I became insane with long intervals of horrible sanity.
Edgar Allen Poe
The trouble with fighting for human freedom is that one spends most of one's time defending scoundrels. For it is against scoundrels that oppressive laws are first aimed, and oppression must be stopped at the beginning if it is to be stopped at all.
- H. L. Mencken
Many people would sooner die than think; In fact, they do so
What I have been telling you, from alpha to omega, what is the one great thing the sigil taught me — that everything in life is miraculous. For the sigil taught me that it rests within the power of each of us to awaken at will from a dragging nightmare of life made up of unimportant tasks and tedious useless little habits, to see life as it really is, and to rejoice in its exquisite wonderfulness. If the sigil were proved to be the top of a tomato-can, it would not alter that big fact, nor my fixed faith. No Harrowby, the common names we call things by do not matter — except to show how very dull we are ...
-James Branch Cabell
March 30, 2016 - 1:02 p.m.
Apparently people care about my political endorsement. 170 people read Wise Madness yesterday and 57 more have read it today. I've been averaging about 60 hits a day this month so my readership almost tripled. Wait you didn't read it? Take a minute and read it now, Sitting on Top of the Hill . I had a lot of trepidation about posting it. I know that not only do most of my friends disagree but some are quite aggressive in their disagreement. But know what? I got much more positive feedback even from those that disagreed. I pointed this out earlier that it's only a small number of people that are being nasty about. They are loud and post frequently so it makes it feel like more. Giving scrutiny to the difference between the way things feel and reality is one of the things that makes me, me. For the most part my friends are great. Even those that disagreed did so with affection. Hey I disagree with them and it has no effect on how much I love them. It's not like rooting for the Yankees. Who wants to bet that Donald Trump is a Yankee fan? I have to admit though that He sat right near me at a Met game once. He was with some kind of group of people that worked for him. He only stayed for an inning then he moved up to the luxury box. I was in the field level boxes, not the cheap seats. So it wasn't to get a better view.
This is a tough weekend for missing shows. I can't do anything on Friday night so there are shows by Harpeth Rising, Tracy Grammer, Karen Dahlstrom, and Rachel Trachtenburg's new band Wooing on the same bill as her father Jason's band Pendulum Swings. Everyone needs to confer with me before scheduling gigs in this area. On Saturday I'm missing The Kennedys. Know why they get a link? It's because I see them often enough to make it worthwhile to write a macro to link to them.
Last night I watched Too Big to Fail. I was excited that the film about the 2008 financial crisis was on HBO so quickly, it was released in December. One problem, the name of that move was The Big Short. This was a 2011 TV movie about the crisis, from a totally different point of view. That didn't stop it from being excellent. I know enough of the facts to see that they did a pretty good job getting them right. It reinforced one of Krugman's big points. TARP, the Troubled Assets Relief Fund, was totally against Henry Paulson's political and economic philosophy. People called it bailing out the banks. The US Government forced the banks to sell the government preferred stock. This is pure socialism, the government taking ownership of a private company. It wasn't voting shares, they didn't pick seats on the boards, but they did put controls on the banks including capping compensation. This was an anathema to the Bush administration but they did it. Krugman's point was that they had to do it. It was that or the entire economy breaking down. I like the way the film put it, people would be lining up in front of ATMs and when they couldn't get their money out breaking into them. Paulson, Martin Greenspan he president of the Fed, and Tim Geithner come across very well and I seriously dislike the first two and I'm not that crazy about Geithner. But they acted well in a crisis. Could they have done better? Of course. Paulson said they couldn't get the banks to agree to more conditions but he didn't try very hard to convince them. I'd have liked them to go full socialist and taken control of the banks. But what do I know? The problem would then be how to divest the government of ownership. It's analogous to toppling Saddam Hussein and not preparing for the aftermath. Hey that's what that same administration did.
What I bet most people don't know is that it was the Democrats in congress that supported it and the Republicans that resisted. They were more concerned with ideology and it prevented them from grasping how severe and imminent the crisis was. Good thing there was a Democratic majority at the time. Wow the Bush administration did the right thing when the party was against it. That still gets me. But it actually fits in with a theme that Doctor Who stressed in the eight season that I'm watching. In an emergency you take drastic measures and accept that sacrifices will be made. "If you can't save everyone save some." Paulson and company had the responsibility for holding the economy together and if it fell it would have been their fault. That's enough to make most people do the right thing. If Cruz were president I'm not nearly as confident he'd do it. Trump has no principles so god knows what he would do. He's castigating it now and playing the "populist" but he also said he'd raise taxes on the rich. When his plan came out it lowered them.
The other thing that people don't know about the "bailout" is that it didn't cost anywhere near the $700 Billion headline figure. It might have cost nothing. It might even have made money. They didn't give the banks a penny. They bought shares in them which had real value and paid dividends and the banks bought them back. I just checked on Wikipedia it made a profit. Yet the Tea Party is still angry about it. Why?
So did the Republican party learn from this? Of course not. They say we don't need all the new regulations; that Dodd-Frank is a job killer. What do they say instead? The banks won't do it again because next time we won't bail them out Yeah like the president will take down the entire economy to punish the banks. It's not happening and we don't want I to happen. Republicans are very big on "moral hazard." They think if you give people unemployment insurance they won't work. They can't accept that there are hazards that are not moral that accidents happen and people need to be taken care of. And they need to see that economics is not a morality play. We can't be so afraid that some undeserving person might collect benefits that we should deny benefits to everyone. It's all a piece.
I'm going to try something new today. I'm not going to tell you what I'm going to have for breakfast. I didn't tell you what I had for dinner. Can you handle this? Am I ruining your day? Will you feel about me the way I felt about Google when they got rid of Google Reader and now even more so with Picasa? Damn I'm hungry but you'll never know what I'm eating.
Annoying People - September 03, 2016
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