Friday, October 10, 2008
1. There is no shortage of curiosities in the current Capital Holocaust.
2. But the one that most strikes me is the (what I judge to be conscious) effort to portray the Secretary of the Treasury as the key, if not sole, official of the Executive Branch, who will be granted extraordinary new powers. The current Secretary is Henry Paulson, and he certainly has been given the role of public front man for the Administration during this crisis.
3. Indeed, the legislation thus far passed, ineffectual though it has been, has specifically identified the Secretary of the Treasury as the beneficiary of the new and far-ranging powers contained therein.
4. Also conspicuous is the relative tangentiality of the current President of the United States to the public debate regarding the economic issues facing the Nation. This in stark contrast to his role in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks of 9/11.
5. The Secretary of the Treasury is appointed by and serves at the discretion of the President of the United States. Any and all powers and authorities of the Secretary vest in Article II of the Constitution, the Article establishing the office and powers of the President of the United States.
6. Yet the media, mainstream and otherwise, insists on reporting the latest events in terms of the powers being granted, by the Legislative Branch, as powers of the Secretary of the Treasury, a position whose power stems from and only from the powers of the President of the United States.
7. Is this merely a semantic quibble? I don't think so.
8. We are witnessing an abdication and creation of power by the Legislative to the Executive Branch of government, with no debate or discussion, only with the obfuscation of substituting the position of "Secretary of the Treasury" for "President of the United States" in the new legislation.
9. In other words, we are witnessing an exponential, stealth explosion in the power of the President, irrespective of party or person. This is being perpetrated by members of both parties in the Legislative Branch in concert with the current regime in control of the Executive Branch. This is as non-partisan an issue as can be constructed.
10. The grotesque dishonesty and blatant contempt for the citizenry inherent in these actions of both political parties and 2 of the 3 Branches of our federal government will been seen as a quantum leap in the de-legitimazation in the eyes of the citizenry of our government.
[The paragraphs in this article are numbered for ease of reference only.]
Thursday, October 9, 2008
The Capitalist System
Cam It Be Fixed Without Being Diagnosed?
Cam It Be Fixed Without Being Diagnosed?
A Different Look at the Dow
All the headlines will read that the Dow was down 679 points in today's trading. Those headlines will be accurate because tradition (and logic and ease of comparison factors) dictates that one measures the daily change in the Dow (and all other indexes and individual stocks and commodities) by comparing the current day's closing price to the previous day's closing price.
The Dow closed yesterday at 9258; it closed today at 8579; 9258 - 8579= (679).That represents a 7.33% loss for the day.
But the Dow trades from 9:30 AM to 4:00 PM (all times Eastern) everyday, including today. Most professional traders and virtually all financial journalists essentially disregard the numbers generated during the trading day, as mentioned above.
But let's take a peek at the numbers during the day. The pros call that action intra-day trading.
At approximately 9:45 AM, the Dow stood at 9448, the high for the day. From there it went on to close at 8579. That represents a drop of 869 points. Another way of looking at it is that, from its high for the day (9448,) the Dow lost 9.10% of its value.
Using either the traditional yardstick, which showed the Dow down 7.33%, or the non-traditional one that produces an intra-day loss of 9.10%, these are remarkable numbers that are usually associated only with very speculative, individual stocks. Stocks like those are known for their volatility, best defined as the propensity of their price to move often and widely.[Note: The Dow is down 40% from its all-time high.]
So, what's the point?
The point, I think, is that this behavior in the market(s)--after all the efforts and trillions of public dollars expended by our and other governments--is a strong argument that nobody--nobody!--knows what the problem(s) is and, ipso facto, cannot know what the solution is.
Analogy: Obviously sick patient brought to hospital with multiple symptoms. Situation obviously serious, maybe grave. Diagnoses vary from specialist to specialist, no one diagnosis can be agreed upon.
Hospital reacts by administering huge doses of antibiotics, anti-depressants, muscle relaxants, pain killers, virtually any drug that's in the cabinet; cardiac surgeons perform triple bypass; kidney specialist hooks patient up to dialysis machine and so on. Fortunately, that's not how the medical community would react.
If the proposition that no one has accurately diagnosed the illness is true, this is not the time for more shotgun squandering of monumental sums of public funds on well-intentioned, but thus far ineffective solutions to an inscrutable problem.
Question: Which is worse, (a) no immediate new action by the US Government, (b) immediate new actions along the lines of the old ones, or (c) an attempt at "buying time?" Option (c) would be something like the declaration, in concert with other nations, of a "Bank Holiday," starting tomorrow and running through next Monday, removing the second-to-second pressures on policy-makers associated with gyrating trading markets.
March 5, 1933
Roosevelt declares bank holiday
When Franklin Roosevelt started his first term in the White House in 1933, he inherited a nation in the depths of the Depression. A record 13 million Americans were unemployed and businesses were drowning in red ink. Perhaps even more pressing was the head-spinning string of bank failures which had triggered a frantic run on the nation's savings vaults. The wave of withdrawals by panic-stricken depositors further dried up banks' already-depleted supply of liquid assets and pushed the nation's banking system to the brink of disaster. On March 5--the day after being sworn into office--Roosevelt stepped into the breach and declared a "bank holiday," which, for four days forced the closure of the nation's banks and halted all financial transactions. The "holiday" not only helped stem the frantic run on banks, but gave Roosevelt time to push the Emergency Banking Act through the legislative chain. Passed by Congress on March 9, the act handed the president a far-reaching grip over bank dealings and "foreign transactions." The legislation also paved the path for solvent banks to resume business as early as March 10. Three short days later nearly
Monday, October 6, 2008
.., as powerful as is it, can crumble like a stale cookie if it loses its Legitimacy in the minds of the People.
The actions of our (well-intentioned) Leaders in the face of this Economic Holocaust have thus far proven to be inadequate.
The solutions put forth by Leadership are obviously skewed to directly benefit the few, at the expense of the many.
As the crisis grows, so too does the threat to the Nation, the greatest threat to its survival since the Civil War.
We have witnessed some of our unelected, appointed leaders taking unilateral actions involving the expenditure or commitment of 100s of billions of taxpayers funds that have already been proven to be ineffectual.
We have endured our elected leaders passing legislation blatantly in opposition to the will of the People, legislation that benefits a select few at the expense of the many, and whose efficacy is dubious.
We watch in helpless awe as the leadership squanders their legitimacy as they display their subservience to special interests, at the expense of the People.
Below are some words of the Civil War President, from his Gettysburg Address:
" Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a
new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men
are created equal.
"It is ... for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us...--- that this nation, under God, shall
have a new birth of freedom -- and that government of the people, by the people,
for the people, shall not perish from the earth."
Is our government a government "of the people, bythe people, for the people" any longer? Or is it now a government of, by and for Goldman Sachs?
The events of the days ahead will answer that question.
All I can say is that it is now a question.
Sunday, October 5, 2008
The Bailout: Greatest Threat to the Nation Since the Civil War
1. I have published 119 posts on this blog, none of which has ever been deleted or censored by the Obama campaign, despite the fact that I have been "reported" to the authorities numerous times. One of those blogs was a Thank You to this site, which is still in effect.
2. Since there is a written, dated record extant of my opinions, both here and on my own personal blog, statements made in the following post regarding past comments of mine are verifiable.
Since at least March of this year, I have equated and compared the on-going financial crisis we are experiencing to the Great Depression of the 1930s, using such terms as "The Postmodern Great Depression" and "Capitalism Gets Re-Capitalized," among others.
The focus of my comments has been economic.
A couple of days ago, a friend with whom I had not spoken with for awhile asked me, during a telephone conversation, my opinion on the Bailout and the general politico-economic events appurtenant to it.
I found myself responding thus: "This is the most serious threat to the United States of America since the Civil War." Not only had I never said that before, I had never thought that before.
My usually composed and well spoken friend responded, "Holy shit!"
And when I myself realized what I had said, my internal response was the same.
"We've transcended the threat of a mere Depression," I said, "and moved into that rarefied realm where we must be concerned with the very existence of the Nation as we've known it since the Founding."
He was silent.
Thinking aloud, I blurted out, "We are witnessing the destruction of representative democracy, a bloodless coup, the only opposition to which is coming from the 'lunatic fringe,' on both poles of the political spectrum, a coalition of the absurd and the powerless."
We chatted for a brief time, agreed that we were both astonished that Hedge Fund Managers could exert more influence on our elected representatives--and do so with such blatancy, such arrogance--than the outcry of perhaps 80% of the citizens of the Nation who opposed the Bailout, even in the face of the relentless and thoroughly ramified propaganda campaign mustered by the Elites, endorsed by the mainstream of both parties, and propagated by the most "noble" of media outlets.
But the fact is the Hedge Fund Managers triumphed. And they know it. And when they win, they don't pick up their winnings and move along---they Double Down.
The country's Changed over the last two weeks; there can be no argument with that proposition.
Obama ran/runs on Change.
And he's going to be the next President of the United States:
The first President of the United States of a New America, for better or worse.
Good Luck, sir.
Sunday, September 28, 2008
Main Entry: ex·tort
: to obtain (as money) from a person by force, intimidation, or undue or unlawful use of authority or power
Merriam-Webster's Dictionary of Law, © 1996 Merriam-Webster, Inc.
1. To wrest from an unwilling person by physical force, menace, duress, torture, or any undue or illegal exercise of power or ingenuity; to wrench away (from); to tear away; to wring (from); to exact; as, to extort contributions from the vanquished; to extort confessions of guilt; to extort a promise; to extort payment of a debt.
Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary, © 1996, 1998 MICRA, Inc.
Two definitions of the word "extort."
Saturday, September 27, 2008
Real Information, Not Some Idiot's Guess
The link below takes you to a 30-page page official government report.
It's the first time this report has been issued by the government.
It is jam-packed with real numbers and real information.
It's long, but easy to read. And has easy to understand charts and graphs, presented in a clean format.
If you read it, you will have more real information on the mortgage market and foreclosures than 99.9999% of the people in the country.
And you won't have to rely on the erroneous reports posted elsewhere by real estate or mortgage brokers who have an axe to grind when it comes to these matters.
Link to FHFA Mortgage Metrics Report:
Tweedle Dum & Tweedle Dee?
1. The debate was the high ground in the campaign thus far, for both men. With exceptions few and far between, issue discussion dominated on both sides.
2. What surprised this writer was that the policy gaps between the two candidates was nowhere as wide as I thought they were. Obama had the confidence and manners to concede on several points that "John is correct," while John never uttered similar words about anything Barack said, despite the fact that these guys held positions on most issues that were more similar than different. And most of those differences were on the margins.
Both have been subjugated to the inevitable triumph of the Goldman Sachs Bailout Plan, though McCain presented some feeble, almost comical, resistance to it earlier in the week. Neither could present any alternative plan; both bought-- hook, line and sinker--the Great Depression II argument that Goldman Sachs has used as its weapon of choice to intimidate both parties into acquiescing with the transformation of Public wealth into Private wealth.
Perhaps it should be no surprise, as the Republican's Hank Paulson and the Obama Democrat's Robert Rubin are both ex-Goldman Sachs CEOs. [Note: Paulson announced last night that he has hired yet another ex-Goldman Sachs guy as his primary adviser on executing the bailout plan. Goody, goody.]
McCain's non-sequitor replies about $18 billion in earmarks, and Obama's loophole-closing rants did not speak to the fundamental rightness, fairness or necessity of the bailout.
4. The single most dramatic economic policy difference between the two regards tax policy. McCain is adamant about extending the Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest, with Trickle Down, Supply Side ideology as its intellectual base; by not supporting the extension of the Bush tax cuts, Obama would effectively be raising taxes on households with minimum incomes of $250,000, with those below that number either having no change or a reduction in their tax rates. His is more a Demand Side, Keynesian approach.
3. Once the debate moved on to Foreign Policy there would be some fireworks, some fundamentally different policy disagreements, right? Wrong. A squabble developed about talking to our adversaries rather than giving them the silent treatment. But as Obama and McCain went back and forth a bit on this issue, it became apparant that their positions were fundamentally the same. Low level talks, said McCain, were fine; just no Summit talks right off the bat. Obama was in sync with that position as well.
Both were anxious to commit more US foot-soldiers to the next quagmire, Afghanistan. Again, some bickering about troop availability given the demands of Iraq, and a bit of back and forth on the advisability of attacking targets in Pakistan. But on the fundamental, strategic issue, these guys essentially agreed...again.
Kissinger, and/or the Council on Foreign Affairs, obviously are inputting to both campaigns. Ain't that great?
In summary, on the issues, McCain and Obama have some disagreements, but both occupy the center of political discourse, Obama coming to it from the Left, McCain from the Right.
The larger contrasts between the two were personal. I'll try writing another Hub on that later.
Friday, September 26, 2008
Are words even necessary anymore?
Lacking anything substantive to do or say and seeing his poll numbers plummet, one of the major party candidates decides the best tactic for his campaign is saying that he's no longer campaigning, a demonstrable lie.
He adds that he's got more important things to do than debate his opponent, so he calls for a postponement of the debate scheduled for tonight. In less than 48 hours, he changes his mind and says the debate will go on as scheduled.
He calls for a bipartisan meeting at the White House to hammer-together a solution to the Financial Crisis, implying that he's the guy--the only guy--that can do it. The meeting takes place, and the savior essentially sits mute throughout it.
On the Bailout Plan itself: It's designed and will be executed by someone, Secretary of the Treasury, Henry Paulson, whose conflict of interest is so obvious and so appalling (former CEO of Goldman Sachs) that if he were acting as a Municipal Court Judge presiding over a traffic ticket case, he would be asked to recuse himself. But, hey, it's a crisis.
This is not meant as a partisan attack on McCain. Frankly, his erratic behavior transcends political issues and makes one focus on his personal suitabilty to hold the office of president.
Obama, though behaving in a calmer, more presidential manner, is not immune from criticism either. He essentially has bought into the Paulson Plan with a few trivial, piddling addendums added to it. Obama's top financial adviser is Robert Rubin. Rubin is currently employed by Citigroup and, just like Paulson, is a former CEO of Goldman Sachs.
Did the Founders envision a country with a two-party system where both parties find it necessary to be advised on financial matters by what is essentially one person? They may have separate social security numbers, but for all intents and purposes, Rubin=Paulson. Why should anyone expect the Democrats to come up with some proposal of their own that would be fundamentally different from Paulson's?
And, finally, the dearth of specific information being offered to the Public regarding the cause(s) of the crisis, the reason(s) that the Paulson Plan is the best plan, and who exactly will be the primary direct beneficiaries of the plan is another astounding example of the contempt for the Public that its rulers have.
Maybe we should ask Putin or Palin to come up with some alternative plans to Paulson's---at least they wouldn't bring the conflict of interest baggage to the table.
Footnote: Washington Mutual was seized by the FDIC last night, the largest bank failure in US history, but nowadays barely front page news.