The Coming Financial Crisis….

When I was young, I recall the comfort I got when the adults would talk about the big issues of the day. I could tell that they had the issues well in hand.

Today I heard an interview with Hank Paulson, Timothy Geithner and Ben Bernanke where they talked about the triggers of the 2008 Financial Crisis. Listening to that interview I again noticed a feeling a comfort as they discussed the events of that crisis. Here is the interview (and it’s a good listen if you have the time):

Later in the same program that contained that interview, I heard a report that the new tariffs were beginning to give rise to significant practical harm to U.S. businesses. I also heard a report that the stock market had taken a significant nose-dive.

In that contrast — with Hank, Tim and Ben on the one side and a different group on the other side — I realized that I have the opposite feeling about the current economic situation.

I have a feeling like there are NO adults in the room.

And I have a feeling like there is no minimum safe distance from the calamity that this current government could wreak.

And it scares me.

Ret. Gen. Breedlove Talks about the Strength of Three Branches of Government and about Russia

epa/OLIVIER HOSLET

Today, NPR’s “Morning Edition” aired an interview with retired General Philip Breedlove, who was the supreme allied commander in Europe from 2013 to 2016.

The interview can be found here and below and is worth listening to in its entirety.


Two points stood out for me in his remarks:

1. General Breedlove’s report of how he and others sought to reassure our allies regarding 45’s presidency — and how those reassurances matched up with the actual results of these last 40 days. General Breedlove:

…back during the campaign, when questions were being raised, we reminded our great European partners that in the United States there are three parts of our government – the judiciary, the legislative and the executive – and that the powers are divided on purpose. And that was so that no one branch could run off.

And so what we talked to them about has very much played out, and it’s reassuring. They have seen the legislative become very much involved in the process. They have seen the judiciary become very much involved, concretely, in the process. And so what our European allies have seen is that America works.

I too find this reassuring.

2. When asked about his thoughts regarding Russian sanctions he replied in a manner that I found to be spot on. General Breedlove:

[W]e do, in the future, need to have a conversation with and try to move forward with Russia…what we don’t need is to do that in a manner that seems to approve or not hold [Russia] accountable for some pretty wrong actions that they have taken across the past, starting in ’08 with the invasion of Georgia and then in ’14, the invasion of Crimea, and then subsequently, the invasion of the Donbass – and frankly, some of the way they have conducted their self in Syria. These are all things that we cannot allow to stand or allow to be affirmed or approved in any way in any deal that we might make in the future.

I am heartened to find dialogue that is firm but not inflammatory. Pursuing dialogue that moves us toward Russia without condoning behavior we don’t like is a goal I support.

Who have you found in and around 45’s administration that is impressing you?

Ryancare in Place of Obamacare: Is This What the Working Class White Trump Voter Really Wanted?

From an Editorial in yesterday’s New York Times:

In a half-baked policy paper released on Thursday, the House speaker, Paul Ryan, trotted out washed-up ideas for “improving” the country’s health care system that would do anything but. For example, the paper calls for reducing spending on Medicaid, which now provides insurance to more than 74 million poor, disabled and older people. Many millions of them would be cast out of the program. The Republican plan would also force most people who don’t get their health insurance through an employer to pay more by slashing subsidies that the A.C.A., or Obamacare, now provides. The proposal would allow families to sock away more money in health savings accounts, which may sound good at first but would primarily benefit affluent people who can afford to save more.

If even half of these assertions are true, this modification of Obamacare looks like a disaster for the stereotypical Trump voter. And, just so no one is misled, I am not trying to set up an “I told you so” taunt.  I’d much rather that the Trump voters force their President to actually work for his voters.

Notwithstanding the possibility that I likely will financially benefit from the repeal of Obamacare, 45 is clearly NOT creating a society in which I want to live.

And I will not be appeased until 45 actually starts helping people (other than himself) — and yes, I want him to help people even if that help is a financial drain on the affluent portion of society.

It Used To Be That Robots Couldn’t Do Everything

For the longest time, in the clothing industry, you needed some actual human to actually sew a garment together. That was because fabric was flexible and a robot couldn’t manage it into and through a sewing machine.

All that just changed.

Oh and did you see the video showing the robot teaching itself how to play a children’s ball in cup game? It’s terrifying.

Change can be Frightening

In today’s NY Times, David Brooks wrote a piece that ended with this:

The Democrats may have just dominated a game we are no longer playing.

Both conventions featured one grieving parent after another. The fear of violent death is on everybody’s mind — from ISIS, cops, lone sociopaths. The essential contract of society — that if you behave responsibly things will work out — has been severed for many people.

It could be that in this moment of fear, cynicism, anxiety and extreme pessimism, many voters may have decided that civility is a surrender to a rigged system, that optimism is the opiate of the idiots and that humility and gentleness are simply surrendering to the butchers of ISIS. If that’s the case then the throes of a completely new birth are upon us and Trump is a man from the future.

If that’s true it’s not just politics that has changed, but the country.

I’m worried he could be right and that we might all pay for it. But, maybe that’s just me being afraid of change.

I’ll have to give that a bit more thought.