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marmar

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Gender: Male
Hometown: Detroit, MI
Member since: Fri Oct 29, 2004, 12:18 AM
Number of posts: 74,622

Journal Archives

Mitch McConnell attempts to convince voters he's not an a**hole


By Richard Cowan

PADUCAH, Ky, Sept 21 (Reuters) - Mitch McConnell is hardly a lovable guy. The Republican leader in the U.S. Senate has a dour public persona and many of his constituents don't view him as a "real Kentuckian," according to a Reuters/Ipsos poll that underscores what his election campaign already knows - McConnell has an image problem.

While other politicians might be deterred by polls showing how unpopular they are in their home state, McConnell has risen to the challenge as he seeks a sixth term in what is perhaps his toughest re-election battle in a 30-year Senate career.

Relying on broad financial support from corporations and donors, he has launched a series of withering attack ads on Democratic challenger Alison Lundergan Grimes, linking her with an even more unpopular President Barack Obama. At the same time, McConnell has used social media to soften his image and make light of his blandness.

.....(snip).....

A recent Reuters/Ipsos poll found more than half of the state's voters view McConnell unfavorably, one-third describe him as an arrogant Washington insider and only 11 percent chose the words "real Kentuckian" to describe him. .................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/09/21/mitch-mcconnell-senate_n_5856792.html?ncid=fcbklnkushpmg00000013



Doomsday ISIS Predictions Generating Bad Policy


(The Progressive) South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham recently joined many of his Republican colleagues, declaring that ISIS is an existential threat to the United States.

“This is a war we’re fighting, not a counterterrorism operation,” Graham said. “This President needs to rise to the occasion before we all get killed back here at home.”

Some GOP politicians are warning that the group may have already infiltrated the border.

Texas Governor Rick Perry said that there’s “a very real possibility” that ISIS terrorists may have entered the country. Former Massachusetts Scott Brown, currently a senatorial candidate in New Hampshire, said that members of ISIS might “actually be coming through the border right now.”

....snip....

“This is a terrorist group the likes of which we haven’t seen before, and we better stop them now,” says Democratic Senator Bill Nelson of Florida. “It ought to be pretty clear when they start cutting off the heads of journalists and say they’re going to fly the black flag of ISIS over the White House that ISIS is a clear and present danger.”

....snip....

Raed Jarrar of the American Friends Service Committee also argues for a more sensible approach.

“ISIS has a limited capacity, and it poses a small threat to nations within its reach in the Middle East,” he told The Progressive. “The threat it poses to the United States and Europe is even more limited. The FBI, the National Counterterrorism Center, and other experts agree there is no imminent threat to the U.S.” ...............(more)

- See more at: http://www.progressive.org/news/2014/09/187864/doomsday-isis-predictions-generating-bad-policy#sthash.qLZKtmH0.dpuf



Professor Richard Wolff: Socialism and Workers' Self-Directed Enterprises


Socialism and Workers' Self-Directed Enterprises
by Richard D. Wolff


​Global capitalism has huge problems coping with the second worst collapse in its history. Its extreme and deepening inequalities have provoked millions to question and challenge capitalism. Yet socialists of all sorts now find it more difficult than ever to make effective criticisms and offer alternatives that inspire.

Part of the problem lies with classic socialism as it evolved over the last 150 years. Positions and strategies that once mobilized the victims and critics of capitalism are no longer, by themselves, effective. Not only has capitalism changed, but its celebrants also developed powerful critiques of socialist theory and especially of actually existing socialisms such as the Soviet Union (USSR). Socialism has not responded well to capitalism’s changes nor to its critiques; it has not made the necessary strategic and tactical shifts. Nonetheless, socialism retains the means to overcome its problems with some long-overdue self-criticism and innovation.

By classic socialism I mean the tradition that differentiated itself from capitalism chiefly in terms of macro-economic institutions. Classic socialists defined capitalism as (1) private ownership of means of production and (2) distribution of resources and products by means of market exchanges. The socialist alternative entailed (1) socialized or public ownership of means of production (operated by the state as agent of the people as a whole) and (2) distribution of resources and products via state planning. Socialists attacked capitalism for the injustices, cyclical instability, and gross productive inefficiencies (e.g. unemployment, stagnation, etc.) that they traced to private enterprises and markets. In the socialists’ alternative, a workers’ state would control or own enterprises and plan the distribution of resources and products – in the democratically determined interests of the majority.

Such criticisms of capitalism and that transitional program to an alternative system rewarded socialists in their political, economic, and cultural work. Socialist movements spread across the countries of the world during the nineteenth and to the last third of the twentieth century. Socialists effectively challenged capitalism, often took and held political power, and influenced many academics, intellectuals, popular organizations, artistic projects, and so on. But now socialism’s growth in many places has stalled or reversed. ...........(more)

The complete piece is at: http://mrzine.monthlyreview.org/2014/wolff140914.html



Threesome With Homeless Man Turns Violent After Beef Taste-Test: Cops


Police say a threesome in Bay City, Michigan went horribly awry last week after the menage a trois devolved into violence and meat-throwing.

Martin Miller, 30, and his wife, Daniela Miller, had been sharing their home with 20-year-old Michael Chaney, the Bay City Times reports. Chaney told authorities that he is homeless.

Last week, the couple and Chaney engaged in a shared sexual experience, after which Chaney told cops Martin Miller became “jealous” of him.

A few days later, on September 12, Chaney was cooking ground beef and brought a spoonful of it into the bathroom to ask the Millers to give it a taste test. Daniela Miller was taking a bath at the time. It’s unclear what her Martin Miller was doing in the bathroom, but when Chaney offered up the meat, Martin Miller allegedly grabbed the beef and threw it into the bathtub. ...............(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/09/18/threesome-homeless-man-beef-taste-test_n_5843732.html?utm_hp_ref=weird-news



Fed – Forget “Escape Velocity,” Not Gonna Happen, Ever


By Wolf Richter, a San Francisco based executive, entrepreneur, start up specialist, and author, with extensive international work experience. Originally published at Wolf Street.


Wall Street’s and the media’s attention was riveted single-mindedly on whether or not the Fed would include in its statement the two words, “considerable time,” the two vaguest, stretchable latex words available that describe absolutely nothing and leave the door wide open for wishful thinkers of every stripe. That’s what the Fed’s gyrations since the financial crisis have so successfully accomplished; they have reduced the market, a place of price discovery, to a crummy joke.

The Fed delivered those two words, but during the press conference, Fed Chair Janet Yellen doused them with so many qualifiers that they’ve become even more meaningless, if that were even possible.

Wishful thinkers still see Yellen as a pure dove, while others worry that she has turned into a closet hawk who is afraid of letting this tsunami of free liquidity inflate asset bubbles and build up risks so immense that even a minor hiccup would bring down the entire financial system once again. And this time, under her watch.

Clearly, FOMC members, and particularly Yellen, would try hard to dodge blame. But after having printed $3 trillion, and after having forced short-term rates to near zero – and below the rate of inflation – for what likely will be more than six years, and after having messed with the markets throughout, they too can imagine that blame for the fiascos these policies might end up causing will be hard to dodge.

But beyond its crummy joke, the Fed has done something else: it has removed “Escape Velocity” – the economic surge in the US that has been falsely promised for five years in a row to rationalize soaring stock prices – from its vision of the future. ...............(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2014/09/fed-forget-escape-velocity-not-gonna-happen-ever.html


Perpetual War: How Does This End?






Fed – Forget “Escape Velocity,” Not Gonna Happen, Ever


By Wolf Richter, a San Francisco based executive, entrepreneur, start up specialist, and author, with extensive international work experience. Originally published at Wolf Street.


Wall Street’s and the media’s attention was riveted single-mindedly on whether or not the Fed would include in its statement the two words, “considerable time,” the two vaguest, stretchable latex words available that describe absolutely nothing and leave the door wide open for wishful thinkers of every stripe. That’s what the Fed’s gyrations since the financial crisis have so successfully accomplished; they have reduced the market, a place of price discovery, to a crummy joke.

The Fed delivered those two words, but during the press conference, Fed Chair Janet Yellen doused them with so many qualifiers that they’ve become even more meaningless, if that were even possible.

Wishful thinkers still see Yellen as a pure dove, while others worry that she has turned into a closet hawk who is afraid of letting this tsunami of free liquidity inflate asset bubbles and build up risks so immense that even a minor hiccup would bring down the entire financial system once again. And this time, under her watch.

Clearly, FOMC members, and particularly Yellen, would try hard to dodge blame. But after having printed $3 trillion, and after having forced short-term rates to near zero – and below the rate of inflation – for what likely will be more than six years, and after having messed with the markets throughout, they too can imagine that blame for the fiascos these policies might end up causing will be hard to dodge.

But beyond its crummy joke, the Fed has done something else: it has removed “Escape Velocity” – the economic surge in the US that has been falsely promised for five years in a row to rationalize soaring stock prices – from its vision of the future. ...............(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2014/09/fed-forget-escape-velocity-not-gonna-happen-ever.html



An Accident Waiting to Happen: The $1 Trillion Leveraged Loan Market


from Naked Capitalism:


An Accident Waiting to Happen: The $1 Trillion Leveraged Loan Market
Posted on September 19, 2014 by Yves Smith


A new article in Bloomberg gives a well-researched overview of a mess-in-the-making that regulators are choosing to ignore: the leveraged loan market. For newbies, “leveraged loans” means “risky loans to big companies”. For the most part, they fund private equity buyouts and restructurings. The juicy fees on these financings, 1% to 5% of the amount raised, versus an average of 1.3% for junk bonds, is a big reason why none of the incumbents is particularly eager to change a market that is working just fine for them in its current, creaky form.

The problems with leveraged loans are twofold. The first is that they are in the stone ages from an operational standpoint. It takes an average of 20 days to settle a leveraged loan, up from just under 18 days in the last leveraged loan boom, the eve of the financial crisis in 2007. That contrasts with 3 days or fewer for junk bonds. When investors buy new loan participations, the delays can extend into months since investors make binding commitments to fund the loan but the underlying acquisition can be held up. That also means if interest rates rise between the time of commitment versus when the transaction settles, investors are stuck with having to fund a deal at a rate that is now below market, leaving them in a loss position on a mark-to-market basis from the get-go.

And get a load of this:

While buyers and sellers can trade stocks and bonds among themselves, they need the approval of corporate borrowers before they can exchange loans. Clerks must then update loan documents to reflect new lenders.

With loans, “there’s a high amount of faxing going on still,” said Virginie O’Shea, a senior analyst at Aite Group LLC in London. “People don’t realize that fax machines are still around in this day and age but they are.”


This primitive state of affairs results from the fact that loans are not securities and thus are not subject to the tender ministrations of the SEC, including its rules on settlement. And the Fed and OCC have politely not taken any apparent interest in this market. ...................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2014/09/accident-waiting-happen-1-trillion-leveraged-loan-market.html



Professor Richard Wolff: Socialism and Workers' Self-Directed Enterprises


Socialism and Workers' Self-Directed Enterprises
by Richard D. Wolff


​Global capitalism has huge problems coping with the second worst collapse in its history. Its extreme and deepening inequalities have provoked millions to question and challenge capitalism. Yet socialists of all sorts now find it more difficult than ever to make effective criticisms and offer alternatives that inspire.

Part of the problem lies with classic socialism as it evolved over the last 150 years. Positions and strategies that once mobilized the victims and critics of capitalism are no longer, by themselves, effective. Not only has capitalism changed, but its celebrants also developed powerful critiques of socialist theory and especially of actually existing socialisms such as the Soviet Union (USSR). Socialism has not responded well to capitalism’s changes nor to its critiques; it has not made the necessary strategic and tactical shifts. Nonetheless, socialism retains the means to overcome its problems with some long-overdue self-criticism and innovation.

By classic socialism I mean the tradition that differentiated itself from capitalism chiefly in terms of macro-economic institutions. Classic socialists defined capitalism as (1) private ownership of means of production and (2) distribution of resources and products by means of market exchanges. The socialist alternative entailed (1) socialized or public ownership of means of production (operated by the state as agent of the people as a whole) and (2) distribution of resources and products via state planning. Socialists attacked capitalism for the injustices, cyclical instability, and gross productive inefficiencies (e.g. unemployment, stagnation, etc.) that they traced to private enterprises and markets. In the socialists’ alternative, a workers’ state would control or own enterprises and plan the distribution of resources and products – in the democratically determined interests of the majority.

Such criticisms of capitalism and that transitional program to an alternative system rewarded socialists in their political, economic, and cultural work. Socialist movements spread across the countries of the world during the nineteenth and to the last third of the twentieth century. Socialists effectively challenged capitalism, often took and held political power, and influenced many academics, intellectuals, popular organizations, artistic projects, and so on. But now socialism’s growth in many places has stalled or reversed. ...........(more)

The complete piece is at: http://mrzine.monthlyreview.org/2014/wolff140914.html



Moyers: Climate Change You Can Believe In

by Bill Moyers and Michael Winship


Just as Sunday’s big People’s Climate March and next week’s UN global summit on climate converge here in New York City, the nation and world are experiencing weather of an intensity that should rattle the stubborn false convictions of even the most fervent climate change denier.

Terrible flooding in India and Pakistan, the worst in more than a century, with heavy monsoon rains, 500 lives lost and hundreds of thousands left stranded… thousands of wildfires ignited by severe drought in California and the West… flashfloods in Arizona… the punch of a hurricane pounding Mexico’s Baja coast, the strongest in nearly fifty years, battering locals and trapping tourists in their hotels without electricity.

We know it’s important not to confuse day-to-day weather patterns with climate, which measure variations of things like temperatures and humidity over long periods of time, but it’s clear that these disasters are made more powerful by global warming. The pain is only going to get worse for us and for future generations, unless we act now. Our governments must reduce those carbon emissions that are heating up the atmosphere before it’s too late.

But up to now, world leaders have refused to give global warming the crisis treatment that’s needed, even as the evidence mounts day by day. A draft report from the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change says that the vast amounts of greenhouse gases being released into the atmosphere will have “severe, pervasive and irreversible impacts,” and that we’re already seeing the effect in heat waves, floods and rising sea levels. Another UN report, this one from the World Meteorological Organization, says that amounts of carbon dioxide — the gas that traps heat in our atmosphere — are increasing even faster than scientists predicted, more than in the last 800,000 years at least. The accounting firm PriceWaterhouseCoopers has crunched the numbers and spots an “unmistakable trend” that puts us just twenty years away from catastrophe. “In a highly globalized economy,” they write, “no country is likely to be spared as the impacts of climate change ripple around the world…” ....................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.truth-out.org/opinion/item/26299-climate-change-you-can-believe-in



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