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Coddling the Base As Excuse for Fraud

1:26 am in Uncategorized by Ruth Calvo

So What?

(Picture courtesy of susanica at flickr.com.)

Diverting as it is to watch the right wing making yet another production out of protecting its ‘job creator’ base from the perceived theft of its rightful bullion by wage earners, it’s impossible not to see that the view increasingly is of a weak, helpless and irresponsible class at the top.    While putting together the writhing plans of opposition to anything this administration tries to accomplish in the public interest, the political right has mythologized its support group into an ultimate dirty f***g hippy living off the public teat.

As Bob Herbert put it last night on the Rachel Maddow show, the rich want it all even when it hurts them, too.

The concept of business owners who hoard their profits, huddle together for warmth to protect capitol and shut out potential job performers is one of the DFH living off the earnings of others that they insist applies only to the unwashed public and its needy kids.  Using the government to put up fences against citizens getting their own earnings is the latest tack, harking back to the very conditions we fled to start this country in the first place.

Once upon a time, the high returns on investment in risky business was earned.    Now its high returns are bought, by throwing a primer of lobbying and political finagling into the works to protect investors from actual risk.   Fracking is a particularly good example.   Originally it was introduced in the wingnut politically controlled west where it was just another way to wrest fossil fuels out of the landscape, passed off with a shrug.   When ground water started turning up flammable and unusable by the landowners where fracking was going on, the oil companies ran tests and produced test results that showed it was just a fluke.  In towns like Dish, Texas, with their farms and homes no longer inhabitable, citizens without a justice or political systuem that served their interests were reduced to moving away, ruined.   This seemed to the right like a reasonable policy, and to protect it the Big Oil industries made their moves into more civilized societies by replacing public interest regulatory personnel with their own agents before starting to get the permits to destroy the countryside east of the Mississippi.

…28 scientists complained that the committee, formally known as the Natural Gas Subcommittee of the Secretary of Energy Advisory Board, “appears to be performing advocacy-based science and seems to have already concluded that hydraulic fracturing is safe.” The scientists ask Chu to replace Deutch “with a person with no financial ties to the natural gas and oil industry,” as well as add “independent members” to the committee.

An environmental group, the Environmental Working Group, previously objected to the advisory group’s makeup, saying Deutch received more than $1.4 million from energy companies Schumberger and Cheniere Energy for serving on their boards between 2006 and 2009.

The same approach has produced other destructive results in the financial industry, of course.  Read the rest of this entry →

Right Wing Way of Dealing With Debt

4:55 am in Uncategorized by Ruth Calvo

Going all out for ...?

(Picture courtesy of flickr.com.)

‘Right wing concepts’ seems oxymoronic, as watching the officeholders brought in by 2010′s intense advertising of a nonexistent jobs program gives a whole new meaning to negotiation.   In the winger viewpoint, it seems that incivility and outright hurling of insults is the appropriate way to run the U.S.

The encounter with Rep. Joe Walsh that Martin Bashir hosted on his show at MSNBC yesterday has been styled as a triumph of the right by several wingnut sites.   That’s amusing to some one who actually watched it, and circles around Walsh’s refusal to back off his accusation that the president lied.   The ‘Liar’ charge the right likes to hurl out seems particularly inappropriate as they change stances daily on what faces this country if their threats to end U.S. financial stability creep toward accomplishment.

The teaGOP congressman from Illinois joined Bachmann in denying that right wing refusal to act now in order to avoid U.S. default on its debts in any way threatens the financial stability of the country.

“President Obama, quit lying,” said Congressman Walsh. “You know darn well that if August 2nd comes and goes there is plenty of money to pay off our debt and cover all social security obligations. And you also know that you and only you have the discretion to make those payments.”“I know you have a willing media that protects everything you say and do, but have you no shame sir? In three short years you have bankrupted this country and destroyed job creation. You are either in over your head, don’t understand what makes this country great, or are hell-bent in turning us into some European big government wasteland.”

Like other words from the right of the former GOP, Walsh’s statements draw on a large and dependable reservoir of ignorance among voters that was plumbed to great effect last November.   The right’s huge victory in 2010 was brought about by massive claims that it would bring jobs to voters, and indeed it did bring jobs, but only to newly elected officials who now are destroying the workers’ rights.

Calling the president a liar is yet another evidence of the new tactic of incivility that seems to thrill followers while obscuring bases of actual fact.   As Bashir pointed out, earlier statements – about President Obama’s winning because he is black, and of pushing ‘that magic button’ as an articulate black man – by Walsh indicate that nothing the president says will convince him, not because of being wrong, but because it comes from the man that the right is determined to beat by any means it can.

The present right wing officeholders are following a pattern we saw not long ago, in Tom DeLay, whose behavior lowered standards to a point that the then Speaker could feel comfortable with.  I have watched CSpan covering floor fights in the House that were remarkably reminiscent of barroom brawls, with name calling and defiance of behavior standards flaunted as if they did credit to the brawlers.

When decorum is ignored, the country loses dignity.

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The tactic of refusing normal manners when dealing with the person in office that they’re determined to remove is one that, regrettably, I’ve seen before.  Senator Ralph Yarborough, progressive Democrat from Texas, was refused seating with the Democratic contingent at the 1960 presidential nominating convention that put John F. Kennedy into the candidacy for, then the office of, President of the U.S.   (Lyndon Johnson was Texas’ preferred candidate, while Yarborough supported JFK,)  When he physically pushed himself into the seated area, he was encountered by pushing and shoving to keep him out.  When I went to work for Yarborough a fellow Texan scorned the choice, on the grounds that he behaved deplorably in public.   It was impossible to explain then, as it is now, that countering deplorable behavior towards him sometimes made scenes.

No, I don’t expect to see the president shoving anyone back.   Sen. Yarborough grew up in a household that included eight brothers.

 

 

Making the World Safe for Autocracy

1:37 am in Uncategorized by Ruth Calvo

Tearing down the country.

(Picture courtesy of nerdnirvana.org.)

The strengths and advantages of democracy are looking ever more bleak.  The shining cities on a hill image that we used to project is smeared pretty badly by the picture of two sides fighting over the success, but risking the failure, of a country that officials vowed to serve.  While I don’t subscribe to the theory that both sides are at fault, as the uglies on the right are able to make political gains by spouting unmitigated lies like the birther/death panel sort, I do see that from the other side of political systems the failure of democracy must be looking pretty well here and now.

China is a particular success and has an economy solidly directed to the upside, while achieving great leaps forward (sorry, Mao tse-Tsung) in alternate energy and economies of production.   Taking one more dig at the spectacle, most nations of the earth far out-achieve the U.S. in education and health care, most also in environmental conservation and infrastructure.

It appears that our rampant Boss Hogg Koch and Evita Bachmann element have achieved what the communist dictators would have given much to see, a U.S. that is locked in internal combat that one side will fight right over the edge of disaster while the former enemies applaud as we plunge from former greatness.

Watching the administration struggle with unremitting hostilities from the irresponsible recidivists makes the opponents of democratic success daily stronger.

We watch in horror from the side of self-preservation as the U.S. daily shows greater fragility in the face of domestic terrorists.  Will the right wing push the country the rest of the way over the precipice?   Hard to say.
Read the rest of this entry →

World Powers Uniting To Serve Own Interests

5:57 am in Uncategorized by Ruth Calvo

Stock Exchange in Sao Paulo, Brazil

Picture courtesy of Wikipedia.

There’s a refreshing aspect to that long hiatus of governmental scurrying that occurs between late December and early January.  One of the benefits to me this year was a many-chapter account of the year in review that was prepared to dialogue with western nations  by  Chinese Central Television (CCTV), featured on CSpan.

At a point in describing the growing economy in China’s part of the world, the announcer ran through a quick description of BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India and China)  as the organization the member nations used to ‘encounter the Western world’.   Delicately put, but it gained my attention.  We are the part of the world that a joint commission is needed to defend against.  The role of the United Nations at one point was intended to be the organization that all nations came to to work things out.   That just didn’t happen for developing countries, with the Great Powers in charge.

Since encountering the BRIC organization’s role, I couldn’t help but looking into what the group is doing, and it seems that now that group has seen the advantages of bringing Africa into the fold.

South Africa received a major boost for its international image Friday when it was formally invited to join BRIC, the influential federation of increasingly-powerful global economies that comprises Brazil, Russia, India and China. South Africa will attend the group’s next summit in 2011 and the new group will be known as BRICS.

The offer was extended by China, the current chair of the group, and based on a unanimous agreement between all member states. China is South Africa’s largest trading partner.

South Africa has long lobbied to join the prestigious organization, which is increasingly playing an influential role in global affairs.

BRIC countries accounted for nearly half of global economic growth between 2000 and 2008 and represent 40 percent of the world’s population. (Emphasis added; editor)

One of the shared qualities of these countries is its rapid economic growth.  Not coincidentally, these countries are also not involved in illogical and counterproductive wars.

It’s not just because the economy in this country is dominated by corporations and their representatives that work against the interest of the public share in the economy that the U.S. is failing.  It’s also because its war ethic destroys that economic health, and shuffles out the interests of the rest of the world in serving their indigenous population.

It was interesting to hear CCTV describe its government’s appropriate role as working to end economic inequities.   No greater tool for economic growth can exist than enabling their own public to purchase their own products.    Once, not so long ago, that worked very well for making the U.S. prosperous.   The end of that ethic has resulted in financial disaster.   BRIC no doubt has observed what not to do, by watching the U.S. head over the precipice into disaster by setting corporate interests ahead of its own.

Making Mockery of Deficit and Bartiromo “Logic”: Barney Frank

12:40 am in Business, Economy, Government, Legislature, Uncategorized by Ruth Calvo

Barney Frank Decimates Wingnut Economics (click for video)

In an interview with CNBC’s Maria Bartiromo, Rep. Frank made mincemeat not just of the deficit hawks now pouring on the debt to give more to the rich.   While he was at it, he also made a bit of hash of interviewer Bartiromo.

While pointing out that any attack on social security is an attack on the most successful system the government operates.  He went on to point out that the cuts on taxes Bush passed were scheduled to end now, ten years after introduced, because it would have been reported otherwise by CBO that they were unaffordable.

Bartiromo asked about job creation, and Frank points out that the wingers were ceding unemployment which would actually be stimulative.  He would have added getting out of Iraq in order to afford more, but should commit to replacing moneys lost to social security by payroll tax cuts.  . . . Read the rest of this entry →

Protecting Your Children and Grandchildren

7:00 am in Uncategorized by Ruth Calvo

The threat of removing protections from extreme financial stress if not actual homelessness is something you would fight against, correct? If you were exposed to the threat of financial ruin, that would be an attack that you would protect your family against, if you are normal. Then why is it that not one counterattack is being heard to protect your families, that’s right, your children and grandchildren, against inadequate health care that is the greatest cause of bankruptcies and financial hardship in this country?

When Sen. Jeff Sessions stood up on the Senate floor Wednesday, at 3:32 p.m., in support of his and Sen. McCaskill’s proposed legislation to begin a fight against the deficit that suddenly, after eight years of runaway spending, has become the greatest object of the profligate right wing, he castigated his countrymen for wanting "to live well now." Sen. Sessions wants to make your life, and of course, by extension, your children’s lives harder now.

Sure Sen. Sessions, your protection against living well now is pretty hilarious as a means to protect those ‘children and grandchildren’ that you claim you’re providing for. Making the grounds for depriving working people and their children – and by extension their grandchildren, the victims of untimely paring down the very programs that actually do protect them – is the ultimate betrayal of the public the right wing claims, falsely, to protect.

Read the rest of this entry →

Promoting the General Welfare; Government Has A Purpose

8:00 am in Uncategorized by Ruth Calvo

One of the constant themes of the financial community is the fear of deficits. Under that artifice, spending money on the public interest is predicted to be very dangerous for the economy. Solemn warnings are coming from the right wing now, under its phobia about the risk we take by increasing spending on the very job and construction programs that the economy needs.

The distinguished economist James Galbraith put out his own warning this week, about the real danger that we run if we give in to the financial community’s fantasy that spending on ‘promoting the general welfare’ is bad for the country. There is, however, good reason that our constitution addresses in its preamble this raison d’etre of any government. An ideology that fears government fears that its effective operation will make inroads into their power, so they threaten the rest of us with some disaster that well-being for the population will bring on.

Nothing is further from the truth.

We also hear, from the same people, about the impending "bankruptcy" of Social Security, Medicare–even the United States itself. Or of the burden that public debts will "impose on our grandchildren." Or about "unfunded liabilities" supposedly facing us all. All of this forms part of one of the great misinformation campaigns of all time.

The misinformation is rooted in what many consider to be plain common sense. It may seem like homely wisdom, especially, to say that "just like the family, the government can’t live beyond its means." But it’s not. In these matters the public and private sectors differ on a very basic point. Your family needs income in order to pay its debts. Your government does not.

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Robbing The Client; Too Big to Fail Tactics FAIL

8:00 am in Uncategorized by Ruth Calvo

As a stockholder in a company, theoretically you are the boss, and you are the lawful object of their profits. This is what is known as ‘fiduciary duty’, the corporate obligation to function in a way that gives its investors profit on their investment. Just in case you still have investments, that probably isn’t what you have experienced over the last year and a bit.

At the big banks that make profits off investments, supposedly for you, short term profits have been the goal. With those short term gains, long term development is often sacrificed, meaning that the institution is undermined. Investors profit from long term stability, with profits that are constant – and the fiduciary duty of the firm invested in. Investors don’t get bonuses, and when bonuses are paid to executives they come out of the earnings of the firm and therefore out of investors’ pockets.

Recently, the PBS Newshour broadcast a report on ‘proprietary trading’ that was appalling. In a ‘proprietary trade’, the financial firm makes investments for itself, and the profits are part of the total profit for the firm. As such, the profits appear to be for the investors’ benefit. Using the example of Goldman Sachs, the report tracked the reality of the trading, which shows that by using investor directions – insider knowledge – Goldman Sachs has been ‘running ahead’ to profit first, thereby putting its clients’ trades behind its own.

PAUL SOLMAN: So, they know somebody is going to buy a commodity or a currency, so they either buy that commodity or currency first or a commodity and currency very much like it?

NOMI PRINS: Any information that you get, particularly if it’s going to move the markets a lot, is — is — is going to filter into the trading positions you take.

PAUL SOLMAN: But isn’t this front-running, trading ahead of your clients to profit from the price changes that will come from the clients’ trades, but for your own firm’s benefit? And isn’t that, strictly speaking, illegal?

DAVID STOCKMAN: The long and ancient secret of Wall Street is, they have always been front-running their clients. In other words, when you’re in the customer trading business, and then you’re in the proprietary business, which trade are you making first? I don’t know. And, if it’s in milliseconds, how’s anybody going to figure it out?

So, I don’t know if you ought to get all exercised on that or not, but the fact they make all this money in proprietary trading is clearly part and parcel of being a massive player, dealer, in the markets for both customer trades and house trades.

In attempts to impose regulations on financial institutions that protect the consumer, the administration has been promoting rules that prevent this practice that cheats investors. Naturally, the right wing opposes any measure that inhibits outright robbery where profits are concerned. As the threat of the accustomed obstructionist tactics from the right has threatened limits on proprietary trades, an alternate means of control has been proposed. By requiring increased capitalization by firms using that tactic, the administration has created another way to protect investors. Naturally, protecting the investor from corporate malfeasance raises hackles in the ‘free enterprise’ legislators’ ranks. The right wing has set off as usual to hamstring this other way of protecting the public.

Read the rest of this entry →

Make-Work Programs

7:08 am in Uncategorized by Ruth Calvo

In the struggling years of the previous depression a common name for programs that paid people to work on public issues was ‘make-work’ programs. Naturally, those who didn’t need them were a little sneering in referring to the WPA and CCC, and the name was meant to be demeaning. While we look back now and recall that the entire country suffered losses, just as we see now there were the untouched, and they did what your right wing is doing now. They criticized the needy as if they were responsible for their impoverishment, and referred to public works programs as ‘socialism’.

Coming from a family that was just getting into the ranks of the college educated, I heard much about the city poor who came under my parents’ tutelage in some of those programs. "What! They were working on programs that they called socialistic," you may well say. Yep, because like the wingers of the present, they considered that they had ‘earned’ their pay. Read the rest of this entry →

For Sale Or Rent; The Entire Scenery

8:00 am in Uncategorized by Ruth Calvo

For a truly exciting view into the yawning abyss our economy has become, I recommend a drive from Central North Texas to Central Florida.

Pervading the scenery along the coast I’ve been driving the last few weeks are signs of gaping holes and distress. ‘For Sale’ signs are everywhere, festooned with added pleas of “Must Sell’, ‘Owner Financing’, ‘Reduced’, and prices in the range of under $40k for many acres, sometimes on the desirable lakes, streams and oceanfront. Homes and businesses through the barren landscape are up for sale, lease, or fail – the terms are coming to "Just Please Help."

Along Daytona Beach oceanfront, I saw rates advertised that would be a steal in my off-the-beaten-track hometown. In the tourist mecca of Florida, empty billboards and empty motels are everywhere, multitudes of restaurants and other businesses for sale or just closed down. For the first time, I was seeing former gas stations that had been the general stores of small towns with the gas pumps closed or missing, the signs reading "Gas Off, Still Open"…or not.

The economy is in trouble when these signs turn up. Vacation just ended, and the travelers didn’t come. Read the rest of this entry →