John W. Dean (Nixon’s lawyer) on the current President

Remember John Dean, from the old days? At the time he struck me as one of the (rare) good apples in a bad bunch.
Dean’s observations here, from the CBC’s “Power and Politics” show, are excellent. Inquiring minds will be rewarded by waiting till the end of the interview (or advancing the tape to 7:12)….”How’s this going to end?”
http://www.cbc.ca/player/play/895330883682

(For better or worse, CBC’s video player includes several non-skippable public service messages.)

The Liberal Democratic World Order Is Falling Apart – Democracy is for suckers

A short post by Errol Mendes, Professor, Faculty of Law, Common Law Section, University of Ottawa. My take-away: democracy is for suckers.
Prof. Mendes proposes three ways for liberal democracies to fight the tide or authoritarianism:

  • “First, they must use all their powers of political, economic, and social persuasion to shine a bright light on the “post-truth” fabrications fuelling [sic] the new authoritarianism;
  • “Second, they must examine their own glasshouses to see how the so-called Washington Consensus liberal order has produced too many losers, too many corporate robber barons, while creating a level of social inequality, job loss, and poverty that begs the title “neo-feudal.”
  • “Finally, progressive leaders, parties, and governments must use the human rights agenda to promote the lives and interests of all.”
Very quaint.  We’re doomed.

http://www.cips-cepi.ca/2017/01/13/the-liberal-democratic-world-order-is-falling-apart/

Source: The Liberal Democratic World Order Is Falling Apart – Centre for International Policy Studies

How Delaware kept America safe for corporate secrecy | Reuters

This lengthy article describes how on politician from the State of Delaware has thwarted national and international programs to prevent bad guys from laundering money in the U.S.

Here’s what the good guys tried to do:

  • In 2006, the Financial Action Task Force, or FATF, a group of some three dozen nations formed to combat money laundering and terrorist financing, noted “significant shortcomings” in the United States. The group declared Washington “non-compliant” in four of 40 categories for anti-money-laundering compliance. Among the failures: Authorities could not obtain timely information about a company’s real owners, FATF said.The task force demanded that the United States fix the problem. For Washington, which was pressing allies to crack down on terror financing, it was an embarrassing critique.
  • The same year, the U.S. Government Accountability Office, Congress’s auditing arm, concluded that federal law made it too easy for individuals to anonymously form companies. Delaware was a favored destination for such companies, the report said.
  • As anti-secrecy momentum built, Senator Levin and then-Senator Barack Obama joined forces with Senator Norm Coleman of Minnesota to make it tougher to register new companies without identifying the owners.

Thanks to the continuing efforts (described in the article) of Delaware Secretary of State Jeffrey Bullock none of these initiatives has succeeded.

Source: Special Report: How Delaware kept America safe for corporate secrecy | Reuters

Cry me a river: Louisiana residents without flood insurance face uncertainty

Those residents without flood insurance are eligible for up to $33,000 in FEMA individual disaster assistance funds, although most will likely receive less than that, based on payments following other major disasters.

It’s not clear to me why the government should subsidize home owners who choose not to get flood insurance.  They’re home owners.  What about tax payers who don’t own homes? Why should they subsidize home owners?

I think Jesus said it best.

For everyone who has will be given more, and he will have an abundance. But the one who does not have, even what he has will be taken away from him.”  Matthew 25:29

Source: Louisiana residents without flood insurance face uncertainty

Saudi Foreign Affairs Minister on Daesh and the KKK

​The American-educated Saudi Foreign Affairs Minister delivers a canned speech on the Middle East and on Saudi internal affairs. Ho hum. What I liked was his response (starting about 12′ 30″) to a question about Islam’s alleged intolerance of other religions, as exemplified by Daesh/ISIS.​ In effect, he says that you could learn as much about Islam from ISIS as you could learn about Christianity from the Ku Klux Klan.

http://www.c-span.org/video/?404642-4/saudi-foreign-affairs-minister-remarks-munich-security-conference

The voters are boss. Like it or lump it.

Interesting parallels between GOP tribulations over a nut-job who was just elected as chairman of a Republican county office in Texas and similar tribulations at the national level regarding Donald Trump. In a democracy, for better or worse, “the voters are boss. Like it or lump it.”

Source: In Robert Morrow spectacle, an ugly reminder for the Travis County GOP that voters, not leaders, are boss | | Dallas Morning News

The Puerto Rico crisis, explained – Vox

Here’s a great, timely summary of the financial problems in Puerto Rico.  It looks like things will get pretty messy before the US government steps in to bail-out the Puerto Rican government.  And who will benefit from the bail-out?  The holders of Puerto Rico’s bonds, of course.

Q. Who would be crazy enough to invest in Puerto Rican bonds?

A. “a high-income person living in a high-tax state”

I think the best term for describing this fiasco would be “the Puerto Rican Put”, anomalous to the Greenspan Put that led to the 2008 asset bubble in the U.S.  Investors were assured that Greenspan would keep interest rates low so they could invest in bonds without worrying about rising interest rates.  Another example would be the implicit (but not explicit) backing of FMHA bonds by the US government.   When the security behind the bonds (ie home mortgages) tanked the government bailed out the bond holders (not the home owners).  It’ll happen again in Puerto Rico.

“What’s this business about Puerto Rican bonds and taxes?All municipal bonds are exempt from federal income taxes. In additional, if you buy municipal bonds issued by the place where you live, those bonds are exempt from state and local income taxes as well. Such bonds are known as triple tax exempt, and they’re a big deal for municipal finance and high tax places like New York and California. But Puerto Rico’s bonds are triple tax exempt regardless of where you live.This is not a huge deal for most Americans, but for a high-income person living in a high-tax state it can be a very big deal and it helped fuel a lot of lending to Puerto Rico that wasn’t necessarily thought through in a very serious way.”

via The Puerto Rico crisis, explained – Vox.

Hotel Euro Union – Eric Reguly in the G&M

U-turn of the euro could be an exit threat after Greece – The Globe and Mail.

“Roach Motel”?  I think columnist Reguly meant “Hotel California”:  Call it the Hotel Euro Union.

The beckoning lady with the Mercedes Benz and the pretty boys she calls friends invite the stranger to stay for the night. Such a lovely place. He ignores the voices down the corridor…This could be heaven or this could hell.
You can check-out any time you like, but you can never leave.
What a nice surprise.  Bring your alibis.

The Future of War – Ian Morris

I listened to this twice – it’s pretty dense. It’s premise is inspiring – we’re getting better (fewer fatalities due to violence).  But the forecast is scary.

“On the surface your idea seems deeply counterintuitive, warfare and all of the destruction that comes with it, you think is one of the great engines of human progress.”

Here’s the website for the audiofile and the itune link for the identical podcast.

https://soundcloud.com/thenextdebate/future-war-ian-morris

https://itunes.apple.com/ca/podcast/future-war-ian-morris/id976386877?i=346315508&mt=2