Thursday, October 15, 2015

Queen Hillary? (Already Crowned)   No COLA (Cost of Living Adjustment) For You!!!!  (TPP Brings Yummy Rat Food for Millions and Foie Gras for 1%)   Real Reason Global Stocks Flashing Red Now

Sorry but I don't agree with the pundits (or many other commenters) about who was the winner of the Democratic Party's debate.

Hillary seemed to be playing the role of the Queen Mother, who is above all the other participants, who feels she can say anything, no matter how untrue, if she says it loudly enough with that confidence that comes naturally to sociopaths and practiced con artists. I'm wondering if Anjelica Huston will be playing her in the blockbuster film that undoubtedly will be taking off soon about the 2016 election.

Bernie Sanders didn't follow up several times when I thought he should have (and none of the rest of the participants had the standing to sue either, it seemed, if you know what I'm implying), which allowed Hillary to smile her big-teeth winning smile throughout, no matter how silly (or just out and out lies) many of her answers were.

It's too bad that she's adopted this stance as it does not win over people like myself who left her big tent over a decade ago when her position on the massive Afghanistan (Geneva Conventions-forbidden) attack on unarmed civilians (including thousands of her most-favored subject:  children) and even more ridiculous Iraq-WMD-argued bombing fiasco - and her vigorous support for George W. Bush's Patriot Act verbiage (I'm being nice here) and his smarmy propaganda about his desire for being a "progressive" Republican president of all the people - were making most of us from my side of the fray fwow up daily. Beverly at Angry Bear illustrates this Democratic dilemma perfectly:

We are not Denmark — I love Denmark — we are the United States of America. We would be making a grave mistake to turn our backs on what built the greatest middle class in the history of the world.

– Hillary Clinton, last night

Okay.  When I heard that, I said, “Wow.  Did she just say that Denmark isn’t a middle-class, capitalist, entrepreneurial country?  And that that’s because it has universal healthcare, free college, free day care, and guaranteed family and medical leave?

That struck me as a major gaffe.  She is, after all, running for the Democratic Party’s nomination for president, not the Republican Party’s.

Sanders didn’t respond to it because, if I remember right, he didn’t have the chance.  But I expected the political analysts to point this out afterward.

Silly me.  It’s being hailed as a big moment for Clinton.  By most commentators I’ve read, anyway.  But not by "Slate"'s Jordan Weissmann, who wrote last night:

The odd thing here is that, despite his preferred nomenclature, Bernie Sanders isn’t really all that much of a socialist. Yes, the man is certainly on the left edge of mainstream American politics. He would like to raise taxes significantly on the wealthy, to spend more on infrastructure, to break up large Wall Street banks. He’d like to make public colleges tuition-free, but he isn’t pushing to eliminate private universities. Fundamentally, the man isn’t really running on an anti-capitalist platform of nationalizing private industry. The one exception, you could argue, would be his stance in favor of single-payer health care — that would amount to a government takeover of health insurance. But that would also basically bring the U.S. in league with decidedly capitalist nations such as Canada and Great Britain.

In the end, left writer Jesse Meyerson, himself a bona fide socialist, put is most simply in "Rolling Stone":  “For now, the proposals at the core of his platform — for the most part very good — are standard fare for progressive Democrats.” That comment was from July but still holds.

Which brings us to the Northern Europe comparison. Typically, policy types refer to Scandinavia’s “social democracies,” because of the robust social safety nets in countries such as Norway, Sweden, and, yes, Denmark. But it’s not as if these places are antagonistic toward capitalism and business — by some measures, they’re about as entrepreneurial and innovative as the United States (at least if you adjust for the size of their economies). Saying we shouldn’t emulate Denmark because we want to preserve America’s spirit of industriousness, as Clinton suggests, is a bit strange.
I clicked the “by some measures” link, which is to an October 2012 article by Weissmann in "The Atlantic" titled “Think We’re the Most Entrepreneurial Country In the World? Not So Fast.”  It’s subtitled “We’re the venture-capital capital of the world, but start-ups and young small businesses play a smaller role in America’s economy than in many other rich nations.”  A key paragraph says:

Some of the most cutting-edge young companies in the world call Silicon Valley, New York, Boston, and Austin, Texas home, partly because we have the financial backers to support them. According to the OECD, the U.S. ranks second overall in venture capital invested as a percentage of GDP, which wedges us between Israel at No. 1 and Sweden at No. 3. In sheer dollars, we dwarf everyone. That said, it’s not clear all that money floating around makes our start-ups much more creative. The OECD ranks us ninth out of 22 for the number of start-ups younger than five years old that issue patents, adjusted for the size of our economy (Denmark leads on that measure).
Weissmann’s right that Sanders isn’t really that much of a socialist.  And if that statement by Clinton is an indication — and I think it is — Clinton isn’t really that much of a progressive.  Or even that much of a Democrat.

Sanders now has the funds to start running internet and even television. I suggest to his campaign, should anyone from it happen upon this post, that the first ad they run shows a clip of Clinton saying what I quoted her above as saying, and juxtaposing it with the statistics that Weissmann cites in that "Atlantic" article, and a few statistics about Denmark’s standard of living.

If Clinton believes that venture capital for innovative startups, and bank loans for ordinary small businesses, will dry up if we have universal healthcare, free college, free day care, and guaranteed family and medical leave, then she should maybe actually look into it a bit. Maybe she should even visit Denmark, which apparently on her trip there in which she came to love it (she) didn’t notice that most of its residents weren’t living in poverty and didn’t realize that most of its businesses, large, small, and midsized, weren’t owned by the government. While she’s in the neighborhood, she also could visit Sweden and Norway. And if she can spare the time, even Germany.

But if she can’t fit a trip overseas into her schedule, well, Canada is just north of her home state of New York. She could even do a day trip there.

And from Peter Beinart in "The Atlantic:"

The most revealing moment of last night’s Democratic presidential debate came near the end, when CNN moderator Anderson Cooper asked the candidates to “name the one thing — the one way that your administration would not be a third term of President Obama.” Bernie Sanders replied that, unlike Obama, he would “transform America ... through a political revolution.”

Hillary Clinton answered that, unlike Obama, she’s a woman.

I rest my case.
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As a long-term unemployed (but diligently applying for every possible opportunity) ex-aerospace/software engineering person, I have too little money already to pay for enough food and medicine every month in addition to rent, utilities and all the rest of the rapidly increasing expenses one must pay in order to live at least somewhat independently today - which necessitates more and more a life in dire straits.

Viewing current events, I can't help wondering if citizens like me, who are just finding out that we're getting not one penny more for this year's COLA (Cost of Living Adjustment), should begin to write a blog advertising their plight (or just grab some pencils and start stalking traffic)?

It's been such bad economic times for so long for so many.

What will it take to get the lives of people, who are now retired after working over 40 years, back on a decent track? (We're not really members of the civilized West anymore.)

This is no small matter. The purpose of the annual adjustments is to ensure that Social Security’s benefits don’t lose value over time. They are intended to keep seniors and other beneficiaries afloat, to allow them to tread water. But seniors are not floating; they are sinking.

You would be hard pressed to find a senior who has not seen the cost of medical care, prescription drugs, food and other necessities go up. You would also be hard pressed to make the case that Social Security benefits are too generous. Averaging just around $16,000 a year, they replace just 40 percent of a medium-income worker’s wages. Modest though they are, Social Security benefits are vitally important.

Two-thirds of seniors rely on their Social Security benefits for half or more of their incomes. Social Security constitutes virtually all of the income of one-third of senior beneficiaries. The dependence is even higher among workers who have become disabled.

The zero automatic adjustment has happened only twice before, in 2010 and 2011. All three zero years, 2010, 2011, and now 2016, will have occurred during the Obama administration. When there was no COLA in those other years, emails blaming the Democrats flew around the Internet, but the president and Congress have nothing to do with the size of the adjustment. It is all done mechanically by a measure known as the Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers (CPI-W).

Ironically – though Social Security is paid to people who either have reached old age and are generally retired, cannot engage in substantial work as a result of serious and permanent disability, or are survivors of deceased eligible beneficiaries – the CPI-W measures only the cost of living of urban workers. People not working are not in the category of people whose cost of living is measured by the index. But it was the only measure that was available in 1972, when the automatic adjustments were enacted, and it has never been changed.

The shortcomings of this measure for Social Security are obvious. Moreover, the same inadequate index is used for other programs for seniors and people with disabilities, including military retirement benefits, veterans’ compensation, civil service retirement benefits and the means-tested Supplemental Security Income program.

People who are working – and indeed, the general population – have substantially different spending patterns than seniors and people with disabilities. Seniors and people with disabilities spend more than younger, healthier Americans on health care and long-term care, where prices rise faster, and less on clothing, recreation, and other items – where prices tend to rise more slowly.

Shockingly, rather than make the automatic adjustment tailored to the spending of seniors and people with disabilities, and therefore more accurate, some prominent Republicans, including a number of Republican presidential candidates, want to make the adjustments more miserly. Apparently, a zero increase is just not low enough.

And they go even further. Not satisfied to simply let benefits slowly and inexorably erode over time, most Republicans running for president want to speed up the process, calling for cutting benefits substantially, as well as dismantling the program outright.

Fortunately, Democratic candidates for president have a very different approach to Social Security. Senator Bernie Sanders and Governor Martin O’Malley both have Social Security plans that expand benefits and then ensure that they do not erode by enacting a more accurate cost-of-living measure.

The debate over Social Security is not about affordability; it is about our values. Let’s have an honest discussion this electoral cycle. The question is do we want to expand benefits, keep them (at) the level they are and fully fund them, cut benefits, or dismantle the program? Let’s stop the scare tactics and lies that the United States – the wealthiest nation in the history of the world – somehow can’t afford these modest benefits.

As part of that honest discussion, let’s acknowledge that benefits are both being cut now, as a result of changes being phased in now, and are eroding over time, as a result of inadequate cost of living adjustments. Let’s not pretend otherwise.

Perhaps this year, when voters seem fed up with establishment candidates spouting Washington sound bites, we can finally have a fact-based, honest conversation about Social Security. Let’s not talk of “saving” Social Security through some “bipartisan” commission or other device designed to avoid political accountability. Even worse, let’s not allow those seeking our vote to refuse, as Carly Fiorina has done, to state their views on this program that affects us all.

No secret plans on Social Security. Let’s finally force our politicians to be open and honest about Social Security. As numerous polls make clear, this is a debate those favoring expanding Social Security are eager to have. Bring it on.
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Social Security Benefits Eroded By Inadequate Inflation Adjustment

The Social Security Administration on Thursday will announce some news that will be distressing to more than one in four households:  there will be no Social Security cost of living adjustment (“COLA”) for 2016.
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TPP:  Foie Gras for Corporations; Dead Rats for Workers

October 13, 2015
Leo Gerard
Some terms of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), the 12-nation trade proposal completed last week, are so repulsive that the New Zealand trade minister who helped negotiate the scheme described accepting them as swallowing dead rats.
Here’s what New Zealand Minister Tim Groser said:

On the hardest core issues, there are some ugly compromises out there. And when we say ugly, we mean ugly from each perspective – it doesn’t mean ‘I’ve got to swallow a dead rat and you’re swallowing foie gras.’ It means both of us are swallowing dead rats on three or four issues to get this deal across the line.”
There’s no reason for the United States to swallow a trade deal filled with rotten rodent terms. Previous so-called free-trade deals have killed American factories and hundreds of thousands of family-supporting manufacturing jobs. Based on that terrible experience, American workers know for sure that if the scheme contains any foie gras, it’ll be served on silver platters to corporations while workers are force-fed rats.

Below is one of the best pre-debate articles dealing with what I thought would be the main topics of discussion among Democrats.

You know, the guys supposedly holding the Republicans' feet to the financial fire.

And I'm sad to have to run this article after the debate, but it's only one more reason to encourage everyone to watch events very carefully from here on out.

The reality is that the repeal of Glass-Steagall ushered in the greatest wealth transfer scheme in the history of America, allowing six mega banks in America to control the vast majority of insured deposits, use those taxpayer-backed deposits to gamble for the house, loot the bank from the inside by paying billions of dollars to select employees and customers and then hand the gambling tab to the taxpayer when the casino burns down. This model is a staggering headwind on both U.S. and global growth because it has created the greatest wealth and income inequality since the Great Depression.

The Real Reason Global Stocks Are Flashing Red this Morning

By Pam Martens and Russ Martens
October 13, 2015

President Bill Clinton Signs the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act on November 12, 1999, Repealing the Glass-Steagall Act
President Bill Clinton Signs the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act on November 12, 1999, Repealing the Glass-Steagall Act

The average American, scraping to get by, put food on the table, pay the mortgage, has no time at all to drill down and root out the real facts that would enable him or her to separate propaganda from the economic reality facing the U.S. and the rest of the globe.
That’s why we created "Wall Street On Parade." It’s a labor of love for our fellow citizens to give you a meaningful jungle guide to survive this era of unprecedented corruption and hubris with a roof still over your head and a shirt on your back.

In a few years, when you look back, you’ll realize “jungle guide,” if anything, was a serious understatement.
This morning stock markets around the globe are flashing red. The perceived wisdom is that the news driving stocks lower is a report out of China that its imports plunged 17.7 percent year over year in September, the 11th straight decline.
Make no mistake about it, just as Lehman Brothers was set up to take the fall for triggering the 2008 collapse, China is being groomed as the new scapegoat for the coming crisis. But China’s economic slump is only a symptom, not the disease.
In reality, the dark, gathering, economic storm clouds are merely the second leg of the 2008 financial collapse, set in motion on November 12, 1999 when President Bill Clinton, surrounded by Wall Street sycophants, signed the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act (also known as the Financial Services Modernization Act of 1999) which repealed the Glass-Steagall Act of 1933, legislation which had kept our financial system safe for 66 years. A short 9 years later, the U.S. financial system collapsed in the greatest upheaval since the Great Depression.
Tonight, Bill Clinton’s spouse, Hillary Clinton – who has no intention of restoring the Glass-Steagall Act to separate insured banks from high-risk, stock speculating investment banks and their star wars derivatives operations — will deliver her pitch to the American people as to why she’s fit to extend the Clinton dynasty at the White House. This will be the first Democratic Presidential debate of the primary season and we urge our readers to watch. The debate will air at 8:30 p.m. ET on CNN which is hosting the event.
In the meantime, it might be a good idea to reflect on the underlying concerns of the stock market. On September 24, Caterpillar took a machete to its prior earnings outlook for 2015 and said it will cut its headcount by as many as 10,000 jobs through 2018. These big, multinational job cut announcements have been coming since last December: American Express, 4000; Coca Cola, 1600 to 1800; IBM, at least 2000 with rumors suggesting the number is far higher; Schlumberger, 9000; Baker Hughes 7000; U.S. Steel 750.
It’s not just China that’s the problem. In its second quarter earnings conference call, Caterpillar had this to say:
“We’ll start with Construction Industries, which was down 18% and down in all regions. Latin America was the most significant decline, down 47%, and that was mostly a result of weak demand in general, and in particular Brazil, and also absent of a large order that we had from the Brazilian government from last year.

Asia-Pacific region was down 30%, with much of that decline in China and Japan…In the Europe, Africa, Middle East region, Construction Industry sales were down 18% …”

The reality is that the repeal of Glass-Steagall ushered in the greatest wealth transfer scheme in the history of America, allowing six mega banks in America to control the vast majority of insured deposits, use those taxpayer-backed deposits to gamble for the house, loot the bank from the inside by paying billions of dollars to select employees and customers and then hand the gambling tab to the taxpayer when the casino burns down.

This model is a staggering headwind on both U.S. and global growth because it has created the greatest wealth and income inequality since the Great Depression.
Earlier this year, Steve Ricchiuto, Chief U.S. Economist at Mizuho Securities USA, appeared on CNBC to help viewers get a grip on economic reality.

Ricchiuto had this to say:
“…I keep hearing over and over again in the financial press about this acceleration in economic growth. That isn’t happening. Last month we had a horrible retail sales number. We had a horrible durable goods number. We’re likely to have a very disappointing retail sales number coming forward. This month we’ve had a strong payroll number – we say everything’s great.

It’s not great. It’s running where it’s been. It’s been the same thing for the last five years. There’s no improvement in the economy.”

David Papell and Ruxandra Prodan, Professor of Economics and Clinical Assistant Professor of Economics, respectively, at the University of Houston added a further reality check earlier this year:
While the Great Recession of December 2007 to June 2009 ended over five years ago, the recovery has been characterized by very slow growth. The Congressional Budget Office has recently released projections of real (inflation adjusted) GDP growth through 2025. If these projections turn out to be correct, real GDP for the U.S. will never return to its pre-Great Recession growth path.

This projected decrease in potential GDP is unprecedented, as almost all postwar U.S. recessions, postwar European recessions, slumps associated with European financial crises, and even the Great Depression of the 1930s were characterized by an eventual return to potential GDP.”
What will it take for our fellow citizens to raise their fists in the air and say “ENOUGH” to the Clinton dynasty and their 1 percent Wall Street Democrats? What will it take to rally Democrats from their stupor and restore the Democratic Party to the party that could actually level the playing field in America.

Didn't happen did it?

Has Obama Come To His Senses?

The MH-17 ‘Report’

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