August 2019 Archives

Dear America,

The Trump administration being what it is--incompetent, self-interested and disingenuous--I have taken to writing you once a month rather than twice a week.  After all, all the complaints about Trump sound essentially the same.  But today it was announced that his administration is disemboweling the Dodd-Frank attempt to instate the Volcker Rule, which separates commercial banking from investment banking.  In other words, the bank where you keep your checking and savings accounts can't engage in risky investments with your money under the Volcker Rule, which is quintessentially the Glass-Steagall Act.

You may remember Glass-Steagall if you are a baby boomer or older; it was enacted in the depression to prevent another depression.  So why did we almost have another depression in 2008?  Well, Bill Clinton signed a Republican bill that repealed Glass-Steagall in 1999 saying that it was no longer needed.  Congress had chipped away at it over the decades, but in principle it still applied and banks had constraints within which they had to keep their investments.  But in 1999, those constraints disappeared and nine years later, history virtually repeated itself.  It wasn't the stock market that took down the economy the way it did in 1929 that brought us inches from another depression in 2008; it was the housing-mortgage market, but the effect was the same.  Banks had made what amounted to risky bets on the mortgage market in the form of "derivatives," which were based on a few different kinds of investment in mortgages.  When the supposedly perpetual climb in real estate prices became a dramatic slide, mortgages and the derivatives based on them began to dramatically lose value, which led to banks verging on failure.  Some investment banks actually did fail: you remember Bear-Stearns and Lehman Brothers perhaps.  Then the government stepped in and made the teetering banks borrow hundreds of billions of dollars of our money so that they wouldn't fail and the rest is history: unemployment, foreclosures on mortgages and generally, life changing financial harm for millions of families, some of which will never recover.  We have Bill Clinton to thank, because he could have prevented a disaster that took less than a decade after his decision to free the banks to do their dubious business to befall us.  No matter what you think of him, in this instance he screwed up with a colossal impact on us all.  That impact is why I feel compelled to write to you a second day in a row.

Donald Trump has expressed his intention to effectively repeal Glass-Steagall, this time in the form of the relevant provisions of the Dodd-Frank Act, and let the banks have their heads again.  That's after unleashing his minions to eviscerate the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, which was the only thing standing between consumers and predators like Wells-Fargo, which it now appears is at it again, gouging its customers for fees accrued in accounts that they didn't even know they had.  Put another way, Donald Trump learned nothing from either 1929 or 2008, and he is enabling the exact same thing that caused our depression and our more recent near-depression, and why is he doing it? Trump wants to be re-elected, and he'll do anything to make that happen.  He is pandering to the money people with this repeal of consumer protective banking laws.  And now he has also announced that he wants to reduce payroll taxes, which estimates predict will add $150 billion to the deficit, or $1.5 trillion to the national debt over ten years.  He's trying to buy it the way he has tried to buy everything else...including Greenland.

I've said it before and I'll say it again.  Donald Trump is a menace.  He is the most dire threat to American democracy that I've seen in my lifetime, and I'm 73.  Richard Nixon pales by comparison, and for stupidity, even George W. Bush looks like a Nobel laureate by comparison.  We have a mendacious, deviant sociopath for a president, and he wants to be our president for good I fear.  Don't let it happen.

Your friend,

Mike

Dear America,

It occurs to me that the greatest threat to American democracy isn't another four years of Donald Trump.  It's whether he will try to get the 22nd amendment to our constitution repealed.  That is the amendment adopted in 1947--after FDR's third term was three quarters done--that limited presidents to two terms.  Considering the monstrous size of Trump's ego, his feelings of affiliation with despots like Vladimir Putin, Kim Jong-un and to some grudging extent, Xi Jinping of China, and taking into account our president's socio-pathological leanings he is no doubt thinking, why not me.

It's just a thought...now.  But considering everything we now know about Donald Trump, who wants to bet against it, no matter what one thinks about his presidency or him personally.  If our country (remember: it takes three quarters of the states' legislatures passing an amendment in order for it to be adopted) didn't want FDR to continue as president, it probably seems doubtful that Trump could get the 22nd amendment repealed the same way, which is what he would have to do.  But still, if he is reelected, we will be taking the chance that he might try, and if he tried, he might somehow succeed.  Remember also, he lost the popular election in 2016 but here he is in the White House thanks to a technicality: the electoral college.  I doubt that anyone anticipated such a freak occurrence, especially since it was the second time in less than twenty years.  So who knows what other kind of freak occurrence might we suffer.  No, the only way to be sure that Donald Trump can only do us harm for these four years is to keep him from getting another term.  That's the real reason that the 2020 election is so important.

As long as The Senate is Republican, and that means as long as Mitch McConnell is majority leader and can pretty much do as he pleases with our nation, Trump will never be convicted at an impeachment trial.  And if he is impeached and not convicted, it might tip the electoral balance in his favor.  The American polity is approximately 33% Democrat and 26% Republican, the remainder of 41% being independent.  50% of independents lean Democrat and 42% Republican, the other 8% being completely unaffiliated.  Thus, if statistics mean anything in this matter, Democrats can expect about 53% in a national election and the Republicans about 43%, leaving only 4% to go either way.  That would seem a safe margin, but going into the 2016 election, Hillary Clinton had approximately a two percent lead over Trump, and her popular total came in at almost exactly that amount...and Donald Trump became our president.  With the economy, read that as voter self-interest, working well, it would be easy for a Democrat to slip below 50% and for Trump to gain commensurately.  That scenario turns what seems at first blush to be a relatively safe prospect into an iffy situation.

Here's the bottom line, and I hate to say this of some of my fellow Americans.  But if Hillary's "basket of deplorables" are joined by enough people whose wages didn't grow for thirty years after Ronald Reagan foisted "supply-side economics" upon an unsuspecting population and a class of economists anxious to call themselves  scientists instead of social scientists, or even worse, mass-psychology prognosticators, we might be in big trouble.  So it's time to raise the alarm about the  22nd.  Impeachment might be the most efficient guaranty that Trump won't get a third term, but I'm placing my bet on 2020.  So register to vote, and then vote.  Make your adult children do so as well.  Recruit your neighbor as long as he or she is one of us.  But no matter what, don't let Trump do what his ego will undoubtedly put him up to.  The choice isn't between one Trump term and two.  It's between one and three...or God forbid more. 

Your friend,

Mike

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This page is an archive of entries from August 2019 listed from newest to oldest.

July 2019 is the previous archive.

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About this Archive

This page is an archive of entries from August 2019 listed from newest to oldest.

July 2019 is the previous archive.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.