The market’s performance during his presidency is not what Trump would have us believe. Catherine Rampel (@crampel), Washington Post columnist, tweets
Presidents don’t control stock markets. But since Trump has been so fond of touting his stock market record, here’s what markets have done since inauguration for him vs. during same period in Obama’s presidency. Net gains was [sic] more than double at this point under Obama. (Emphasis mine)
SPY = ETF that tracks S&P 500
Trump’s big infrastructure plan? It’s a trap. by Ronald A. Klain
First, Trump’s plan is not really an infrastructure plan. It’s a tax-cut plan for utility-industry and construction-sector investors, and a massive corporate welfare plan for contractors.
Very convincing. Devastating.
Abraham Lincoln, in addition to being the Great Emancipator, turned out to be quite prescient. He warned of the peril of granting too much power to the banks and corporations (now hedge funds and multinationals), of corruption in high places (think special interest lobbies and PACs) and the concentration of wealth in a plutocratic oligarchy that will do away with American democracy:
The money powers prey upon the nation in times of peace and conspire against it in times of adversity. The banking powers are more despotic than a monarchy, more insolent than autocracy, and more selfish than bureaucracy. They denounce as public enemies, all who question its methods or throw light upon their crimes…. corporations have been enthroned and an era of corruption in high places will follow, and the money powers of the country will endeavor to prolong their reign by working upon the prejudices of the people until all wealth is aggregated in a few hands and the Republic is destroyed.
– Abraham Lincoln, in a letter to Col. William F. Elkins, Nov. 21, 1864.
Voters care a great deal about the economy. Obama lowered both the unemployment and the underemployment rate. The number of new jobs has been increasing for 55 consecutive months, and the deficit has been slashed. Yet Democratic candidates ran away from Obama and failed to mention these achievements.
Under the ACA (Obamacare), millions now have health insurance who didn’t have it before, and healthcare costs are actually falling, contrary to Republican predictions. Democrats kowtowed to the perception that the ACA isn’t working, rather than show how much better off many millions are.
A few Democrats weren’t afraid of touting the Administration’s successes, like New Hampshire’s Jeanne Shaheen. She held on to her Senate seat.
The other cowards slunk away in ignominious defeat.
Pres. Obama in happier days
Instead of standing up to Republican critics of Obama, Democrats disowned the president. All they had to say is “Are you better off today than you were when Bush left office?”
By hiding Obama, they tacitly confirmed the lies about him being spread by their opponents. Not that we’re not facing serious problems, e.g., immigration.
But Democratic candidates failed even to mention, let alone emphasize, that during Obama’s presidency,
- the Great Recession receded; GDP is now growing at 3.5% while Europe is saddled with austerity
- 14 million now have healthcare coverage under Obamacare. Rollout was a disaster, but now, it’s a resounding success. And, sky-rocketing medical costs are going down as predicted.
- unemployment below 6%; Spain’s rate, for example, has decreased, but it’s still more than 23%
- stock market posting record highs; it is 218% higher than it was in 2008
- he saved General Motors and a related 1.2 million jobs. GM is now more profitable than Verizon, AmEx, 3M
- no major terror attacks
- Osama Bin Laden killed
- many fewer troops in Iraq and Afghanistan
- Iran is no longer building nuclear weapons
- marriage equality in 32 of the 50 states
- despite crossing his own “red line,” Assad (Syria) no longer has chemical weapons
- emissions standards at their strictest ever
- gas averages $3/gal today
The losers could have mentioned at least some of these accomplishments.
Nelson Mandela was the archetypal hero. To achieve his goal, he had to endure great personal suffering before leading his people out of the wilderness of fear and pain. He vanquished the oppressors by dint of unwavering faith in the eventual triumph of right. The world has seen few heroes so steadfast in their adherence to their principles. On the occasion of his death on December 5, Mandela was deservedly eulogized as a man who, despite his faults, achieved greatness.
One hero passes, another one rises.
Throughout its history, the Vatican has always sought to enrich itself. Bishops and popes accumulated earthly treasure even beyond the store in royal coffers. Yet now we have a pope who is calling out the evils of income inequality, which, along with climate change are our gravest challenges. Pope Francis:
While the earnings of a minority are growing exponentially, so too is the gap separating the majority from the prosperity enjoyed by those happy few. This imbalance is the result of ideologies which defend the absolute autonomy of the marketplace and financial speculation. Consequently, they reject the right of states, charged with vigilance for the common good, to exercise any form of control. A new tyranny is thus born, invisible and often virtual, which unilaterally and relentlessly imposes its own laws and rules. Debt and the accumulation of interest also make it difficult for countries to realize the potential of their own economies and keep citizens from enjoying their real purchasing power.
To all this we can add widespread corruption and self-serving tax evasion, which have taken on worldwide dimensions. Continue reading
Satellite captures smog hiding China’s eastern coast
China’s air pollution problems are very much in the news lately. “You can hear the person you are talking to, but not see him,” tweeted a resident of Harbin in northeast China last week.
The suffering of pigs raised on factory farms is another hot issue.
Who would have thought these issues could be related? Mark Bittman, the noted food journalist, for one. He pointed out that China’s purchase of Smithfield, the largest American producer of pork, will compound our pollution problems while inoculating China from the worst environmental impacts of commercial factory farms:
As is the case with 90 percent of the pork produced in the United States, almost all of Smithfield’s “farms” use now standard techniques, including large (average: 2,000 pigs) concentrated animal feeding operations, or CAFOs, in which pigs are confined, fed with legal but problematic drugs and use enormous amounts of feed, water and energy while generating giant lagoons of manure.
The CAFOs stay in the U.S., and the pork feeds the Chinese. Continue reading