mm507: Nobel and noble – a daily double

October 13, 2008
© Pemotret | Dreamstime.com

© Pemotret | Dreamstime.com

Sometimes good things happen to good people.

Paul Krugman of Princeton University and the NYTimes, frequently quoted in this space, was awarded the 2008 Nobel Prize in Economics today.

This is worthy recognition to an outstanding thinker, who not only thinks the deep thoughts of his “dismal science,” but articulately delivers complex concepts with clarity.

Well done, Nobel committee, and Paul Krugman!

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Last post, I spoke in glowing terms of one of my favorite progressive blogs, First Door on the Left.

Len did it again today (recognizing Paul Krugman, by the way) by posting the complete transcript of Barack Obama’s fleshed out economic rescue plan delivered in Ohio today.

firstdoorontheleft

A Rescue Plan for the Middle Class

Posted by Len on Monday at 1:19 pm in Democrats, Election 2008, Politics

I know these are difficult times. I know folks are worried. But I also know this – we can steer ourselves out of this crisis. Because we are the United States of America. We are the country that has faced down war and depression; great challenges and great threats. And at each and every moment, we have risen to meet these challenges – not as Democrats, not as Republicans, but as Americans.

We still have the most talented, most productive workers of any country on Earth. We’re still home to innovation and technology, colleges and universities that are the envy of the world. Some of the biggest ideas in history have come from our small businesses and our research facilities. It won’t be easy, but there’s no reason we can’t make this century another American century.

But it will take a new direction. It will take new leadership in Washington. It will take a real change in the policies and politics of the last eight years. And that’s why I’m running for President of the United States of America.

My opponent has made his choice. Last week, Senator McCain’s campaign announced that they were going to “turn the page” on the discussion about our economy so they can spend the final weeks of this election attacking me instead. His campaign actually said, and I quote, “if we keep talking about the economy, we’re going to lose.” Well Senator McCain may be worried about losing an election, but I’m worried about Americans who are losing their jobs, and their homes, and their life savings. They can’t afford four more years of the economic theory that says we should give more and more to millionaires and billionaires and hope that prosperity trickles down to everyone else. We’ve seen where that’s led us and we’re not going back. It’s time to turn the page.

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mm506: What to read when you’re not reading me

October 9, 2008
© Bruno1998 | Dreamstime.com

© Bruno1998 | Dreamstime.com

Away (from blogging — the writing, not the reading) and the economy, and especially the stock markets, continues in free fall.

Everyone is on edge, if not downright frantic, because if you’re too young to be that concerned about your retirement account and pension, you very well might be looking over your shoulder for economy-related pink slips.

The presidential campaign continues its free fall, from idealism and straight talk to Republican distortions and lies, and increasingly strident (and quite rapid, altogether a nice improvement over the “gentlemanly” Kerry debacle) Democratic responses.

And chanting relentlessly about Bill Ayers to mad-dog mobs (did Sarah Palin bring out every last one of this country’s rednecks?) while 401Ks keep decaying and mortgages keep resetting  is making ordinary, moderate people downright angry.

Fiddling while Rome burns, indeed.

My approach to the meltdown? I just don’t look at my funds.

If you’re not spending it tomorrow, why make yourself crazy? If you live long enough, you’ll see the markets come back. And I’m not retiring until my 90th birthday.

Of course those now living off of their pensions and especially their IRAs and 401Ks have a right to be furious with the criminal class of plutocrats running (yeah, and ruining) this country’s biggest financial institutions. And the Republican politicians who made the world safe for their crimes.

I can imagine some really juicy show trials come January.

Meanwhile, I’m reading lots of good stuff, enough so that this past week I find myself rather tongue-tied as a result.

So, rather than fight to get the words out, here’s a laundry list of worthwhile reading.

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mm505: Could it happen again?

October 1, 2008
© Bo Widerberg | Dreamstime.com

© Bo Widerberg | Dreamstime.com

There’s more at stake in the present Wall Street bailout tsunami than the partisan posturing might lead you to believe.

Conservatives vs. moderates vs. progressives vs. everybody.

In a lifetime of casual reading about the Great Depression of the 1930s, the main cause that stuck in my mind was the wrong-headed protective tariffs established by the Smoot-Hawley act, which caused the economic dominos to topple all over the world.

Economists tell a different story; far less global, and very much local. David Leonhardt, in the NYTimes tells of some disturbing parallels with the current crisis.

Crisis feels altogether too bland a word for what the nation is facing today. Abyss feels more appropriate.

And if I exaggerate, that is a reflection of what I see and hear.

This one has even the normally oblivious shaken.

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mm503: The $700 Billion Fairy Tale

September 25, 2008
© Penguinn | Dreamstime.com

© Penguinn | Dreamstime.com

Don’t have the energy for a full fledged rant, but several stories and commentaries crossed the screen today, and made it clear that, in an administration that never stops scamming us, they’ve totally topped themselves.

The Yiddish term is Chutzpah, whose classic definition has a young man, caught with bloody hands after murdering his parents, asking the court for mercy, as he’s an orphan.

We begin with that stalwart bastion of progressive thought, Steve Chapman of the Chicago Tribune. Stalwart, yes, bastion, yes, progressive? Judge for yourself.

chitrib

The case against a federal bailout

Steve Chapman | September 25, 2008

The late comedian Jack Benny made a career of claiming to be a cheapskate. In one joke, a robber accosted him and said: “Your money or your life.” Getting no response, the thug repeated his demand. Benny replied, “I’m thinking about it!”

That’s the sort of dilemma posed by Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson and Federal Reserve chief Ben Bernanke in their proposed rescue of financial institutions. They predict dire consequences if they don’t get their way. But the consequences of letting them have their way are so awful that the alternative doesn’t look so bad.

What they prescribe is for the federal government to buy $700 billion worth of lousy assets from banks and other lenders, exposing taxpayers to a potentially crushing liability. This plan would nationalize the money-losing part of the financial sector, to the benefit of capitalists who have made spectacularly bad decisions—fostering more bad decisions in the future.

It would add to the liabilities of a government that is already living way beyond its means. It would give unprecedented power to a couple of officials who have proved highly fallible in trying to avert this alleged crisis. And it poses the risk of abuse and corruption because the government has no way to gauge the value of what it will buy….

Paulson and Bernanke say, and probably believe, that their program is for the good of us all. But remember what Thoreau thought of their 19th Century counterparts. “If I knew for a certainty that a man was coming to my house with the conscious design of doing me good,” he wrote, “I should run for my life.”

The case against a federal bailout — chicagotribune.com

Read a local media observer today who thought that this was the year that Chapman’s paper, the Chicago Tribune might endorse a Democrat for president for the first time. Ever. In over 150 years.

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mm502: Overwhelmed

September 24, 2008
© Martin Applegate | Dreamstime.com

© Martin Applegate | Dreamstime.com

Just don’t know where to start.

The news is bleak, nearly everywhere one cares to look.

Somehow, John McCain is still taken seriously, even as he escalates the stunts.

First, adopt wholeheartedly with relish the Karl Rove/Swift Boat outrageous Big Lie protocol that obliterated the last nice guy to try to win the White House.

Next, kowtow to the restive Christian wingnuts by selecting for his running mate wingnut magna, herself, Sarah Palin.

Now, clothe his attempt at abject ducking of the first debate in the name of somehow intervening in Congress’s Wall Street bailout negotiations. Senator “Fundamentally Sound” McCain. Whose economic advisor, the next Secretary of the Treasury should this country wake up to a nightmare on Nov. 5 is Phil “Stop Whining” Gramm. Yeah, I’m certain you can guys can be of assistance.

If it wasn’t so serious, it would be laughable.

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mm493: Superficialities or substance — the 2008 choice

September 8, 2008
© Ian O hanlon | Dreamstime.com

© Ian O hanlon | Dreamstime.com

As some observers have noted after the two conventions, there were lots of distractions, lots of words, but not much in the way of substance.

Especially regarding this nation’s number one concern.

Iraq, you ask?

That’s so 2007.

No, it’s the economy — rather, the very dangerous state of the economy.

Our Republican friends, plutocrats, or plutocrat wannabe’s, don’t believe we have a problem. McCain is and has always been insulated from the real world by, first, years as a Naval officer, where the pay might not be royal but subsidized expenses are low; then years as a prisoner of war, where the cost of living takes on an entirely ugly but non-financial meaning; then many more years as a Senator, married to wealth, a combination as isolated from the real world as it gets. He relies on his good buddy and close advisor on topics economic, former colleague Phil Gramm of Texas, who believes we’re all whiners.

The Democrats talked a spectacularly good ball game, but had little substantive to offer us.

Even so, based on their track record, one has to believe that the Democrats are more likely to get it than the Republicans, who have spent the last eight years aiding and abetting the liars and thieves on Wall Street and beyond.

Meanwhile, the news, and its import, is grim and becoming even more so.

nytimes

The Power of De

Op-Ed Columnist | By PAUL KRUGMAN | Published: September 7, 2008

Save the home lenders, save the world? If only it were that simple.

The just-announced federal takeover of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the giant mortgage lenders, was certainly the right thing to do — and it was done fairly well, too. The plan will sustain institutions that play a crucial role in the economy, while holding down taxpayer costs by more or less cleaning out the stockholders.

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mm454: It’s going to take a liberal quantity of BOLD

July 31, 2008

dreamstime_4341351_thumb[1]

© Michaeljung | Dreamstime.com

MUDGE’s Musings

We observe the first anniversary of the tragic collapse of the I-35W bridge in Minneapolis (August 1, 2007) with some sadness, and furious anger.

Sadness due to the thirteen lives lost, and 100+ injured.

Anger because the danger embodied in this country’s aging and dilapidated bridges, highways, levees and schools is criminally no closer to alleviation than 366 days ago.

Meanwhile, the economy is faltering: banks are failing, foreclosures are at record highs (three million empty houses!), the ranks of under- and unemployed growing apace.

What is it going to take to repair this country’s infrastructure osteoporosis?

What is it going to take to kick start the economy, to get people working and once again able to meet their mortgage obligations, perhaps even afford that $4.299/gallon gasoline?

It’s going to take a liberal quantity of bold.

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