Thursday, September 24, 2015

Newest News: Headlines, Blurbs and Opinions for 9/24/15

Obama and Biden with the Pope

* While President Obama and VP Joe Biden were engaged in photo-ops with Pope Francis, Senator Bernie Sanders had joined low-wage contract workers from the Capitol and other federal buildings (Watch at YouTube) who were striking for a living wage and the right to join a union. The Nation: The federal government is the largest low-wage employer in the country, despite President Obama’s recent executive order requiring federal contractors to pay at least $10.10 an hour.

* According to a new book “Unlikeable: The Problem with Hillary,” an enraged Hillary Clinton blew up at President Obama, demanding that he “Call off your fu*king dogs!” The former first lady was furious at what she believed were damaging leaks by Obama aides that led to investigations of her use of a private email server as secretary of state. Clinton spokesman Nick Merrill slammed the new book to the New York Post ahead of its release on Monday, calling it "Bullsh*t".

* Birds of a feather flock together. Just as Donald Trump's and Hillary Clinton's daughters are very close friends --- just as Hillary Clinton attended Donald Trump's wedding and when Trump donated $100,000 to the Clinton Foundation --- so it is with Carly Fiorina when she gave the commencement speech at Stanford University in 2001 when Clinton's daughter graduated. Also, for the first time since he took office, President Obama will skip an appearance at the Clinton Global Initiative. The president's decision comes as his vice president Joe Biden is weighing whether to run against Hillary Clinton, Obama's former secretary of state. That is the top 1 percent's 1 degree of separation, where other CEOs, members of Congress, movie stars, musicians, athletes, media pundits and fashion models are also included. For more, just Google the Annual White House Correspondents Dinner.

* Politico: Emails show Hillary Clinton's top aide had ties to a private consulting firm. Huma Abedin asked for help winning a presidential appointment for a supporter of the Clinton Foundation.

* Via a Washington Post newsletter on 9/23/15 -- Like on so many other issues, Clinton has evolved on Keystone: In October 2010, the then-secretary of state described herself and the Obama administration as “inclined” to give TransCanada the permit. “We’re either going to be dependent on dirty oil from the Gulf or dirty oil from Canada,” she said in San Francisco. Pressed by a New Hampshire voter this summer, Clinton said she would “wait and see” what President Obama does. “If it is undecided when I become president, I will answer your question,” she said. Speaking to the Des Moines Register editorial board yesterday, Clinton said: “I don’t think we need to have a pipeline bringing very dirty oil, exploiting the tar sands in western Canada, across our border.”

* On LIVE TV last night on Fox News (Watch at YouTube) the National Review editor Rich Lowry said that during the last GOP debate former HP CEO Carly Fiorina had cut off Donald Trump's balls with the precision of a surgeon. Later Donald Trump tweeted: Fox News owes me an apology for allowing clueless pundit Rich Lowry to use such foul language on TV. Unheard of! -- To which I replied: Just buy the National Journal and fire Rich Lowry ;)

* Washington Post: You may never have heard about a bigger a-hole in your entire lifetime than this 32-year-old greedy punk (Martin Shkreli) who wanted to raise the price of a life-saving drug by 5,000% — just because "he could".

* Global Strategy Group ran a national survey to rebut GOP calls for cutting the size of the federal bureaucracy. The results are interesting because they suggest voters care more about the power of special interests and mismanagement, rather than the size or scope of government. The poll showed that we need to make government work again for average Americans by reducing the corrupting influence of special interests and big money in politics. The Republican argument for smaller government is effective because it is simple and easy to understand, but it doesn’t deal with the root cause of frustration. Voters are in a "let’s-fix-it" mode, not a "slash-and-burn, cut-the-thing down" mentality. [In a recent post I argued for "better" government, not "less" government.]

* Bloomberg: Research by Gabriel Zucman (a Tom Piketty protégé) shows tax havens hide $7.6 trillion -- about 8 percent of the world’s net financial wealth. For individuals, he estimates at least $2 trillion held in Swiss banks is still undeclared by account holders to their home countries. Zucman’s calculations are conservative because he can’t count assets like art, jewelry or real estate. Those trillions were missing because they were showing up as shares of mutual funds incorporated in tax havens, primarily in Luxembourg, Grand Cayman and Ireland. His theory: wealthy investors around the world have used the investments, often made through Swiss bank accounts, to hide their wealth. [Maybe the richer one becomes, the greedier and cheaper they become.]

* The New Republic: Poor People don't have less Self-Control, poverty forces them to think Short-Term.

* Washington Post: A new PBS-Marist poll shows Democrats say (56D to 31R) that the Civil War was about slavery. Republicans say (54R to 31D) that it was about states rights. [The truth, it was mostly about free or near-free labor for wealthy plantation owners -- just as it is today, but now they are called CEOs.]

* The Nation: In America, you can work hard, play by the rules, and still get screwed: Being steadily employed ain’t what it used to be. [Thanks to our politicians on both sides of the aisle, who allowed our "job creators" to do this.]

* New York Times: The Great Divide in Workplace Benefits

* In 1965, CEOs of large corporations were paid, on average, 20 times more than the typical worker. Today, these executives are paid 300 times more than the typical worker. Meanwhile, wages for the vast majority have stagnated or declined since 1979 — even though workers have become much more productive. And over the last dozen years, even college-educated workers’ wages have stagnated. The Economic Policy Institute is calling on all 2016 presidential candidates to adopt the Agenda to Raise America’s Pay — which is an 11-point plan to raise wages, protect workers’ rights, and ensure the wealthy are paying their fair share of taxes.

* New York Times: Flooded with homeless encampments from its freeway underpasses to the chic sidewalks of Venice Beach, Los Angeles puts $100 million into helping homeless

* Looking to international comparisons (compared to 24 other advanced economies), in 19 other economies the United States in 2014 had a lower employment-population ratio for men and women 25 to 54, as well as for women 25 to 54. The only economies with lower employment-population ratios were austerity beset Ireland, Spain, Italy and Greece, along with Korea — an economy in which women have just begun entering the workforce in important numbers. [Yes, America is "exceptional" in many ways.]

* A reader's comment at a post at Economists View questioning the comment in an article: "If a prime-age worker voluntarily leaves the labor force..."

Seriously? How often does it happen that someone (in this age bracket) voluntarily leaves the labor force with no intention of returning? Just about bloody NEVER. You're going to spend the rest of your life being unable to pay bills or buy food *voluntarily?* I don't think so. And unless you won the lottery or got some other financial windfall, that's what will happen. Admittedly, I'm sure a fair number of people who have dropped out permanently claim to have done so voluntarily. But it's just a sour grapes excuse — they were forced out (by the lack of jobs), but don't want to admit they've lost control over their lives.

* Keep America at Work: (Edited/paraphrased) As of August 2015, we have only created about 2 million jobs since 2007 (gaining the jobs back that we lost during the Great Recession doesn't count) — and so far, 2015 has produced less than half of the jobs that 2014 produced — so we’re headed in the wrong direction. The easiest way to visualize this would be to think of a large barrel that holds 142 million gallons of water (the number of jobs in the U.S. labor market). Because we are not increasing the size of the barrel (the labor market) by sending jobs offshore (for lower wages), every time we add 1 million gallons of water (workers) to the barrel (labor force) each year by using H-1B visa workers (for lower wages), domestic workers (inside the barrel) who are older and less credentialed are being displaced from the barrel (the labor market) by being forced to leave the labor market (or to take a lower-paying and/or part-time and/or temp job).

* Mother Jones: Jeb Bush Has No Clue About Business Regulation (By Kevin Drum Sep. 23, 2015) [But apparently he does, because the article says]: "He [Jeb Bush] promises that in his administration every regulation "will have to satisfy a rigorous White House review process, including a cost-benefit analysis." Apparently he doesn't realize that this is already the case. As for the outrageous regulations he promises to repeal on Day One, this would mostly just benefit big campaign donors, not the yeoman entrepreneurs he claims to be sticking up for." [Jeb Bush and all other Republicans want less regulation for companies like Volkswagen, as well as all other big multinationals.]

* Washington Post: Jeb Bush just announced that he’d overturn the government’s sweeping net neutrality rules that currently prohibit Internet providers from favoring some websites over others.

* Speaking of Jeb --- Jerry Kilgore, the former Virginia attorney general who was serving as Scott Walker’s Virginia finance chairman, just signed on with Jeb Bush. USA Today: "Star Scientific had hired Jerry Kilgore, Virginia's attorney general from 2002 to 2006, to pursue Tobacco Commission grants. But the CEO of Star Scientific testified that he was unaware that Terry Kilgore, Jerry Kilgore's brother, was chairman of the commission. Bob and Maureen McDonnell's ownership of Star Scientific stock began June 1, 2011, when Maureen McDonnell opened a separate brokerage account to buy 6,000 shares." [Bob "Ultrasound" McDonnell is serving time in prison for corruption.]

* Petition: Why did Obama appoint a wolf to guard the SEC hen house?

* Image below: Via a new Bloomberg Poll (Click to enlarge)

* A new Quinnipiac poll (released Sept. 24, 2015) shows:

Hillary Clinton 43%
Bernie Sanders 25%
Joe Biden 18%
Undecided 10%

* Those numbers are similar to a new Fox News poll. Below is my diatribe concerning all these polls:

Despite the email thingy, and her unfavorability rating, and her trust issues, and her lack of authenticity, only 11 percent of Democrats say they “would definitely not support” Hillary Clinton. That is amazing; and it also shows how uninformed (or misinformed) Americans can really be.

I'm guessing that many younger people aren't very familiar with history of the Clintons, and many would only vote for her because she would be "the first woman" to be president, regardless of her flip-flops, her stand on past issues, or anything else about her. She has been a big part of our politics for the past 40 years, which has made America what it is today (rampant with rich tax dodgers who don't pay fair wages); so if someone is happy with the current status quo, then by all means, vote for her ... and just expect more of the same.

Another thing is, according to that one poll (if it can be believed), Bernie Sanders doesn't do as well as Hillary Clinton or Joe Biden against GOP contenders. To me, that is absolutely SHOCKING!!! If Americans are so out-of-touch or so misinformed on the issues and lacking in their knowledge of candidates, then maybe they deserve everything the Republicans will take away from them — or everything that "moderate" Democrats will continue to withhold from them (Don't forget, the Democrats had control of Congress in 2009/10 and still didn't raise the minimum wage. Now with the Republicans in control, the Democrats are only now making it part of their 2016 platform.)

What did we get with a GOP Congress and Obama for all these past years? Choosing Clinton or Biden is just replacing Obama with another Obama. With a GOP Congress, Bernie Sanders can't do much more either; but at least by giving Sanders the bully pulpit, it can help move "moderate" Democrats in Congress more to the left. (which is really more to the "center" if it was in FDR's day.)

FULL DISCLOSURE: Prior to being laid off in 2008, I wasn't that informed or much interested in politics or the economy — and I used to watch a lot of Fox News while spending my spare time teaching myself to design websites. During that time I was anti-Obama and anti-Democrats. But since those days, with all my "extra" spare time, I've done a lot of reading and research and educated myself much more on the issues. So I don't blame those people in the polls for thinking the way they do, because they probably don't know any better, and most likely get most of their information from one news channel or from quick sound-bites — or just from reading the headlines and blurbs (like mine).

While I no longer believe everything I hear on Fox News anymore (although, I still "monitor" the station), I'm also very skeptical of all the "left-leaning" media as well. And while I no longer consider myself a Republican anymore, I'm also still anti-Obama and anti-Democrat to a large degree too — and now mostly identify myself as an "Independent Progressive". The Democrats are only the lessor of two evils. Needless to say, these days I "Feel the Bern".

1 comment:

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