Dr. Krugman's latest column -- please follow link to original
Keynes Was Right
By PAUL KRUGMAN
“The boom, not the slump, is the right time for austerity at the Treasury.” So declared John Maynard Keynes in 1937, even as F.D.R. was about to prove him right by trying to balance the budget too soon, sending the United States economy — which had been steadily recovering up to that point — into a severe recession. Slashing government spending in a depressed economy depresses the economy further; austerity should wait until a strong recovery is well under way.
Unfortunately, in late 2010 and early 2011, politicians and policy makers in much of the Western world believed that they knew better, that we should focus on deficits, not jobs, even though our economies had barely begun to recover from the slump that followed the financial crisis. And by acting on that anti-Keynesian belief, they ended up proving Keynes right all over again.
In declaring Keynesian economics vindicated I am, of course, at odds with conventional wisdom. In Washington, in particular, the failure of the Obama stimulus package to produce an employment boom is generally seen as having proved that government spending can’t create jobs. But those of us who did the math realized, right from the beginning, that the Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (more than a third of which, by the way, took the relatively ineffective form of tax cuts) was much too small given the depth of the slump. And we also predicted the resulting political backlash.
So the real test of Keynesian economics hasn’t come from the half-hearted efforts of the U.S. federal government to boost the economy, which were largely offset by cuts at the state and local levels. It has, instead, come from European nations like Greece and Ireland that had to impose savage fiscal austerity as a condition for receiving emergency loans — and have suffered Depression-level economic slumps, with real G.D.P. in both countries down by double digits.
This wasn’t supposed to happen, according to the ideology that dominates much of our political discourse. In March 2011, the Republican staff of Congress’s Joint Economic Committee released a report titled “Spend Less, Owe Less, Grow the Economy.” It ridiculed concerns that cutting spending in a slump would worsen that slump, arguing that spending cuts would improve consumer and business confidence, and that this might well lead to faster, not slower, growth.
They should have known better even at the time: the alleged historical examples of “expansionary austerity” they used to make their case had already been thoroughly debunked. And there was also the embarrassing fact that many on the right had prematurely declared Ireland a success story, demonstrating the virtues of spending cuts, in mid-2010, only to see the Irish slump deepen and whatever confidence investors might have felt evaporate.
Amazingly, by the way, it happened all over again this year. There were widespread proclamations that Ireland had turned the corner, proving that austerity works — and then the numbers came in, and they were as dismal as before.
Yet the insistence on immediate spending cuts continued to dominate the political landscape, with malign effects on the U.S. economy. True, there weren’t major new austerity measures at the federal level, but there was a lot of “passive” austerity as the Obama stimulus faded out and cash-strapped state and local governments continued to cut.
Now, you could argue that Greece and Ireland had no choice about imposing austerity, or, at any rate, no choices other than defaulting on their debts and leaving the euro. But another lesson of 2011 was that America did and does have a choice; Washington may be obsessed with the deficit, but financial markets are, if anything, signaling that we should borrow more.
Again, this wasn’t supposed to happen. We entered 2011 amid dire warnings about a Greek-style debt crisis that would happen as soon as the Federal Reserve stopped buying bonds, or the rating agencies ended our triple-A status, or the superdupercommittee failed to reach a deal, or something. But the Fed ended its bond-purchase program in June; Standard & Poor’s downgraded America in August; the supercommittee deadlocked in November; and U.S. borrowing costs just kept falling. In fact, at this point, inflation-protected U.S. bonds pay negative interest: investors are willing to pay America to hold their money.
The bottom line is that 2011 was a year in which our political elite obsessed over short-term deficits that aren’t actually a problem and, in the process, made the real problem — a depressed economy and mass unemployment — worse.
The good news, such as it is, is that President Obama has finally gone back to fighting against premature austerity — and he seems to be winning the political battle. And one of these years we might actually end up taking Keynes’s advice, which is every bit as valid now as it was 75 years ago.
See -- it's NOT just those Catholics -- all sorts of "religious" people like to use their power to abuse other folks. Those men were supposed to be "adults" -- that usually means having a measure of integrity, honor, and respect for other folks. These men obviously had nothing like that.
Florida evangelical pastors charged with sex crimes
Two Evangelical youth pastors and the head football coach at George Jenkins High School in Lakeland FL have been arrested and charged with separate sex crimes related to minors, according to Polk County authorities.
Polk County Sheriff's deputies arrested Coach Matthew Thompson, 30, at his apartment in Lakeland on December 14. He stands charged with two counts of sexual battery by a person of custodial authority. Investigators claim that the coach had sex several times with one of his 17-year-old female students. They apparently found messages texted by the ill-starred pair about an alleged tryst. The 17-year-old girl had spent several spent several days with Thompson at his apartment and was able to describe his bedroom.
On the same day, Polk County authorities announced the November 30 arrest of two First Assembly of God youth pastors in nearby Mulberry. Edward Demoreta, 30, and Ricard Navarro, 27, were arrested for alleged abuse of the same minor. Demoreta, a teacher employed by Florida Virtual School, is charged with three counts of lewd battery on a victim between 12 and 15 years old. The girl allegedly abused by Demoreta said she performed sexual acts with Demoreta in his classroom at Mulberry Middle School, in his car on the way home from church, also at the First Assembly of God church, where he was a youth pastor. A married man, Demoreta fessed up to his crimes. Navarro, also a former youth pastor at the same Evangelical church, is facing three felony charges, including one count of lewd or lascivious behavior with a victim between 12 and 16 years old. He apparently abused the same girl, and has since confessed to the charges.
This from "Talking Points Memo" -- more on Ron Paul. Interesting, don't you think?
By the way, there are a lot more folks that WANT this than most folks think.
They are quite vocal outside of "known liberal haunts".
If you expose their outrageous views, you will often find YOURSELF branded as some sort of "extremist" -- even though you have neither said nor done anything "extreme". After all, they recognize that other person as a "Christian" - and "respect his beliefs" -- while you (me, in this case) are a rabble-rousing non-christian -- and most likely lesbian, thus making ANYTHING you say "questionable" -- even though you use the other persons written words as your proof. To all "reasonable folks", who think this "impossible" -- be aware, and beware.
Please follow link to original
Death Penalty For Gays: Ron Paul Courts The Religious Fringe In Iowa
Ron Paul has faced a torrent of criticism in recent weeks over newsletters printed in his name during the 1980s and 1990s which contained racist, anti-semitic, and homophobic content. He is also on the hook for accepting the support of fringe right-wing groups. While Paul dismisses these concerns, his campaign seems to have no problem working with and enjoying the support of anti-gay extremists, including one supporter who has called for the implementation of the death penalty for homosexual behavior.
Paul’s Iowa chair, Drew Ivers, recently touted the endorsement of Rev. Phillip G. Kayser, a pastor at the Dominion Covenant Church in Nebraska who also draws members from Iowa, putting out a press release praising “the enlightening statements he makes on how Ron Paul’s approach to government is consistent with Christian beliefs.” But Kayser’s views on homosexuality go way beyond the bounds of typical anti-gay evangelical politics and into the violent fringe: he recently authored a paper arguing for criminalizing homosexuality and even advocated imposing the death penalty against offenders based on his reading of Biblical law.
“Difficulty in implementing Biblical law does not make non-Biblical penology just,” he argued. “But as we have seen, while many homosexuals would be executed, the threat of capital punishment can be restorative. Biblical law would recognize as a matter of justice that even if this law could be enforced today, homosexuals could not be prosecuted for something that was done before.”
Reached by phone, Kayser confirmed to TPM that he believed in reinstating Biblical punishments for homosexuals — including the death penalty — even if he didn’t see much hope for it happening anytime soon. While he said he and Paul disagree on gay rights, noting that Paul recently voted for repealing Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, he supported the campaign because he believed Paul’s federalist take on the Constitution would allow states more latitude to implement fundamentalist law. Especially since under Kayser’s own interpretation of the Constitution there is no separation of Church and State.
“Under a Ron Paul presidency, states would be freed up to not have political correctness imposed on them, but obviously some state would follow what’s politically correct,” he said. “What he’s trying to do, whether he agrees with the Constitution’s position or not, is restrict himself to the Constitution. That is something I very much appreciate.”
Kayser’s allegiance to the Paul campaign may reflect who the campaign has chosen to sell Paul to the churches. Mike Heath, who became Ron Paul’s Iowa state director this fall, has spent his career on the Christian right. In Iowa, Heath has focused on outreach to the religious community in the state, where Paul has made an effort to target evangelical voters.
Heath spent 14 years running the Christian Civic League of Maine (which has since changed its name). As a prominent figure in Maine, Heath slowly alienated the Christian right in the state with his extreme tactics. In 2004, for example, he launched a witch hunt to out gay members of the Maine legislature, asking supporters, according to the Portland Press Herald, to “e-mail us tips, rumors, speculation and facts” regarding the sexual orientation of the state’s political leaders, adding, “We are, of course, most interested in the leaders among us who want to overturn marriage, eliminate the mother/father family as the ideal, etc.” The result was that his own organization suspended him for a month.
“He’s a well-known conspiracy theorist about the ‘gay agenda,’” says Travis Kennedy, chief of staff for the House Democratic Office in Maine, who says Heath was a big figure around the capital for many years. Heath made more enemies than friends, says Kennedy, whose “offensive and aggressive” tactics put off even his allies on the Christian right. In 2007, Heath played a big part in opposing a sexual orientation anti-discrimination ballot measure which ultimately passed by a wide margin. On Heath’s new job in Iowa, Kennedy said, “I’m not surprised he’d be hired in a state far away from Maine. He has a pretty poor reputation around here.”
From 2008-2010, Heath served as chairman of the board of Americans for Truth About Homosexuality. AFTAH is a fringe, anti-gay organization and has been listed as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center for promoting false information. For example, the organization and its founder, Peter LaBarbera, have published false reports about LGBT people, including allegations that they live shorter lives and that they are prone to pedophilia. LaBarbera disputes the SPLC’s label.
“Peter LaBarbera is among the most fringe elements of the anti-gay industry in America today,” Michael Cole-Schwartz, spokesman for the Human Rights Campaign, wrote in an email to TPM. “You’d be hard pressed to find another group that is so singularly focused on telling lies about LGBT Americans.”
It’s unclear if Ron Paul ascribes to some of Heath’s anti-gay beliefs. Paul’s newsletters do contain several quotes smearing gay Americans as well as the AIDS epidemic. Recently, a disenchanted former Paul aide described an instance when Paul refused to use the bathroom of a gay supporter. But whatever Paul’s beliefs, Heath’s work on his campaign is another strike against a candidate with a history of associating with fringe elements of the right.
Neither the Paul campaign nor Mike Heath responded to requests for comment.
This from "The Baseline Scenario" -- proof it pays to actually read, and know history. -- please follow link to original
State of Nature
By James Kwak
I’ve been reading a lot of books lately, some of which I’ve mentioned here: The Submerged State by Suzanne Mettler, Invisible Hands by Kim Phillips-Fein, The Wealth and Poverty of Nations (finally) by David Landes, Exorbitant Privilege by Barry Eichengreen, and a pile of books on the national debt and deficit politics. (Despite moonlighting as a blogger, I find books more satisfying than the constant stream of newspapers, magazines, and blogs.) But my favorite book I’ve read in a while is Railroaded: The Transcontinentals and the Making of Modern America, by the historian Richard White.*
For some people, most notably Rick Perry but also much of the conservative base, the late nineteenth century was the golden age: of the gold standard, no income tax, senators elected by state legislatures, and, most importantly, little to no government “regulation” of business. White shows what that world was really like.
The book focuses on the “transcontinentals”—railroads that began West of the Mississippi and ran to the Pacific. These railroads have often ben heralded as great achievements of entrepreneurial capitalism and the first modern corporations. Not so much, White argues.
First of all, the transcontinental railroads were a poor use of capital. There simply wasn’t enough transcontinental traffic to warrant any transcontinental railroads, let alone so many. Even in the late nineteenth century, it was cheaper to send goods by steamship (with an overland journey in Panama). The railroads only survive because the Pacific Mail was a “lazy and corrupt” company. The railroads bribed the steamship company by overpaying for capacity, and in return the Pacific Mail kept prices high enough so the railroads could “compete.”
So how did unnecessary, inefficient railroads get built? Because of government subsidies. In short, the federal government paid to build the railroads through massive financing subsidies and also gave them ample land grants. The trick to building a railroad was not knowing anything about railroads or even about business; it was having friends in Washington who could give you the right financing and land subsidies.
Even then, the railroads lost money. Not only was there insufficient demand for their services, but they were run by people who were generally incompetent. (For one thing, they didn’t even know their own costs of doing business.) Yet the people who owned the railroads made fabulous amounts of money (of which Stanford University is one symbol). The main way to do this was simple. The people who controlled a railroad (generally by putting up very little of their own money, thanks to the government subsidies) would also wholly own a construction company. They would cause the railroad to overpay the construction company to build the railroad—in effect transferring wealth from railroad stockholders and creditors into their own pockets. Another scheme was to buy up land along future railroad routes that only they knew to make an easy profit. Only slightly riskier were schemes to make money by using insider information to trade in securities of their own companies.
The railroads themselves also put the lie to the myth of the efficient, modern corporation. Executives had virtually no control over what went on in the field. Jobs were treated as a form of patronage, with rampant nepotism. Corruption existed on all levels, with station agents routinely pocketing a share of revenues. Competition failed to impose discipline: when one railroad lost traffic to another, it would simply overbuild in another place to compensate, leading to even more overcapacity. The only solution was cartels, but even those failed because the railroad heads were too incompetent to figure out a way to restrain their own behavior.
All along the way, you also see the other consequences of concentrated power, enormous wealth, and political protection. Railroads resisted installing automatic train couplers for decades, resulting in many unnecessary deaths. The railroads interfered in other markets by setting rates in a discriminatory fashion, influencing what crops farmers produced and determining which competitors won and lost. Through it all, you see rich people surrounded by circles of flatterers and yes-men who despise them behind their backs.
This is what the golden age of unregulated capitalism looked like. It’s also the world we’re heading towards: one where inefficient corporations run by incompetent bunglers make huge piles of money for a chosen few executives and owners by buying politicians (completely legally, thanks to Citizens United), shifting losses onto outsiders and imposing costs on the rest of society. If this sounds like hyperbole, just think about the financial crisis.
This from "Daily Kos" -- follow link to original
Presented without comment:
“Every barrel of oil that comes out of those sands in Canada is a barrel of oil that we don’t have to buy from a foreign source,” Mr. Perry said in Clarinda, earning a loud round of enthusiastic applause.
I can't imagine why the Republicans aren't rallying around this guy. He's perfect for them.
Then there are some comments -- what I think some folks missed is that "foreign" is "code" for brown, South American, or brownish Muslim Middle Eastern folks.
Canada, by definition is "White" -- it's populated by folks "like us" -- not them "dangerous furriners"
So, hjow does this "austerity leads to prosperity" thing work? Is it a slow cruel form of population control, or just a way for Germany to complete the work begun by The Third Reich?
This from "The Guardian" - please follow link to original
Greek economic crisis turns tragic for children abandoned by their families
Nation shocked by stories of parents forced to give up children because of poverty – but charities warn of more cases to come
Even before Greece's economic crisis engulfed his own home, Dimitris Gasparinatos found it hard to provide for his six sons and four daughters. His wife, Christina, who was struggling to make ends meet with his salary of €960 (£800) a month and welfare aid of about €460 every two months, was unhappy and desperate.
Deep in debt, the couple owed money to the butcher, baker and grocer – the very people who had kept them going in the port of Patras, west of Athens. In their tiny flat, the family slipped increasingly into a life of squalor.
"Psychologically we were all in a bit of a mess," said Gasparinatos. "We were sleeping on mattresses on the floor, the rent hadn't been paid for months, something had to be done."
And so, with Christmas approaching, the 42-year-old took the decision to put in an official request for three of his boys and one daughter to be taken into care.
"The crisis had killed us. I am ashamed to say but it had got to the point where I couldn't even afford the €2 needed to buy bread," he told the Guardian. "We didn't want to break up the family but we did think it would be easier for them if four of my children were sent to an institution for maybe two or three years."
The next day, his 37-year-old wife visited the local town hall and asked that her children be "saved".
"She was visibly distraught," said Theoharis Massaras, the local deputy mayor and director of social works. "Requests for support have shot up. Last year we sent food to 400 families in Patras at Christmas. This year, 1,200 asked for help and they weren't what I'd call traditionally low-income people. Many had good jobs until this year when their shops and businesses closed.
"But to be asked to take children away was something new. When we visited their home and saw the situation for ourselves, the third world conditions, the poverty and filth, we couldn't believe our eyes."
In a nation as proud as Greece, where family always comes first, the plight of the Gasparinatoses quickly hit a nerve. Soon shocked reporters were knocking at their door. But testimony from charities, doctors and unions would attest that they are not alone.
As Greece prepares to endure a fifth consecutive year of recession, as the crisis extends its reach, as cuts take their toll, as poverty deepens and unemployment climbs, evidence is mounting that society is tearing at the seams.
Like the middle class, society's great connector, families are beginning to unravel under the weight of a crisis that, with no end in sight, is as much human as it is financial.
Tell-tale signs abound that in its quest to beat off bankruptcy, Greece is being hollowed out, a little more, with each passing day.
"People are going hungry, families are breaking up, instances are mounting of mothers and fathers no longer being able to bring up their own kids," said Ilias Ilioupolis, general secretary of the civil servants' union ADEDY. "Until now there has been a conspiracy of silence around the tragic effects of the austerity measures the IMF and EU are asking us to take."
From cases of newborn babies wrapped in swaddling and dumped on the doorsteps of clinics, to children being offloaded on charities and put in foster care, the nation's struggle to pay off its debts is assuming dramatic proportions, even if officials insist that the belt-tightening and structural reforms will eventually change the EU's most uncompetitive economy for the better.
Propelled by poverty, 500 families had recently asked to place children in homes run by the charity SOS Children's Villages, according to the Greek daily Kathimerini. One toddler was left at the nursery she attended with a note that read: "I will not return to get Anna. I don't have any money, I can't bring her up. Sorry. Her mother."
"Unfortunately, there's been a huge increase in demand from families in need," said Dimitris Tzouras, a social worker employed with the organisation for 19 years. "In the greater Attica region [of Athens], we're talking about a 100% increase partly because public welfare is in such disarray people have no one else to turn to."
Whereas in the past, pleas for help had come mostly from families where abuse was a problem, they are now from victims of the economic crisis.
"Parents who feel they can no longer look after children are calling in, but our policy is to do whatever we can to keep families united," added Tzouras. "The crisis has exacerbated underlying problems that in the past may just have threatened to tear families apart. It's not only the vulnerable. It's now affecting the middle class."
Few know more about the plight of children abandoned, abused and neglected in Greece than Costas Yannopoulos, who chairs the local charity the Smile of the Child. The Athens headquarters of his 16-year-old organisation is home to children who have endured life's worst excesses.
Inside the tidy, two-storey building are cots for babies who were abandoned in hospitals, found in windowless homes or taken from unfit parents.
Yannopoulos recalls the baby he discovered in a rubbish dump and the eight-month-old boy whose body had "turned to jelly" lying unloved in an overworked maternity ward.
"The crisis has made a bad situation worse," he sighed. "Alcoholism, drug abuse and psychiatric problems are on the rise and more and more children are being abandoned on the streets."
With the country's health system severely hit by cuts and the spectre of its economy becoming worse before it gets better, Yannopoulos has a plan to host children affected by "this war" in specially established "farms".
There is, he says, another Greece "of kindness and hospitality and caring about others" that all too often is overlooked.
Last week Dimitris Gasparinatos got good news. After learning of his family's circumstances, the wife of a wealthy Athenian businessman donated money for him to move to a new home with his wife and 10 children.
"This good woman has changed our lives. She has allowed us to hope again," he said. "The crisis has taken us places we never wanted to go. By the New Year, thanks to her, we will be in a new house, all together."
Ah yes, the good old "Desert Religions" -- it seems they HATE WOMEN an awful lot. Luckily, some folks still live in the 21st century.
This from BBC news - please follow link to original
Israelis rally against ultra-Orthodox extremism
Thousands of Israelis have held a rally in the town of Beit Shemesh against ultra-Orthodox Jewish extremism.
The protest followed clashes after an eight-year-old girl said she had been harassed on her way to school.
Some ultra-Orthodox in Beit Shemesh are seeking to segregate men and women.
President Shimon Peres has backed the protest, saying the "entire nation must be recruited in order to save the majority from the hands of a small minority".
He said the demonstration was a defence of the "character" of the state of Israel "against a minority which breaks our national solidarity".
'Afraid to go to school'
Thousands of protesters gathered in Beit Shemesh, west of Jerusalem, on Tuesday evening.
They held signs "reading "Free Israel from religious coercion" and "Stop Israel from becoming Iran" - a reference to the Islamist republic's stringent restrictions on women's freedoms.
"This thing is really big and we're fighting for something really serious," one protester, Kinneret Havern told Reuters news agency.
The rally was addressed by opposition leader Tzipi Livni, who said the protesters were "fighting for the image of the state of Israel".
"It's not just Beit Shemesh and not just gender segregation, it's all the extremist elements that are rearing their heads and are trying to impose their worldview on us," she said.
In his statement, Mr Peres said: "No person has the right to threaten a girl, a woman or any person in any way."
Tensions have been growing in recent years between Israel's secular Jews and members of the ultra-orthodox Jews who seek an strict interpretation of religious laws.
In Beit Shemesh, where the communities live in close proximity, there have been regular protests by ultra-Orthodox men outside a religious girls school against what they say is the immodest dress of the children.
Anger spilled over after a documentary was broadcast on national TV in which one of the girls, eight-year-Naama Margolese, said she was afraid to walk to school in the town because ultra-Orthodox men shouted at her.
In October, her mother told the BBC the children were facing daily abuse which was giving them nightmares.
"Whenever she hears a noise she asks, 'are they there, are they out there?'," said Hadassah Margoleese.
Other women have reported similar incidents in the town of 100,000, some 18 miles (30km) south-west of Jerusalem.
Continue reading the main story
Ultra-orthodox Jews in Israel
Ultra-orthodox Jews account for just under 10% of Israel's population
Rapidly growing community due to a high birth rate - meaning this proportion is set to double within next 20 years
Beit Shemesh, which lies about 30 km (18 miles) to the west of Jerusalem, is a city of about 100,000; Ultra-orthodox Jews account for about half of the population
Sarit Ramon described the situation in the town, where religiously observant immigrants live alongside Israelis embracing a more modern lifestyle, as having been "catastrophic for years".
Beit Shemesh resident Alisa Coleman told the BBC that she had been called a prostitute when dressed in a short-sleeved T-shirt and a skirt.
Though underlining that this behaviour was carried out by only a tiny proportion of the community, she said what was happening in Beit Shemesh was "a microcosm of what's happening in the whole country".
On Monday, one police officer was slightly hurt and a number of Orthodox Jews were detained after a group of some 300 ultra-Orthodox residents pelted police with stones and eggs in an incident reportedly triggered after police tried to remove a sign ordering segregation.
After the clashes, ultra-Orthodox activists from Beit Shemesh issued a statement condemning the violence, but also accusing the media of initiating "deliberate provocations in order to make the peaceful, quiet and tolerant residents, who live their lives according to their beliefs, look bad".
Such clashes have become more frequent in Israel in recent years as the authorities have challenged efforts by ultra-Orthodox Jews to segregate women in public places.
The BBC's Jon Donnison in Beit Shemesh says the events have highlighted what is a growing religious divide in Israel.
Ultra-Orthodox Jews make up 10% of the population in Israel. The community has a high birth rate and is growing rapidly.
The latest from Dr. Krugman's blog. Wise words. (please follow link to original)
The Defeatism of Depression
A number of people have asked me to weigh in on David Brooks’s piece today. Sorry, not gonna do a tit-for-tat. Let me instead just make a more general point.
All around, right now, there are people declaring that our best days are behind us, that the economy has suffered a general loss of dynamism, that it’s unrealistic to expect a quick return to anything like full employment. There were people saying the same thing in the 1930s! Then came the approach of World War II, which finally induced an adequate-sized fiscal stimulus — and suddenly there were enough jobs, and all those unneeded and useless workers turned out to be quite productive, thank you.
There is nothing — nothing — in what we see suggesting that this current depression is more than a problem of inadequate demand. This could be turned around in months with the right policies. Our problem isn’t, ultimately, economic; it’s political, brought on by an elite that would rather cling to its prejudices than turn the nation around.
Bob Brookmeyer was one of my favorite trombone players ever since I first heard him playing with Mulligan. Kai Winding, J.J. Johnson, Jimmy Cleveland and the ever wonderful Mr. Brookmeyer were among my all time favs. on trombone.
We lost him just before his 82nd birthday.
It is a great loss.
To those who don't know his music -- thanks to you tube, CD's, records, etc. we can hear him, and other greats almost at will. Perhaps you might be drawn to his music and buy a CD or two.
The following from The Bob Brookmeyer website -- please follow link to original
BOB BROOKMEYER (1929-2011)
12/27/2011 6:06:41 PM - It’s with great sadness that we share the news that Bob Brookmeyer passed away last night, just three days shy of his 82nd birthday. Bob was an integral force in music, making some of the greatest groups in jazz history what we know and admire today. Whether as a composer, arranger or trombonist, his voice is immediately discernible from the very first note, always bringing a smile and one word: "Brookmeyer."
For many of us, Bob has always been a tremendous inspiration and an overflowing wealth of knowledge. You'd be hard to find a large ensemble composer that doesn't have Bob's name on the top of their list of favorites. For those lucky enough to have the opportunity to study with him, we were given more than just an education in the art of being a great composer, we were given a level of both love and support that expanded far beyond the classroom. He had a wonderful ability to cultivate our inner strengths, yet pull us out of our comfort zones and stretch us farther than we could have ever imagined possible.
Bob's newest album, STANDARDS, which was officially released a few weeks ago, was a record Bob was incredibly proud of. It is a true masterpiece in every sense of the word, with each arrangement encompassing everything that is "Bob Brookmeyer."
Bob, you were an amazing force and a fearless leader to all jazz composers. Thank you for your years of inspiration, support, and for leaving a legacy of music to continually inspire us for years to come.
A great American artist has died. If you are not familiar with her work - please do so. Another link in the New York School has broken. (please follow link to the original in "The New York Times")
Helen Frankenthaler, Abstract Painter Who Shaped a Movement, Dies at 83
Helen Frankenthaler, the lyrically abstract painter whose technique of staining pigment into raw canvas helped shape an influential art movement in the mid-20th century and who became one of the most admired artists of her generation, died on Tuesday at her home in Darien, Conn. She was 83.
Her longtime assistant, Maureen St. Onge, said Ms. Frankenthaler died after a long illness but gave no other details.
Known as a second-generation Abstract Expressionist, Ms. Frankenthaler was married during the movement’s heyday to the painter Robert Motherwell, a leading first-generation member of the group. But she departed from the first generation’s romantic search for the “sublime” to pursue her own path.
Refining a technique, developed by Jackson Pollock, of pouring pigment directly onto canvas laid on the floor, Ms. Frankenthaler, heavily influencing the colorists Morris Louis and Kenneth Noland, developed a method of painting best known as Color Field — although Clement Greenberg, the critic most identified with it, called it Post-Painterly Abstraction. Where Pollock had used enamel that rested on raw canvas like skin, Ms. Frankenthaler poured turpentine-thinned paint in watery washes onto the raw canvas so that it soaked into the fabric weave, becoming one with it.
Her staining method emphasized the flat surface over illusory depth, and it called attention to the very nature of paint on canvas, a concern of artists and critics at the time. It also brought a new, open airiness to the painted surface and was credited with releasing color from the gestural approach and romantic rhetoric of Abstract Expressionism.
Ms. Frankenthaler more or less stumbled on her stain technique, she said, first using it in creating “Mountains and Sea” (1952). Produced on her return to New York from a trip to Nova Scotia, the painting is a light-struck, diaphanous evocation of hills, rocks and water. Its delicate balance of drawing and painting, fresh washes of color (predominantly blues and pinks) and breakthrough technique have made it one of her best-known works.
“The landscapes were in my arms as I did it,” Ms. Frankenthaler told an interviewer. “I didn’t realize all that I was doing. I was trying to get at something — I didn’t know what until it was manifest.”
She later described the seemingly unfinished painting — which is on long-term loan to the National Gallery of Art in Washington — as “looking to many people like a large paint rag, casually accidental and incomplete.”
Unlike many of her painter colleagues at the time, Ms. Frankenthaler, born in New York City on Dec. 12, 1928, came from a prosperous Manhattan family. She was one of three daughters of Alfred Frankenthaler, a New York State Supreme Court judge, and the former Martha Lowenstein, an immigrant from Germany. Helen, their youngest, was interested in art from early childhood, when she would dribble nail polish into a sink full of water to watch the color flow.
After graduation from the Dalton School, where she studied art with the Mexican painter Rufino Tamayo, she entered Bennington College in 1946. There the painter Paul Feeley, a thoroughgoing taskmaster, taught her “everything I know about Cubism,” she said. The intellectual atmosphere at Bennington was heady, with instructors like Kenneth Burke, Erich Fromm and Ralph Ellison setting the pace.
As a self-described “saddle-shoed girl a year out of Bennington,” Ms. Frankenthaler made her way into the burgeoning New York art world with a boost from Mr. Greenberg, whom she met in 1950 and with whom she had a five-year relationship. Through him she met crucial players like David Smith, Jackson Pollock, Willem and Elaine de Kooning and Franz Kline.
In 1951, with Mr. Greenberg’s prompting, she jointed the new Tibor de Nagy gallery, run by the ebullient aesthete John B. Myers, and had her first solo show there that year. She spent summers visiting museums in Europe, pursuing an interest in quattrocento and old master painting.
Her marriage to Mr. Motherwell in 1958 gave the couple an art-world aura. Like her, he came from a well-to-do family, and “the golden couple,” as they were known in the cash-poor and backbiting art world of the time, spent several leisurely months honeymooning in Spain and France.
In Manhattan, they removed themselves from the downtown scene and established themselves in a house on East 94th Street, where they developed a reputation for lavish entertaining. The British sculptor Anthony Caro recalled a dinner party they gave for him and his wife on their first trip to New York, in 1959. It was attended by some 100 guests, and he was seated between David Smith and the actress Hedy Lamarr.
“Helen loved to entertain,” said Ann Freedman, the former president of Knoedler & Company, Ms. Frankenthaler’s dealer until its recent closing. “She enjoyed feeding people and engaging in lively conversation. And she liked to dance. In fact, you could see it in her movements as she worked on her paintings.”
Ms. Frankenthaler’s passion for dancing was more than fulfilled in 1985 when, at a White House dinner to honor the Prince and Princess of Wales, she was partnered with a fast stepper who had been twirling the princess.
“I’d waited a lifetime for a dance like this,” she wrote in a 1997 Op-Ed article for The New York Times. “He was great!”
His name meant nothing to her until, on returning to her New York studio, she showed her assistant and a friend his card. “John Travolta,” it read.
Despite the early acknowledgment of Ms. Frankenthaler’s achievement by Mr. Greenberg and by her fellow artists, wider recognition took some time. Her first major museum show, a retrospective of her 1950s work with a catalog by the critic and poet Frank O’Hara, a curator at the Museum of Modern Art, was at the Jewish Museum in 1960. But she became better known to the art-going public after a major retrospective organized by the Whitney Museum of American Art in 1969.
Although Ms. Frankenthaler rarely discussed the sources of her abstract imagery, it reflected her impressions of landscape, her meditations on personal experience and the pleasures of dealing with paint. Visually diverse, her paintings were never produced in “serial” themes like those of her Abstract Expressionist predecessors or her Color Field colleagues like Noland and Louis. She looked on each of her works as a separate exploration.
But “Mountains and Sea” did establish many of the traits that have informed her art from the beginning, the art historian E. A. Carmean Jr. suggested. In the catalog for his 1989-90 Frankenthaler retrospective at the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, he cited the color washes, the dialogue between drawing and painting, the seemingly raw, unfinished look, and the “general theme of place” as characteristic of her work.
Besides her paintings, Ms. Frankenthaler is known for her inventive lithographs, etchings and screen prints she produced since 1961, but critics have suggested that her woodcuts have made the most original contribution to printmaking.
In making her first woodcut, “East and Beyond,” in 1973, Ms. Frankenthaler wanted to make the grainy, unforgiving wood block receptive to the vibrant color and organic, amorphous forms of her own painting. By dint of trial and error, with technical help from printmaking studios, she succeeded.
For “East and Beyond,” which depicts a radiant open space above a graceful mountainlike divide, she used a jigsaw to cut separate shapes, then printed the whole by a specially devised method to eliminate the white lines between them when put together. The result was a taut but fluid composition so refreshingly removed from traditional woodblock technique that it has had a deep influence on the medium ever since. “East and Beyond” became to contemporary printmaking in the 1970s what Ms. Frankenthaler’s paint staining in “Mountains and Sea” had been to the development of Color Field painting 20 years earlier.
In 1972, Ms. Frankenthaler made a less successful foray into sculpture, spending two weeks at Mr. Caro’s London studio. With no experience in the medium but aided by a skilled assistant, she welded together found steel parts in a way that evoked the work of David Smith.
Although she enjoyed the experience, she did not repeat it. Knoedler gave the work its first public showing in 2006.
Critics have not unanimously praised Ms. Frankenthaler’s art. Some have seen it as thin in substance, uncontrolled in method, too sweet in color and too “poetic.” But it has been far more apt to garner admirers like the critic Barbara Rose, who wrote in 1972 of Ms. Frankenthaler’s gift for “the freedom, spontaneity, openness and complexity of an image, not exclusively of the studio or the mind, but explicitly and intimately tied to nature and human emotions.”
Ms. Frankenthaler and Mr. Motherwell were divorced in 1971. In 1994 she married Stephen M. DuBrul Jr., an investment banker who had headed the Export-Import Bank during the Ford administration. Besides her husband, her survivors include two stepdaughters, Jeannie Motherwell and Lise Motherwell, and six nieces and nephews. Her two sisters, Gloria Ross Bookman and Marjorie Iseman, died before her.
In 1999, she and Mr. DuBrul bought a house in Darien, on Long Island Sound. Water, sky and their shifting light are often reflected in her later imagery.
As the years passed, her paintings seemed to make more direct references to the visible world. But they sometimes harked back to the more spontaneous, exuberant and less referential work of her earlier career.
There is “no formula,” she said in an interview in The New York Times in 2003. “There are no rules. Let the picture lead you where it must go.”
She never aligned herself with the feminist movement in art that began to surface in the 1970s. “For me, being a ‘lady painter’ was never an issue,” she was quoted as saying in John Gruen’s book “The Party’s Over Now” (1972). “I don’t resent being a female painter. I don’t exploit it. I paint.”
From Dr. Krugman's blog - please follow link to original
America Is not Exceptional
Uh-oh — Mitt Romney is going to go after me. Maybe I’d better get out of the country and start an apology tour …
Anyway, I was referring to interest rates. Ezra Klein points out, correctly, that the big economic story of 2011 was that the conventional wisdom of Washington about the urgency of deficit reduction was totally contradicted by the bond market. But Ezra makes at least a slight nod in the direction of a new conventional wisdom, which says that it’s about the unique safe haven status of the United States:
This is not, to be fair, a bet on America’s economic strength. It’s a judgment about the rest of the world’s economic weakness. U.S. Treasuries are what savvy investors buy when they’re in a canned-goods-and-ammunition sort of mood and they think gold is overvalued. But though that makes the demand we’re seeing more depressing, it doesn’t make it any less real.
What such stories miss is the fact that interest rates have dropped sharply for every country that borrows in its own currency. Here are 10-year bond rates for a sample:
Note to British readers: every time Cameron takes credit for low British rates, he’s hoping you don’t know that the same thing has been happening in every non-euro advanced country.
What we’re looking at is a world of depressed demand, where government securities look like a good buy everywhere except in countries that either don’t have their own currency or have large debts in foreign currency, making them vulnerable to self-fulfilling panic. It’s a world in which deficit obsession is mad, bad, and dangerous.
PS: Someone is going to notice that the scale for Japan is different; that’s because I just cut and pasted from Bloomberg. And there’s a very good reason why Japanese rates haven’t fallen as much as the others — the zero lower bound
Monday's column in The New York times from Paul Krugman -- please follow link to original
Springtime for Toxics
By PAUL KRUGMAN
Here’s what I wanted for Christmas: something that would make us both healthier and richer. And since I was just making a wish, why not ask that Americans get smarter, too?
Surprise: I got my wish, in the form of new Environmental Protection Agency standards on mercury and air toxics for power plants. These rules are long overdue: we were supposed to start regulating mercury more than 20 years ago. But the rules are finally here, and will deliver huge benefits at only modest cost.
So, naturally, Republicans are furious. But before I get to the politics, let’s talk about what a good thing the E.P.A. just did.
As far as I can tell, even opponents of environmental regulation admit that mercury is nasty stuff. It’s a potent neurotoxicant: the expression “mad as a hatter” emerged in the 19th century because hat makers of the time treated fur with mercury compounds, and often suffered nerve and mental damage as a result.
Hat makers no longer use mercury (and who wears hats these days?), but a lot of mercury gets into the atmosphere from old coal-burning power plants that lack modern pollution controls. From there it gets into the water, where microbes turn it into methylmercury, which builds up in fish. And what happens then? The E.P.A. explains: “Methylmercury exposure is a particular concern for women of childbearing age, unborn babies and young children, because studies have linked high levels of methylmercury to damage to the developing nervous system, which can impair children’s ability to think and learn.”
That sort of sounds like something we should regulate, doesn’t it?
The new rules would also have the effect of reducing fine particle pollution, which is a known source of many health problems, from asthma to heart attacks. In fact, the benefits of reduced fine particle pollution account for most of the quantifiable gains from the new rules. The key word here is “quantifiable”: E.P.A.’s cost-benefit analysis only considers one benefit of mercury regulation, the reduced loss in future wages for children whose I.Q.’s are damaged by eating fish caught by freshwater anglers. There are without doubt many other benefits to cutting mercury emissions, but at this point the agency doesn’t know how to put a dollar figure on those benefits.
Even so, the payoff to the new rules is huge: up to $90 billion a year in benefits compared with around $10 billion a year of costs in the form of slightly higher electricity prices. This is, as David Roberts of Grist says, a very big deal.
And it’s a deal Republicans very much want to kill.
With everything else that has been going on in U.S. politics recently, the G.O.P.’s radical anti-environmental turn hasn’t gotten the attention it deserves. But something remarkable has happened on this front. Only a few years ago, it seemed possible to be both a Republican in good standing and a serious environmentalist; during the 2008 campaign John McCain warned of the dangers of global warming and proposed a cap-and-trade system for carbon emissions. Today, however, the party line is that we must not only avoid any new environmental regulations but roll back the protection we already have.
And I’m not exaggerating: during the fight over the debt ceiling, Republicans tried to attach riders that, as Time magazine put it, would essentially have blocked the E.P.A. and the Interior Department from doing their jobs.
Oh, by the way, you may have heard reports to the effect that Jon Huntsman is different. And he did indeed once say: “Conservation is conservative. I’m not ashamed to be a conservationist.” Never mind: he, too, has been assimilated by the anti-environmental Borg, denouncing the E.P.A.’s “regulatory reign of terror,” and predicting that the new rules will cause blackouts by next summer, which would be a neat trick considering that the rules won’t even have taken effect yet.
More generally, whenever you hear dire predictions about the effects of pollution regulation, you should know that special interests always make such predictions, and are always wrong. For example, power companies claimed that rules on acid rain would disrupt electricity supply and lead to soaring rates; none of that happened, and the acid rain program has become a shining example of how environmentalism and economic growth can go hand in hand.
But again, never mind: mindless opposition to “job killing” regulations is now part of what it means to be a Republican. And I have to admit that this puts something of a damper on my mood: the E.P.A. has just done a very good thing, but if a Republican — any Republican — wins next year’s election, he or she will surely try to undo this good work.
Still, for now at least, those who care about the health of their fellow citizens, and especially of the nation’s children, have something to celebrate.
The following is from "Raw Story" - please follow link to original. It shows Newt to be a truly nasty piece of work - heaven help us if he EVER wins any elective office. Cheating scum is too kind a way to describe him. A "historian" who doesn't know history. Nasty AND a phoney. Also truly gutless. Slimeball Newty.
The complete timeline of the Gingrich divorces shows he’s not been honest with voters
Though former Rep. Newt Gingrich (R-GA) has been floating the theory that, contrary to previous news reports that he served her with divorce papers as she was recovering from ovarian cancer surgery, his first wife Jackie Battley Gingrich initiated their divorce, CNN recently recovered the files from that divorce — and they tell a very different story.
Battley Gingrich herself isn’t talking anymore, but previous news reports, combined with the new documents in the divorce, provide a timeline that doesn’t square with Gingrich’s recent attempts to rehabilitate his image by claiming the divorce was mutual and not the result of his affair.
June 14, 1962: Gingrich married Jackie Battley, when he was 19 and she was 26. She was also his then-former high school geometry teacher. Gingrich’s second wife, Marianne Ginther Gingrich, told Esquire last year that, despite what Battley and Gingrich told their families at the time, the two had been involved while Gingrich was still in high school. They had two children, and several former aides, friends and neighbors told Vanity Fair in the 1990s that Gingrich was profligately unfaithful throughout the 1970s.
January 1980: Marianne Ginther met Gingrich at a fundraiser, while Jackie and Newt were still married, and began an affair shortly thereafter.
April 1980: Gingrich approached Jackie about a divorce in April 1980, while she was recovering from the first of three surgeries for cancer. In her only interview, with the Washington Post, she recounted that he left in “spring 1980″ and presented her with divorce terms after her third surgery while at the hospital that September. “He can say that we had been talking about it for 10 years, but the truth is that it came as a complete surprise,” she told the Post.
June 14, 1980: The divorce filings, unearthed by CNN, show that Newt Gingrich left Jackie for good, 5 days before their wedding anniversary.
July 14, 1980: Newt Gingrich filed for divorce.
August 14, 1980: Jackie Battley Gingrich acknowledged receipt of the divorce filing.
September 12, 1980: Jackie Battley Gingrich’s lawyers responded to Newt’s divorce petition, contesting the divorce. Specifically, her filing read:
Defendant shows that she has ample and adequate grounds for divorce, but that she does not desire one at this time.
She additionally requested alimony and child support, as Newt left her with two children to care for, a reasonable split of the marital property were the divorce to be granted, and lawyers fees.
September 25, 1980: Jackie Battley Gingrich’s attorneys filed documents demanding Newt Gingrich’s financial records.
October 7, 1980: Jackie Battley Gingrich’s lawyers filed their notice to depose Newt Gingrich in the divorce case on October 20, 1980.
October 13, 1980: Jackie Battley Gringrich’s attorneys filed a motion for a jury trial in the divorce case. They also filed documents demanding that the court become involved in the financial aspects of the case, as Newt Gingrich had refused to release his financial information or provide any means to Jackie to support their children or maintain her residence. That hearing was scheduled for October 21, 1980.
October 17, 1980: Newt Gingrich’s attorneys filed a successful motion to reschedule his deposition October 20 to November 10, 1980.
October 21, 1980: Jackie Battley Gingrich filed out paperwork asking for $2036 in itemized monthly expenses for herself and their two daughters:
$514 for housing
$340 for food
$200 for clothing
$19 for water
$40 for electricity
$40 for gas
$50 for telephone service
$149 for medical care
$50 for dental care
$90 for medicine
$25 for child care
$60 for school expenses
$65 for the car payment
$26 for health insurance
$100 for taxes
$100 for recreation
$40 to their church
$10 for their exterminator
$10 for gifts
$15 for “beauty parlor subscriptions”
Attached was an estimate of Gingrich’s gross monthly income from Congress ($5,015.21), which, after taxes and insurance payments, was an estimated net of $3.341.24. He claimed to be spending money on houses in Fairfax and Arlington, the utilities on a Virginia house, $407 a month on food, $75 on an orthodontist and $477 a month on his various bank debts unrelated to any mortgages. He also had $120 — due in 4 remaining payments — to Cole’s jewelry store. (Marianne Ginther Gingrich told Esquire that he’d already asked her to marry him at that point.)
December 17, 1980: After the October 21, 1980 hearing, Newt Gingrich was ordered to pay $300 a month in child support and $400 in alimony for the foreseeable future, in addition to the mortgage on the Georgia home, Jackie and their children’s medical bills, all the outstanding utility bills on the Georgia home, payments on the car Jackie was driving and $750 to Jackie’s attorney.
January 9, 1981: Newt Gingrich was ordered to appear at a deposition for Jackie’s attorneys on January 14, 1981.
January 31, 1981: Jackie and Newt Gingrich agreed to the terms of their divorce.
February 2, 1981: Newt Gingrich petitioned for a final decree in his divorce from Jackie, and the divorce is finalized. Newt agreed to pay $200 a month in child support for each daughter until they turned 18 or, if they attended college, until they completed a 4-year degree program or turned 23; as well as all the children’s medical and dental bills and for their insurance. He was also ordered to keep Jackie on his insurance policy until she could qualify for individual insurance without a medical examination, due to her cancer diagnosis (a pre-existing condition); and to pay $1,000 per month in alimony with increases up to $1,300/month as Gingrich’s income increased up to $100,000. They split the title on the Georgia house, with Gingrich assuming the second mortgage, and she ceded the Virginia home to him, and each got the possessions in the house at the time. Jackie kept the car she was driving and Newt continued to make the payments on it.
August 1981: Marianne Ginther and Newt Gingrich married. By 1997, rumors were already swirling about Newt’s next series of extramarital affairs.
1993: As was later revealed in the course of Newt’s second set of divorce proceedings, Newt began a long-term affair with Callista Bisek, a Republican Congressional staffer 23 years his junior.
May 1999: Newt told Marianne of his ongoing affair with Callista Bisek on Mother’s Day — shortly after Marianne was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. She was visiting her mother in Ohio, and told Esquire in 2010 that Newt had invited Callista to their house for the weekend she was away. Initially, he asked Marianne to simply tolerate his affair.
June 29, 1999: Newt filed for divorce.
April 2000: Marianne and Newt Gingrich finalized their divorce.
August 18, 2000: Callista Bisek and Newt Gingrich married.
2002: Newt Gingrich asked the Catholic Archdiocese Atlanta to annul his marriage to Marianne Ginther Gingrich on the grounds that Ginther Gingrich had been married prior to their wedding. Callista Bisek Gingrich is a practicing Catholic, and Newt completed his conversion to the religion in 2009.
This from Greg Palast on "OpEdNews" -- please follow link to original
My Declaration of War on Christmas
I don't usually watch Today or any American TV because my reports appear on the British Broadcasting Corporation, a network run by highly-educated America-haters.
But there I was, last Friday, in this hotel room in Atlanta, a city pretending there's no Depression, chewing my complimentary morning donut, and Today is telling us about the "new face of American poverty."
"More than 49 million Americans now live below the poverty line and a number of them like the family you're about to meet propelled into bankruptcy by a one-two punch of job loss and a catastrophic health crisis."
Wow! US television finally grabs the Big Issue.
This white suburban family called the Kleins have lost their home to eviction. They're completely broke, because one of their kids got a tumor in her face. They have no insurance so the $100,000-plus medical bills wiped them out.
They live with neighbors and they hoped to at least get their kids a couple pair of underwear as a Christmas gift.
But if you think America doesn't give a crap about the cancerous growth of poverty, just keep watching: The Today reporter takes the white family to WalMart where the bubbly journalist gushes, "The wonderful people of WalMart opened up their stores and their aisles and their hearts. The store is your oyster, Michelle!"
Then some WalMartian PR person tells the bankrupt mom to address the issue of long-term unemployment, "Let's go shopping!"
And you thought America was cold-hearted, just because the Republicans tried to block unemployment insurance this Christmas for three million families.
On their free shopping spree, the Kleins got laptops and a Kindle, and a big-ass TV and all the good things that WalMart can provide.
And if you think WalMart has shown how selfless and caring Americans are, just wait until you find out what the Today show is giving America's desperate poor: Simply the best-est gift ever . . .
"We saved the best for last!" The reporter tells the Kleins that NBC is flying them to New York, "to be on the Today show, to be on our set with Matt Lauer and Ann Curry!"
Matt and Ann! Both of them! Well, I bet they wouldn't do that in North Korea or Sweden! Only in America!
Mr. Klein is so happy he's meeting Ann that he doesn't seem care anymore that he lost his job at Ford Motor. He just has his family. In some other family's house, of course. But that's a detail.
And if you thought this was just some cheap publicity stunt by WalMart, dig this, Mr. Cynical: WalMart is going to pay for all the Klein's medical bills for a full year! And to pay for it, WalMart's 1.4 million employees will not have all their medical bills covered for the year. Now, that's generosity!
(This heartwarming segment of the Today show about the Klein kids, by the way, is sponsored by -- no points for guessing: WalMart.)
But then I thought: wait a minute. What about ObamaCare? Once the plan is in place, no American can be denied insurance, even someone with a tumor in their face.
Americans love to hate ObamaCare. But isn't that more valuable to the Kleins than a TV screen with no house to put it in?
Now, many of my friends will be surprised to hear me say this, as I've been quite skeptical about the accomplishments of the Pope of Hope. But let's admit that Barack Obama tried to save the Kleins from medical-bill devastation, that he is trying to get them some unemployment insurance, trying (if on sketchy terms) to save the auto industry, all in the face of resistance of America's hatred of Socialist Government.
Maybe we don't need Santa Claus. Maybe we need Anti-Claus: A skinny "Muslim" from Kenya squirming down your chimney!
America's problem seems to be that it can only be cruel 364 days a year. Christmas is that time of year when the United States of Scrooge takes a vacation from heartless profiteering and the nasty joy Americans get, that "I'm-not-one-of-those-losers" frisson.
Listen to Rick and Newt and Mitt and Michele and Ron and what you get is the Great American F***'em! They lost their jobs? F***'em! Their kid has a tumor and they don't have health insurance? F***'em!
Unless, of course, it's Christmas and you have to look at the tumor on TV. Then, it's like, Someone buy them a big-screen television so we don't feel bad.
Santa's erstaz elf, Bill O'Reilly, keeps talking about the "War on Christmas." Because one day a year he has to dress up in Good Will to All Men drag. He can deck his halls with bags of bullshit make-believe kindness.
The rest of the year, he's jerking off while talking dirty to his horrified female producers and raking in millions from the yahoos who haven't lost their jobs yet.
So that's it: for me, no more chestnuts roasting on an open fire. My chestnuts have gone down with my Lehman bonds, anyway. I'm declaring war on Christmas.
Don't like that, O'Reilly? Then eat my shorts -- with cranberry sauce.
Surgery for kids with cancer, a house to live in that's not a relatives' basement, and a job making something other than "financial products". . . These are rights, not gifts. They don't come down the chimney, they come from a community that can set aside its bred-in-the-bone meanness for more than one day a year.
And to all a good night.
Merry, um, Festivus, from the Palast Investigative Team.
This from "Bloomberg Businessweek" - please follow link to original'
My, my, the "Masters Of The Universe" are just a bunch of whiney little kids -- "job creators" MY ASS!!
Bankers Join Billionaires to Debunk ‘Imbecile’ Attack on Top 1%
By Max Abelson
Dec. 20 (Bloomberg) -- Jamie Dimon, the highest-paid chief executive officer among the heads of the six biggest U.S. banks, turned a question at an investors’ conference in New York this month into an occasion to defend wealth.
“Acting like everyone who’s been successful is bad and because you’re rich you’re bad, I don’t understand it,” the JPMorgan Chase & Co. CEO told an audience member who asked about hostility toward bankers. “Sometimes there’s a bad apple, yet we denigrate the whole.”
Dimon, 55, whose 2010 compensation was $23 million, joined billionaires including hedge-fund manager John Paulson and Home Depot Inc. co-founder Bernard Marcus in using speeches, open letters and television appearances to defend themselves and the richest 1 percent of the population targeted by Occupy Wall Street demonstrators.
If successful businesspeople don’t go public to share their stories and talk about their troubles, “they deserve what they’re going to get,” said Marcus, 82, a founding member of Job Creators Alliance, a Dallas-based nonprofit that develops talking points and op-ed pieces aimed at “shaping the national agenda,” according to the group’s website. He said he isn’t worried that speaking out might make him a target of protesters.
“Who gives a crap about some imbecile?” Marcus said. “Are you kidding me?”
The organization assisted John A. Allison IV, a director of BB&T Corp., the ninth-largest U.S. bank, and Staples Inc. co- founder Thomas Stemberg with media appearances this month.
“It still feels lonely, but the chorus is definitely increased,” Allison, 63, a former CEO of the Winston-Salem, North Carolina-based bank and now a professor at Wake Forest University’s business school, said in an interview.
At a lunch in New York, Stemberg and Allison shared their disdain for Section 953(b) of the Dodd-Frank Act, which requires public companies to disclose the ratio between the compensation of their CEOs and employee medians, according to Allison. The rule, still being fine-tuned by the Securities and Exchange Commission, is “incredibly wasteful” because it takes up time and resources, he said. Stemberg called the rule “insane” in an e-mail to Bloomberg News.
“Instead of an attack on the 1 percent, let’s call it an attack on the very productive,” Allison said. “This attack is destructive.”
The top 1 percent of taxpayers in the U.S. made at least $343,927 in 2009, the last year data is available, according to the Internal Revenue Service. While average household income increased 62 percent from 1979 through 2007, the top 1 percent’s more than tripled, an October Congressional Budget Office report showed. As a result, the U.S. had greater income inequality in 2007 than China or Iran, according to the Central Intelligence Agency’s World Factbook.
Not all affluent Americans are on the defensive. Billionaire Warren Buffett, 81, chairman and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway Inc., has called for increasing taxes on the wealthy, as has Patriotic Millionaires, a group whose supporters include Ask.com co-founder Garrett Gruener and Peter Norvig, director of research at Google Inc., according to its website.
“Rich businesspeople like me don’t create jobs,” Nick Hanauer, co-founder of aQuantive Inc., an online advertising company he sold to Microsoft Corp. for about $6 billion, wrote in a Dec. 1 Bloomberg View article. “Let’s tax the rich like we once did and use that money to spur growth.”
Two out of three Americans support raising taxes on households with incomes of at least $250,000, according to a Bloomberg-Washington Post national poll conducted in October.
Asked if he were willing to pay more taxes in a Nov. 30 interview with Bloomberg Television, Blackstone Group LP CEO Stephen Schwarzman spoke about lower-income U.S. families who pay no income tax.
“You have to have skin in the game,” said Schwarzman, 64. “I’m not saying how much people should do. But we should all be part of the system.”
Some of Schwarzman’s capital gains at Blackstone, the world’s largest private-equity firm, are taxed at 15 percent, not the 35 percent top marginal income-tax rate. Attacking the banking system is a mistake because it contributes to “a healthier economy,” he said in the interview.
Paulson, the New York hedge-fund manager who became a billionaire by betting against the U.S. housing market, has also said the rich benefit society.
“The top 1 percent of New Yorkers pay over 40 percent of all income taxes,” Paulson & Co. said in an e-mailed statement on Oct. 11, the day Occupy Wall Street protesters left a mock tax-refund check at its president’s Upper East Side townhouse.
‘Going to Vomit’
Tom Golisano, billionaire founder of payroll processer Paychex Inc. and a former New York gubernatorial candidate, said in an interview this month that while there are examples of excess, it’s “ridiculous” to blame everyone who is rich.
“If I hear a politician use the term ‘paying your fair share’ one more time, I’m going to vomit,” said Golisano, who turned 70 last month, celebrating the birthday with girlfriend Monica Seles, the former tennis star who won nine Grand Slam singles titles.
Ken Langone, 76, another Home Depot co-founder and chairman of the NYU Langone Medical Center, said he isn’t embarrassed by his success.
“I am a fat cat, I’m not ashamed,” he said last week in a telephone interview from a dressing room in his Upper East Side home. “If you mean by fat cat that I’ve succeeded, yeah, then I’m a fat cat. I stand guilty of being a fat cat.”
Wilbur Ross, 74, another private-equity billionaire, said in an e-mail that entrepreneurship and capitalism didn’t cause the financial crisis.
“Tearing down the rich does not help those less well- off,” said the chairman of New York-based WL Ross & Co. LLC. “If you favor employment, you need employers whose businesses are flourishing.”
That view is shared by Robert Rosenkranz, CEO of Wilmington, Delaware-based Delphi Financial Group Inc., a seller of workers’-compensation and group-life insurance.
“It’s simply a fact that pretty much all the private- sector jobs in America are created by the decisions of ‘the 1 percent’ to hire and invest,” Rosenkranz, 69, said in an e- mail. “Since their confidence in the future more than any other factor will drive those decisions, it makes little sense to undermine their confidence by vilifying them.”
Peter Schiff, CEO of Westport, Connecticut-based broker- dealer Euro Pacific Capital Inc., is delivering the message directly. He went in October to Zuccotti Park in lower Manhattan, where Occupy Wall Street protesters had camped out, with a sign that said “I Am the 1%” and a video camera.
“Somebody needs to do it,” Schiff said in an interview.
Schiff, 48, disclosed assets of at least $64.7 million before losing the 2010 Republican primary for a Connecticut U.S. Senate seat, according to filings. He’s wealthier now, even though his taxes are “more than a medieval lord would have taken from a serf,” he said.
A clip from Schiff’s video was used in a Nov. 1 segment of Comedy Central’s “The Daily Show,” in which comedian John Hodgman, wearing a cravat, called the wealthy a “persecuted minority.” He asked that the phrase “moneyed Americans” replace “the 1 percent.”
Neither term appeared in a Nov. 28 open letter to President Barack Obama from hedge-fund manager Leon Cooperman, the Omega Advisors Inc. chairman and former CEO of Goldman Sachs Group Inc.’s money-management unit. Capitalists “are not the scourge that they are too often made out to be” and the wealthy aren’t “a monolithic, selfish and unfeeling lot,” Cooperman wrote. They make products that “fill store shelves at Christmas” and provide health care to millions.
Cooperman, 68, said in an interview that he can’t walk through the dining room of St. Andrews Country Club in Boca Raton, Florida, without being thanked for speaking up. At least four people expressed their gratitude on Dec. 5 while he was eating an egg-white omelet, he said.
“You’ll get more out of me,” the billionaire said, “if you treat me with respect.”
Some folks may just find this interesting -- from "Zero Hedge" -- please follow link to original
China Insolvency Wave Begins As Nation's Biggest Provincal Borrowers "Defer" Loan Payments
Remember, back in the day, when a bankruptcy was simply called a bankruptcy? Naturally, this was well before ISDA came on the scene and footnoted the living feces out of everything by claiming that a bankruptcy is never a bankruptcy, as long as the creditors agree to 99.999% losses at gunpoint, with electrodes strapped to their testicles, submerged in a tank full of rabid piranhas, it they just sign a piece of paper (preferably in their own blood) saying the vaseline-free gang abuse was consensual. Well, now we learn that as the global insolvency wave finally moves to China, a bankruptcy is now called something even less scary: "deferred loan payments" (and also explains why suddenly Japan is going to have to bail China out and buy its bonds, because somehow when China fails, it is the turn of the country that started the whole deflationary collapse to step to the plate). After all, who in their right mind would want to scare the public that the entire world is now broke. Certainly not SWIFT. And certainly not that paragon of 8%+ annual growth, where no matter how many layers of lipstick are applied, the piggyness of it all is shining through ever more acutely. Because here are the facts, from China Daily, and they speaks for themselves: "China's biggest provincial borrowers are deferring payment on their loans just two months after the country's regulator said some local government companies would be allowed to do so....Hunan Provincial Expressway Construction Group is delaying payment on 3.11 billion yuan in interest, documents governing the securities show this month. Guangdong Provincial Communications Group Co, the second-largest debtor, is following suit. So are two others among the biggest 11 debtors, for a total of 30.16 billion yuan, according to bond prospectuses from 55 local authorities that have raised money in capital markets since the beginning of November." So not even two months in and companies are already becoming serial defaulters, pardon, "loan payment deferrers?" And China is supposed to bail out the world? Ironically, in a world in which can kicking is now an art form, China will show everyone just how it is done, by effectively upturning the capital structure and saying that paying interest is, well, optional. In the immortal words of the comrade from Georgia, "no coupon, no problem."
Our advice: go long Teva, which recently acquired Cephalon, and its wonderful drug Provigil, which is basically legalized cocaine, speed, meth and heroin all in one perfectly legal pill, as the newsflow, up until now only picking up with the idiot headlines out of Europe at 3 am Eastern is about to become one constant 24/7 flashing red rumor/disinformation mill. Also, next time someone wants to make THE drug cocktail of choice for the headline reacting speed trading junkie, please name it appropriately. Jeffrey will suffice.
More on China's piglipsticking:
As local governments delay payments for projects commissioned as part of the stimulus to ward off recession in 2009, less money is available for bank lending even as China is taking steps to inject more into the economy. The central bank has held interest rates at 6.56 percent since July to boost the economy, while the US Federal Reserve and the Bank of Japan have kept benchmark rates near zero since 2008.
"When companies start to roll over debt they're not retiring debt, and banks aren't retrieving their capital, so you're crowding out new lending," Patrick Chovanec, a professor at Tsinghua University in Beijing, said in a Dec 13 interview. "This is a problem that's going to start to bite next year."
Local governments had 10.7 trillion yuan in debt at the end of last year, 79 percent due to banks, according to the country's first audit released in June. So-called local financing vehicles that meet collateral requirements can have a one-time extension on their loans, Zhou Mubing, vice-chairman of the China Banking Regulatory Commission, said at a conference on Oct 24 organized by the Internet portal Sina.com.cn, according to a transcript of his comments on the website.
Guangdong Provincial Communications Group, Hunan Provincial Expressway Construction Group, Gansu Provincial Highway Aviation Tourism Investment Group Co and Sichuan Railway Investment Group Co owe more than 200 billion yuan to banks, the data show. They plan to defer 34.4 billion yuan in interest payments, according to their bond prospectuses.
Yes, that's a lot, and it's going to get much worse. But not if you listen to Beijing Bob: yes, even communist countries have a department of propaganda:
Lei Wanming, Gansu Highway's deputy Communist Party secretary, said the company's interest payment deferrals do not raise any concerns. "Our company can pay our interest and our principal payments with no problem," he said in a Dec 5 interview. "You can't just consider this issue by looking at a bond prospectus."
Said otherwise, all is good, and China's 'relatively fast' growth is still on the agenda:
National leaders set a goal of "relatively fast" economic growth for 2012 at a major conference in Beijing that ended on Dec 14, according to the Xinhua News Agency. The global outlook "remains very grim", Xinhua cited the leaders as saying.
What is most ironic is that Meredith Whitney will be right... just wrong about the country.
The extra yield required to hold Hunan Provincial Expressway's 900 million yuan in 2012 bonds has increased to 308 basis points from 151 basis points on June 21, when they were issued. That compares with a current spread of 11 basis points on Shenzhen's five-year direct municipal bonds.
Yields on local government financing company bonds will remain high next year as selling debt becomes a main channel for raising funds, China International Capital Corp analysts led by the fixed-income analyst Xu Xiaoqing wrote in a Dec 16 research note. Most of the bonds are sold at yields of 8 percent, or 144 basis points more than the benchmark bank lending rate, according to the report. Five-year top-rated corporate bonds yield 4.98 percent, according to Chinabond, the nation's bond clearing house.
"Although the China Banking Regulatory Commission has recently eased loan restrictions to help liquidity, recent supply has been increasing, causing the secondary market to pay attention to systemic risks," they wrote. "The credit quality of recent financing vehicle bonds continues to get weaker."
For those who refuse to swallow China's lies, there is one way around it:
Five-year credit-default swaps insuring against default on China's sovereign debt rose 3.2 basis points recently to 149.66 basis points, according to data provider CMA...
As more and more scratch their heads, the math is clearly not your friend:
Even after the reduction in interest payments, Gansu Provincial Highway said that interest and principal payments in 2011 will amount to 3.33 billion yuan, more than its 2010 cash flow of 3.04 billion yuan, according to bond-marketing materials.
"This prospectus is telling us that banks can expect to only receive roughly half of what would have been expected in interest payments," Charlene Chu, a Beijing-based banking analyst with Fitch Ratings, said of the Gansu disclosure.
And as for what happens when an entire continent is stuck fighting simple math and failing, we refer you all to the case study that is Europe.
Please go to the original -- there is more, and other posts that link and/or refer to this one. In fact, bookmark the site -- even if you do not agree with everything, there is enough to jar some dormant brain cells into action.
With all the "Christmas Cheer" being extended, with all the Christmas Music being posted -- we still have to remember some truths about our current situation -- this from "Yahoo News" - please follow link to original.
Mentally ill flood ER as states cut services
CHICAGO/NEW YORK (Reuters) - On a recent shift at a Chicago emergency department, Dr. William Sullivan treated a newly homeless patient who was threatening to kill himself.
"He had been homeless for about two weeks. He hadn't showered or eaten a lot. He asked if we had a meal tray," said Sullivan, a physician at the University of Illinois Medical Center at Chicago and a past president of the Illinois College of Emergency Physicians.
Sullivan said the man kept repeating that he wanted to kill himself. "It seemed almost as if he was interested in being admitted."
Across the country, doctors like Sullivan are facing a spike in psychiatric emergencies - attempted suicide, severe depression, psychosis - as states slash mental health services and the country's worst economic crisis since the Great Depression takes its toll.
This trend is taxing emergency rooms already overburdened by uninsured patients who wait until ailments become acute before seeking treatment.
"These are people without a previous psychiatric history who are coming in and telling us they've lost their jobs, they've lost sometimes their homes, they can't provide for their families, and they are becoming severely depressed," said Dr. Felicia Smith, director of the acute psychiatric service at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston.
Increased demand in mental health services
State mental health budget cuts
Visits to the hospital's psychiatric emergency department have climbed 20 percent in the past three years.
"We've seen actually more very serious suicide attempts in that population than we had in the past as well," she said.
Compounding the problem are patients with chronic mental illness who have been hurt by a squeeze on mental health services and find themselves with nowhere to go.
On top of that, doctors are seeing some cases where the patient's most critical need is a warm bed.
"The more I see these patients, the more I realize that if it's sleeting and raining outside, the emergency room is the only place they have," said Dr. R. Corey Waller, director of the Spectrum Health Medical Group Center for Integrative Medicine in Grand Rapids, Michigan.
Government agencies such as the National Institutes of Mental Health, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration could not provide fresh data on use of psychiatric services in recent years.
But doctors from more than a dozen hospitals nationwide, mental health advocacy groups and state-funded agencies told Reuters they are all seeing a marked increase in psychiatric emergencies.
A WORSENING PROBLEM
The National Association of State Mental Health Program Directors (NASMHPD), an organization of state mental health directors, estimates that in the last three years states have cut $3.4 billion in mental health services, while an additional 400,000 people sought help at public mental health facilities.
In that same time frame, demand for community-based services climbed 56 percent, and demand for emergency room, state hospital and emergency psychiatric care climbed 18 percent, the organization said.
"This wasn't one round of cuts," says Ted Lutterman, director of research analysis at NASMHPD Research Institute. "It was three or four for many states, and multiple cuts during the year."
If the economy doesn't improve, next year could be worse because many community mental health agencies are cutting programs and using up reserve funds, says Linda Rosenberg, president of the National Council for Community Behavioral Healthcare.
"It's been horrible," she said. "Those that need it the most - the unemployed, those with tremendous family stress - have no insurance."
In the emergency room, this increased demand has meant doctors and social workers are spending hours and sometimes days trying to arrange care for psychiatric patients languishing in the emergency department, taking up beds that could be used for traditional types of trauma.
More than 70 percent of emergency department administrators said they have kept patients waiting in the emergency department for 24 hours, according to a 2010 survey of 600 hospital emergency department administrators by the Schumacher Group, which manages emergency departments across the country.
Ten percent said they had "boarded" patients for a week or more.
And many hospitals are not prepared for the increased caseload of psychiatric patients, says Randall Hagar, director of government affairs for the California Psychiatric Association.
California cut $587 million in state-funded mental health services in the past two years, the most of any state, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, a patient advocacy group.
"They don't have secure holding rooms. They don't have quiet spaces. They don't have a lot of things you need to help calm down a person in an acute psychiatric crisis," Hagar said.
"Often you have a patient strapped to a gurney in a hallway outside of the emergency department where social workers are desperately trying to find an inpatient bed," he said.
FROM CITIES TO SMALL TOWNS
In North Carolina, the state has cut its inpatient psychiatric capacity by half since 2005, says Dr. Bret Nicks, an emergency physician at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center in Winston-Salem and a spokesman for the American College of Emergency Physicians.
Nicks points to a report from the Institute of Medicine released in 2006 that found U.S. emergency departments were already overtaxed and overcrowded.
"Now you are adding in patients who are unsafe to leave but yet have nowhere to go," he said. "I consider patients with acute psychiatric needs as really the forgotten patient population in the U.S. right now."
Dr. Stephen Anderson is an emergency department doctor at Auburn Regional Medical Center, a mid-size suburban hospital outside of Seattle.
"When the economy is hurt they are some of the first to drop off the healthcare rolls," he said of local residents in the largely blue-collar community.
Anderson, who heads the Washington Chapter of the American College of Emergency Physicians, said the state has lost a third of its inpatient psychiatric beds in the past decade.
Lately he is seeing a marked escalation in patients with psychiatric problems turning up in the emergency department. In early December, a third of its beds were occupied with people in a psychiatric crisis who were not safe to return to the community.
The problem extends out to small towns.
Sullivan splits his time between the big emergency department at the University of Illinois Medical Center at Chicago and St. Margaret's Hospital, a tiny facility in Spring Valley, Illinois, about 100 miles southwest of the city.
On a recent shift, a young woman with schizophrenia arrived at the hospital. She had just lost her job and apartment and was living with relatives. She could not afford the medications that were keeping her illness in check.
The woman asked Sullivan to switch her prescriptions to drugs that could be found on the $4 discount list at Wal-Mart and other discount stores.
"I didn't feel comfortable doing that," Sullivan said, noting that emergency physicians are being asked to deliver specialized care that should be handled by a psychiatrist.
He found a healthcare facility about 25 miles away with a psychiatrist who could help, but even that presented a problem for the woman, who had no way of getting to the appointment.
"It's almost akin to having a cardiac patient come in and say, 'I need someone to adjust my defibrillator.' In the emergency department, we can do a lot, but there are some things we have to leave with the specialists," he said.
I think our "1% Overlords" and their Republican Lackeys actually want these folks to kill themselves. "Survival of the fittest" and all that -- as long as THEY are considered among "the fittest".
I wonder what will happen if our economy falters a bit more, some of them lose their money, and discover their specific "talents" are no longer in demand?
Will they bow out gracefully? Will they just "shuffle off" peacefully? Or, will they DEMAND help/aid/assistance/bailouts/etc., etc., etc.?
AFTER ALL -- they are among the ELITE, the Gifted, the "SPECIAL" -- or so they think. How long would it take for them to understand THEY are no longer "SPECIAL", that they too can be cast aside, without a second thought?
I'm just another old woman who has had wide ranging interests for a long time,
These include fishing, shooting, reading, cooking, and all manner of (mostly) left wing politics.
Born and bred in New York - Queens, to be precise - I now live in Texas, another state that folks seem to attack (like N.Y.) without ever having been here.
I'm also a fan of most sports -- esp. baseball, esp. the New York Yankees.
Originally a New York Giants (baseball) fan, I was crushed when they moved. It took many years wandering in the wilderness before I returned to baseball. I's all Wade Boggs fault. When I watched that artist, my love for baseball resurfaced. Since he was then a Yankee -- it had to be the Yankees.
The Mets pretended they had spiritual ties to the old Brooklyn Dodgers - no Giant fan could go there.
I tried - couldn't do it.