The 8 A.M. Call Some understanding of economic reality would be an asset to a presidential candidate, but only one of the three main contenders appears to possess it. nytimes.com|By Paul Krugman

“Back in 2008, one of the ads Hillary Clinton ran during the contest for the Democratic nomination featured an imaginary scene in which the White House phone rings at 3 a.m. with news of a foreign crisis, and asked, “Who do you want answering that phone?” It was a fairly mild jab at Barack Obama’s lack of foreign policy experience.

As it turned out, once in office Mr. Obama, a notably coolheaded type who listens to advice, handled foreign affairs pretty well — or at least that’s how I see it. But asking how a would-be president might respond to crises is definitely fair game.

And military emergencies aren’t the only kind of crisis to worry about. That 3 a.m. call is one thing; but what about the 8 a.m. call – the one warning that financial markets will melt down as soon as they open?”

Some understanding of economic reality would be an asset to a presidential candidate, but only one of the three main contenders appears to possess it.
nytimes.com|By Paul Krugman

America’s Stacked Deck Voters are right to be angry and demand change, but scapegoating isn’t the answer. nytimes.com|By Nicholas Kristof

Saint Nick: “It seems to me to make more sense to target solutions than scapegoats, but sense is often in short supply in politics. After a characteristically brilliant speech by Adlai Stevenson, the Democratic nominee for president in 1952 and 1956, a supporter is said to have bellowed, “Every thinking American will vote for you!”

Legend has it that Stevenson shouted back: “That’s not enough. I need a majority!”

In the solutions domain, a starting point should be to reduce the influence of money in politics.

The pharmaceutical industry, for example, has used its lobbying heft — it spent $272,000 in campaign donations per member of Congress last year, and it has more lobbyists than there are members of Congress — to bar the government from bargaining for drug prices in Medicare. That amounts to a $50 billion annual gift to pharmaceutical companies.”

Voters are right to be angry and demand change, but scapegoating isn’t the answer.
nytimes.com|By Nicholas Kristof

Don’t Break Up the Banks. They’re Not Our Real Problem. A protagonist of “The Big Short” argues that the attention paid to the banks distracts us from the real economic challenge we face. nytimes.com|By Steve Eisman

This important piece supports Hillary Clinton over Bernie Sanders.
The comment I borrow below suggests that there is a middle position between the two candidates, that includes reinstating Glass-Steagall, which Sanders and I support.

A protagonist of “The Big Short” argues that the attention paid to the banks distracts us from the real economic challenge we face.
nytimes.com|By Steve Eisman

 

Aram Hollman

Arlington, MA 23 hours ago

In objecting to proposals to break up the big banks, Steve Eisman blames factors other than bank size for the 2007 crash, including excess leverage, a vast expansion of subprime loans, willfully bad loan underwriting, willfully bad lowering of credit standards, bank deregulation, and inadequate enforcement of existing regulations.

What he ignores is that these abuses were a direct result of excessive bank size. Large and politically powerful banks got themselves deregulated, got Congress to cut regulatory budgets, and engaged in regulatory arbitrage. Smaller banks couldn’t do those things. Only large banks could engage in excess borrowing at lower rates due to their size, safe in the knowledge that they were too big to fail.

Any bank, large or small, could engage in bad loan underwriting and inappropriate lowering of credit standards. But large banks could hide those activities more easily and for longer than small ones. And only large banks could engage in some of the criminal activity for which they were only minimally prosecuted, e.g. collusion in setting LIBOR and other interbanks loan rates, paying off the ratings agencies, and deceitfully marketing derivatives and junk bonds.

In short, bank size matters, a lot. Size is a necessary condition for some of the bank abuses that occurred. Size makes other abuses easier to engage in.

The abuses that Eisman describes go along with excessive bank size, and are good reason for breaking up big banks.

How Change Happens Idealism is nice, but it’s not a virtue without tough minded realism. nytimes.com|By Paul Krugman

Paul Krugman writes: “Just to be clear: I’m not saying that someone like Mr. Sanders is unelectable, although Republican operatives would evidently rather face him than Mrs. Clinton — they know that his current polling is meaningless, because he has never yet faced their attack machine. But even if he was to become president, he would end up facing the same harsh realities that constrained Mr. Obama.”

Idealism is nice, but it’s not a virtue without tough minded realism.
nytimes.com|By Paul Krugman

Time for a Republican Conspiracy! -David Brooks,  The New York Times

“Reality-based conservatives should mobilize against the hijacking of our party.”

Source: Time for a Republican Conspiracy! – The New York Times

Good afternoon Mr. Brooks. Great points. And, I hope you are reading all the articulate comments here in the NYT in the comments section pointing out that moderates like you have been asleep for too many years to probably inflate this ship of fools and fascists now led by Trump and Cruz. God help us if they win! And C D E and F are not that different on key points like climate change.

I share your desire to save the Republican party. We should work to have both the house and the senate turn Democratic, ungerrymander the country, and undo the Citizens United fiasco. Now that you have woken up, join the intellctual middle.

Republicans’ Lust for Gold – Paul Krugman, in The New York Times

“As I said, this hard-money orthodoxy is relatively new. Republicans used to base their monetary recommendations on the ideas of Milton Friedman, who opposed Keynesian policies to fight depressions, but only because he thought easy money could do the job better, and who called on Japan to adopt the same strategy of “quantitative easing” that today’s Republicans denounce.George W. Bush’s economists praised the “aggressive monetary policy” that, they declared, had helped the economy recover from the 2001 recession. And Mr. Bush appointed Ben Bernanke, who used to consider himself a Republican, to lead the Fed.”

Source: Republicans’ Lust for Gold – The New York Times

Confirm President Obama’s Judges. Republicans angry at President Obama are blocking votes on qualified nominees, even as a backlog of court cases grows. nytimes.com|By THE EDITORIAL BOARD

My comment at the NYT, better read after the excellent editorial bellow.
I don’t find the behavior of the Republicans here blocking judicial nominations juvenile, I find it Orwellian, tending to fascism.
Five Stars for Tom Friedman last week, who wrote: “And the new House speaker, Paul Ryan, who isn’t even running, has joined in. Ryan described Obama’s decision to kill the Keystone XL pipeline project as “sickening,” adding: “If the president wants to spend the rest of his time in office catering to special interests, that’s his choice to make. But it’s just wrong.
That is truly Orwellian: At a time when the G.O.P. has become a wholly owned subsidiary of the oil and gas industry, Ryan accuses Obama of catering to special interests; he calls the president’s decision to block a pipeline to transport tar sands oil, one of the dirtiest fuels in the world, “sickening” and labels combating climate change a “special interest.” This guy belongs in the Republican debates.”
Orwellian behavior involves deceit or skulduggery for the growth of one faction against another. It is the opposite of true respect for the democratic process. I think what we are seeing from this group of Republicans, is behavior that would destroy the democracy if it could, since it has no respect for that democracy.

Republicans angry at President Obama are blocking votes on qualified nominees, even as a backlog of court cases grows.
nytimes.com|By THE EDITORIAL BOARD

Obama Legacy in State Offices: A Shrinking Democratic Share – The New York Times

Is this problem due to Obama, or Citizen’s United?

“While Mr. Obama’s 2008 election helped usher in a political resurgence for Democrats, the president today presides over a shrinking party whose control of elected offices at the state and local levels has declined precipitously. In January, Republicans will occupy 32 of the nation’s governorships, 10 more than they did in 2009. Democratic losses in state legislatures under Mr. Obama rank among the worst in the last 115 years, with 816 Democratic lawmakers losing their jobs and Republican control of legislatures doubling since the president took office — more seats lost than under any president since Dwight D. Eisenhower.”

Source: Obama Legacy in State Offices: A Shrinking Democratic Share – The New York Times

Voters, You Can Have Everything! There’s no end to the promises of the presidential candidates. nytimes.com|By Thomas L. Friedman

Five Stars for Tom Friedman, who writes about last night’s Republican presidential debate: “And the new House speaker, Paul Ryan, who isn’t even running, has joined in. Ryan described Obama’s decision to kill the Keystone XL pipeline project as “sickening,” adding: “If the president wants to spend the rest of his time in office catering to special interests, that’s his choice to make. But it’s just wrong.

“That is truly Orwellian: At a time when the G.O.P. has become a wholly owned subsidiary of the oil and gas industry, Ryan accuses Obama of catering to special interests; he calls the president’s decision to block a pipeline to transport tar sands oil, one of the dirtiest fuels in the world, “sickening” and labels combating climate change a “special interest.” This guy belongs in the Republican debates.”

…….”And finally, with carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere having just reached heights not seen in millennium, if we want to “manage the unavoidable” effects of climate change and “avoid the unmanageable” ones, it will surely require a price on carbon — soon.”

Orwellian is a great term to describe many of the Republican positions outlined by the candidates running for president. Marco Rubio gave me the creeps, saying such nonsense as, we will take out ISIS, or be taken out by them. Such war mongering and scare mongering is also Orwellian, which means, fascist, or tending towards fascism. With this young tough, world war III is just around the corner. Carly Fiorina was frightening, accusing the extraordinary Hillary Clinton of being a liar. This from the woman who made up horrible scenes in film clips about false and trumped up charges against Planned Parenthood, and that she was a great leader at Hewlett Packard, where she was fired, and in four bad years brought the stock price down 50%.  What ugly Orwellian chutzpah. Climate change and over population were the only true elephants in the room, and these candidates are clowns who profess to believe climate change is a hoax, and not caused by human activity.

John Kasich sounded down right presidential, when he said, let me take you for a tour around the world. He complimented President Obama for his restraint, and explained quickly how dangerous all the quagmires in the world are, and that for such places like the Ukraine, we should help arm them, and let our allies in Europe step up.

There’s no end to the promises of the presidential candidates.
nytimes.com|By Thomas L. Friedman