notes aug 31

August 31, 2008 § Leave a comment

It is really as if McCain picked nobody to run with, he is still alone, and weakening. But the continuous insult to America’s position in the world is increasing.

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Notes aug 30, 2008

August 30, 2008 § Leave a comment

McCain’s rovian strategy: repeat Obama’s speech the next day,over and over, minus substance.  Since Obama and Palin are young and inexperienced (sic!),they cancel each other out, and leave Mccain as the difference.  Run against Washington and the republicans, be for change, hence you, mccain and palin,  are all outsiders and more likeable than Obama/Biden.

Deeply cynical.and insulting,  and playing with the country, which needs a solid president.

notes aug 28 2008

August 28, 2008 § Leave a comment

And

China’s excess liquidity trap
China is awash with cash, thanks to high levels of savings, increased enterprise profitability, a government budget surplus and more foreign exchange reserves than it knows what do with. It sounds good – but the imbalances are creating hazardous challenges with significant implications at home and overseas. – Pieter Bottelier

Isn’t  the “solution”to buy American homes and businesses?

and

thinking about Michel Serres. The idea that the basketball is not the game,that most of us see the ball but not the game, that real wealth goes to the game owner.. hence the producer is outdone by the market maker.

Notes aug 24 2008

August 24, 2008 § Leave a comment

and

According to conservative commentator and former presidential candidate Pat Buchanan, Sen. John McCain’s chief foreign policy adviser Randy Scheunemann is a ‘dual loyalist,’ ‘neocon warmonger’ involved in activities that ‘none dare call treason.’
Scheunemann’s former employer, Orion Strategies, is a lobbying firm with strong ties to Mikheil Saakashvili’s administration in Georgia.
Since Georgia attempted to retake South Ossetia by force, triggering a sharp, violent rebuke by Russian forces, Sen. McCain has been by far the most strident advocate of US support for the former Soviet state. And his top adviser, says Buchanan, may well be the next Henry Kissinger or Zbigniew Brzezinski.
“He is a dual loyalist, a foreign agent whose assignment is to get America committed to spilling the blood of her sons for client regimes who have made this moral mercenary a rich man,” he wrote.
In his recent history, Scheunemann was a key member of the Project for a New American Century (PNAC), which lobbied President Clinton for war with Iraq for years before the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. He was also a signatory on a letter to President George W. Bush, just days after the terrorist attacks, demanding an invasion of Iraq and threatening political consequences if the president did not comply.
In addition, Scheunemann served as executive director of Ahmad Chalabi’s group, “The Committee for Liberation of Iraq,” a pro-war organization formed in 2002. Chalabi, once dubbed the “George Washington of Iraq,” has since been accused of providing false information to US authorities and is currently under investigation.
“Most important, Scheunemann’s former lobbying firm, Orion Strategies, received at lest $800,000 from the government of Georgia between 2004 and May 15, 2008, when Scheunemann finally severed his ties — officially, at least — to the firm,”
notes The Nation. “Before that, between January 1, 2007, and May 15, 2008, Scheunemann was officially on the payroll as both Georgia’s lobbyist and McCain’s top adviser, during which time Georgia paid Orion and $290,000 and McCain paid him $70,000.”

and from Washington Monthly

LIFE IMITATING ART…. With Joe Biden joining the Democratic ticket, the race is on … for the perfect analogy. The media seems to have settled on Biden taking on a role similar to that of the current vice president. “Is Biden the new Cheney?” seems to be a very common question this morning.

But as silly as this may sound, the first name that came to my mind wasn’t Cheney, it was McGarry. As in Leo McGarry.

Everyone remembers the seventh season of “The West Wing,” right? A young, charismatic, relatively inexperienced member of Congress, who happens to be part of a minority group, endures through a lengthy and contentious Democratic primary season, and defies the odds against a better known and better tested party favorite to win the nomination. Waiting for him is an older Republican senator from out west, who’s occasionally rankled various constituencies in his own party.

Ring a bell?

And what, pray tell, does the captivating Democratic candidate do when it comes time to pick a running mate? He chooses an older member of the party establishment, with a background in foreign policy, who helps bring heft to the ticket.

Sure, the parallels are far from exact, but am I the only one who thought of this?

and

Describing his approach as “macroprudential regulation,” Mr. Bernanke said the effort “would involve an attempt by regulators to develop a more fully integrated overview of the entire financial system.”

and

A quote from Bloomberg: Freddie, Fannie Failure Could Be World `Catastrophe,’ Yu Says

“If the U.S. government allows Fannie and Freddie to fail and international investors are not compensated adequately, the consequences will be catastrophic,” [Yu Yongding, a former adviser to China’s central bank] said in e-mailed answers to questions yesterday. “If it is not the end of the world, it is the end of the current international financial system.’

And from the WaPo: Treasury’s Vigil On Fannie, Freddie

A top concern of Treasury Secretary Henry M. Paulson Jr. as he ponders whether to pull the trigger on a rescue plan for mortgage financiers Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac is the fate of its “preferred” shareholders, which include regional and community banks across the nation and central banks around the world, according to private analysts who closely follow the department.

Treasury officials are worried that a sell-off of these [preferred] shares poses serious risks to the broader financial system, the analysts said.

notes aug 23, 2008

August 23, 2008 § Leave a comment

Rick Perlstein | August 18, 2008

Progressive political change in American history is rarely incremental. With important exceptions, most of the reforms that have advanced our nation’s status as a modern, liberalizing social democracy were pushed through during narrow windows of progressive opportunity — which subsequently slammed shut with the work not yet complete. The post–Civil War reconstruction of the apartheid South, the Progressive Era remaking of the institutions of democratic deliberation, the New Deal, the Great Society: They were all blunt shocks. Then, before reformers knew what had happened, the seemingly sturdy reform mandate faded and Washington returned to its habits of stasis and reaction.

The Oval Office’s most effective inhabitants have always understood this. Franklin D. Roosevelt hurled down executive orders and legislative proposals like thunderbolts during his First Hundred Days, hardly slowing down for another four years before his window slammed shut; Lyndon Johnson, aided by John F. Kennedy’s martyrdom and the landslide of 1964, legislated at such a breakneck pace his aides were in awe. Both presidents understood that there are too many choke points — our minority-enabling constitutional system, our national tendency toward individualism, and our concentration of vested interests — to make change possible any other way.

That is a fact. A fact too many Democrats have trained themselves to ignore.

snip — whole article here:

http://www.prospect.org/cs/articles?article=a_liberal_shock_doctrine

and

 Charles Levinson writes in USA Today that Bush literally bought some time. “Iraq initially wanted all combat troops out by the end of 2009, but agreed to push the date to 2011 after the U.S. agreed to protect Iraqi funds in U.S. banks from being seized by creditors,” Levinson writes, citing a Maliki aid.

notes aug 21

August 22, 2008 § Leave a comment

good paper on housing. pdf only.

Understanding Recent Trends in House Prices and Home Ownership

One reason we are week in understanding this economy goes back to y2k, where the recognition of interdependencies drove much of the remediation. Here falling incomes lead to falling spending lead to less business in restaurants leads to lease non-renewalleads to mall closures… the cycle is much more intense than in the past.

Information defeats time-lag and makes  everything happen all at once.

A reciprocal relationship between time and information?

and via Calculated risk, From Bloomberg: Commercial-Mortgage Bond Spreads Soar on Harlem Loan (hat tip Bob_in_MA)

Yields on commercial real estate securities relative to benchmarks rose to near record highs amid concern that Riverton Apartments, a high-rise complex in Manhattan’s Harlem neighborhood, will default on a loan.

At Riverton, income projections (pro forma) factored in converting rent- stabilized apartments to market rates. … The borrower burned through a $19 million reserve to cover the shortfall in cash flow that was expected from initially lower rent payments …
“We expect that additional pro forma loans will likely suffer a fate similar to Riverton Apartments,” … Lehman analysts wrote.

The rent goes to pay interest. This is a good example of how lots of money could be made with a small investment, and,and,it shows how much  what we spend is turned into interest, that is, profit and income. The percentage of all income in the us from such transactions is high.

 

thinking about the economy

Shirky believes that “we can take advantage of our cognitive surplus, but only if we start regarding pure consumption as an anomaly, and broad participation as the norm. This not a dispassionate argument, because the stakes are so high. We don’t get to decide whether we want a new society. The changes we are under can’t be rolled back, nor contained in the present institutional frameworks. What we might get to decide is how we want this change to turn out.”

notes aug 21 2008

August 21, 2008 § Leave a comment

and from Talkingpoints

A good summary of the danger, from Max Bergmann at DemocracyArsenal

The big concern with a McCain presidency – a concern which I am surprised has not been vocalized more fully – is that the U.S. will lurch from crisis to crisis, confrontation to confrontation, whether it be with Iran, North Korea, Russia, Syria, Saudi Arabia, etc. The danger is that McCain’s pundit-like rhetoric will entrap the U.S. in descending spiral of foreign policy brinksmanship. Just think about the very likely scenario of McCain giving Iran/Russia a rhetorical ultimatum and Iran/Russia ignoring it. Now we are stuck – either we lose face by not following through on our threats or we follow through and go to war. We can’t afford such a reckless approach after the last eight years. For the next eight we need a president not a pundit.

If we go back to the Bush elections, nothing much was made by his ignorance and lack of capacity frame things.  In 2000 it was as if, with the new millennium,there were no issues on the horizon that required a real presidential response.By 2004 Kerry looked as weak if not weaker.

Now we have two kinds of “strong” candidates, one episodic,lurching, the other cerebral and self confident. In both cases the relation to complex reality is not obvious.

and

California budget.

This is very serious, foster home parents not being paid, medical suppliers to hospitals not being paid. No contractos being paid, all project stopped in midflight.

Reconstructing these when the budget gets passed (??) will be a mess.

This is an early warning of what the shifting tectonic plates of a depleted society  look like,as the real scramble is on for who wins and loses in the game of musical chairs where we now have fewer chairs.

I think the “adjustments” will be ugly and dramatic.

and from Asian Times

Economies in Asia
meet gravity

Asian economies are losing their vibrant growth as they feel the impact of slowdowns in the United States and Europe. Intra-Asian trade will offer little in the way of an alternative stimulus, while further reforms are overdue, and much needed, in India and China.

Afghan numbers don’t add up
From the North Atlantic Treaty Organization to think-tanks, the consensus is that more troops must be sent to Afghanistan to counter the spiraling insurgency. The emergence of warlords on the side of the Taliban, though, has added a new dimension to the struggle, and one which cannot easily be countered by placing more boots on the battlefield. – Syed Saleem Shahzad

Apocalypse later
It’s the year 2016 and a professional futurologist looks back at some unfortunate predictions made in 2008. He explains how the Chicken Littles were just as far from the mark about dramatic change as the Panglossian utopians, and that a different kind of apocalypse, the slow-motion kind, is what really happened to the world. – John Feffer

and

since the neo con strategy on the one side and Bryzhinski(sp)’s Chess Board of   central asia, Pakistan is a good keystone for the world’s future difficulties.
Here is a good article that gives some perspective on the issues.
http://www.dailykos.com/storyonly/2008/8/21/95553/4108/836/571737

 

and

interesting that the longest lasting human artifacts are poems and stone structures – and maybe political ideas.

and

The tragedy of the commons and the Ugly American show the same problem.

The commons was well managed by the ordinary farmers: it was the elites who took it over and ruined it.

The ugly American was the hero of the book, not the enemy.

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