10/31/12…5 more days; what TB really said

(Today’s column is long and most of you won’t read it, but it sums up key reasons TB does not support Romney and supports the fact that TB is not moving left…many of you are moving to the right. TB would have supported Gov. Christy however, due to his actions in Sandy. Also, if you didn’t see Frontline last night (Montana: Big Sky, Big Money), you owe it to yourself and your fellow Americans to watch it on YouTube. TB now sees what Sen. Bob Bennett meant when he told him his own party defeated him for re-election: stealing power from the people. Perfect for Halloween!)

 

Bloomberg Quote of the Day: “If you can find something everyone agrees on, it’s wrong.” – Mo Udall

 

Bloomberg Top Stories:

 

*U.S. Index Futures Rise With Commodities as Trading Resumes; Euro Climbs

*UBS Fixed-Income Capitulation Seen as Windfall for Deutsche Bank, Barclays

*Barclays Profit Rises While Revenue Disappoints Amid Further Probe in U.S.

*Hurricane Sandy May Slow U.S. Economy as Millions Kept From Work, Stores (contrary to popular belief this will NOT affect payrolls report Friday)

*EU Officials Strive to Fix Greek Bailout as Samaras Government Squabbles

*Bond Sales Exceed $3 Trillion in Challenge to 3009 Record – take that stocks!

*Euro-Area Unemployment Climbs to Record 11.6% as Inflation Slows to 2.5%

*Utilities Warn Storm’s Blackouts May Linger Beyond U.S. Election – Oct. surprise?

*Ireland’s Priciest Hotel Put on Market for About 50% of its 2007 Value

*Northeast U.S. Struggles Back to Life Following Sandy’s Deadly Onslaught

*Romney Ohio Fate Tied to 47 Percenters Nestled along Appalachian Mountains

*New Jersey Devastation Runs From Lives Lost to Shore Boardwalks Swept Away   

  

Stocks markets were closed for a second day yesterday – first time since 1888! Bond market was also closed. Slightly weaker overnight but in range. U.S. stock futures strong overnight: DOW +53; SPX +8.70; NDQ +9 – will it hold? Gold and Crude were mixed and little changed; Gold up slightly overnight.

Overnight markets: Global stocks modestly higher, UK off a tad.  Foreign bonds little changed while Greece remains above 17%. O/N Repo jumped to 0.50%? Libor continues to drop amid continuing probe of Barclays. 3 Mo. 0.31%; 6 Mo. 0.54% – Wow!

 

– – –  . . .  – – –

 

…it is troubling when your desire is merely to cut through the rhetoric and attempt to get people to think, yet people think you are either deceiving yourself or moving to the left.

 

Of course, there is always that possibility, thus today’s self-examination based on reader comments and conversations with friends. The possibility remains, of course, that it is they who are moving more to the right…hopefully not to the extreme right!

 

First though, TB would prefer Obama NOT be president for another four years but he doesn’t like the alternative. He does like New Jersey Governor Chris Christy who speaks his mind but is not mean-spirited. Note how he commended Obama on his handling so far of Hurricane Sandy. That folks is a true leader, not one who can only criticize and condemn.

 

What TB can say is that he has done his best to ignore ideology by factchecking and that has been enlightening, since each time he looks something up, he comes away with something he missed. Regardless, TB appreciates any and all feedback so long as it is constructive…after all this is not a political debate, right? Here goes:

 

  1. The most frequently asked is how TB can support the Obama administration’s response to the attack on the Libyan embassy?  He doesn’t! They handled it poorly but for Team Romney to keep calling it an ‘embassy’ when it was a ‘mission’ 400 miles away is gross representation. We were misled…as we were after 9/11 and the invasion of Iraq…add to this remaining in Afghanistan when the mission was to get Bin Laden and Al Qaida then get out. No need to mention which president this was. That does not excuse the State Department response. TB will however suggest that part of that was a result of the politically-charged environment. Romney was the antithesis of Obama in casting his hypothesis before the following dawn! Would more Marines have saved lives? Not when you are defending a position against RPG’s and automatic weapons. Also, the Ambassador knew that to fire into the crowd would only ramp up the attackers violence (see Argo and then judge if Carter was at fault – be sure to stay for the credits and hear how Carter showed humility and didn’t take credit. Dubya would have declassified it and done so which would have put the other hostages at risk. So, yes, it was handled poorly but didn’t FDR deceive us about the ‘surprise attack’ on Pearl Harbor? Didn’t Reagan attack Grenada in response to the bombing of the Marine barracks in Beirut? What purpose did that fill? Only to show our military strength against a gnat when he was helpless in Lebanon.
  2. But Obama has no plan to improve the economy? True, and TB wishes he could define it. But consider, the GOP will control the House at least and possibly the Senate. Any plan he has is moot. Congress will determine what he is able to do or more likely not do. Should we trust a party that already has a goal of destroying or embarrassing the President rather than trying to help the American people. This is a party whose primary allegiance is to Grover Norquist and the Tea Party and has pandered (on gay marriage and abortion) to the Evangelicals. This at a time that there are more non-believers in America than there are Protestants. Doing so is also a contradiction to the Constitution, which they proclaim is the governing document…except when it doesn’t serve their interest: so much for separation of church and state. These issues are diversions at a time when we need truth
  3. Romney’s tax and economic plans are better than Obama’s. There are more holes in them than Bonnie and Clyde’s car! As always, the devil is in the details. We have no idea what cuts he is going to make…but we know he will increase   military spending when he doesn’t even know the tactical or strategic issues. Also, as TB has repeatedly said, it is Congress who is under the influence of the powerful banking and tax lobbies. Every president since Reagan has called for tax reform and none has succeeded. But it is powerful grist in a campaign. Face it, everyone wants a smaller budget and deficit and a simplified tax return, but no one wants to lose their benefits…that is the essence of gridlock especially when there are lawyers and accountants and even industries that stand to lose so much. Got it? We would be better off…much better off…to reform Congress! GOP continues to blame Obama for lack of job growth but today we learned that EU unemployment rose to 11.6%…remember we live in a global economy!
  4. Obamacare. It is imperfect…it is worse than imperfect…but it is something to build off of…don’t like it? You have another year to fix it and if the SuperPacs and GOP would stop spreading fear about it (after all it was originally their idea!), and work to fix it instead we would then have a system like every other industrialized nation that doesn’t bankrupt individuals in time of need or insanely prolong life for those who will see no improvement in their quality of life. Again, they spread lies (what else can you call them?) about ‘throwing Grandma under the bus! But to get it through, Obama sold out to the powerful pharma lobby, whose head is Billy Tauzin, and who as a GOP representative and committee chairman wrote Medicare Part D to prohibit Medicare from buying prescription drugs thus causing them to pay 30% more than Medicaid does. This inflated the costs. He had cancer and didn’t seek re-election but two months later he was made head of the Pharma lobby and brought at least two of his key aides over (right out of Abramoff’s playbook! As such, he was paid a huge salary and lobbied heavily to Obama to not allow the government to purchase or negotiate the price of prescription drugs. Obama caved for a promise to provide ads in favor of it by this ‘sick’ group. That is what went wrong. He was also unable to get the Dems to limit malpractice. Ask yourself this: when did healthcare costs escalate? When insurers which had originally been ‘not for profit’ became ‘for profit’ publicly held companies: higher salaries, higher bonuses, more incentive to refuse claims. Also, hospitals were bought out by corporations and doctors thus making them ‘for profit’ also. Ask yourself this: what benefactor wants to build a wing in a ‘for profit’ hospital? Answer: none! TB knows first-hand about this from two hospital administrators who were forced to cut costs and at the same time purchase more equipment so the docs could require more expensive tests. Meanwhile, it was the doctors who suffered as their Medicare payouts were repeatedly cut. Unless, we control the cost side of the equation, and insurance program will fail at the expense of the public, both individually and as taxpayers. This is the most misrepresented area by the GOP, and to believe the private sector can do better is absurd. As for the issue of the $715 billion which the GOP calls cutting Medicare yet counts it as deficit reduction, it is neither…it is a recapture from overpayments required by law…yep, they were overcharging us. If they were non-profits there would be no incentive to do so! Oh, and by the way (don’t you just love that?), the Ryan plan proposes policies just like Congress has…after all you wouldn’t accept less would you. A doctor told me that a policy such as the one that covered Sen. Kennedy’s ‘experimental’ brain surgery – which would not have restored him to normalcy – would cost over $100,000 a year. Can we afford that? Should we pay that? Think about it.
  5. Education. It is a mess. Yes, the teachers unions have hurt us, but it is much more than that. We throw more money at it and get less. Yet we continue to let the banks profit with federal guarantees rather than provide grants. There is no incentive for the banks to negotiate payments so they are affordable when if they declare them in default, we the taxpayers are on the hook and they get 100% back. As for ‘for profit’ institutions, as opposed to public and private, they are mills to generate revenue through student loans and have a much higher default rate than ‘not for profits.’ But the worse thing is they recruit students who can’t afford it with false promises in careers like electricians where unemployment is high and when they fail to get a job, we get the bill, and they become disillusioned.
  6. Government agencies. Wonderful. They love to blame the Dems for FNMA and FHLMC, for making homes affordable to all, yet George W. Bush endorsed it and while these two agencies ‘bribed’ DEM members of the House, they quietly ‘bribed’ key GOP senators! Do you know who is keeping the housing market afloat now? The banks? Get real! They generate the loans and in 60 days sell them to Fannie or Freddie ballooning their debt and retaining the 0.5% servicing fee. Better look at the size of loans on the banks books over the past couple of years…they aren’t growing – including mortgages!
  7. Romney wants disaster relief left to the states ‘as they are better suited to know the needs.’ Brilliant…never mind that state and local governments are often in disarray after a disaster and this also assumes that the Fed doesn’t communicate with them! Even in the middle of Sandy, he said this: …states “are first responders and are in the best position to aid impacted individuals and communities.” After a disaster the infrastructure is in disarray. On the other side, GOP Governor Chris Christy (R-NJ) thanked President Obama for calling him during the storm and offering help which was already being implemented. That is a leader, not one who would dismantle FEMA and leave the financially-troubled states on their own (oh and by the way (stolen from Romney), they are only balancing their budgets by deferring items like pension fund payments one month into the NEXT fiscal year meaning they are starting out in the hole. At the framing of the Constitution most wanted a weak central government, no navy, no taxing power. Think where we would be today with that…or a balanced budget amendment! What we need is fiscal restraint and something is wrong when the party that created the deficits now proclaims to be our savior. This is not to let the Dems off the hook….just to point out the hypocrisy.
  8. Global warming. How many 100 year storms will it take to wake up the GOP to the fact that it is real? Manhattan under a couple of feet of water? No not yesterday, every day. A series of incredibly hot summers, a drought that matches the Dust Bowl of the 1930’s, fires around the country, snow last winter in Arizona yet not enough to ski on in Colorado. Yet the GOP, to pander to their big business friends is in denial seizing on the dissention of less than 2% of scientists and their organizations. Al Gore was the wrong person to spread the message but that doesn’t mean he wasn’t right. Yet to the GOP he and the others are treehuggers.
  9. Obama had two years of a Democratic Congress. Patently FALSE! He had 47 days before Lieberman declared himself an independent along with one other, both knowing it would lever their own political power. The majority was also close in the Senate and the GOP made record use of the filibuster to kill legislation. Some majority!
  10. But if for no other reason, TB is afraid for the country under Romney and right wing extremists (note TB did not call Romney one, but will he control them or will they control him?). The next president will have the power to appoint at least one Supreme Court justice and Romney will do so under the guise of ‘strict constructionist’ as the litmus test. Someone please define exactly what a strict constructionist. Bet the framers of the Constitution would like to hear that answer and either laugh hysterically or turn over in their graves. Read this piece from Noah Feldman on Bloomberg: The Supreme Court

 

TB thinks that about sums it up. Factcheck it! Why do you accept what someone on one of the network says just because it matches your preconceived thoughts? Don’t accept what TB says either…think for yourselves! Please stop forwarding those inflammatory emails from the extreme right that have been discredited as lies or worse. If someone cannot state their case calmly and objectively, why do you listen to them…it is just possible that it is YOU that had the facts wrong. Our country deserves better than this, and you only demean yourself in sending them.

 

Some of you will still maintain that TB has shifted to the left…some way to the left! But ask yourself if you have unwittingly moved to the right…and done so for ideological not informed reasons. Have you been listening to hate-spewing pundits or seeking the truth? Do you want what is best for America, or what is best for you right now?  If you can say yes to these questions and made up your own mind: kudos! Either way you vote though, be careful what you wish for…very careful, it may come to pass.

 

Will close this long piece with this column from James Kwak of the Baseline Scenario. You need to read it and think! What government does

 

Happy Halloween! Watch the Frontline story discussed at the top…very scary!

 

TB

 

. . .  – – –  . . . (SOS!)  . . .   – – –  . . .  (SOS!) . . .   – – –  . . .  (SOS!)

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