Friday, July 26, 2013

Yellen or Summers?

In a front page article, today's Times suggests there are "some gender overtones" stirring in Obama's choice to be the next chair of the Federal Reserve.  Personally, I'm pulling for Janet Yellen, but not because I think it's time for a woman to be at the helm.  It's because I think Lawrence Summers is a terrible choice.

Back in the Clinton administration, Summers, along with his guru Robert Rubin, was instrumental in talking Clinton into signing the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act into law.  In case you've forgotten, that's the one that overturned Glass-Steagle, encouraged already large financial firms to transform themselves into too-big-to-fail behemoths, and made the 2008 financial crisis inevitable.

Why oh why would Obama want to install one of the architects of too-big-to-fail as the single most important regulator of the fat cat firms?  Could it be because Wall Street wants him there?

Janet Yellen, we are told, was an important voice in Bernanke's ear, encouraging expansionary monetary policy.  As head of the Fed, she is unlikely to tighten up too soon — and it's pretty clear that she would continue quantitative easing and low interest rates for as long as they're needed.  Well, they're still needed.

The last thing we need is the return of the Rubinites.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

George and Trayvon

Why did George Zimmerman continue to follow Trayvon Martin after the police told him to stay back and let them do the investigating?  Simple.  George had a handgun and a concealed carry permit, so no matter how scary the little black boy looked to him, he figured he could blow the kid away.

Why did George Zimmerman decide Trayvon Martin was "suspicious" enough to be followed?  Just as simple.  The little black boy was, well, kind of black — and then, there was that hoodie.  Black parents across the United States, as I write this, are tossing their sons' hoodies into Salvation Army clothing collection bags.  It probably won't help.

Zimmerman likes to call himself "Hispanic" because his mother is Bolivian.   Incidentally, Bolivia is among the Latin American nations offering political asylum to Edward Snowden.  The Zimmerman side of the family, though, most likely calls Trayvon "that schwartze."  Go be Hispanic, George.

I'm not at all angry with the jury — except for that stupid bitch who arrived anonymously on CNN and told the country how her racism influenced the decision.  The problem in Florida — and in too many other states — is the law.  The law should not let vigilantes wander around with guns in their pockets and kill kids carrying Skittles and Coke.

You don't want to die over a bag of Skittles.  If Trayvon attacked George, as the prosecution maintained, Trayvon must have been very very afraid.

Very, very, very afraid.

Friday, July 12, 2013

The Farm Bill

Some people are just evil, and a lot of those evil people "serve" in the House of Representatives.

The radical effort by right-wing Republicans to separate SNAP (food stamps) from farm subsidies turns my stomach.  Clearly, their intent is to secure the benefits corporate agriculture is accustomed to while setting up an opportunity to "compromise" on severe cuts to SNAP.  Apparently, they think the best approach to dealing with poverty is to let the poor starve.

Isn't it time for Our President to get out there and say he will veto any Farm Bill that does not include SNAP, maintained at least at its current level?  It won't happen.  (As you may have noticed, I have absolutely no confidence in Obama.  Maybe, someday, we'll get a president who really is black, or a Latino who isn't a son of the Cuban plutocracy from the Batista era.  Okay, I'm not holding my breath.)

It's just evil.  If the right-wing Republican Old Testament god were real, and not a piece of shit like his admirers, he'd be striking them down with boils and toads and the Angel of Death.  If Jesus is out there watching, he's most likely puking his guts.

Like me.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Odds and Ends

Lac Megantic

For those of you who like conspiracy theories, here's a sweet one:  the oil/rail "accident" at Lac Megantic, Quebec, was engineered by supporters of the Keystone XL pipeline.  Transporting crude oil by rail, some will start saying pretty soon, is just too dangerous.  We have to have that pipeline!

How did an experienced railroad engineer and his staff happen to walk away from a train stopped at the top of a hill while leaving the brakes unlocked?  Well, maybe they all were drunk.  Or, maybe, not.  Needless to say, the oil companies will claim "mechanical failures."

I have no evidence to support this conjecture, of course, but you conspiracy theorists usually don't need what they call "evidence."  You understand (believe) that "evidence" is easily suppressed.

Weiner and Spitzer

I have not lived in New York City since 1970, but I try to stay in touch.  I am entertained by the Weiner campaign, and don't think his election would make things any worse than they would be under Christine Quinn, John Liu, Bill Thompson, or even Bill DiBlasio (who is a pretty good guy.)

On the other hand, I think Eliot Spitzer is a hell of a good candidate for Comptroller.  He's totally overqualified, and just might dig out the corruption that everybody assumes is part and parcel of City government.  Who cares about a few hookers, as long as they weren't paid on the public dime?


Of course, it was a coup!

I don't agree with McCain too often, but this time he's right.  It was a coup, and all that military aid — the vast majority of the aid the USofA sends to Egypt — should be cut off.  Hell, they've already got most of this year's aid, so "officially" cutting it off won't make a difference until next year.

Maybe, next year, the military will restore something resembling  "democracy," and we can go back to bribing Egypt to continue maintaining the alleged "peace" with Israel.  In reality, the so-called "peace" between Egypt and Israel is not likely to be broached by either party, even without USofA funding.

War is too damned expensive, unless you're the official military protector of the multinational corporate establishment.


Maybe, someday, we'll have a black president.  Some say Clinton was "the first black president," but black Americans haven't had a real champion since Lyndon Johnson — and our last noticeably liberal president was Richard Nixon.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013


Well, at the moment, it appears that Mohamed Morsi's gone.  Yes, it was another military coup, and we still can't be sure how it will turn out.  Since it's the Middle East, there's a high probability that it will turn out badly.

Look at the component parts.  Up there on the podium with General Abdul Fatah al-Sisi were a bunch on non-Brotherhood Muslim clerics, some Coptic Christians, and the ever ambitious Nobel laureate, Mohamed el-Baradei.   I suppose there may have been a couple of populist secularists up there too, but I'm betting they were way off in the wings.

There were a few major problems with Morsi, the foremost of which was that he is incompetent.  Another was that he moved entirely too fast to implement Islamist ideology, and cuddled up way too close to the Salafists.  Moreover, I don't recall that he ever had an economic policy.

So we're back to two years ago, waiting to see what the military will do.  They've cancelled the Islamist Constitution the Brotherhood pushed through, put a Mubarak era judge in charge of the executive, and are telling us they plan for early presidential elections.

I guess we'll just have to wait and see.