Tag Archives: Current Events

Well lookee here!

My President has needed some good news. He’s needed some good news very badly.

In today’s media world, only headlines count, so here are a few headlines that will make it to the top of the newscasts. It’s not jobs, but it’s a welcome bit of good news.

WASHINGTON POST

U.S. economy soars in fourth quarter of 2009

WALL STREET JOURNAL

GDP Expands at 5.7% Rate

NEW YORK TIMES

U.S. Economy Grew at Fastest Pace in 6 Years Last Quarter

And about Haiti

“What the hell are they doing down there?! Why isn’t more getting done? What’s taking so long? Who’s in charge?”

I’ve been hearing that for quite a few days now. (Shades of New Orleans? Do I need to re-evaluate? Not really. It was a very different situation.)

This may be a level of natural disaster entirely new to us – a level that tears down an entire society-  its buildings, equipment, communications and infrastructure. Even today, the government is unable to determine where all the ministers are or if they’re even alive. Haiti won’t even be able to collect taxes for some time. So how to fund government functions?

I cannot get my head around the fact of up to two million(!) homeless in an already  overpopulated city without water, shelter, food, income or medical care. Subject to very dangerous continuing aftershocks. Plus decomposing bodies throughout the wreckage. Nowhere to put the wreckage. Roads impassable. Human waste. Garbage. Prisons and the insane roaming the streets. Orphans, elderly without care. No phones. No electric.

That income thing – it’s evaporated. The people in a poor country do not have savings – even assuming the bank still stands and can access records. People in a poor country live on earnings. They won’t be earning for quite a while.

An airport with single runway. Only a few planes at a time able to land. And it takes hours to unload, before they can take off again to make room for another plane. Delivering supplies requires knowing where they’re needed, working trucks to transport it and roads for the trucks. This was and – even with visible improvements – horrific.

Civilization is a thin veneer – in Haiti and in New York. Remove the water and electric and communications and any society devolves very quickly. So far, looting and disorder are very isolated incidents, which is really remarkable.

Their situation is so fragile that even rain would be a double edged sword, capable of degrading whatever shelter they’ve been able to fabricate while providing some fresh water.

We, and the rest of the international community – especially from the Americas – will be there for years. Years.

It’s a real bag of goodies

Been browsing Politfact this morning since thier editor appeared on CSpan’s Washington Journal and it’s a terrific and useful place! I’m intruiged by their regular feature calLed TRUTH-O-METER: The latest statements we’ve reviewed for PolitiFact National. They do a pretty thorough link-rich job of evaluating current political statements from Obama to Beck. Good stuff. I’m bookmarking it right quick and it’s now on my blogroll if you want to take a look now and again. (The link seems to be a little kindy)

Kennedy weeps

Many people will believe Massachusetts happened because of Obama. Massachusetts happened because:

Coakley was a lousy candidate, who ran a lousy campaign. On top of it she was tone deaf to what’s going on around her. She took the vote for granted. And interestingly, even though Kennedy had always won by a huge margin, he never ever took the voters for granted. He campaigned in the streets every single time. She didn’t. Also, she was a snob.

Plus, Brown is a hunk and ran a fabulous campaign. Plus, the number one thing people vote on is their pocketbook.

As recently as two–three weeks ago, she was ahead. That’s when the FOXish media (Rush et al) got really big and noisy about Brown, national money started pouring in to his campaign, and he took it all and ran. His voters got very motivated. She saw that and didn’t change a single thing.

He never mentioned he was the Republican candidate, acted as if he were an independent. He tapped the unaffiliated anger out there. He tapped the tea partiers.

The other night, Jon Stewart said: “ . . .if Coakley loses, Democrats will only have an 18 vote majority in the Senate, which is more than George W. Bush ever had in the Senate when he did whatever the fuck he wanted to. . . It’s not that the Democrats are playing checkers and the Republicans are playing chess. It’s that the Republicans are playing chess and the Democrats are in the nurse’s office because once again they glued their balls to their thighs.”

So that was a big issue too . . .

Double ouch

On polls and predictions, I trust Nate Silver at five-thirty-eight; he knows his numbers. And tonight he’s calling it for Scott Brown over Coakley tomorrow in Massachusetts by a big number.

Silver, as he says, correctly predicted all 35 Senate races in 2008. He says Scott gets 74%. Ted Kennedy’s old seat in Massachusetts goes to a Republican. I don’t yet know what to make of that. Certainly angry independents are a big part of what’s happening and they will turn out for Brown.

If I had any, I’d eat a big big piece of chocolate cake, drink a long cold glass of milk, put on flannel pajamas and curl up in bed. The bed part I can do. And will. Since the world is ending.

“We did it!”

That’ s what Henry Higgins crowed in My Fair Lady, when his little experiment with Eliza Doolittle succeeded. He was jubilant.

Not so jubilant today is Paul Krugman commenting on the why of the epic failure of our banking system. But he sang the same song, if with a different tone. ‘We did it’ he said.

Like me, Krugman saw a good deal of the first (of many to come) hearing of the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission on Monday. Unlike many on the right, I listen to Krugman.  I give him the respect due a PhD Nobel-prize winning columnist at the New York Times who has also taught a generation of aspiring economists at Princeton. The right in this country dismisses him. They call him ‘shrill’.

Here he is today reminding us of something that gets lost in all the empty noise:

There were two moments in Wednesday’s hearing that stood out. One was when Jamie Dimon of JPMorgan Chase declared that a financial crisis is something that “happens every five to seven years. We shouldn’t be surprised.”  . . . But the truth is that the United States managed to avoid major financial crises for half a century after the Pecora hearings were held [in the 1930’s] and Congress enacted major banking reforms. It was only after we forgot those lessons, and dismantled effective regulation, that our financial system went back to being dangerously unstable.