Monday, February 1, 2016

Election Time:  American Horror Story  (The Democrats:  The Party of Wall Street)  Meet the Clintons!  (No Wonder We Missed It, It Was Trickle Down) Moscow Max?

Max and Stacy are in Moscow where money is flowing, jobs are plentiful and the good times are rolling.

Or that's what they report.

Elizabeth Warren Releases Blistering Report on Corporate Criminality – Singles Out SEC Uselessness

David Sirota | Hillary Clinton Gets $13 Million From Health Industry, Now Says Single-Payer Will "Never, Ever Come to Pass"
_ _ _ _ _ _ _

The truth is, one rarely runs into the candidates nowadays. Years ago they were hard to avoid. One would be having a haircut and George McGovern or Richard Nixon would barge in and rush over to shake your hand. Today you walk into a shopping mall some weekday and what do you see? Just some teenagers playing hooky from school, a few elderly couples trying to warm themselves, and lonely sales people standing around and dying of boredom in empty stores. If you were to shout, Where is Hillary Clinton? They’d look at you as if you’ve gone mad. In my little town I saw only one Trump sign, one Carson for President, and one for McCain/Palin put up recently either by a prankster or someone genuinely nostalgic for the great men and women the Republican Party nominated once upon a time.
The coverage of our elections, too, is no help. It has a fairy tale feel to it. Our national press pretends that they are dealing with men and women of principle, offering carefully thought-out solutions to our nation’s problems, rather than groveling servants of billionaires who finance their campaigns; and that the voters these candidates try to persuade in the primaries are well-informed and well-meaning Americans and not people who by and large get their information from Fox TV and hate radio.

“Lobotomized by Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, Sean Hannity, and Michael Savage” is how a friend describes a neighbor of his. In other words, someone unreachable by anyone who doesn’t believe that Obama is a Muslim or a Communist, that Planned Parenthood dismembers living children and sells their body parts for cash, and that Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden had a pet dinosaur.

Every country in the world has dimwits and crooks in politics, but no country treats them with greater respect than we do — or with such gutlessness. Some con man who claims on a Sunday morning talk show that global warming is a hoax and every scientist who claims otherwise is faking it, or argues that if the rich in this country paid no taxes, their wealth would trickle down to the rest of us, is treated with respect and mildly queried, without being reminded that what he is proposing has not only been discredited repeatedly, but known back in the old days as the horse-and-sparrow theory of economics:

If you feed the horse enough oats, some of them will pass through for the sparrows.
Screw the consequences, is what they are all saying. Neither our past nor our future interests them. Some foreigner unfamiliar with our ways may wonder why these people running for president are not pressed to answer how, with the many wars we have already fought and the many wars they recommend fighting in the future, we will avoid the fate of every other empire and nation in history that set out to fight the entire world.

But we know that they are not likely to be asked about that. Nor will they be queried about war profiteering, the disappearance of billions of tax payer dollars in Iraq and Afghanistan; nor about Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and some of our other so-called allies in the Middle East who we’ve been selling tens of billions of dollars of weapons to, and who are themselves supporting the jihadists in Syria; nor about the US firearms industry and its huge and growing profits; ,u>nor about the incitements to violence against illegal immigrants and Muslims by some of their fellow candidates. It’s the total lack of accountability in our political system, where incompetents, crooks, and war criminals not only get rich but continue to have their advice sought everywhere, that makes one lose any hope that any of these disastrous and suicidal policies can be reversed.

“Daddy knows best” is what autocrats everywhere say to their followers, whom they intend to keep in a state of childlike helplessness and ignorance. Thus Donald Trump — whose fans swoon hearing him say something like that and grew positively ecstatic recently when a "Black Lives Matter" protester who objected was kicked, punched, and choked at one of his rallies — was able to say afterwards that he was sorry that the protester wasn’t roughed up some more. And he is not the only one. There’s Cruz, too. Their rants remind me of the nationalists in Yugoslavia in the 1990s, for the very simple reason that the repertoire and the vocabulary of nativist bullies is limited. Wherever they come from, they not only all sound alike, they often look alike.

My friends assure me that neither Trump nor Cruz have a chance of becoming president and I tend to agree, though, thinking back to Yugoslavia, I recall how many intelligent and otherwise kind people fell for some vile nationalist and tried to convince me that we needed a tough man for tough times, and how this fellow may be a little rough at the edges, but he is honest and in this historical moment we all have to get behind him. One beloved aunt of mine even tried to convince me that Milošević was good-looking. I was speechless. I thought for a moment I hadn’t heard right, and asked her to repeat what she said. It was like hearing your mother or your sister say to you that she thinks Donald Trump is cute.

The gentlemen who wrote the following essay seem to have the most pertinent commentary on this  currently relevant subject that I've seen online yet.

The fact that they articulate my own arguments is a plus.

The Whole Story

It is amazing to me the number of pundits and politicians, Paul Krugman and Hillary Clinton among them, who are critical of universal health care based on the bogus argument that “it will massively increase taxes.” Bernie Sanders has no problem with that, planning to add 2.2% to my personal income tax, a move which makes him my hero. Based on the advocacy of “voting in my own best interest,” which I don’t do, that would get him my vote.

(As an aside, I vote in behalf of the best interest of the nation as a whole, not for the benefit of myself personally or of my own state.)

If Bernie passed universal health care, added 2.2% to my personal income tax, and relieved me of paying out the 13.2% of my income that I paid last year in health insurance premiums, copays and deductibles, I would be delighted with that. His opponents always mention the taxes, but they never point out that the taxpayer no longer has to pay for insurance.

In a similar vein, it was reported briefly in the news that signups in the “” insurance plans has dropped this year by about one third over last year. The issue was dropped immediately by news organizations and has not been picked up for discussion by one single commentator or pundit. It’s a pretty massive drop in enrollment, and one has to wonder how come the media is not asking why it is happening.

I don’t know, of course, but one reason that occurs to me is that many people found out that having health insurance is not worth much when the copays and deductibles are so high, and the networks are so limited, that you cannot afford to use it.

Speaking of intentional health care fraud from our own heroes . . . We can only hope this is an admonition, an interim event that helps refine and reawaken the tasks of the Democratic Party, especially in the wake of the total destruction of the traditional Republican Party by fools and charlatans as both parties became awash in money and power received for ingenuously deceiving their voters.

How Wall Street Came to Own the Clintons and the Democratic Party

By Michael Krieger
January 30, 2016
Liberty Blitzkrieg Former FX trader at Citigroup, Chris Arnade, just penned a poignant and entertaining Op-ed at "The Guardian" detailing how Wall Street came to own the Democratic Party via the Clintons over the course of his career. While anyone reading this already knows how completely bought and paid for the Clintons are by the big financial interests, the article provides some interesting anecdotes as well as a classic quote about a young Larry Summers.

Here are some choice excerpts from the piece:

I owe almost my entire Wall Street career to the Clintons. I am not alone; most bankers owe their careers, and their wealth, to them. Over the last 25 years they – with the Clintons it is never just Bill or Hillary – implemented policies that placed Wall Street at the center of the Democratic economic agenda, turning it from a party against Wall Street to a party of Wall Street.

That is why when I recently went to see Hillary Clinton campaign for president and speak about reforming Wall Street I was skeptical. What I heard hasn’t changed that skepticism. The policies she offers are mid-course corrections. In the Clintons’ world, Wall Street stays at the center, economically and politically. Given Wall Street’s power and influence, that is a dangerous place to leave them.

The administration’s economic policy took shape as trickle down, Democratic style. They championed free trade, pushing Nafta. They reformed welfare, buying into the conservative view that poverty was about dependency, not about situation. They threw the old left a few bones, repealing prior tax cuts on the rich, but used the increased revenues mostly on Wall Street’s favorite issue:  cutting the debt.

Most importantly, when faced with their first financial crisis, they bailed out Wall Street.
That crisis came in January 1995, halfway through the administration’s first term. Mexico, after having boomed from the optimism surrounding Nafta, went bust. It was a huge embarrassment for the administration, given the push they had made for Nafta against a cynical Democratic party.

Money was fleeing Mexico, and much of it was coming back through me and my firm. Selling investors’ Mexican bonds was my first job on Wall Street, and now they were trying to sell them back to us. But we hadn’t just sold Mexican bonds to clients, instead we did it using new derivatives product to get around regulatory issues and take advantages of tax rules, and lend the clients money. Given how aggressive we were, and how profitable it was for us, older traders kept expecting to be stopped by regulators from the new administration, but that didn’t happen.

When Mexico started to collapse, the shudders began. Initially our firm lost only tens of millions, a large loss but not catastrophic. The crisis however was worsening, and Mexico was headed towards a default, or closing its border to money flows. We stood to lose hundreds of millions, something we might not have survived. Other Wall Street firms were in worse shape, having done the trade in a much bigger size. The biggest was rumored to be Lehman, which stood to lose billions, a loss they couldn’t have survived.

As the crisis unfolded, senior management traveled to DC as part of a group of bankers to meet with Treasury officials. They had hoped to meet with Rubin, who was now Treasury secretary. Instead they met with the undersecretary for international affairs who my boss described as:  “Some young egghead academic who likes himself a lot and is wide eyed with a taste of power.” That egghead was Larry Summers who would succeed Rubin as Treasury Secretary.

The bailout worked, with Mexico edging away from a crisis, allowing it to repay the loans, at profit. It also worked wonders on Wall Street, which let out a huge sigh of relief.

The success encouraged the administration, which used it as an economic blueprint that emphasized Wall Street. It also emphasized bailouts, believing it was counterproductive to let banks fail, or to punish them with losses, or fines or, God forbid, charge them with crimes, and risk endangering the economy.

The use of bailouts should have also been a reason to heavily regulate Wall Street, to prevent behavior that would require a bailout.

But the administration didn’t do that; instead they went the opposite direction and continued to deregulate it, culminating in the repeal of Glass Steagall in 1999.

It changed the trading floor, which started to fill with Democrats. On my trading floor, Robert Rubin, who had joined my firm after leaving the administration, held traders attention by telling long stories and jokes about Bill Clinton to wide-eyed traders.

Wall Street now had both political parties working for them, and really nobody holding them accountable.

Now, no trade was too aggressive, no risk too crazy, no behavior too unethical and no loss too painful. It unleashed a boom that produced plenty of smaller crisis (Russia, Dotcom), before culminating in the housing and financial crisis of 2008.

But hey… For related articles on Hillary’s long-standing Wall Street love affair, see:

Don't miss this earlier Max romp. He's just awash with information.

Stacy too!

Have you seen "Inherent Vice?"

Thomas Pyncheon speaks for us all.

Through Joachim Phoenix.

Believe it or not.

Try not to dwell for too long on the powerful drug use that ensues.

No comments: