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George W. Bush Debuts New Paintings

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The Onion has this insightful news cast George W. Bush Debuts New Paintings.

Spoiler Alert

I am so glad that Bush has found a way to keep himself occupied.

New York City Bill de Blasio scolds disruptive misinforming reporter

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The Daily Kos article Bill de Blasio shows how Liberals should take control of Right Wing planted reporters explained the video below:

A reporter asked one of the most divisive questions at a news conference in New York City featuring Bill de Blasio, his commissioner, and police chief. The reporter’s question was barely audible. He asked the mayor if he approved of anti-police chants, with some equating the police to the KKK. Bill de Blasio did not run away from the question. He answered it straight on.

“We’ve talked about this so many times,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “I am not going to talk about it again. Now the question is, what are you guys going to do? Are you going to keep dividing us? … Let’s get real. …”


This is not an issue of right or left. It is an issue of the media fomenting problems that they then report on as if they had no causal impact on the story they are reporting. It is about time that people like Mayor de Blasio call attention to the role the media plays in inventing news, not just reporting it.

Infrastructure advances in the rest-of-the-world will blow your mind.

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The Daily Kos has the post Infrastructure advances in the rest-of-the-world will blow your mind.

While we’re “debating” torture, access to basic health care and the veracity of climate change, the rest-of-the-world is simply advancing transformational infrastructure like you would not believe.

It is sad to think that the major bipartisan debate in this country is whether or not we should go backward or stand-still while the rest of the world is moving forward.  At best if we compromise between our two choices, we still won’t be moving forward.

So far, these other countries have managed to create enough problems for themselves so that their advances have not surpassed their self-imposed roadblocks.  Or is it that the over-hyped averages in this country hide the fact that our medians are falling behind the medians in other countries?

Thanks to Elizabeth Ann St John for sharing this on her Facebook page.

U.S. economic growth soars, reaches 11-year high

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The Rachel Maddow Show Blog has the article U.S. economic growth soars, reaches 11-year high.

As a progressive/liberal voter, nothing makes me more angry at the Democrats when I see articles like  this one.  I left a comment on the web site for this article.

Ironically, the Republicans understand what is going on, and it is the Democrats who stubbornly refuse to face reality.  Sure the aggregate numbers like GDP and unemployment look great.  The Democrats refuse to acknowledge that this great resurgence is only for the top 10% of income earners.  The bottom 90% have seen no recovery.  How galling they must think it is for the Democrats to keep touting all they have done for the economy when the bottom 90% are getting jobs with lower wages and their home mortgages are still under water.

It makes no difference how often Democrats repeat these numbers, and think the bottom 90% are dumb for not appreciating what the Dems have done to them.  Obama’s recent message from the White House was that now it is time to do something for the bottom 90%.  I can imagine someone in that bottom 90% thinking “NOW you are going to do something for the bottom 90%?  You took great care of the super rich for over 6 years, and only NOW do you think it is time to do something for the bottom 90%?  You could have put those bank crooks in jail and bailed out the rest of us, but NOOO, you had  to make sure the crooks got the bailout.  The federal housing agencies refused to give mortgage relief to the bottom 90%, but you made sure the wealthy didn’t suffer too much from the housing collapse.”

The Democrats are completely tone deaf, and Rachell Maddow and her ilk aren’t helping when they refuse to recognize the problem.  Instead they are busy trying to prove that our own lying eyes are what is wrong if we don’t see how good things are.

I have been saying all along on this blog that the Democrats don’t tout their accomplishments enough in the face of all the negativism from the Republicans.  However, I was talking about real accomplishments that need the touting.  You can’t make this stuff up and think people will buy it.  You have to tout real accomplishments that people can see.  You can’t sell them stuff that their own experience tells them is not true.

If the Democrats continue to live in La La Land, they are never going to win majority positions in our government.

BOOM BUST BOOM: MINSKY AT THE MOVIES

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New Economic Perspectives has the article BOOM BUST BOOM: MINSKY AT THE MOVIES by L. Randall Wray.

I highly recommend a movie to be released next year (that is, the year that begins next week). Terry Jones, of Monty Python fame, is one of the key developers of the film. It is on the Global Financial Crisis, but also provides a quick history of bubbles and crashes. It is highly entertaining and as good as any that I’ve seen on the crisis.

I’ll want to keep my eye on the movie’s web site to know when it will be released.

Terry Jones presents Boom Bust Boom, a unique look at why crashes keep happening combining live action with animation, puppetry, song and experts to explain economics to everyone.

The web site has a link to a booklet that inspired the movie,  Endogenous Instability : You Don’t Want To Think About It!  This is written by Theo Kocken, Professor of Risk Management at the VU University in Amsterdam. I haven’t had a chance to read it at this late hour, so I have made this blog post to make it easy for me to find it again.

Abstract

Financial Risk Management is strongly hindered by the conventional macro-economic vision of the world, assuming stabilising cyclical processes, that are once in a while temporarily taken out of equilibrium due to external shocks. Reality is much more hectic and has more similarities with debt-driven instability created from within the economy. This results in much more severe market crashes and deeper depressions than conventional theory teaches us. This is the theory of Endogenous Instability.

After a brief explanation of the theory of endogenous instability, already developed after the crisis years of the 1930s, an effort is made to use recent cognitive psychological insights to explain why this theory has difficulties to become mainstream and why – in the context of money and uncertainty – we tend not to learn lessons from history.

I will conclude with suggestions for education, research, financial regulation, governmental policy and risk management in order to curb the excesses of capitalism: Self-made destructive debt accumulation leading to endogenous instability.

 

Prosecute Torturers and Their Bosses

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The New York Times has the editorial Prosecute Torturers and Their Bosses.

Starting a criminal investigation is not about payback; it is about ensuring that this never happens again and regaining the moral credibility to rebuke torture by other governments. Because of the Senate’s report, we now know the distance officials in the executive branch went to rationalize, and conceal, the crimes they wanted to commit. The question is whether the nation will stand by and allow the perpetrators of torture to have perpetual immunity for their actions.

I found the link to the editorial in the Politicus USA article New York Times Editorial Calls for Investigation and Prosecution of Torturers in Bush Administration.

Isn’t it somewhat ironic that the Republicans want to impeach Obama for things that are probably not even criminal, let alone high crimes (and misdemeanors), but President Obama is unwilling, so far, to investigate the war crimes of the Republicans in a previous administration?    If they were truly conservative, the Republicans would be considering impeachment for Obama for not even calling for a special prosecutor of war crimes committed by our government, its elected officials, and its employees.

Why is No One Fighting the New Robber Barons?

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Naked Capitalism has the article Why is No One Fighting the New Robber Barons? which introduces a Bill Moyers interview.

Last week, Bill Moyers interviewed historian Steve Fraser on what he calls our Second Gilded Age. Despite the anodyne title of the segment, The New Robber Barons, it was really about why the American public has been so quiescent in the face of rapidly rising income inequality, while during the first Gilded Age, a wide range of groups rebelled against the wealth extraction operation. I encourage you to watch the segment in full or read the transcript.



Steve Fraser eloquently makes many of the points I have been making on this blog over the 7 years that I have been writing it.

A Closer Look at Public Opinion as it Relates to Americans, Religion, and Acceptance of Torture

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The Rachel Maddow Show Blog has the article to which I have given the title from some of its opening words, A Closer Look at Public Opinion as it Relates to Americans, Religion, and Acceptance of Torture

The article is a discussion of the following graph

Graph of acceptance of torture by various religious beliefs

The following quote is one of the conclusions of the article:

The results in response to this question were even more striking: “All in all, do you think the CIA treatment of suspected terrorists was justified or unjustified?” For most Americans, the answer, even after recent revelations, was yes. For most Christians, it’s also yes. But for the non-religious, as the above chart makes clear, the torture was not justified.


I think this graph puts the lie to the idea that you have to believe in God to be a moral person. The idea that you can’t be an atheist and be a very moral person probably has no stronger refutation than this chart.

I can imagine a twisted interpretation of this issue that says that the people who believe in torture for some people have the moral point of view and the people who don’t believe in torture have no morals. If you believe that, you are welcome to take your belief to The World Court in The Hague and see how well that goes over. Alternatively, you can imagine what the prosecutors and judges at The Nuremberg Trials after World War II would think about this justification for torture.

Warren, Markey, and Baldwin Demand Answers from USTR on Backdoor Financial Deregulation in the TPP

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The Daily Kos has the story Warren, Markey, and Baldwin Demand Answers from USTR on Backdoor Financial Deregulation in the TPP.

On Tuesday, Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Ed Markey (D-MA), and Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) sent a letter to US Trade Representative Michael Froman demanding answers about backdoor financial deregulation in the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

The senators highlight three parts of the TPP that could undermine current and future efforts to regulate Wall Street and prevent another financial crisis:

(1) Investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS), which allows foreign companies or investors to sue governments for losses in expected profits

(2) “Market access” provisions that could prohibit restrictions on predatory financial products, like risky forms of derivatives

(3) Limitations on governments’ ability to impose capital controls, which could stymie efforts to prevent future financial crises as well as efforts to pass a financial transaction tax

The senators asked USTR Michael Froman to respond to their questions, with negotiating text documentation, by January 6th.

We are lucky to have Senators Warren and Markey trying to protect us from the predations of the Republican Party and President Obama.  Perhaps our two Senators and their allies in Congress can finally wake up the public to the damages that this treaty will cause.  It is unfathomable as to why Obama is so adamant about the need for this awful treaty.  Is this his revenge against some perceived insult that our country has perpetrated on him and his family?

Ferguson Prosecutor: I Knew Witnesses Lied To The Grand Jury

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Talking Points Memo has the story Ferguson Prosecutor: I Knew Witnesses Lied To The Grand Jury.  This is their commentary on the Buzzfeed story Prosecutor Says He Knew Some Witnesses Were Lying To The Ferguson Grand Jury.

St. Louis County Prosecutor Bob McCulloch says he knew some of the witnesses who said they saw Michael Brown get shot were lying, but he let them testify to the grand jury anyway.

The Buzzfeed article had a link to the following YouTube video of the radio interview.


I am glad that I watched the video instead of just relying on the stories from the two sources mentioned above. The two stories certainly made it sound horrible about what the prosecutor did. However, I did have one question. When the prosecutor presented these lying witnesses, did he tell the grand jury that he thought they were lying? It seems from the interview that he did tell them of the reasons for doubting their testimony.

It is still up to you to decide if you think the prosecutor is telling the truth. Even if he is telling the truth, you may still decide that presenting this testimony was either the wrong or the right thing to do. However, now you have the “original” source for the story on which to base your judgment. I have also warned you that you ought to listen to what went on before you pass judgment. If you decide you don’t have the time or desire to listen to the 30 minute interview, just be careful about how much you want to repeat of the article about the interview, or how certain you want to portray what you know based on these articles. You may also be forming opinions of what you have heard that are even more steps removed from the original source material. Be careful and be skeptical.