This bald eagle became trapped in a passing car [a Saturn] in Clay County, Florida on Saturday, presumably while minding its own business. The look on the bird’s face really says it all. But police and emergency responders were able to extract the unfortunate creature and get it to a wildlife sanctuary, where it’s currently being nursed back to health.
The bird will be fine, but isn’t this the perfect meme for 2016? And we still have 25 days left until we are also liberated from being stuck in Trump’s grille.
Does anyone else see the irony of our great American symbol being stuck in the grille of a discontinued car brand? Here is a pic of the rescue:
Imagine the dialogue between the first responders and the eagle:
“You have to come outta there. America needs you!”
“Nope. I’m not coming out until November 9th. Maybe not even then.”
“Oh come on. You can’t just stay in there forever.”
“Fix America’s Grille Again”, or as one Gizmodo commenter said, imagine: Before help showed up, there had to be a 911 call:
911: “911 what is your emergency?”
Driver: “I have a bald eagle stuck in my grill.”
911: “You are choking on a chicken? Sir, please use slang we can understand.”
These events all happened the day before the UN General Assembly meets for a week in New York, so the bombings could have serious political meaning. But politicians are telling us these events are not linked. Just a coincidence, they say.
Meanwhile, this could be Hillary Clinton’s worst nightmare, as Donald Trump says we are not strong enough in the face of terrorism, while Hillary has said that we are “winning” the war on terra. Trump told a crowd in Colorado Springs:
I must tell you that just before I got off the plane, a bomb went off in New York. And nobody knows exactly what’s going on. But boy, we are living in a time — we better get very tough, folks. We better get very, very tough…
Because we’re not tough enough on terror just yet.
So today’s wake up is about America’s fear. 15 years after 9/11, it’s hard to remember what this country was like before: How the American spirit was so much stronger at the height of the Cold War than it is today.
Back then, we feared the USSR and dying (frying) in a preemptive nuclear war. We all believed we would have no more than 20 minutes to prepare for Nuclear Armageddon. There were municipal fallout shelters. Some had shelters in their homes. We practiced getting under our desks at schools, even though we knew that would be fruitless.
But there was a very different feel to America back then. People were far from paralyzed by fear; they controlled their sense of imminent danger. There was a military draft. We worked, took the kids to sporting events, and our kids went to school every day with far less concern for their safety than today.
Since 9/11, we do face very real threats from terrorism, by actors both foreign and domestic. But, the probability of instant death like we had for 40 years, from the 1950s until 1990, when the Soviet Union collapsed, doesn’t exist today.
Wrongo is not a student of mass psychosis, but asks, if the nature of today’s threat, while serious, does not lead to instant death for millions of Americans, why are we so paralyzed by fear? No IED is going to end America as we know it, no gun or knife-toting terrorist is going to kill millions of Americans.
A zero domestic deaths from terrorism policy is doomed to failure.
For the past 15 years our last two presidents have said: “my first responsibility is to keep you safe.” But, haven’t we really needed leaders who would say: “my first responsibility is to defend your freedom and personal liberty?”
But no politician today would dare say that, because no one would vote for them. This is the nation we have become after 9/11, and we need to wake up before we surrender even more of the freedoms guaranteed by our Bill of Rights.
To help America wake up, here is “Radioactive” by Imagine Dragons, from their 2012 album, “Night Visions”. The song was Rolling Stone’s “Biggest Rock Hit of the Year” in 2013. This video has had almost 600 million views since it was posted:
Those who read the Wrongologist in email can view the video here.
I’m waking up, I feel it in my bones
Enough to make my systems blow
Welcome to the new age, to the new age
Welcome to the new age, to the new age
Whoa, oh, oh, oh, oh, I’m radioactive, radioactive
Whoa, oh, oh, oh, oh, I’m radioactive, radioactive
I raise my flags, don my clothes
It’s a revolution, I suppose
We’re painted red to fit right in
I’m breaking in, shaping up, then checking out on the prison bus
This is it, the apocalypse
Welcome to the new age indeed!
People should learn about England and Ireland during the Sinn Fein bombing attacks that lasted from 1969 to 2001. Wrongo lived in London for part of that time, and while fear existed and the risk was real, people dusted themselves off, and soldiered on.
We should not let fear decide our Presidential election, or further vitiate the Constitution.
Colin Powell’s emails were hacked, and America loved it:
OTOH, Powell lied at the UN about WMDs. That helped start an unnecessary war in which many died. People have short memories. His standing should not be revived by a few blunt emails.
Hillary is back on the road. Is it too little vision, too late?
Dems should be ashamed, ashamed that their candidate runs so poorly with the young. That she is an ineffective campaigner. This is reminiscent of the summer of 1988, when Dukakis spent a week in August in Nantucket thinking he was ahead in the polls (Clinton spent two weeks in the Hamptons). She and her team are badly misdiagnosing what drives voters. Every response seems weak and ineffective.
Wells Fargo caught in phony account scheme:
Wells fired 5300 “low level” employees, roughly 1% of the workforce, for signing up customers for checking accounts and credit cards without their knowledge. About 2 million sham accounts were opened, complete with forged signatures, phony email addresses, and fake PIN numbers, created by employees who were hounded by supervisors to meet daily account quotas. But the executive at the top of this hot steaming pile, Carrie Tolstedt, left in July with a $125 million retirement package.
Trump retracts his birther scam with an untrue swipe at Hillary Clinton:
From Mark Shields on the NewsHour about Trump’s birther nonsense:
He wasn’t only the loudest and the highest-profile and the most persistent and the most well-publicized birther, he, Donald Trump…lied. He lied consistently and persistently.
And, today, without explanation or excuse, he just changed his position and tried to absolutely falsely shift the blame onto Hillary Clinton…he debased democracy. He debased the national debate. He appealed to that which is most ignoble or least noble in all of us.
From David Brooks on the NewsHour:
Usually, there’s some tangential relationship to the truth…But now we’re in a reverse, Orwellian inversion of the truth with this. And so we have a team of staffers and then the candidate himself who have taken the normal spin and smashed all the rules. And so we are really in Orwell land. We are in “1984.” And it’s interesting that an authoritarian personality type comes in at the same time with a complete disrespect for even tangential relationship to the truth that words are unmoored…And so what’s white is black, and what is up is down, what is down is up. And that really is something new in politics.
The [economic] numbers are getting worse and worse all the time.
He was saying that he thinks the economy is going to tank, and that he hopes he will benefit politically. It’s clear that if his assertion were true it would help him, but, it’s not:
The BLS reported Friday that nonfarm payrolls rose by a seasonally adjusted 255,000 in July. Revisions showed US employers added 18,000 more jobs in May and June than previously estimated. The unemployment rate was unchanged at 4.9% in July.
In any case, it’s good to know that the Pant Load is rooting for an economic downturn to happen in the next 90 days, so he can personally benefit. Seems like his normal mode of operation.
Sorry Donny, the American economy has now experienced 77 months of consecutive private sector job growth. He’s wrong, but OTOH, it is a very uneven recovery.
On to cartoons. The Rio Olympics dominated Trump’s efforts to command the news cycle this week.
Brazil put its Christ on the Hill statue in an appropriate garb for the Games:
Concerns about Rio’s water reminds us that Congress didn’t appropriate any money for Flint:
Many athletes pulled out due to the Zika virus when the solution was Trump-simple:
Being in Rio gives athletes a respite from the news at home:
The ceremonial dumpster lighting kicked off our presidential Olympics:
Temperatures have soared in western Russia’s Yamal tundra this summer. Across Siberia, some provinces warmed an additional 10 degrees Fahrenheit beyond normal. In the fields, large bubbles of vegetation appeared above the melting permafrost — strange pockets of methane or, more likely, water. Record fires blazed through dry Russian grassland. In one of the more unusual symptoms of unseasonable warmth, long-dormant bacteria appear to be active. For the first time since 1941, anthrax struck western Siberia.
Ok, so only 13 Siberian nomads have gotten anthrax so far, and the science is unsettled on tundra warming.
Here are a few cartoons to take your minds off the living hell of the election season, or alternatively, taking it off of anthrax and the Zika virus.
Hillary’s nomination was greeted by change on the home front:
Bernie mansplained politics to a supporter in Philly:
Trump’s negotiating style puzzles Putin:
Boris and Natasha get a new gig:
The Dems had a bit of buyer’s remorse:
The big fear with Trump voters between now and November:
We are told that the Pant Suit is the candidate of the status quo, while the Pant Load is a wild card who will bring about change, possibly change that causes immediate remorse if he is elected. That’s just what the UK is experiencing. After a weekend facing the realities of Brexit, 3.5 million Brits have signed a petition for a do-over vote on “Remain vs. Leave”.
The pundits say Clinton can’t be the candidate of change because she supports President Obama, and the common view is that her first term would be Obama’s third term. But, if Brexit has relevance for the American election, she must avoid appearing to be the candidate of the status quo.
If the Pant Load can make the election about any kind of change vs. more of the same, Clinton will be vulnerable.
She should run against Trump’s fitness to govern, and the fitness of the Republicans in Congress to govern as well. After all, Republican Congressional leaders decided not to govern in January 2009, and so far, they have not paid a political price for their obstructionism. Of course, Mr. Obama tried to run against the do-nothing Congress in 2014, and the result was that the GOP took control of both houses.
But if it could ever work, it’s now. The most recent Economist/YouGov poll reported a 9% approval for Congress among registered voters. It is literally the most unpopular Congress in the history of polling. Clinton can make the attack more effectively than Obama, because it won’t sound as much like blame-shifting.
She should run to enact specific things that Congress has blocked – infrastructure spending, ending tax breaks for corporate off-shoring, and universal background checks for gun ownership. But she needs to distance herself from more from Obama on global trade deals. Consider this from the Detroit Free Press:
CNN’s exit poll, which surveyed 1,601 Michigan Democratic voters as they left their precincts Tuesday, showed that 58% of them believed trade with other countries costs jobs, compared to 30% who believe they create them. And among those who believe trade costs jobs, Sanders won by a large margin, 58%-41%.
Michigan is a key state for Clinton, and she needs to build a firewall in a few other states that Obama won in 2012, but where she now has some trouble, if the June 21 Quinnipiac polls for Florida, Ohio, and Pennsylvania are correct. The polls show Clinton with a clear lead in Florida (47%-39%), but locked in ties in Ohio (40%-40%) and Pennsylvania (42%-41%).
She has to keep the Pant Load from winning both Ohio and Pennsylvania, which right now, look to be toss-ups, meaning Trump could win both. Pennsylvania also has a number of swing House districts and an important Senate race, so Clinton must work hard there, even if it were completely in the bag for her. OTOH, PA elected a Democratic governor in the 2014 Republican landslide, and hasn’t gone red in a presidential election since 1988. This, from Booman:
For starters, Obama won in 2012 with 332 Electoral College votes to Mitt Romney’s 206. If we keep everything the same and award Ohio and Pennsylvania to Trump, the result is 294-244.
So, winning Ohio and Pennsylvania would be a start for the Pant Load, but without Florida, it’s hard to get from 244 to the 270 votes needed to win. In fact, without Florida, Trump would have to win Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, New Hampshire and Michigan, while losing Iowa in order to garner a 277-261 victory.
It’s a long way to November, and who knows who will win? It’s difficult to believe it will be close, but we lived through two Nixon wins, so electing someone you dislike and distrust is nothing new for America.
Around here, Monday means a wake-up tune. We should have Brexit breakup music, but instead of song, we need to watch this video by Mark Blythe, a Scottish political scientist, and a professor of international political economy at Brown University, about the logic behind voting for Brexit:
Blythe makes more sense in 5 minutes about the EU, why Brexit happened, and some implications for the US, than the entire journalistic class has said using millions of words over the past few days. At 4:01, he says, “As I like to say to my hedge fund friends, the Hamptons is not a defensible [military] position.”
Let’s take a quick look at a few conclusions of the Brexit vote:
Rust cities and towns largely voted to Leave
Wealthy cities favored Remain
Rural areas that have not seen much immigration had seen a lot of austerity
Older voters wanted to return to the prosperous 1970s-1980s, regardless of whether that is realistic
Demographically, the most striking difference in voting was between young people and older people. A YouGov poll showed:
18-24: 75% voted for Remain
25-49: 56% voted for Remain
50-64: 44% voted for Remain
65+: 39% voted for Remain
So younger voters wanted to keep the option to be citizens of a larger economic unit, where they might find more and better job opportunity, while older voters wanted out of the EU for a variety of fact-based and fear-based reasons. On either side of the Atlantic, it’s a mistake to think that people know all the facts before they decide. From Seth Godin:
There are two common causes of uninformed dissent…The second (quite common in a political situation), is the tribal imperative that people like us do things like this. No need to do the science, or understand the consequences or ask hard questions. Instead, focus on the emotional/cultural elements and think about the facts later.
Our first Brexit lesson is that America has a huge base that is angry, scared, and possibly, more than willing to jump into the abyss. Sober analysts warned Britons that pulling out of the EU would be an economic and security debacle. But, as Matthew d’Ancona of The Guardian observed:
They heard the warnings, listened to experts of every kind tell them that Brexit meant disaster, watched the prime minister as he urged them not to take a terrible risk…And their answer was: Get stuffed.
Our second Brexit lesson is that nativism, anti-immigration fervor, and elite-bashing are potent tools.
There was a definite scent of “Make Britain Great Again” running through the Leave campaign. The Leavers urged Britain to “take control” of its borders. While we point at Mexico, they pointed at Turkey, which they said would flood the UK with immigrants, even though Turkey may never be a member of the EU.
You can call it racism, you can blame it on the “market” or, you can blame it on the economic circumstances created by the political elites steering the ship.
This resonates in the US because foreigners are a source of marginal cheap labor that corporations use to bludgeon our working class. That anger is partly justified. However, it is misdirected, because people only believe what they want to believe, and because it’s easier for working people to blame foreigners than to blame themselves for repeatedly electing an economic elite that just keeps playing them over and over.
Brexit is an important wake-up for the US presidential election. Britain’s uprising against the European Union is the sort of populist victory over establishment politics that could easily happen here. As the NYT said on Sunday:
Mrs. Clinton shares more with the defeated “Remain” campaign than a similar slogan — her “Stronger Together” echoing its [Remain’s] “Stronger In.” Her fundamental argument, much akin to Prime Minister David Cameron’s against British withdrawal from the European Union, is that Americans should value stability and incremental change over the risks entailed in radical change and the possibility of chaos if Donald J. Trump wins the presidency.
Hillary urges potential voters to see the big picture, while promising to manage economic and immigration upheaval, just as Mr. Cameron did. She is also a pragmatist battling against nationalist anger, cautioning that the turmoil after the Brexit vote underscored a need for “calm, steady, experienced leadership in the White House.”
But we are not the UK, and today, the ABC/WaPo poll has Hillary is up by 12 points, although we still have miles to go before 2016’s election night.
We will have future columns covering our neo-liberal policies, their impact on the American people, and their implications for 2016, over the coming days and weeks.
So the GOP is up 7.8 million votes or a 37.5% increase over 2008. The Democrats are down nearly 26% or, 9.7 million votes. The parties were separated by only 900,000 votes by the end of the 2016 primary season, and the GOP was on top.
The question to ask the pundits: What does the Republican increase in primary voter turnout by almost 8 million, and the Democrats’ vote shrinking by almost 10 million mean for the general election?
We could talk about the populist turn in 2016. The electorate is rebelling against the establishments of both parties. We could point to the insecurity about jobs, social security and pensions for the 98% of America who know these things are no longer certain in today’s America, and are even less certain in tomorrow’s America. These have made the Bernie promise of free education, Medicare for all, and a break-up of the banks very popular with Millennials. Trump has understood the economic fears of the white middle and lower classes, and has added fear of Muslims, fear of Mexican immigrants and a longing for a simpler world where America was unchallenged, and the 40-hour work week was nearly a right, to be the aspirational standard for tomorrow’s America.
We could talk about Hillary Clinton and the enthusiasm gap. In 2016, Hillary has garnered 15.7 million votes, and she will win the nomination. In 2008, she received 18.1 million votes, 2.4 million more than she got in 2016, and lost. This time around, she was not facing one of the best retail politicians of the last 100 years in Barack Obama, and no one thought that Bernie was real competition, until he was.
So, America is now at a point where, for the Pant Suit vs. the Pant Load, these numbers really begin to matter. Let’s remember that primary turnout doesn’t necessarily translate into a reliable indicator of the turnout in the general election.
Also, over half of the GOP turnout was for candidates other than Trump. Voter preference may change significantly for the general election.
This election will be true to previous form and will be decided in just a few states: Ohio, Florida, Michigan, North Carolina, Virginia and Pennsylvania will likely decide the outcome. Obama won all but NC in his 2012 race against Mitt Romney.
Assume that Hillary will win the majority of blacks, Hispanics, other ethnic minorities and many white women. The biggest question is: What percentage of women will vote for Hillary? If Trump peels off enough, he may be able to win in a few of those states.
So, turnout will be key. As an example, Charlie Crist would be the current governor of Florida if just 50% of the African American voters who were registered Democrats, had voted in the last gubernatorial election. In just in one (populous) Florida County.
The gap in the primary voting numbers are a good indicator that the GOP primary voters were more enthusiastic than were Democratic voters in 2016. However, the Democrats were very good at “Get out the Vote” programs in 2008 and 2012. Can Donald Trump match that in 2016?
Hillary starts with better odds of winning since the Democrats have an Electoral College advantage. Romney won 206 Electoral College votes. He lost Colorado, Florida, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Virginia each by between 150,000 and 250,000 votes. So, it’s conceivable that the enthusiasm for Trump in these states combined with less enthusiasm for Hillary could give him an Electoral College victory.
OTOH, Trump can’t change who he is. He’s not going to go toe to toe with Hillary on wonky policy details. So, he’ll continue the campaign that won him the primary in the general.
At the same time, the average hours per week have trended down from around 39 hours per week in the mid-1960s to a low of 33 hours at the end of the last recession. It is 33.7 hours today. After eight years of economic recovery, it is only up by 42 minutes.
So, take-home pay has stagnated (or worse) for the average American since the Nixon administration. People have coped by having both spouses work, by borrowing under their home equity lines of credit, and by refinancing mortgages when interest rates declined.
After the Great Recession, The only remaining way to boost household cash was mortgage refinance. There were windows to refinance a mortgage in 2009, and again in 2013. The reason was that mortgage interest rates stayed very low. In fact, US 10 year treasuries were at a 60 year low in 2013 at 1.50%, and mortgage rates are tied to the treasury rate.
As an example, a 1.5% decline in a mortgage payment on a $250,000 house would save $3750 a year, or a little over $300 a month added to the pockets of the average hourly worker. Taking income tax into consideration, it would take an additional 17.5 hours of work at the $21.45 rate to equal that amount. But that’s not practical. It would require a 52% increase in hours, if you are working the national average number of hours, which isn’t going to happen.
So, if the Federal Reserve raises interest rates, as they seem set to do this month or next, mortgage refinance will no longer be helpful to the vast number of working people. CoreLogic tracks the interest rates on outstanding mortgages, collecting data from mortgage servicers. Their data track the volume of outstanding mortgages by interest rate level for both the number of mortgages, and the unpaid principal balance on those mortgages (UPB).
Their analysis says that few mortgages will be refinanced if rates go up: Most borrowers have mortgages with rates below 4.50%, with 62% of mortgages and 72% of UPB in this range. There are an additional 14% of borrowers and 13% of UPB with mortgage rates between 4.5 and 5.0%.
Since refinancing has costs (legal, title search and insurance, and points), a simple rule of thumb is to add 1% to the current mortgage rate to get a rate at which borrowers would have a financial incentive to refinance. The current Freddie Mac mortgage rate is 3.57%, so the point of indifference for a borrower would be ~4.5%. CoreLogic estimates that only about 28% of the UPB of America’s outstanding mortgage loans are worth refinancing today. And should the Fed live up to their plan, and increase rates by ½% in 2016, an additional 5.5 million borrowers will lose their incentive to refinance.
So, if mortgage rates rise in 2016 as predicted, refinancing won’t improve the financial situation for very many of us.
So the bottom line is, we are already in a period…where real gains by average Americans won’t be available from financing gimmicks, but must come from real, actual wage growth. At the moment I see little economic or political impetus to make that happen, even though average Americans understand via their wallets the issue all too well.
Thousands of people are dying waiting in line to see a doctor. That is not going to happen anymore
Although Trump has used this comparison of the treatment of immigrants and veterans before, it isn’t true. Congress and many states have written an assortment of laws and policies designed to restrict government services to people living in the country illegally.
Could Congress do more for vets? Absolutely. Do we do less for them than we do for illegals? NO.
From a moral standpoint, I believe in it…But you also have to get elected. And there’s no way a Republican is going to beat a Democrat when the Republican is saying, ‘We’re going to cut your Social Security’ and the Democrat is saying, ‘We’re going to keep it and give you more.’
So the deal was made, and what we have been watching is theater. And from a “moral standpoint”, Trump just lies about what he plans to do, because his audience is against it?
HuffPo reported that Trump’s opposition to cutting Social Security (SS) has been both a hallmark of his campaign and one of his greatest departures from traditional conservative ideology. Now it seems, he is simply pandering. Consider this:
Many conservative House Republicans told The Huffington Post shortly after the May 12 meeting with Ryan that that they were unconcerned about Trump’s public posture on Social Security.
The media have their nice, shiny Trump, and they have signed on for the whole ride, so don’t expect to hear much more about his pandering.
The Pant Load will try to dupe people (this week, Vietnam Vets and the middle class) into voting against their interests, because he is sure that they can’t be bothered to pay enough attention to understand that he’s lying.
The truth is that SS faces a funding gap beginning in 2034. Without Congressional action to either raise the program’s revenues or scale back benefits, there will be an across-the-board benefit cut of approximately 20%.