Sunday, November 25, 2012



First Religious Society - Unitarian Universalist Church, Pleasant
Street, Newburyport

Downstairs Meeting Room

WEDNESDAY NOVEMBER 28, 7:00 - 8:30pm

“D&D” (Documentaries and Discussion) is a monthly series that has been
running for several years now.  The November-December meeting will
feature a half-hour segment of Need to Know (PBS), “The Fiscal Cliff,”
followed by discussion led by Charlie Tontar, Associate Professor of
Economics, Merrimack College.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Thanksgiving Proclamation by the President

By the President of the United States of America.

A Proclamation.

The year that is drawing towards its close, has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature, that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watchful providence of Almighty God. In the midst of a civil war of unequaled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign States to invite and to provoke their aggression, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere except in the theatre of military conflict; while that theatre has been greatly contracted by the advancing armies and navies of the Union. Needful diversions of wealth and of strength from the fields of peaceful industry to the national defence, have not arrested the plough, the shuttle or the ship; the axe has enlarged the borders of our settlements, and the mines, as well of iron and coal as of the precious metals, have yielded even more abundantly than heretofore. Population has steadily increased, notwithstanding the waste that has been made in the camp, the siege and the battle-field; and the country, rejoicing in the consiousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years with large increase of freedom. No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy. It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and one voice by the whole American People. I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens. And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquillity and Union.

In testimony whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the Seal of the United States to be affixed.
Done at the City of Washington, this Third day of October, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, and of the Independence of the Unites States the Eighty-eighth.

By the President: Abraham Lincoln

William H. Seward,
Secretary of State

Monday, November 12, 2012

Newburyport's Party and Gender Breakdown

Registered Voters at the moment in Newburyport.

Status Male Female
Dems 38% 62%
Republicans 53% 47%
Unenrolled 47% 53%
Total 45% 55%

Saturday, November 10, 2012


The truth is that the modern GOP is deeply anti-intellectual, and has as its fundamental goal not just a rollback of the welfare state but a rollback of the Enlightenment. Yet there are some wannabe intellectuals who delude themselves into believing that they have aligned themselves with the party of objective (as opposed to Objectivist) analysis.
You might think that the election debacle would force some reconsideration. But I doubt it; if the financial crisis didn’t do it, nothing will.

Paul Krugman

Saturday, November 3, 2012

What Romney Has Said Offers Clues if He Wins

This is a NY Times news piece and not opinion.  The pesky fact is that the Romney plan is full of nothing but fantasy, fakery, and falsehoods (I just made that up and it sounds pretty accurate.)  My own personal "Highlights/Lowlights" in yellow

NY Times November 2, 2012

What Romney Has Said Offers Clues if He Wins

WASHINGTON — What would a President Romney have done?

For nearly four years, Mr. Romney has attacked President Obama’s responses to the worst economic crisis since the Depression, the decisions that have defined the Obama presidency — on the stimulus package, auto industry rescue, home-foreclosure measures and financial regulation.

Mr. Romney has been less clear about what action he would have taken instead. What follows are snapshots of his reactions then and now, which provide a sense of how he might have responded if he had been in the Oval Office and how he might approach economic policy should he be elected president on Tuesday.
STIMULUS Mr. Romney was an early advocate of some government action and criticized President George W. Bush for not seeking a stimulus measure before departing. But mostly he slammed Mr. Obama, within days of the inauguration, for the $831 billion package of spending and tax cuts that a Democratic-led Congress soon passed. He called it bloated with spending that would take too long to help the economy. (The total grew to $1.4 trillion as some provisions were renewed.)
By the end of 2009 Mr. Romney declared the stimulus a costly failure, though nonpartisan studies found that it had helped create or support millions of jobs. He cited a weak recovery, slower than even the Obama administration’s projections, and a stubbornly high unemployment rate.

But Mr. Romney’s own prescriptions were mixed. In February 2009, as the stimulus bill was being enacted, he suggested $450 billion in tax cuts for middle-income Americans and federal money for unspecified “urgent priorities.” He called tax cuts “twice as effective” as spending for spurring the economy, a contention that many economists dispute.

That December, Mr. Romney called for Washington to pull back, though unemployment had hit 10 percent. “Shrinking government and reducing government jobs is healthier for the economy, but this option was never seriously considered,” he wrote.

His position mirrored that taken by many conservatives at the time in the United States and in Europe, which became something of a laboratory for the idea that Keynesian policy had been proven ineffective and that slashing spending and reducing deficits would lower interest rates, promote investment, shrink the government’s interference in the marketplace and put the economy on a sounder footing for the long run.

Britain and other nations that adopted austerity policies encountered deeper economic troubles. In the United States, few nonpartisan economists support government austerity in a downturn. Mr. Romney, suggesting some belief in the central tenet of Keynesian economics — that government spending can temporarily make up for a lack of demand in the private sector — has subsequently said that he would enact budget cuts he supported with an eye toward whether the timing would have a negative impact on a still-weak recovery.
AUTO BAILOUT In late 2008 President Bush approved $25 billion in aid for General Motors and Chrysler. Ford, in better shape, declined aid but backed it for the others since liquidating two of the Big Three automakers would bankrupt many suppliers, imperiling Ford.

That help proved insufficient. Mr. Obama, advised by a task force he formed after taking office, forced G.M. and Chrysler through a government-managed bankruptcy, lending them $60 billion more so they could keep operating while restructuring. This amount, unlike the first, had to be repaid.

The decision was politically risky, given the growing populist backlash at the time to bailouts like those already given to banks. Mr. Romney opposed the actions by both Mr. Obama and Mr. Bush to provide direct government aid to Detroit, and in November 2008, he wrote an Op-Ed article in The New York Times calling for the companies to be given new management and restructured through the bankruptcy process, with the prospect of government loan guarantees only afterward. He has defended that stance even as the bailout helped the companies return to profitability and add jobs.

Mr. Obama’s plan also required a bankruptcy that forced new union contracts, new managers and investments in fuel-saving technologies. The difference was that Mr. Romney ruled out any bridge loan from taxpayers. He said the government should only guarantee private loans, and only when the companies emerged from bankruptcy. “Detroit needs a turnaround, not a check,” he wrote in the Op-Ed article.

But there was little if any private financing available to the automakers at the time. Romney ads this week in Ohio say the revived automakers are sending jobs to China, a charge the automakers have denounced as false. One ad ends, “Mitt Romney has a plan to help the auto industry.” It offers no details, but the Romney campaign has suggested that he would have built more safeguards into any bailout package against moving production from the United States to other countries and that his promised crackdown on China’s trade and currency practices would have discouraged Chrysler from deciding to build Jeeps for the Chinese market in China rather than in the United States.
HOUSING The hangover of depressed home values and foreclosures since the housing bubble burst has been perhaps the biggest drag on the recovery, analysts say. Yet remedies are financially and politically complex, as Mr. Obama found. Polls show most Americans oppose bailouts for neighbors who got mortgages they could not afford or owe more than their homes are worth. Incentives for lenders to modify troubled mortgages have helped far fewer people than Mr. Obama predicted.  

Until recently Mr. Romney offered a free-market alternative: do nothing. Last November in Nevada, the state with the highest foreclosure and jobless rates, he told The Las Vegas Review Journal: “Don’t try and stop the foreclosure process. Let it run its course and hit the bottom.”

Mr. Romney did express interest in then “helping people refinance homes.” And more recently he has seemed to suggest that the government policy could have some role in helping spur a recovery. Last week in Reno, he said, without elaboration, “When I’m elected, we’re going to finally get this housing market going.”
FINANCIAL REGULATION Mr. Romney has long proposed to “repeal and replace” the 2010 Dodd-Frank law tightening regulation of financial institutions. He has emphasized “repeal” and not defined a replacement. But Mr. Romney, who expressed general support for the role of regulation in the first presidential debate, has offered hints.

“There’s some parts of Dodd-Frank that make all the sense in the world,” he said. “You need transparency, you need leverage limits.”

Past comments and language in his manifesto, “Believe in America,” suggest that Mr. Romney supports several objectives of Dodd-Frank: Authorizing the government to wind down failing institutions, to avoid a Lehman Brothers-like crash that threatens the system; requiring transparency for complex financial instruments like derivatives, and requiring institutions to keep a larger buffer of capital.

He has suggested support for some version of the new consumer-protection bureau, which Congressional Republicans opposed. While calling it “perhaps the most powerful and unaccountable bureaucracy in the history of our nation” in a statement in January, he also proposed “to fix the flaws in this new bureaucracy.”
Mr. Romney often attacks Dodd-Frank for supposedly designating five banks as “too big to fail,” freeing them to take risks, confident of a bailout. “We need to get rid of that provision,” he said in the debate.

But if his position makes clear his opposition to the “too big to fail” concept, it ignores one thing: such a provision does not exist in the law.