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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mm479: Change Before It’s Too Late

August 25, 2008
© Debra Saucedo | Dreamstime.com

© Debra Saucedo | Dreamstime.com

MUDGE’s Musings

Confession: Yr (justifiably) humble svt has been watching these past couple of months of virulent right wing zingers aimed at Barack Obama, that are apparently drawing blood among responders to polls, with more than a little tinge of déjà vu.

The rabid Rovian mudflood machine buried John Kerry last time around, using his war record, and his wealthy wife, as its prime weapons. Now, enough true believers are buying Jerome Corsi’s latest fantasy smearfest to make it a best seller. Uh oh.

However, Obama is facing a war hero with a wife so wealthy that he can’t keep track of how many homes they own. Do the Democrats have the bare knuckled instincts to strike back against McCain’s rabid Rovians? Frank Rich of NYTimes is urging that the time for polite cheek turning is long past.

nytimes

Last Call for Change We Can Believe In

Op-Ed Columnist | By FRANK RICH | Published: August 23, 2008

AS the real campaign at last begins in Denver this week, this much is certain: It’s time for Barack Obama to dispatch “Change We Can Believe In” to a dignified death.

This isn’t because — OMG! — Obama’s narrow three- to four-percentage-point lead of recent weeks dropped to a statistically indistinguishable one- to three-point margin during his week of vacation. It’s because zero hour is here. As the presidential race finally gains the country’s full attention, the strategy that vanquished Hillary Clinton must be rebooted to take out John McCain.

“Change We Can Believe In” was brilliantly calculated for a Democratic familial brawl where every candidate was promising nearly identical change from George Bush. It branded Obama as the sole contender with the un-Beltway biography, credibility and political talent to link the promise of change to the nation’s onrushing generational turnover in all its cultural (and, yes, racial) manifestations. McCain should be a far easier mark than Clinton if Obama retools his act.

Obama’s message of change needs an update, Rich says, and he makes a strong case.

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mm477: A family affair, with granddog

August 23, 2008
© D | Dreamstime.com

© D | Dreamstime.com

MUDGE’s Musings

As I begin it’s near the nominal end of a summer Saturday; normally I might have had the opportunity to create some kind of post much earlier, but today was not normal, but that’s acceptable. Today was a beautiful day, and it had very little to do with the weather.

Disposed of the usual Saturday morning errand, grocery shopping, in reasonable fashion although closer to noon, having slept in somewhat later than is common.

Picked up MUDGElet No. 3 at his studio in his grandmother’s basement, took him to lunch at a sandwich shop on the way north to my favorite annual outdoor art fair. Mrs. MUDGE had determined that she was going to pass on the opportunity, due to the 90/90 (degrees Fahrenheit/percent humidity) weather, and the dire state of our discretionary art budget, and I was glad of the company.

We didn’t spend a long time there, but he especially enjoyed our stroll up and down one small section of what usually is a sprawling affair spread across several suburban downtown streets and parking areas.

Distressed economy note: fewer exhibitors, and many fewer members of the visual art loving public today (in previous years this particular event has been wall-to-wall people), but those in attendance appeared to be having a good time.

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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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mm446: Clueless in America, and Michael too

July 21, 2008
mccainbush From Daniel Kurtzman, About.com

MUDGE’s Musings

Frank Rich of the NYTimes eviscerated John McCain over both his supposed area of expertise, military affairs, as well as Sen. McCain’s admitted area of weakness, matters economic. It wasn’t pretty.

nytimes

It’s the Economic Stupidity, Stupid

Op-Ed Columnist | By FRANK RICH | Published: July 20, 2008

THE best thing to happen to John McCain was for the three network anchors to leave him in the dust this week while they chase Barack Obama on his global Lollapalooza tour. Were voters forced to actually focus on Mr. McCain’s response to our spiraling economic crisis at home, the prospect of his ascension to the Oval Office could set off a panic that would make the IndyMac Bank bust in Pasadena look as merry as the Rose Bowl.

“In a time of war,” Mr. McCain said last week, “the commander in chief doesn’t get a learning curve.” Fair enough, but he imparted this wisdom in a speech that was almost a year behind Mr. Obama in recognizing Afghanistan as the central front in the war against Al Qaeda. Given that it took the deadliest Taliban suicide bombing in Kabul since 9/11 to get Mr. McCain’s attention, you have to wonder if even General Custer’s learning curve was faster than his.

Mr. McCain still doesn’t understand that we can’t send troops to Afghanistan unless they’re shifted from Iraq. But simple math, to put it charitably, has never been his forte. When it comes to the central front of American anxiety — the economy — his learning curve has flat-lined.

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mm433: McCain’s ultimate vulnerability: the economy

July 8, 2008
mccainbush From Daniel Kurtzman, About.com

MUDGE’s Musings

We’ve spent the past month or so watching the candidates come off their primary paces, attempting to rejigger their respective approaches to the general election, and taking some hits for the resulting adjustments.

The mishandled wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have been top of mind for many voters since the pointless charade of “Mission Accomplished!”

Paul Krugman reminds us, however, of another paramount issue in this election, the economy, and what its dire condition means to John McCain.

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mm428: Upbeat words from the Fed

July 3, 2008

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© Ketian Chen | Dreamstime.com

MUDGE’s Musings

We begin this Independence Day celebration in the U.S. with a rather gloomy attitude.

We’re still losing good men and women to the misguided and mishandled Iraq and Afghanistan wars. Fuel and food prices seem to be climbing as we watch. Once my monthly bills from ExxonMobil, my gasoline purveyor of choice (the reason why this is so is worthy of a post of its own — soon!) were under $100. Now, maintaining the same or less driving, as I try to mitigate the costs of commuting with more days working from home, I’m relieved if that bill is under $200.

What we hear of the economy (job losses, inflation rate) and its thermometer (the Dow Jones Industrial Average) is disturbing. Aren’t we officially in recession?

Every one of us knows someone, or more than one, job-seeking.

And the news from the world outside our parochial boundaries is not much better. War news from Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan remains grim. The president of Zimbabwe, certain that he’d lose in a fair election, murdered thousands of opposition supporters, and sent his opponent fleeing to the Netherlands embassy for shelter. Israel seems to be seriously considering a preemptory attack on Iran’s nuclear bomb facilities. Gazprom, the Russian petroleum/natural gas giant, has its sights set on becoming the largest corporation in the world before long. How can any of that be good by any measure?

Well, a couple of chieftains at the Federal Reserve Bank have decided to show us a glass half full version of the part of the story they influence, the economy. And, it makes for some attention-grabbing reading.

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