Tuesday 20 December 2016

Air Date: 
December 21, 2016

Photo, left:
 
JOHN BATCHELOR SHOW
Co-host: Larry Kudlow, CNBC senior advisor; & Cumulus Media radio
 
Hour One
Tuesday 20 December 2016   / Hour 1, Block A:  Bill Whalen, Hoover, in re: [market conditions; almost 20,000; commodities cheaper, etc.]  Pres Obama has waged a war on business: attacked, criticized, insulted, made jokes. Worst sector of our economy is business investment.  New incoming idea: business helps, not harms, society.   Scott Pruitt for EPA?  Dems: s0me want to wage war on the Trump Adm – Warren, Sanders; others, think Trump isn’t ideologically rooted so will play ball; a third crew who . . .   A Dem who’ll be civil?  Yes: Joe Manchin and Claire _____.   Note that in the Serengeti, lions pursue the slowest prey. 
Mnuchin rescued a big S&L, bad condition, had to operate on it: some people saved their jobs and many mortgages continued, instead of total wipe-out.  . . . Watch Corey Booker. 
Tuesday 20 December 2016   / Hour 1, Block B:    Bill Whalen, Hoover, in re: Trump wants to establish a bee-yoo-tiful environment for entrepreneurial development, infrastructure repair, et al.  Roads, bridges, urban mass transit: make sure local taxpayers have a say!  Also, highest union wage needn’t be the prevailing wage.    Refineries, LNG, electric grids – all will be paid for 100% by private companies; need to lift certain regulatory positions to let these develop.  Trump wants private capital to develop the economy, not to [vampirize] the federal kitty.
Tuesday 20 December 2016   / Hour 1, Block C: Dennis Berman, WSJ financial editor, in re: MARKETS: Dollar Sets Fresh 14-Year-High, by Chelsey Dulaney.  Strong dollar is good, but not entirely. Imports happy – I’m sure you have a collection of Mercedeses and eat a lot of Swiss chocolate.   One point: speed of adjustment – king dollar holds inflation rate down and attracts overseas investment. But: Volcker – need rules-based monetary policy and currency coordination..  Avoid beggar-thy-neighbor. Haven’t tried this since Bretton Woods, seventy years on. China spending tens of billions monthly to keep the yuan stable (selling a trillion of their forex reserves)  – it's at a multiyear low now. Trouble there cd create second-order effects across Asia and domestic instability. Bretton Woods has lasted from ’45 till Nixon broke it in ’76.  Can set markers, guidelines, zones.  At least we know what the playing field is and where the goal posts are – which we don't right now.
Can we truly have a  free trading relationship with partners around the world?  Or Tariffs? . . . I’m  not speaking for Mr Trump; I believe his rhetoric is tough, he’d like to make a deal.  He holds that trade has to be fair was well as free.  They endlessly steal IP and put taxes/fees/tariffs every which way.  Why do US mfrs have to enter into abusive trade relations? Certainly not fair to Americans.  China has recently regressed anent free trade. The regions/localities have been given free rein to [suck up money] from Americans.  They have a [goods] overhang.    Propping up their bond mkt, currency, shuffling bank debt around to keep the ball in the air. How long can they hang on as the dollar strengthens? They’re faking it to make it. SOEs (state-owned enterprises ) are political patronage and other undesirables. 
Tuesday 20 December 2016   / Hour 1, Block D: Larry Kudlow, CNBC,  et al., in re: Dodd-Frank – repeal or amend.  CFPB is a rogue regulator, run by one solitary person, Cordray; not evn funded by Congress, but by the Federal Reserve System!
Overhaul CFPB (censorious); ability-to-repay rule: pushes small banks out of mortgages; reform Basel III; punishes banks for businesses they serve.  Paperwork alone  . . . I'd lie tto see higher capital ratios, in exchange reduce regulatory burdens.  1971 banks have just disappeared: shrinkage pf total volume of banks – at the top and middle, and esp at the bottom.  Capital adequacy is essential.  Btw, Dodd-Frank does not solve too-bg-to-fail.
Early next year lawmakers can rectify that with a few steps:
• Overhaul the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Have its director, Richard Cordray, share his authority with a board (as is the case of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation). Humility and common sense might soon return.
• Reform the Ability to Repay Rule, which puts banks in a straitjacket on home loans. The rule requires that in a “qualified mortgage” the monthly payment may not exceed 43% of the borrower’s monthly income. This makes buying a home more difficult for low-income families, as well as the snow birds of Florida who have assets but pinched retirement incomes. The rule also bans helpful assists to home purchasers. Buyers are no longer allowed to have a cosigner or pledge collateral to assure the loan’s closing, as I was able to do when I bought my first house decades ago.
• Reform the Basel III requirements. These international rules, for the last eight years, have mandated higher capital requirements—two and one half the capital—to permit banks to service their customers’ mortgages. Few banks do it any more. But rules set for European banks should not block American ones from serving their customers. Many community banks have fled mortgage servicing because of these onerous rules.
• Stop the Justice Department from targeting banks based on the businesses they serve. The department’s “Operation Choke Point” encourages banks to dump non-favored customers (i.e., firearms dealers, ammunition sellers, Payday lenders, fireworks sellers).
When I went to the Justice Department once to confront them on behalf of the industry—I am an alum and I wanted them to know that what they were doing was outrageous—no one in the room was a legislator or a judge. I asked by what authority they could crack down on banks that provide services to these legal businesses. Everyone looked at his feet. Banks should not be bullied by out-of-control prosecutors simply for serving lawful customers.
 
Hour Two
Tuesday 20 December 2016   / Hour 2, Block A:  Stephen F. Cohen, Prof. Emeritus of Russian Studies/History/Politics at NYU and Princeton; also Board of American Committee for East-West Accord (eastwestaccord.com); in re:  [Tricky historical moment.]Do d has said for years that Russia is the No 1 existential threat to the US.  Ergo, DoD thinks not terrorism but Putin is what we have to fear the most.  Political pornography.    DoD holds that Putin is a war criminal and despoiled US elections.  Both are either false or lacking evidentiary basis.  I find this is more dangerous than what happened to the poor ambassador in Ankara.  John McCain and Lindsay Graham.  DoD will try to make Trump’s detente with Putin impossible; also aver that Putin is committing war crimes, and thus improper for us to work with,  Wolens nolens, under today’s geopolitical situation, the road to genuine US national security runs through Moscow. 
Tuesday 20 December 2016   / Hour 2, Block B: Stephen F. Cohen, Prof. Emeritus of Russian Studies/History/Politics at NYU and Princeton; also Board of American Committee for East-West Accord (eastwestaccord.com); in re:  Tales of the New Cold War: War-Criminalizing Putin & Final Smearing by the Obama Administration.
“…Dennis Ross, a fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy who was an adviser on Iran and the Middle East to both Democratic and Republican administrations, said the United States had made itself "irrelevant" in Syria.
"The opposition finds little reason to be responsive to us and Assad. The Russians and Iran know that there is nothing we will do to raise the costs to them of their onslaught against Aleppo and other Syrian cities," Ross said.
"Russia, having changed the balance of power on the ground, without regard to civilian consequences, has moved to make itself an arbiter."
A spokesman for U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry dismissed suggestions that America's absence from the meeting indicated a change in influence.
"The secretary doesn't see this as a snub at all. He sees it as another multilateral effort to try to get a lasting peace in Syria and he welcomes any progress towards that," State Department spokesman John Kirby said on Tuesday.
"We would obviously refute any notion that ... the fact that we weren't at this one meeting is somehow a harbinger or a litmus test for U.S. influence and leadership there or anywhere else around the world," Kirby said, adding that Washington was still engaged in the region on many other issues….”  http://uk.reuters.com/article/uk-mideast-crisis-syria-usa-idUKKBN1492RZ?il=0  ;   http://www.nydailynews.com/news/world/don-cry-russia-slain-envoy-putin-lackey-article-1.2917281
Tuesday 20 December 2016   / Hour 2, Block C:  Stephen F. Cohen, Prof. Emeritus of Russian Studies/History/Politics at NYU and Princeton; also Board of American Committee for East-West Accord (eastwestaccord.com); in re:  WASHINGTON — Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is rejecting bipartisan calls for a special committee to investigate Russian interference in the U.S. election, which American intelligence says was aimed in part at helping Republican Donald Trump defeat Democrat Hillary Clinton.
The likely meddling by Russia “is a serious issue, but it doesn’t require a select committee,” said McConnell, R-Ky. The Senate intelligence committee is able to investigate the matter, he added.
CIA Director John Brennan has said the intelligence community is in agreement that Russia tried to interfere in the U.S. presidential election, although there’s no evidence Moscow succeeded in helping Trump win.
“There’s no question that the Russians were messing around in our election,” McConnell told Kentucky Educational Television on Monday night. “It is a matter of genuine concern and it needs to be investigated.”
Still, McConnell said the issue should be investigated in “regular order” by the Senate intelligence panel, which is “fully capable of handling this.”
McConnell’s comments put him at odds with Arizona Sen. John McCain and other Republicans who have joined with incoming Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer in calling for a special committee to investigate efforts by Russia, China and Iran to interfere in U.S. elections.
http://www.pbs.org/newshour/rundown/mcconnell-rejects-push-select-committee-probe-russian-hacking/
https://www.theguardian.com/world/live/2016/dec/20/berlin-christmas-market-attack-suspect-pakistan-live-cove ;  rage?page=with:block-585943b4e4b06265ff0d50e5#block-585943b4e4b06265ff0d50e5
Tuesday 20 December 2016   / Hour 2, Block D: Stephen F. Cohen, Prof. Emeritus of Russian Studies/History/Politics at NYU and Princeton; also Board of American Committee for East-West Accord (eastwestaccord.com)  (4 of 4)
 
Hour Three
Tuesday 20 December 2016   / Hour 3, Block A:  Dr Lara M Brown,  Georgeown, in re:   Democrats Need to Reach Out to the Heartland  In the aftermath of their sorry performance on Election Day, they are blaming everyone but themselves.  by: Charlie Cook
If Demo­crats want to keep blam­ing oth­ers for their sorry per­form­ance on Elec­tion Day, they’re ob­vi­ously free to do so. Yes, they were hurt by the dis­clos­ure of Hil­lary Clin­ton’s private email serv­er, claims that the Clin­ton Found­a­tion was a “pay-to-play” op­er­a­tion, and even fake news. Yes, if FBI Dir­ect­or James Comey hadn’t re­opened the Clin­ton email in­vest­ig­a­tion, the vot­ing needle might have moved in states like Wis­con­sin, Michigan, and pos­sibly Pennsylvania. Yes, Rus­sia’s email hacks might have den­ted Demo­crats’ sup­port.
But to simply blame these things is a form of deni­al. Demo­crats may see Don­ald Trump as a hor­rif­ic freak of nature, but the fact re­mains that he re­ceived 63 mil­lion votes—2 mil­lion more than Mitt Rom­ney in 2012 and 3 mil­lion more than John Mc­Cain in 2008. While Demo­crats can blame ger­ry­man­der­ing for their fail­ure to win a House ma­jor­ity, fig­ures com­piled by Cook Polit­ic­al Re­port House Ed­it­or Dav­id Wasser­man show that Re­pub­lic­ans beat Demo­crats in the na­tion­al House pop­u­lar vote, 63,153,387 (49.1 per­cent) to 61,776,218 (48.0 per­cent), with in­de­pend­ent or oth­er-party can­did­ates pulling an­oth­er 3,682,600.
In­creas­ingly Demo­crats are be­com­ing a party of urb­an areas, col­lege towns, minor­ity voters, and the East and West Coasts. The heart­land, of­ten de­rided by Demo­crats as “fly­over coun­try,” is now be­com­ing a no-fly zone for the party. Wasser­man fig­ures that while Pres­id­ent Obama won 690 (22 per­cent) of the na­tion’s 3,113 counties, Clin­ton car­ried just 487 (16 per­cent). Every single Sen­ate elec­tion in 2016 was won by the same party that pre­vailed in the pres­id­en­tial race in that state. The ad­age that “I vote for the per­son, not the party” has nev­er been less true than today.
Simply put, Demo­crats need to ex­pand their sens­it­iv­ity-train­ing courses to in­clude people who live in small-town and rur­al Amer­ica—middle-class white voters, people who live paycheck to paycheck, and whites who at­tend church at least once a week. Frank­lin Roosevelt’s New Deal co­ali­tion of voters is now of­fi­cially dead. Demo­crats were los­ing these voters be­fore Don­ald Trump came along and will con­tin­ue to do so bey­ond his pres­id­ency un­less they show genu­ine con­cern for these con­stitu­en­cies. To be sure, the coun­try is chan­ging and be­com­ing more di­verse, but it is not do­ing so at the same pace every­where. Demo­crats are run­ning up the score in places that do not help them win ma­jor­it­ies in the House, Sen­ate, and Elect­or­al Col­lege.
An ana­lys­is by Tyler Fish­er and Alyson Hurt for NPR found that Trump won 70.6 per­cent of the vote from rur­al counties and places with pop­u­la­tions un­der 2,500 that were not near metro areas, com­pared to 25.1 per­cent for Clin­ton. Trump won 66.1 per­cent of the vote in small counties that were near metro areas (Clin­ton 30.1 per­cent), 65.8 per­cent in counties with pop­u­la­tions between 2,500 and 19,999 not near metro areas (Clin­ton 29.4 per­cent), and 66.3 per­cent in sim­il­arly-sized counties near metro areas (Clin­ton 29.5 per­cent).
While many Demo­crats and journ­al­ists are busy read­ing Hill­billy Elegy: A Mem­oir of a Fam­ily and Cul­ture in Crisis (I per­son­ally find the title of­fens­ive), far more can be learned from The Polit­ics of Re­sent­ment by Uni­versity of Wis­con­sin polit­ic­al sci­ence pro­fess­or Kath­er­ine Cramer. It is the product of nine years of in­ter­view­ing rur­al Wis­con­sin voters to learn about their anxi­ety, fears, and re­sent­ment of urb­an Amer­ica and its elites.
If any Re­pub­lic­an can­did­ate in mod­ern his­tory should have done badly with white church­go­ers, it was Don­ald Trump. And yet, exit polls show that Trump car­ried the 26 per­cent of the white elect­or­ate who con­sider them­selves evan­gel­ic­al or born-again voters by a 65-point mar­gin, 81 to 16 per­cent. Among the 33 per­cent of voters of all races who at­tend church at least once a week, Trump won by 16 points, 56 to 40 per­cent, and among those who go at least monthly, Trump won by 12 points, 54 to 42 per­cent. Demo­crats can take solace in win­ning people who say they nev­er go to church by 31 points, 62 to 31 per­cent, but they will be dis­tressed to learn that this group makes up just 22 per­cent of the elect­or­ate.
Demo­crats wor­ried about their poor show­ing among church­go­ers would be well-ad­vised to read God’s Polit­ics: Why the Right Gets It Wrong and the Left Doesn’t Get It by So­journ­ers pres­id­ent Jim Wal­lis, whom I would de­scribe as a lib­er­al evan­gel­ic­al. Wal­lis ar­gues that con­ser­vat­ives have no corner on re­li­gion in gen­er­al or Chris­tian­ity in par­tic­u­lar, but that Demo­crats are in­creas­ingly be­com­ing a sec­u­lar party while Re­pub­lic­ans are be­com­ing the party of people of faith.
In short, Demo­crats need to get over Don­ald Trump and the spe­cif­ics of what happened in 2016 and be­gin to think about how, in their rush in­to Amer­ica’s fu­ture, they left be­hind a large num­ber of voters who are still very much here, right now. To ma­lign these people as big­ots, ra­cists, and miso­gyn­ists ig­nores the fact that some ac­tu­ally voted for Pres­id­ent Obama at least once, have voted for wo­men in pre­vi­ous elec­tions, or have voted for Demo­crats in the not-so-dis­tant past.
Iron­ic­ally, in Clin­ton’s in­art­ful but mem­or­able “bas­ket of de­plor­ables” talk at an LGBT Gala for Hil­lary in Septem­ber, she ali­en­ated many of these people in the first half of her speech while squarely ad­dress­ing many oth­ers in the largely over­looked second part of her re­marks. As re­por­ted by Poli­ti­Fact, she said:
“But the oth­er bas­ket—and I know this be­cause I see friends from all over Amer­ica here … people who feel that the gov­ern­ment has let them down, the eco­nomy has let them down, nobody cares about them, nobody wor­ries about what hap­pens to their lives and their fu­tures, and they’re just des­per­ate for change. It doesn’t really even mat­ter where it comes from. They don’t buy everything he says, but he seems to hold out some hope that their lives will be dif­fer­ent—they won’t wake up and see their jobs dis­ap­pear, lose a kid to heroin, feel like they’re in a dead end. Those are people we have to un­der­stand and em­path­ize with as well.”
The af­ter­maths of elec­tions are filled with “what ifs.” What if Hil­lary Clin­ton had omit­ted the sec­tion of the speech on the bas­ket of de­plor­ables? What if Demo­crats take to heart the para­graph quoted above? It would cer­tainly be a good way to get back in touch with the heart­land.
Tuesday 20 December 2016   / Hour 3, Block B:  Simon Constable, author; in re:   Forbes: 6 Reasons Trump Should Abolish Corporate Income Tax http://www.forbes.com/sites/simonconstable/2016/12/19/6-reasons-trump-should-abolish-corporate-income-tax/#5f2bcac02bc4
TheStreet: Who Picked Trump? Mrs. White, in the Kitchen, Sorting Bills: The Economy, Stupid https://www.thestreet.com/story/13923609/1/who-picked-trump-mrs-white-in-the-kitchen-sorting-bills-the-economy-stupid.html
Forbes: Theme for 2016 -- Hypocrisy in Economics  http://www.forbes.com/sites/simonconstable/2016/12/15/theme-for-2016-hypocrisy-in-economics/#341d0b625387
Forbes: Unskilled Manufacturing Jobs Aren't Coming Back -- They Never Existed http://www.forbes.com/sites/simonconstable/2016/12/05/unskilled-manufacturing-jobs-arent-coming-back-they-never-existed/#68f0198a563b
U.S. News: What Italy's Big Vote Means for Investors http://money.usnews.com/investing/articles/2016-12-13/what-italys-big-vote-means-for-investors
AND in glorious monochrome -- Outside on the Street / Video: America's Forgotten Workers http://simonjconstable.blogspot.com/2016/12/video-americas-forgotten-workers.html
Tuesday 20 December 2016   / Hour 3, Block C:    Franz Bairlein, Institute of Avian Research, Wilhelmshaven; in re:  Summary:  The populations of migratory bird species that breed in Europe and overwinter in sub-Saharan Africa are declining considerably faster than those of nonmigratory resident species or of migratory species that overwinter in Europe (1). Likely factors are habitat changes due to changes in land use, illegal killing and taking along the northern African coasts, and climate-induced changes in timing of migration and breeding. However, not only European trans-Saharan migrants are declining fast. This holds also for North American long-distance migrants wintering in Central and South America. To halt these declines, preservation of remaining habitats and restoration of habitats both at breeding and nonbreeding grounds is essential, as well as stopping illegal killing and taking of birds along their migration routes.  http://science.sciencemag.org/content/354/6312/547
Tuesday 20 December 2016   / Hour 3, Block D:  Franz Bairlein, Institute of Avian Research, Wilhelmshaven; in re:  Summary:  The populations of migratory bird species that breed in Europe and overwinter in sub-Saharan Africa are declining considerably faster than those of nonmigratory resident species  (2 of 2)
 
Hour Four
Tuesday 20 December 2016   / Hour 4, Block A:  Somini Sengupta, New York Times UN correspondent; in re:   Heat, Hunger and War Force Africans on to a ‘Road on Fire’   The men and boys on the migrant trail out of countries like Niger and Mali say fickle rains and hotter days leave them no option but to risk their lives to gain a livelihood . . .  (1 of 2)
Tuesday 20 December 2016   / Hour 4, Block B:  Somini Sengupta, New York Times UN correspondent; in re:   Heat, Hunger and War Force Africans on to a ‘Road on Fire’    (2 of 2)
Tuesday 20 December 2016   / Hour 4, Block C: Robert Zimmerman, BehindtheBlack.com, in re:    Pressure on Trump to shift NASA transistion team towards private space  The competition heats up: Several of Trump’s most listened-to advisers are trying to convince him to put more commercial space advocates on his NASA transition team.  The appointments, which are expected to be announced shortly, partly reflect Mr. Thiel’s influence, the people said. The billionaire investor, who is Mr. Trump’s most prominent Silicon Valley supporter, is among more than two dozen people on the executive council overseeing the government-wide transition.
Along with former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and former Republican Congressman Robert Walker—two other champions of commercial space endeavors—Mr. Thiel has argued forcefully inside the transition that the original team sent to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration was skewed toward appointees closely identified with legacy space projects run by Boeing Co. and Lockheed Martin Corp., the people said. This is good news. While my previous post, The squealing of pigs, focused on Trump’s environmental policy at NASA and elsewhere, his approach to commercial space remains unclear. These changes will help move his administration away from the pork of SLS and toward the competitive commercial space sector.
Let me add that this story reaffirms my belief that the best way to get Trump to shift to the right is to surround him with conservatives. Interestingly, it appears that Trump himself has chosen to do this. His first instincts might not be conservative, but he apparently is quite willing to take the advice of those who instincts are. (1 of 2)
Tuesday 20 December 2016   / Hour 4, Block D: Robert Zimmerman, BehindtheBlack.com, in re:    Pressure on Trump to shift NASA transistion team towards private space   (2 of 2)  
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