“A senior administration official … said in a statement that the government didn’t observe any increased level of malicious cyber activity aimed at disrupting the election on election day and believes the elections were free and fair from a cybersecurity perspective,” read a statement on the mythology of Russian hackers tossing the election to Trump last week.
Obama recognized, correctly I think, that the recounts only stand to potentially rip the country further apart. They create the impression, and a reasonable one, on the side of those who turned out en masse for the winning side in the Rust Belt states, that “the establishment” it just said “screw you” to is trying to flip the election on a technical issue for which there is no evidence at present.
On the other hand, there is a great deal of evidence that HRC underperformed badly in the same states while the vote againt her in the hinterland counties came out in an unanticipated wave.
Even the computer scientist who pushed the idea in the media and to the Clinton people, J. Alex Halderman, conceded in an essay that Trump’s margins didn’t look like the result of hacks
Last weekend I theorized Jill Stein was being used as a stalking horse for the Democratic Party (I’m a member, although that may no longer be guaranteed). And the party now lies crushed.
The cynicism now exhibited matches the denial of the election result. The party just spent an election cycle, along with the mainstream media, dismissing Jill Stein as a clueless booby. I had considered voting for her but, no, the argument went, that would only be a throwaway vote for someone not even fit to be allowed into public debate.
But now, it’s go Jill, go! How refreshing this genuine belief in democracy.
It is also worth note how “independent” computer scientists seemed to keep running into the middle of the road, wavng their hands (this means sending emails to the HRC machine at the same time they were furiously lobbying the NYT and WaPo for publicity), claiming to only want to guarantee the “integrity” of democracy.
American swells are having a shared nervous breakdown. And the only thing they can think of to fight back against the national rebuke they just suffered is to invoke one of the Democratic Party’s most played out ritualistic memes.
It begins with the invocation: “Those jobs aren’t coming back.” And from there one naturally proceeds to wisely waving the hands while lecturing lessers (and the choir which nods approvingly) on the need for more smarts, more school, more skills, or retraining camp as I like to call it.
Wait until Trump tries to come through on one of his central promises: to bring back millions of high-paying manufacturing jobs to the U.S.
There is no shortage of economic experts who say it’s a fantasy.
Because U.S. manufacturers already are producing a lot of goods. They’re just doing it with fewer people …
The remedy that’s been prescribed for decades:
[Investing] in training programs to ensure Americans are prepared to work in modern digital factories.
It also would require Trump to swallow a couple of harsh realities. The first is that a lot of the people whom he promised to put back to work in factories will have to find work in some other field. The government could help them, Muro pointed out, by establishing a national wage-insurance program that would replace a portion of a worker’s lost wages for several years as he or she trained …
The same prescription, ad nauseam, until it’s enraging. Which is much of the reason why Trump is president.
Now let us here again the swami implying workers are now too stupid for “modern digital factories.”
What modern digital factories might these be? Is not steel-making still basically steel-making?
Bangladesh is “modern digital factories?” The crap in the dollar store where I shop, all produced in “modern digital factories?”
By way of recent news, the NY Times and a reporter in West Virginia:
“At the Huddle House on Route 119, Kayla Burger, 32, a waitress, has worked three jobs since her husband lost his; they take home less than a quarter of the roughly $100,000 he used to earn. She took an offer for miners’ wives to train as phlebotomists, but with so many miners out of work, the phlebotomy market was flooded. She also substitute teaches and cooks at the school.”
How many people are needed to blood when the local economy is el busto? How many when not?
But there’s no dislodging the belief among the haves that it’s just a matter of lack of skills and smarts in the unfortunate is just a matter of not getting the proper schooling, not a general collapse in the structure of the economy, a collapse caused by policy decisions. That is, no dislodging of the belief until the shoeshiner for the status quo finds he or she has been dismissed for lack of worth.
Blast from the past, or, yes, I am right!
You may ask, “Why this focus on the dreadful US economy and prospects for the middle class, Dick?”
Well, mass unemployment leads to political instability, as we’ve seen.
Political instability is a serious threat to everyone’s security.
If you don’t address it satisfactorily, soon Victoria Jackson’s “There’s a Communist In the White House” has half a million views on YouTube, along with everything that suggests. 10/07/10 with Barack Obama, president
What about all that skills for the future and the global market crap? Are things better? Happy now?! (Me giving you a poke in the chest.)
There are three points worth making here. The first is a simple logical one, we have a trade deficit of around $500 billion a year, a bit less than 3.0 percent of GDP. This is basically all due to a deficit in manufactured goods (we have a surplus on services). Does anyone believe that the extra imports associated with the trade deficit are not associated with jobs? Can $500 billion worth of manufactured goods be produced without hiring people? (This matters much more in a context where we face secular stagnation, meaning there is not enough overall demand in the economy.)
The second point is that our trade deficit has not always been this large …
Anyhow, this explosion in the trade deficit coincided with a sharp decline in manufacturing employment.
“Anyhow, we should not look to combat Donald Trump by following his tendency to ignore reality,” continues Baker. “Yes, trade has cost manufacturing workers jobs.”
Getting to work on time. Dressing nicely. Not being too ugly-looking, diseased or old. “People” skills.
Dig deeply into the syntax and linguistics of the news and this is what soft skills means: Capability as a polite and well-dressed bootlick. The term “critical thinking” comes up a bit, but here? Have you been knocked out by the level of critical thinking exhibited in the USA in the last ten years or more? C’mon, who’s buying that?
And that’s essentially what Elizabeth Warren said about him yesterday:
“Steve Mnuchin is the Forrest Gump of the financial crisis — he managed to participate in all the worst practices on Wall Street. He spent two decades at Goldman Sachs helping the bank peddle the same kind of mortgage products that blew up the economy and sucked down billions in taxpayer bailout money before he moved on to run a bank that was infamous for aggressively foreclosing on families.”
The image of a mildly retarded man, excellent at ping pong, stumbling through life as a Wall Street financier, managing to accumulate billions in riches just because of the way the system works while uttering the occasional word candies like “Life is a box of chocolates …” should make you laugh, if nothing else.
I would eagerly await Warren going off on him for five or ten minutes when he arrives before the Senate. The lady has an inspirational talent for the putdown.
Coincidentally, Mnuchin made a great deal of money as the CEO of OneWest in Pasadena, which was IndyMac until forclosed on by the US government at the beginning of the financial crisis.
The blog briefly covered it as Satan’s Bank and rather than work up everything from scratch I’m just going to go to the archives.
[OneWest] is involved in a similar case in California, where it’s trying to foreclose on an 89-year-old woman, despite two court orders telling it to stop.
Stung by the whip of bad reviews, OneWest announced it was turning to charitable giving at the beginning of the new year.
“With a seed of $10 million, OneWest Bank announced this week that it has created a nonprofit foundation to help develop the communities it serves,” reported Monterey County Herald on January 2.
“The Pasadena-based bank, which took over failed IndyMac in March, established the foundation ‘to actively invest’ in priorities such as affordable housing, health care, education, financial literacy and rehabilitating underserved communities, foundation bank officials said.
” ‘We are very committed to supporting the community in meaningful ways through our charitable efforts, including significant contributions from our employees in community service activities,’ ” foundation Chairman Steven Mnuchin said in a statement.”
Community service. Affordable housing. Fine words.
“The bank has 72 retail branches in Southern California and total assets of $24 billion,” one news story on OneWest informs.
10 million / 24 billion = 0.000416666667
In other words, another ‘achievement in giving’ worth the stink eye. The amount is OneWest/Satan’s Bank equivalent of pocket lint. Maybe less.
IndyMac did the things all the banksters are now accused of in the US. It specialized in really risky subprime lending and then went tits after the people at the top made a killing on the Ponzi scheme. Prior to the death of Lehman Brothers and the big bailout, the FDIC stepped in and saved it.
In the reorganization, some superwealthy guys took over and renamed it OneWest.
OneWest’s business model, as told in news stories on it, is to continue the certified nasty practices of the Wall Street financial giants.
That is, it profits off distressed holdings by using the taxpayer-funded government guarantees for detoxifying its subprime lending. OneWest is not small or community-oriented, unless you consider forclosing on people’s homes nationwide using taxpayer money as guarantee profit margin against what would be certain losses to be goodness for communities.
One fellow on the web explains it this way:
Several times per week, I get phone calls from attorneys. These calls all start out the same. “I am unable to get loan modifications done through a lender. What can I do?” The first question I ask is if the lender is Indymac/One West. Invariably, it is.
When OneWest took over Indymac, the FDIC and OneWest executed a “Shared-Loss Agreement” covering the sale. This Agreement covered the terms of what the FDIC would reimburse OneWest for any losses from foreclosure on a property. It is at this point that the details get very confusing, so I shall try to simplify the terms.
Some of the major details are:
OneWest would purchase all first mortgages at 70% of the current balance
OneWest would purchase Line of Equity Loans at 58% of the current balance.
In the event of foreclosure, the FDIC would cover from 80%-95% of losses, using the original loan amount, and not the current balance.
The trouble begins when IndyMac begins to fail — it’s money is all gone — and it starts misleading customers while short-changing them. The author finds IndyMac has reneged on the construction loan, declaring it complete with the house still unfinished.
Want to learn something of the system? Read Bleak House by Charles Dickens. You can download or read it on Gutenberg. Do you want to have your soul (and money) drained by Mr. Vholes? Do you want your mind stolen like poor Flite? Do you want your home to go to rack and ruin like Bleak House?
Deadbeat peasants won’t pay their bills! Let us pretend that the economy has nothing to do with people’s ability to pay. And let us also pretend that the bankster stealing doesn’t have anything to do with the economy! And let’s ignore the deadbeat bankster bailout, that has NOTHING to do with anything!
The peasantry is being programmed by the banker run media to be selfish and jealous of others. So that when one is ripped off, others do not care. Why should you have a free house, they are trained to ask. As if your paying will make their paying more bearable. Wouldn’t it be wiser to ask why the bankers should be able to print free money at everyone’s expense.
And on OneWest:
My trouble with Pasadena began when I was given a loan from the original IndyMac Bank, FSB. Honestly, I liked most of the people I talked to from that bank. Those were the good old days when bankers did not hide their last names. When if you had a problem, a Vice President would give you his cell phone number and tell you to call him at home if necessary. This is when many of the California bankers had sunny Cali-style personalities and were not just churlish brutes. I only remember one lady that sounded like a goon, and I’ll bet you she is still working there at OneWest Bank …
[Later] OneWest Bank takes over. A filthier set of churlish thugs you cannot imagine. It seemed that they liked to call people even before payments were overdue in order to demand money …
Desperation hit a new high in Pasadena today.
At lunch time, on the corner of Lake and Walnut — directly in front of Satan’s Bank of Pasadena, aka OneWest — there was a thirtysomething man in a suit with a signboard. The signboard pleaded: “Hire Me!”
It said he had a B.A. and “experience.” “Help me win for my family,” it added.
Right beside him, a man who looked like Santa Claus, except in a hardware store man’s clothes. He has been begging for the last two weeks. And directly across the superhighway, two people have been regularly camped out for it seems like … at least a year or two.
If you’ve never been to Pasadena, the corner of Lake and Walnut is the place to be if you’d like to be seen with your alms cup. It’s high vehicular traffic for most of the day. And there’s are always a good number of pedestrians, particularly at lunch time, when many come boiling out of Satan’s Bank and head across the street to Ralphs or north thirty yards to Teri & Yaki.
Holding up a sign of desperation on this corner is a good tactical move. If you want someone from the local newspaper, the Pasadena Star-News to notice and get interested in your story, it’s high visibility and impact.
After all, no one ever checks out the guy living out of his van on El Molino. Or the half a dozen or so who regularly scrounge through my apartment building’s dumpster.
03/12/10 The Wall Street Journal:Many borrowers complain they get the runaround when they call their lenders for help, receive contradictory information from different employees and are required to repeatedly fax the same documents.
At the same time, suicide threats from distressed borrowers are so common that one lender, OneWest Bank Group in Pasadena, Calif., had to establish procedures for alerting the police. Lenders’ call-center employees are under heavy pressure. “These people make $14 or $15 an hour, and we ask them to move mountains,” said a OneWest executive at an industry conference last month.
“During a recent protest outside his Walnut Street bank headquarters, OneWest CEO Terry Laughlin came down with the bank’s head of mortgage services for a little face time with borrowers,” reported the Pasadena Star-News recently.
“The idea was to ‘reach out’ Laughlin said, and see what he could do or say to help them with their home loans – which they angrily – and frequently – complain have yet to be modified.”
“Steven Mnuchin’s OneWest filed to take a 90-year-old woman’s house after a 27-cent payment error,” reads Politico.
And, yes, yes, there was a song …
Go, that was 2010 – 2012 and nothing ever changes. It’s worth saying again and again, part of the Obama administration’s failure was doing nothing about this when everyone was begging for bankster heads.
On Monday Donald Trump is scheduled to discuss potential cabinet positions with a former bank CEO who bribed colleges to teach Ayn Rand, wants to end the Fed, and has argued that bank regulations dating back to the Great Depression should be chucked.
That man is John Allison, longtime head of the North Carolina-based bank BB&T and, most recently, president of the libertarian think tank Cato …
Allison likes to tell the story of two children playing in a sandbox, one of whom takes a toy from the other. When the aggrieved party complains to mommy, she tells them both to share. This is where it all went wrong. As the New York Times recounts:
“You learned in that sandbox at some really deep level that it’s bad to be selfish,” says Mr. Allison, adding that the mother has taught a horrible lesson.
It’s worth adding the guy’s a goldbug, too.
At some point, now well in the past, you just don’t care about any institutions the country allegedly stands for anymore. It’s all bullshit or stupendous fraud and the only reasonable response is laughter.
Ragnar Danneskjold: But I’ve chosen a special mission of my own. I’m after a man whom I want to destroy. He died many centuries ago, but until the last trace of him is wiped out of men’s minds, we will not have a decent world to live in.
Hank Rearden: What man?
Danneskjold: Robin Hood …. he is not remembered as a champion of property, but as a champion of need, not as a defender of the robbed, but as a provider of the poor. He is held to be the first man who assumed a halo of virtue by practicing charity with wealth which he did not own, by giving away goods which he had not produced, by making others pay for the luxury of his pity. He is the man who became a symbol of the idea that need, not achievement, is the source of rights, that we don’t have to produce, only to want, that the earned does not belong to us, but the unearned does. He became a justification for every mediocrity who, unable to make his own living, had demanded the power to dispose of the property of his betters, by proclaiming his willingness to devote his life to his inferiors at the price of robbing his superiors. It is this foulest of creatures – the double-parasite who lives on the sores of the poor and the blood of the rich – whom men have come to regard as the moral idea … Do you wonder why the world is collapsing around us? That is what I am fighting, Mr. Rearden. Until men learn that of all human symbols, Robin Hood is the most immoral and the most contemptible, there will be no justice on earth and no way for mankind to survive.
And, yes, that photo is of my copy of the book!
And, yes, yes, it’s true. You’ll find it hard to believe now that I’m partaking of the SNAP benefit but I once gave a bit of a talk at the Cato Institute. They even flew me across the country and put me up in a swank hotel for my wisdom.
There’s a wideheld assumption in the establishment that outsourced manufacturing of household goods to China has produced something much cheaper but equivalent to what middle class Americans were used to in the early Seventies.
Globalism good! You can buy more!
It’s true but only to a point that overlooks a very noticeable downside. Yes, I can buy 10 disposable razors at the dollar store for 99 cents. But they are not as good as the disposable razors I used in college.
In fact, I can always count on the first use of a new 10 cent Chinese razor to nick me. Nine times out of ten, it takes one shave before the razor doesn’t constitute a hazard. I’m not sure what the manufacturing trick/cheapnis is that guarantees it, but it’s real.
The shoddiness of certain types of Chinese goods is apparent if you must buy them all the time. Socks from the dollar store last about two washes before they sprout holes. A 25 dollar pair of faux leather plastic-wedded-to- rubber men’s shoes lasted a month before cracking and becoming unwearable.
This is our America, not likely to change, a place to be endured and coped with as it gets progressively and inexorably worse.
When I see ein bisschen mob of blobby white guys ‘sieg heiling’ their new fuhrer in the current video of outrage, I’m sorry, they still have much more in common with this than Hitler’s SA gangsters.
If you think reposting the Atlantic’s smartphone video on social media makes you part of a noble army against a clear and present danger, you should probably lay off reading stories on post-election healing and the chugging of mid-priced chardonnays for awhile.
While you may be on the side that cheers when coal is condemned there is still much you ought to see in the short interview documentary, Collateral Damage.
“Nobody cares about us,” says one young man. And the bill for being cold, of not caring, just came due. That’s the long an short of it.
Argue all you wish about global warming and reliance on fossil fuels. But when you deprive hundreds of communities of a way to make a living, to be replaced only by the economies of abandoned places and you haven’t come up with a solution other than root hog or die, as a nation, we’ve failed.
I grew up in coal country and a couple of my best friends were sent to school and enjoyed life in the middle class because of the anthracite. On election day Schuylkill County went for Donald Trump, 70 percent to Hillary Clinton’s 30. It was the same ratio by which she was stoned in West Virginia.
From the Dept. of Just Sayin’: In the dollar store, almost everything is from China. I shop at the dollar store for almost everything! Like tens of million in the rigged US economy.
If President Trump slaps a 47 percent tariff on everything from China, the dollar store becomes the buck and a half store. Ten crappy plastic disposable razors for 99 cents becomes five or six crappy plastic disposable razors for the same.
I’m talking about the fact that multiplying a very small amount by a percentage equals still a small amount. (100 pennies x 50 percent = 50 pennies. 100 pennies plus another 50 equals $1.50)
Now, if you buy at Target, where it’s all from China but more high-button, your pair of Chinese-made plastic fake leather, call them pleather, shoes for 30 bucks is now about 45. If they last only two weeks before cracking this may give you pause.
Expensive luxury items made in China, think Apple, become more exclusive and the company takes a hit. Or maybe it doesn’t.
Apple, the corporate tax dodger, is innovative. It will attempt to shift manufacturing to another serf labor country. Also, consider that America’s shoeshiners, the detail workers for the plutocracy, like the brand. They can afford to be soaked for another two or three hundred dollars.
During the election, Trump attacked Apple. Of course, who knows what his position will be tomorrow? You could always ditch your iPhone for a 10 buck LG smart burnphone and a pay-as-go card at the supermarket.
British guitar buyers could soon be playing the Brexit blues as price rises caused by the slump in the value of the pound feed through to music stores.
Prices are increasing by double digits as top US brands such as Gibson and Fender increase list prices to make up for the weaker purchasing power of sterling.
Anthony Macari, co-owner of Macari’s on London’s Denmark Street, said: “We are seeing increases of 10-15%, not just on American guitars but on guitars coming in from Europe and China. Everyone is catching up.”
Who in the working class in England could afford to buy new Gibsons, though? They’re largely high end pieces. Zero or bad credit? Forget it.
It’s part of the reason the guitar rock industry is flat. Think that wonderful term from teh Great Recession, delinquent or non-performing assets.
Well, there are always “Chibsons,” Chinese counterfeits sold through Alibaba. (Furthermore, are counterfeits subject to tariff?) Or Epiphones and Squiers, still cheap from China.
Here, if Trump actually implements a 47 percent tariff on them the rock bottom models only rise from 80-110 dollars to 160. It’s the Mexican-made Fenders where such a tariff would really begin to bite into Fender’s business since they’re the mid-level price instruments. A tariff shoves their prices up into the lower range of an American-made Fender, rendering the Mexican manufacturng facility uncompetitive.
But the American-made guitar industry has been in the doldrums for a long time. Classic rock is no longer hip with young people; neither is playing the electric guitar. Rising prices due to trade war just might not mean that much for the industry domestically.
“The industry’s challenge — or opportunity — is getting people to commit for life,” said Andy Mooney, Fender’s chief executive officer. “A pretty big milestone for someone adopting any form of instrument is getting them through the first song.”
The $6 billion U.S. retail market for musical instruments has been stagnant for five years, according to data compiled by research firm IBISWorld, and would-be guitar buyers have more to distract them than ever. So how do you convince someone to put down the iPhone …
“Fender says it hauls in about a half-billion dollars a year in revenue and is on track to grow in the high single digits this year,” continues the piece. “That’s still down from its $700 million in revenue in 2011 …”
What do do? What to do?
There’s not a lot that can be done. The electric guitar, the basic models, anyway, are as near perfect in design as possible. Adding software and chips to them has been sngularly meh. Largely, no one cares, who already plays.
Fender thinks development of tuning apps may be one answer. I’m not sold but I’m the old white coot.
What’s left is to curry and maintain the high-end snob market, embracing the American-based artisanal business model for the few left with any money, now that the middle class is largely gone. “[The] most devoted … evolving into collectors, their walls hung with high-end instruments,” is how the newspaper puts it.
The paradox, or tragedy, which I’ve mentioned before, is that Leo Fender made his instruments and amplifiers for that middle class. And it is in the hands of that class, here and in England (where the musicians were working class) that the instruments rode to into the history books.
“But what about Wal-Mart?” someone from the old hoosegow screamed on my Facebook timeline. “Who is going to pay for all of this? WE ARE …”
I don’t entirely agree and am not actually opposed to potential trade wars with China or Mexico.
Hard as it is to currently believe, classical economics, as explained by a guy like Dean Baker used to call for rich nations like the US to perhaps run a trade surplus and export capital, while the emerging nations use the money to make things bought by their own people.
In the economic textbooks, rich countries like the United States are supposed to be exporting capital to the developing world. This provides them the means to build up their capital stock and infrastructure, while maintaining the living standards of their populations. This is the standard economic story where the problem is scarcity.
But to justify trade policies that have harmed tens of millions of U.S. workers, either by costing them jobs or depressing their wages, the Post discards standard economics and tells us the problem facing people in the developing world is that there is too much stuff. If we didn’t buy the goods produced in the developing world then there would just be a massive glut of unsold products.
In the standard theory the people in the developing world buy their own stuff, with rich countries like the U.S. providing the financing. It actually did work this way in the 1990s …