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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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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mm484: Whiners, take back America from the crass

August 30, 2008
© Stephen Finn | Dreamstime.com

© Stephen Finn | Dreamstime.com

Mudge's musings

Seldom are the battle lines as clear as they are in election season 2008.

Establishment conservative versus up from the streets progressive.

Moneyed comfort (via marriage) vs. up from food stamps, self-made comfort.

Explosive, short-fused temper vs. articulate, Ivy League erudition.

Chiseled in stone libertarian capitalism vs. government as proper societal safety net capitalism.

Bomb first, ask questions later approach to foreign affairs vs. talk first, inclusive globalism.

Pandering to the women’s vote with a barely qualified vice presidential choice vs. persuading women that progressive positions trump empty symbols (Sarah Palin is this generation’s Dan Quayle) every time.

The marketplace is the proper solution to the crisis in health care vs. too many families forego medical care because health insurance is out of reach and this must end.

There’s no problem with the economy that ceasing whining won’t cure vs. the last eight years have been economically unpleasant for nearly everyone who has less than $5,000,000 a year in income, and downright catastrophic for far too many working people.

NYTimes economist Paul Krugman put it very well:

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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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mm443: Don’t you feel like this guy?

July 18, 2008

 

MUDGE’S Musings

Can anyone still doubt our national (perhaps global?) economic distress? Runs on the banks. A tank of gas edging toward Benjamin territory. Someone you know (or mayhaps many someones you know) out of work and/or looking. Or giving up looking. Starbucks (Starbucks!) closing 600 stores.

Let’s have a show of hands: How many of you (U.S.) readers believe that this Spring’s tax refund “stimulus” could have been an order of magnitude larger (that’s 10 times), and still not been enough?  Two orders (that’s times 100)? smile_sad

It doesn’t go away, our concern with the dire state of the economy.

Paul Krugman, economics professor and columnist of the NYTimes has been consistent in identifying our present financial dismay, and he has some grim news — it’s not going to get better very quickly.

nytimes

L-ish Economic Prospects

By PAUL KRUGMAN | Published: July 18, 2008

Home prices are in free fall. Unemployment is rising. Consumer confidence is plumbing depths not seen since 1980. When will it all end?

The answer is, probably not until 2010 or later. Barack Obama, take notice.

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