fine young lady who has put a sordid past behind her, and become a role model for all young American women is no doubt biting her nails awaiting the jury's final verdict. Rumors that Paris Hilton has gone to support Britney in her hour of peril are unsubstantiated at this time.
Wednesday, October 15, 2008
The three debates gave Senator Obama a chance to display his stature and ability to assume command of this country, which has been leaderless for some time. Obama was cool, calm, and collect and responded to almost all of McCain's attacks and charges effortlessly. McCain did score a few points, but consolation points when you are behind in the polls don't matter very much. McCain initially seemed energized, but as the debate war on he appeared old and tired. 72 year old man has the wisdom and ability to run a country, but McCain is not one of them.
The attacks by Senator McCain were mostly tangential and the 700 plus point drop in the stock market only served to emphasize that there was one main issue, the economy. Trying to paint Obama as a tax-and-spend liberal is hard when the so-called conservative president for the last eight years has spent the economy into the ground while cutting taxes.
Senator McCain was clearly an angry man tonight. For much of the evening a frozen plastic smile covered his face. He sought to attack Obama whenever possible and make faces when Obama successfully countered his point. Do we need an angry man for our leader? Or do we need a leader with a more positive vision and a better sense of what America needs?
Maybe Governor Palin was only speaking to large crowds of the faithful Joe six packers when she was in Virginia telling voters how dangerous it would be to vote for Obama. The most dangerous thing for the people of Virginia, and the rest of this country, is the state of the economy. You have to be a real Governor Palin zealot to not be frightened at the prospect of her being one heartbeat away from making decisions about an economy so badly damaged. Can anyone imagine her sitting down with Prime Minister Brown of England or any other European leader and being able to converse on equal terms about economic decisions? If you can, then your imagination has taken hold of you.
It seems that numbers of rural voters all across the so-called "key battleground states" have decided that they would rather take a chance with the supposedly unknown Senator Obama then with the tried-and-true Senator McCain. After what seems to be a decade of campaigning, what is it all about Obama that people really need to know that they haven't already seen. The people of Virginia and the rest of America have very little interest in the loose association that Senator Obama had with the former terrorist Bill Ayres. The McCain-Palin attack plan was a failure. Time is running out. Can Senator McCain still win? Yes, but the odds get longer each day. And clearly, the people of Virginia seem likely to give their electoral votes to the man Senator McCain tells them they can't trust.
Monday, October 13, 2008
The free-market system of banking and finance is in total shambles and countries around the world must work together to prevent a global meltdown. The initial cause started here with an absence of any regulation of the financial marketplace that led to systemic abuses ranging from fraudulent home loans to the major financial institutions on Wall Street lying to themselves, lying to their shareholders, lying to the government, and lying to the American public about their true financial state. In the end, the financial institution survivors had to be rescued by the taxpayers of this country. All this happened while the president was keeping us safe from unnamed horrors abroad.
Even the so-called "safe" giant insurance companies found themselves facing financial difficulties that few would have imagined. It all comes back to the commander-in-chief. What the president did, he did poorly. He mismanaged the war and ran up the biggest budget deficit in history. And this was supposed to be a conservative president? What he failed to do was legion, most importantly provide leadership and see to it that the country was better off at the end of his administration that it was at the beginning of his administration. In the end, when his leadership was needed, he had none to display and his credibility was gone. The reputation of this nation is a fraction of what it was when he took over.
Wednesday, October 8, 2008
Senator McCain emphasized his experience but talking about events that occurred during the Reagan administration, and even referring to Teddy Roosevelt, made him look out of touch with the current economic crisis. Senator Obama made a point of emphasizing the need for a lead it to be able to "look around the corner" and think about what's going to happen next as opposed to always being in a reactive state. While Senator McCain appeared to be more cordial at first, he clearly has disdain for the younger man who is now increasingly being seen as a good more commanding leader despite his lesser experience. McCain fails to see that experience by itself is not a recommendation for leadership.
While Senator McCain saw the provision of health care as responsibility, Senator Obama saw it as a right of all Americans. Senator McCain's emphasis on turning to the private sector for health care seems ill chosen when the financial private sector has collapsed and the health-care private sector is best known for its attempts to deny or limit to policyholders. A woman in the audience had a good question when she wondered if we should make health care more like a public utility. Unfortunately neither senator chose to address this issue.
When Senator McCain referred to Senator Obama as, "That one," he lapsed to a level of disrespect heretofore not seen in presidential debates. Senator McCain's one attempt at a "new initiative" whereby the government would buy up mortgages, turns out to be in the plan that was passed by Congress last week. If Senator McCain can't be bothered to read, then he ought to have better staff members who read what he should and remind him of what he should know. This was an evening Senator McCain needed to win in a fashion that would turn around the campaign. Unfortunately for Senator McCain, the evening turned out the exact opposite of what he needed.
Tuesday, October 7, 2008
In a time when seniors are struggling to make ends meet, and retirement plans are unraveling, Senator McCain once again demonstrates how out of touch he is with the American people. With his excellent medical plan as a member of Congress Senator McCain doesn't have to worry about the details of Medicare, or reduced Medicare benefits. Is McCain actually trying to alienate America's senior citizens? Hard to know. Stay tuned for further announcements.
Sunday, October 5, 2008
“It’s like kind of providential yesterday what happened to me,” Palin said. “I am reading on my Starbucks mocha cup the quote of the day. You’ll never believe what the quote was! It was Madeleine Albright, former secretary of state and U.N. ambassador, and Madeleine has as her quote of the day for Starbucks — now she said it, I didn’t say it — ‘There is a place in hell reserved for women who don’t support other women.’ OK now, thank you so much for receiving that well, I didn’t know how that was gonna go over. And now California, let’s see what a comment like I just made, let’s see what it will be turned into . . . newspaper.”
Unfortunately for Governor Palin, she put her foot in her mouth way past her epiglottis. Albright didn't say that. The accurate quote is, "There's a place in Hell reserved for women who don't help other women." This is what happens when Governor Palin is turned loose and speaks what's on her alleged mind. It now seems that the McCain campaign was quite correct in keeping Governor Palin under tight control. The governor is far worse than a loose canon; she's a loose thermonuclear verbal bomb.
Based on the stories coming out of Alaska, I suspect that behind Governor Palin's charming political smile lies a very dark heart. With thirty days to go in the campaign, there are plenty of opportunities for Governor Palin to show us who and what she really is. And many more opportunities for Tina Fay to immortalize her on Saturday Night Live.
Thursday, October 2, 2008
Almost all the polls show that the majority of the independent voters believe that Senator Obama had won the first debate. While Obama talked directly to McCain, and agreed with him on occasion, McCain did not make eye contact with Obama and had a frozen smile on his face whenever Obama said he was wrong about some issue. McCain's tactic of constantly saying that, "Obama doesn't understand" did not have the desired effect. McCain displayed a consistently truculent attitude in relations with Russia, Iran, and North Korea. Starting wars is not the best way of protecting the American people as we have found out with our current president.
McCain's lack of understanding of economic issues and the current crisis facing us has been evident for some time, highlighted by his statement that the, "the economy was fundamentally strong." Recent polls reveal that the voters with the most at stake in the financial crisis, persons with incomes of $75,000 or more and in the age category of 50 through 64 had made a significant in shift in their support of Obama from McCain. McCain is losing and he knows it. As much as Hillary Clinton wanted to become president, McCain needs to become president even more. By becoming president McCain can finally attain a higher rank than his father the Admiral who McCain feared and hated at the same time. This is an opinion, not a fact, but by training I am more than an amateur psychologist.
Tuesday, September 30, 2008
Every time Nancy Pelosi smiles in public, particularly when she is dealing with Republicans, I always get the sense that she is under great stress and strain. She has risen to one of the most important political positions in the country because she is extremely bright and talented. Unfortunately, her repertoire of leadership skills is still wanting in critical areas. Hopefully, the congressional Republicans and Democrats can get together and work out a compromise that will allow sufficient votes for the financial rescue package to pass. The next time the House of Representatives is voting on such a measure it might be a good idea for Democratic colleagues to tape her mouth shut
Friday, September 26, 2008
Below is a verbatim response from Governor Palin when she was talking about what happened at the World Trade Center.
"I wish every American would come through here. I wish every world leader would come through here, and understand what it is that took place here and more importantly how America came together and united to commit to never allowing this to happen again. And just to hear and from and see these good New Yorkers who are rebuilding not just this are but helping to rebuild America has been very, very inspiring and encouraging."
Excuse me. "And just to hear and from and see these good New Yorkers….”
It is important for Governor Palin to speak clearly and coherently because as potential vice president of the United States, and possibly even the president of the United States, the entire world has to understand what she means by what she says. This was not evident in her brief interviews with the press, nor in her interview with Katie Couric, which is seen below. There is simply no way Governor Palin is even close to being a reasonable candidate for vice president of the United States. Choosing Governor Palin to be his vice presidential running mate wasn't a gamble on Senator McCain's part, it was an egregious example of poor judgment.
Wednesday, September 24, 2008
The shift of organized crime was aided and abetted by lax oversight laws in Washington and the failure to exercise the stripped-down oversight powers that remained. The Republican Party, rulers of Congress since the mid-90s, had nothing but contempt for regulatory rules and statutes which were viewed as hindrances to unfettered operations of markets. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac ran amok paying little or no attention to what their true functions and responsibilities were. The Republicans were joined by the Democrats who were all too willing to accept donations from lobbyists from financial organizations and other inducements that made it possible for the financial debacle to occur. In this quasi criminal environment, members of Congress never retired, they just went to work as lobbyists for the organizations they were supposed to oversee. Members of Congress were accessories in a new model of organized crime.
All of the above occurred in an environment in which the Bush administration subverted the Constitution, tortured people contrary to existing American laws, lied to the American people and the rest of the world, and perpetrated an endless series of misinformation and manipulation. This constituted organized crime on the part of the presidency of the United States. I don't cite specifics because that would take many pages, but surely the lie about the existence of weapons of mass of destruction in Iraq constituted a high crime and misdemeanor on the part of the president. When Joe Wilson attempted to speak up about the misinformation supplied to the American people, the Bush administration struck back by "outing" his CIA employed wife. This was followed by a series of lies and cover-ups which protected the people who actually ordered the felony.
Many people in the financial markets and throughout America are decrying the end of capitalism. If capitalism has died it was a result of its own misdeeds and failure to police itself.
Monday, September 22, 2008
The impending financial catastrophe also involved growing concern over money market funds. One major money market fund had "broke a buck" which means its value was less than a dollar. The run on money market funds had begun and it is likely that a significant number of money market funds could not have met the demands for withdrawals. Money market funds normally invest their assets in government securities, certificates of deposits, commercial paper of companies, and other highly liquid and low-risk securities. The problem for the money market funds was that some of the commercial paper they owned and other securities were no longer liquid or low risk. So the money market funds began to accumulate cash and the entire credit market was seizing up.
The housing market was continuing to collapse and the stock market was beginning to collapse. A major sell off in the stock market, by itself, would not have been sufficient for Secretary Paulson and Chairman Bernanke to call a meet with the leaders of Congress and propose a 700 billion-dollar bailout. It took a combination of all of the aforementioned events and circumstances, in addition to other factors that have not been detailed. When the meeting was over the members of both parties had extremely somber looks on their faces. For the first time, they had been told the true nature of the catastrophe that was occurring. The piecemeal approach taken by the government was failing and unless a more comprehensive approach was instituted a financial catastrophe akin to the Great Depression was almost inevitable.
I don't have the expertise to critique the proposed plan. In fact, one of the problems with the proposed plan is that it contains so many unknowns. However, to have continued the piecemeal approach, or to have done nothing, would have led to disaster. Is a depression no longer possibile? Hopefully, yes. But in these times no one can say anything with a great deal of certainty.
Sunday, September 21, 2008
Senator McCain went on to say that Senator Obama was complicit in the destruction of the fleet at Pearl Harbor by the Japanese on December 7, 1941. McCain said that Obama, a Hawaiian resident, failed to perform his civic duty and inform the authorities that the Japanese aircraft were flying across the island. Once again Senator Obama replied, "I wasn't born yet." Governor Palin said, "You can never get a straight answer from Senator Obama."
Senator McCain also accused Senator Obama for the poorly planned war in Iraq. He said that Obama had failed to listen to his generals and had implemented unilateral strategies which forced the war to last more than five years. An outraged Senator Obama said, "I was against the invasion of Iraq never had any responsibilities for military decisions or planning." Governor Palin said, "once again Obama was refusing to accept responsibility for a Democratic caused debacle." When Governor Palin was asked what "debacle" meant, she giggled.
Lastly, Senator McCain said that Senator Obama was entirely responsible for the economic collapse confronting the nation. He pointed out that as one of the nation's wealthiest men with a controlling interest in all of the major brokerage houses Senator Obama failed to act with due diligence when his brokerage houses were creating junk securities. Senator Obama replied, "I have no stock or relationship with any of the brokerage houses on Wall Street." Governor Palin replied, "It’s pretty awful when a man can't own up to what he does."
Thursday, September 18, 2008
On Wall Street a game of musical chairs has begun and only Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley are left after Bear Stearns, Lehman Brothers, and Merrill Lynch found themselves sitting on the metaphorical floor. What is particularly appalling about the way this fiscal crisis played out was the continuous lying by the CEOs and CFOs of the major institutions on Wall Street. At first it was a small problem, then it was a little bigger, and finally it kept getting worse and worse until an economic tsunami washed over the nation and most probably the rest of the world.
We find out that financial institutions, such as Lehman Brothers, were leveraged up to thirty to one in some of their investments. This means they had $1 of assets for every $30 of liabilities for vast portions of their investment portfolio. And their investment portfolio was contained bundled mortgages from people who were encouraged to lie about their ability to pay them. When is enough, enough ever on Wall Street? The question is its own answer. There are undoubtedly good and honest people who worked for Lehman Brothers and other now deceased institutions, and continue to work for Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley. However, the moral climate of corporate greed was so pervasive that the people in charge not only lied to us, they lied to themselves.
So, the government has to step in time and time again using taxpayer money in what many are calling the socialization of the financial system. I don't know enough about the intricate finances to be aware of solutions other than those the government has undertaken. But the incestuous nature of the situation couldn't be more apparent when current secretary of the treasury Henry Paulson, formally CEO of Goldman Sachs, is orchestrating the bailout of the financial system with the institutions that caused the need for the bailout. From where I nervously sit, it appears that Henry Paulson is doing all he can to save the system. But if the system wasn't so morally corrupt and incestuously tied together it would not have needed saving.
Saturday, September 13, 2008
It doesn't matter whether Governor Palin understands the so-called "Bush Policy" or that she continually misrepresents her position on the Bridge to No Where. It doesn't matter what McCain says or how he says it because now he is in the groove and will bash Obama to oblivion until Election Day. It doesn't matter that the McCain campaign lies when it says Obama will raise everybody's taxes. What matters is that enough voters have decided that they can relate to McCain, or feel more comfortable with him, or what ever, than they do with Obama. That determines how people vote.
End of story. End of election. Will the Liberals learn anything from this election? Not a chance.
Wednesday, September 10, 2008
Note: to blog surfers and others who recently found this post. This post was written on September 10, 2008, when the polls showed Senator McCain taking over the lead from Senator Obama. The purpose of the post was to point out that the sampling procedures had been changed to favor a more Republican oriented response. This is a tremendous no-no in any poll or sampling procedure. If you are a Republican hoping to read that the current polls which show Obama with anywhere from a three to eight point lead are wrong, I have to disappoint you. While there is a significant difference among the polls, it is likely Obama still has a four to five point lead. There are significant flaws in some of the polls, such as one that assumes that 42% of the voters will be evangelicals, which is more than twice the percentage of evangelicals that voted in the 2004 presidential election. Besides, the election is decided on a state-by-state basis were Obama has more than enough states to give him the necessary 270 electoral votes. I'm not saying that McCain can't win, but rather that it is extremely unlikely that he will do so.
According to the most recent polls (Gallup, CBS, USA Today etc.) Senator McCain has pulled out in front of Senator Obama. But as everything else in this campaign nothing is what it appears to be. Alan Abramowitz, cited in the Huffington post, said, "One reason for the dramatic difference between the two recent CBS polls is that the two samples differed fairly dramatically in terms of partisan composition. The first sample was 35.2% Democratic, 26.2 percent Republicans, and 38.6 percent independent. The second sample was 34.9% Democratic, 31.1% Republican, and 34.0% independent. That's a change from a 9 point Democratic advantage to a 3.8 point Democratic advantage. That alone would probably explain about half of the difference in candidate preferences between the two [CBS] polls."
Simply put, you cannot change the sampling populations from one poll to the next and have any consistency (reliability). Mr.Abramowitz doesn't think the overall spike in Republican sampling among all three polling firms is an accurate reflection of the electorate. He goes on to say, "Given how important polls can be in the coverage of the race, even a slight assist to McCain during a period in which he is exciting the Republican base could help him solidify a new narrative in the race, regardless of the partisan facts on the ground."
The people of this country need accurate information in order to make an informed decision about whom to vote for in the presidential election. If the polls are inaccurate, and the McCain campaign is certainly not accurate, and Obama is spending most of his time responding to "misinformation" from the McCain campaign, then the American electorate falls back to choosing someone they are most comfortable with. That's the McCain strategy. It was the Bush strategy and it got us eight years under what will go down in history as one of the worst presidential administrations. Do we want that again?
Tuesday, September 9, 2008
Ever since her carefully orchestrated appearances before, during, and after the Republican convention more questions than answers have arisen about who and what she is, and what she stands for. No one, not even the McCain campaign, believes their mantra that Governor Palin is more experienced than Senator Obama, and she is ready to take over the presidency. Any woman who describes herself as a pit bull with lipstick is more prepared to referee a so-called professional wrestling match then she is to become the vice president of the United States. The McCain campaign is well aware of it and has limited all access to her so that she doesn't put her foot in her political mouth.
In a sense Governor Palin is a pawn in the Republican effort to make the election about liking and identifying with people as opposed to determining who would make the best president and solve the vast array of problems facing this country. She is a very willing pawn who "dragged her infant child" onto national TV during the Republican convention. Was I not supposed to make reference to her family? Well, if she's going to bring her baby and put it on display then she's made her family a national issue.
It's inconceivable to think of what would happen to this country if Senator McCain became president and then were disabled or very sick. Can anyone imagine this self-styled hockey mom sitting down with Vladimir Putin discussing the fate of the world. How could she address the significant financial problems this country is facing when she doesn't even understand the role of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. I could go on and on, but that would be tedious. My only hope is that she doesn't go on and on because that would be perilous for this country.