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The Man Behind the Whispers About Obama 1

Follow this link to a New York Times article about the man who is apparently behind many of the rumors about Barack Obama.

It is ironic that some of my Jewish relatives may have been taken in by the false rumors spread by this man who is clearly no friend of Judaism.

Thanks to my wolf pack member RichardH for bringing this article to my attention.


Economic Honor Roll 1

Follow this link to the article on Huffington Post about their Economic Honor Roll of “…those (who) issued warnings about the fragility of the financial system and sounded the alarm about an impending collapse before it all came crashing down.”

This is the article that I mentioned in the previous post.  I only watched the first few videos in this article before my heart started to sink.  Why I had to look up Naomi Klein after watching some of these videos, I’ll never know.  I should bave my head examined.  Maybe I will need to.

I may take a break from blogging for a while.


The Shock Doctrine

I have found a set of YouTube links to a presentation by Naomi Klein to a think tank in Canada.

Naomi Klein is the author of the book The Shock Doctrine. Perhaps I have confused Naomi Wolf with Naomi Klein.

Naomi Wolf was the subject of a previous posting about her book The End of America.

I was in the middle of watching part 3 of the above links when I realized that I wan’t feeling well enough to watch the rest of it.  Between watching this, and after watching a Huffington Post item previously, and participating in some Worcester Telegram & Gazette discussions, I am not sure how much more of this I can take.


Private sector loans, not Fannie or Freddie, triggered crisis

Follow this link to a McClatchy Washington Bureau article that debunks the idea that Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac triggered the financial crisis by lending to minority home owners.

Before I read this article, I had said in an email to reader GinnySL,

I have not investigated the charges they make about Barney Frank interfering with regulating Fannie and Freddie because it would be so out of character for him that it is hard to believe.  I also believe there is an issue with mortgages for underserved minorities that Barney Frank would have been for and the conservatives like to twist into saying he was against regulation.  I just haven’t checked to see if their charges are only related to this issue.

By the way, conservatives like to blame sub-prime mortgages as the cause, but they are off the mark here too.  There is nothing wrong, in principle, with giving sub-prime mortgages as long as you don’t use tricks like ARMs with adjustment clauses that you know the borrower will never be able to handle. Then there are the other tricks like interest only loans and payment option loans.

Follow this link to see the video that highlights the claims that the Republicans are making to Democratic culpability.  It certainly looks pretty damning.  Knowing how Rev. Wright’s words were carefully edited to make him look like he was espousing ideas directly opposite of what he was espousing, I am going to have to do a little research on the original videos to see if the same trick is being pulled here.

Follow this link to the unedited video from C-SPAN of a Senate committee hearing on April 4, 2005. I have just  watched this 2 hour 22 minute video. It has been quite an education.  I am not in a position at the moment to be able to summarize what I have learned.  I can say that I learned something at various points throughout the 2 hours and 22 minutes and that it is worthwhile to listen to the whole thing.

I think the next phase of understanding this whole area is to find out what happened to the proposed legislation that should have resulted from these hearings.  What shape did it take, did it get passed, was it signed into law, and how did we end up in the fix that we are in despite of or because of what happened to that legislation?  This was in 2005, when the Republicans were in control of the legislative and executive branches.  So I am going out on a limb because I do not know the answers to the questions I have posed.


Added on October 13, 2008

If Ben Bernanke is reputed to be such an expert on the Great Depression, it finally occurred to me that I should do a Google search on anything he might have said or written about the topic. I posted one result in my blog entry titled What Does Ben Bernanke Know About The Great Depression?


Recession? Depression? How Deep, How Far and What Can Be Done?

Follow this link to an article on Alternet.com that is the most complete analysis of the current economic situation that I have read so far.

The article does not contradict anything I learned in my college economic classes over 40 years ago.  I’ll leave it up to my readers whose knowledge is more up-to-date than mine to comment on whether the ideas in the article are still appropriate.

I am a little disconcerted about the remarks on the death of free market capitalism.  These things tend to swing to the extremes.  Admittedly what has been allowed to happen in the last 30 years has gone to one extreme.  I hope that is not used to justify going to the opposite extreme.  I guess it is hard to stop a pendulum at exactly the bottom of its swing.

Let me put it into a more common framework than the electrical engineering one that I usually use. There are some car drivers known to be all accelerator or all brakes. The more efficient drivers know to use either pedal in moderation and to sometimes keep the foot off of either pedal. Not only is it more efficient, but it leads to a smoother ride for the passengers. (For my engineering oriented readers, all brakes or all accelerator would be the equivalent of a bang-bang control system.)

Again, thanks to GinnySL for sending me the above link to the article.

My post on Why Buy the Imitation is highly relevant to the contents of this post although you would never know it by the title.


Why Be Afraid of Barack Obama

Follow this link to a video of Jon Stewart’s montage of Fox News coverage of Barack Obama.

I know this is supposed to be a piece of humor, but there are some serious messages here.

If you watch Fox News as your main source of news, this video shows why you may be fearful of Barack Obama. If I actually believed what Fox was saying, I might be fearful too.  So now you can at least understand where people get their attitude even if you do not agree.

The other affect of this piece is to make me think about the news that I see and read. You always have to be on guard against being propagandized into believing foolish ideas. Perhaps the videos in my End Of America post are nothing more than the ravings of a left wing equivalent to Fox News.  That is why I cautioned taking a deep breath after viewing the videos.

I always believe that skepticism is a good trait to have.  It makes me uncomfortable when anyone appears not to have any skepticism about what they see or read from any source.


The End Of America

Follow this link to an interview with Naomi Wolf, author of the book The End of America.

I have been reading some headlines about Naomi Wolf, but have not followed them up before.  I was sent the above link by reader GinnySL and was amazed at what I saw and heard.

In the interview Naomi Wolf mentions the link to the web site for the  documentary movie The End of America.

She also mentions the link to her web site My America Project.

Be forewarned. Naomi Wolf is as successful in imparting a sense of urgency about this crisis as George Bush was about the supposed crises that led us to the Iraq War, The Patriot Act, and the Financial Bailout Bill.

To back up her claim about the Bailout Bill she advised looking at the video of Representative Brad Sherman discussing threats of martial law.

Follow this link to an interview with Rep. Brad Sherman for a more complete exposition of what he said on the floor of the House of Representatives.

So remember to take a deep breath after viewing the videos and looking at the links.  Then do your own research to see if anything she says still makes sense to you.

For those of you that like to post comments on this blog, you can report back here what you have found.


Greenberg et. al. Solution to Real Estate Bubble 2

Here is your chance to participate in solving the real estate bubble problem.  I am going to propose some ideas for solving it and you can help me flesh out the details in the comments.  I’ll even include your name in the et. al. when we publish the finished plan.

The home mortgage grantors should be willing to renegotiate the mortgages to a new fixed interest rate and a new principal amount.  The new principal amount would be more in line with the real estate’s present lowered value. In return for the reduction in principal owed, the mortgagee would take out a reverse mortgage for the difference between the original loan and the new loan.  Of course the bank would not give out any money for the reverse mortgage because they already did that when they financed the original mortgage. The free market could determine what if anything the home owner would have to pay as a fee for getting the reverse mortgage.

The grantor of the reverse mortgage would have ownership in that part of the house covered by the reverse mortgage just like grantors of reverse mortgages do today. The same rules could apply upon sale of the real estate.  A purchaser could buy the property at the lower price knowing that there is a reverse mortgage holder on any excess of that price.  Or the purchaser could pay extra to payoff the reverse mortgage.  The amount extra would be negotiable with the bank.

For the part of the house covered by the ordinary mortgage, the home owner would be building equity just like any other home owner with an ordinary mortgage.  In exchange for avoiding foreclosure on the property and avoding paying the monthly payment for the original mortgage, the owner would be giving up the right to profit from the rising home price up to some negotiable amount near the original mortgage.

The grantor of the reverse mortgage could sell that mortgage on the open market just like they may do today.  The free market would set the value that it would be willing to pay for a reverse mortgage on the part of the house that initially is above the current value.  This is how the banks that kept the reverse mortgages could value these mortgages on their books.

There could even be futures markets for these reverse mortgages.  This would provide an additional way for the banks to make money other than just selling the mortgages outright.


Details of McCain’s Housing Solution

Follow this link to an article by two economic advisers to Barack Obama.They claim that McCain’s plan is similar to what was in the bailout bill that was already passed and signed into law, except for one major difference.  This difference is what makes McCain’s plan a bad idea.

But today we learned of a detail that makes his plan significantly different — and much worse.

They don’t specify in the article where they learned about the detail, so there is no way of knowing if their report is accurate.