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The Purple Muse


Welcome to the web site of The Purple Muse.  We offer commentary and opinion on the major issues being debated in our world today.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Clinton's Credibility

On August 10, 2011 I wrote a blog, Hillary Clinton's Time. This blog was very complementary to Hillary Clinton.  I wrote the blog because I and a high percentage of Americans were completely frustrated by Barrack Obama's inability to lead the nation forward.  My blog closed with the following sentence "We need Hillary Clinton to unify the country, an outcome that Barrack Obama will never be able to achieve."  I made this comment even though I also said this "I know Mrs. Clinton and I would not agree on a lot of issues."  There was no doubt in my mind at the time that Clinton could bring together moderate Democrats, moderate Republicans and independents and get the country moving n the right direction.  Go to my history at the end of the current blogs and click on the August 2011 section to read the entire August 10, 2011 blog.  

So what has happened in the past five years?  I won't vote for Hillary Clinton for President now.  I will vote for Donald Trump even though he is a very flawed person and candidate.  How could my opinion of Hillary Clinton have changed so dramatically during this period? 

It all began with the attack on two US government facilities in Benghazi, Libya on September 11 and 12, 2012 which resulted in the murder of four Americans.  The Obama administration invented a story that the attack was a spontaneous protest triggered by a recently released anti-Muslim video.  The Obama administration tried to sell this story to the all of us in support of the narrative they were selling as part of the 2012 election campaign.  This event occurred on Hillary Clinton's watch as Secretary of State.  She fully supported this false story with statements of her own.  Subsequent investigation revealed that this was a premeditated attack, not a spontaneous protest, and the Obama Administration made every effort to not tell the truth about the events at Benghazi.  There are many different aspects to Bengahazi that I won't rehash here.  But the bottom line is that I believe Hillary Clinton purposely lied to the American people to protect Obama.  In her position of Secretary of State this was inexcusable. 

The Benghazi investigation led to the discovery of Hillary Clinton's private email server, her extremely careless handling of very sensitive, highly classified information and a series of acts directed by Clinton that had the purpose of preventing the disclosure of her communications during her time as Secretary of State.  The fact that she has faced no legal consequences for her actions is inexcusable.  Others that have done far less have faced severe legal consequences.  This is unacceptable to me. 

The email server investigation led to an understanding of the connections between the Clinton Foundation and the State Department led by Hillary Clinton.  During Hillary Clinton's tenure as Secretary of State, Bill and Hillary Clinton built tremendous wealth.  It appears highly likely there was a version of pay-to-play activity occurring during this period with Bill and Hillary Clinton as the beneficiaries.  A lot of this activity was disguised in part by the positive work done by the Clinton Foundation.  Since Clinton had her server erased to the point that it is impossible to recover all the destroyed emails it is unlikely that we will ever find out the extent of the pay-to-play activity.  Pay-to-play activity is inexcusable. 

During the Presidential election cycle Hillary Clinton was challenged by by Bernie Sanders.  In order to stave off Sanders Clinton moved her positions on many issues to the left, abandoning moderate views she had supported a few years earlier.  It now appears that Clinton has abandoned any moderate positions and is committed to a purely liberal progressive approach to governing which is unacceptable to me.  This was clearly a political move since Sanders ran an unexpected strong campaign.  It took a coordinated effort by Clinton and the Democratic National Committee (DNC) to defeat Sanders.  The DNC Chair and other senior people had to resign their positions as a result.  Perhaps Clinton would have won the nomination without the help of the DNC.  Why would a highly favored candidate have to resort to "cheating" her opponent in order to ensure her victory? 

There are many specific issues or details of the various investigations that has taken place that I could discuss.  But that is not the point.  From my perspective Hillary Clinton has lost all of her credibility over the past five years.  I am one example as to why her negative poll numbers are so high.  I no longer believe she can lead our country anywhere in a productive fashion.  It should be noted that Secretary of State was the only executive position Hillary Clinton ever had in her life up to now.  It is clear now that Clinton didn't appreciate what it meant to be an executive, particularly a senior government executive.  During her time as Secretary of State and in the aftermath of the investigations Hillary Clinton totally violated the public trust. 

Our country is in a box.  We desperately need effective executive leadership.  We need to address fundamental issues in a very direct manner.  Our government needs to tell the people the truth so it can restore its lost credibility.  Otherwise we are headed nowhere. 


12:12 pm          Comments

Monday, October 10, 2016

The Second Debate

I just finished watching the second presidential debate between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton.  After the debacle this weekend over his taped discussion with Billy Bush of NBC eleven years ago, it appeared that Trump's campaign was about to go down in flames.  There was and is no excuse for Trump's comments concerning women that were on the tape.  I listened to Trump a few times on Howard Stern's radio show many years ago.  I wasn't surprised that he engaged in what some people call "locker room" talk with other men.  The tape may be the final straw that breaks Trump's attempt to become President of the United States. 

After the second debate began with a rehash of the tape, they finally got to some discussion of real issues.  Trump hit Clinton very hard on many points during the discussion and scored a lot of points.  I don't think Clinton scored many points during this debate.  A lot of what she said was repetitive of her speeches.  Trump showed a great sense of humor and had some laugh lines.  Clinton was humorless.  Trump clearly made the point that Clinton was the representative of the elites and he was running as the alternative on behalf of the American people.  The two candidates are apples and oranges at so many levels.  Every voter can make there own determination of which candidate they think will best serve our country. 

In reality this election may be effectively over.  At this point it is very hard to see how Trump can win after the tape debacle and his issues with women and minority groups.  It will take some very big new negative about Clinton to change the direction of the election.  Who knows if something will appear?  But one thing was clearly on display tonight.  When Trump is backed into a corner he can rise to the occasion and move forward.  He has done this a number of times during his business career and he did it again tonight to advance his political career.  Trump wrote a book in 1997 called Trump: The Art of the Comeback.  Tonight he made a comeback to some degree.  It may not do him any good in the end, but it was interesting to watch.


12:28 am          Comments

Thursday, October 6, 2016

James Bond - 007 Part 1
Back in ancient history, 1964/1965, I starting buying adult fiction books other than science fiction.  I was in the ninth grade, a freshman at a California High School.  The first books of this type that I bought were the James Bond novels by Ian Fleming.  By the end of the 1960s my family had moved to the Washington, DC area and I had acquired paperback editions of all of Fleming's fourteen books about James Bond, twelve novels and two books of short stories.  I kept those books over the decades.  I recently decided to take a break from reading current fiction and non-fiction and reread Fleming's books. 
I have also seen all 24 of the James Bond films produced by EON Productions (Broccoli Family) and own VHS tapes of the first eight.  Since the films have been produced for over 50 years and shown repeatedly on various TV channels it is hard sometimes to separate Ian Fleming's James Bond from EON's version of Bond.  One of my objectives in rereading Fleming's books was to contrast them with early movies.  I have completed part one of my two part effort and below are my comments about James Bond - 007.
The first seven James Bond novels were written by Fleming between 1952 and 1958.  The books and their publication dates are: 
Casino Royale - 1953 - One can make the case that Fleming's novel was more of a love story than an action based novel.  Bond falls in love with Vesper Lynd, a SMERSH double agent that commits suicide at the conclusion of the novel.
Live and Let Die - 1954 - The action takes place in New York and Jamaica as Bond takes on Mr. Big and rescues Solitaire.  Felix Leiter of the CIA is attacked by sharks and loses an arm and leg.
Moonraker - 1955 - An early derivative of the V2 rocket is test launched in the UK and Bond averts a disaster.  He falls for Gala Brand and she marries another man.
Diamonds Are Forever -  1956 - Bond goes to Las Vegas to track down diamond smugglers bringing in stolen diamonds from Africa.  Felix Leiter, now working for Pinkerton, saves the day.  Tiffany Case becomes Bond's live-in girl friend in London. 
From Russia With Love - 1957 - Tiffany Case leaves Bond for an American military officer and returns to the US to get married.  Bond is targeted for assassination by SMERSH.  A beautiful spy is used as bait.  Lots of action in Istanbul and on the Orient Express.  Bond is poisoned by SMERSH's Rosa Klebb at the end of the book.
Doctor No - 1958 - After recovering from the poisoning Bond heads to Jamaica to find two missing British government employees.  In the process of discovering Dr. No's base for interfering with US missile testing, Bond finds a young innocent girl, Honeychile Rider, that needs his help and support.
Goldfinger  - 1959 - Gold was the underlying asset of all monetary systems during this era.  Nations carefully controlled the ownership of gold and the transfer of gold between countries due to the impact on their currencies.  Bond prevents Goldfinger from stealing US gold from Fort Knox, Kentucky.  During Bond's interactions with Goldfinger, two Bond women, Jill and Tilly Masterson, are killed.  Bond develops a relationship with Pussy Galore, a lesbian criminal that ends up saving Bond at the end of the novel.
In all seven of these books the bad guys are Russian or others affiliated with SMERSH, Fleming's fictional Soviet counterintelligence agency which resembled the KGB. 
Some of the interesting elements of the books relate to scene setting commentary by Fleming.  For example, there are many discussions about the cars of the day, all of which are now classics.  There is commentary about different models of hand guns.  People could live adequately in the UK on a salary of GBP 2,000 per year when the novels were written.  At the exchange rate of about US$3 per GBP during this period, this is equivalent to $6,000 per year.  It should be noted that the current exchange rate is $1.26 per GBP over 40 years after the gold standard was abandoned.  
I thought I remembered that the movie screenplays for early films closely followed the story presented in the novels.  After watching the first three films, Dr. No (released in 1962), From Russia With Love (released in 1963) and Goldfinger (released in 1964), I realized that the screenplays departed significantly from Fleming's novels from the very beginning.  While there are scenes in each film that are almost exactly the same as the novels, the screenplays account for a lot of the technology changes over the ten years or so from the time the novels were written to the time the movies were produced.  From the beginning the movies included action sequences that aren't in the novels.  Characters that have important roles in the books aren't in the movies and some characters in the movies aren't in the books.  The bad guys in the early films don't work for SMERSH, they work for SPECTRE. 
Since far more people have seen the movies then ever read the books, the film Bond has become our lasting memory of the character.  Sean Connery became our enduring image of James Bond - 007.  If you want to revisit the 1950s and experience Ian Fleming's original version of James Bond, enjoy reading the books.
Coming in the months ahead: James Bond - 007 will return for Part 2. 
2:58 pm          Comments

Friday, September 30, 2016

Media and the Presidential Election

I use Twitter and Facebook primarily as mediums to collect media disseminated information from a variety of sources from many parts of political landscape for my review.  I also read the Washington Post print edition almost every day when I am home.  I also spend a lot of time watching cable TV business and news channels during the business week.  I believe I have a pretty good feel for the media dynamics that are present in the Presidential election. 

I don't claim to have visited every obscure liberal progressive or conservative web site.  I don't watch all the business and news channels equally every day.  I don't do a statistical analysis of everything I see or hear or make sure that I am making a statistically valid analysis that would be accepted by PHD mathematicians.  However,  I think I can say with certainty that it is a miracle that Donald Trump is roughly even with Hillary Clinton at this point in the campaign.  It is stunning to see the attacks on Trump flow out of the media from every corner.  Newspapers from all over the nation are backing Clinton.  The major market newspapers like the New York Times and Washington Post hammer Trump in multiple articles every day.  The amount of anti-Trump material appears to have accelerated since the debate on Monday night. 

In this blog I am not going to debate any of the anti-Trump articles that I have read or deliver a counterattack against Clinton.  That is a different set of subjects for another day.  Just prior to the debates the polls were just about even for both the national popular vote and the electoral college.  Effectively the two candidates were tied within the margin of error of the scientific polls.  The non-scientific polls conducted right after the debate don't mean much as far as I am concerned.  In the next few days we should be getting the first of the post debate scientific00:14:18 polls to see if there are any changes to the pre-debate polls.  With the intense media slam against Trump since the debate plus the media declared Clinton win in the debate.  I would expect Clinton to gain a lot of ground against Trump and cruise to a big victory in the election.  This assumes that Clinton manages to avoid any more legal scandals or health crises during the next few weeks.  This is certainly what her supporters in the media want to see happen. 

But what if the story turns out very different.  What if the debate and all the anti-Trump media efforts fail to work and Trump ends up winning the Electoral College.  Trump will become President.  He will owe nothing to the mainstream media for his success.  Once he becomes President he can completely ignore them and use a few media outlets that support him and social media to speak to the people.  Clinton's current supporters in the media will be completely without power and influence with the President of the United States.  Trump can decide which outlets get access to the big inside stories and scoops and the ratings and followers that go with them.  Electing Trump could even cause a restructuring of the overall media business.  The biggest Clinton supporters will lose the most.  I find this possibility very amusing. 

The media has put a significant majority of its chips on the table for Clinton.  We will see who goes home a winner at the end of the game. 


12:14 am          Comments

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Clinton vs Trump and Our Money

I was very fortunate to be invited by the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget to attend their event this afternoon at George Washington University in Washington, DC.  The event, How Would Clinton and Trump Manage Our Money? A Conversation with the Candidates' Economic Advisors,  featured Mr. Stephen Moore (representing Donald Trump) and Mr. Gene Sperling (representing Hillary Clinton).  The event was moderated by Ms. Maya MacGuineas, President of the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget.  Ms. MacGuineas did a great job moderating the discussion.  The contrast between her unbiased, professional, logical and easy to understand approach to significant economic and financial issues is a startling contrast to the political and economic talking heads we see on TV and the Internet everyday. 

Mr. Sperling was the first speaker.  He was given about 10 minutes to outline Clinton's economic plan.  He didn't say much in support of the Clinton economic plan.  He did emphasize that there should be a front loaded infrastructure plan with no quantification of scope or total investment.  He made the standard statements of how the government needed to help the middle class.  There was no mention of any significant changes from the current situation.  He spent over half of his time criticizing Trump and his plans on areas like immigration and taxes.  I was stunned by the how little Sperling, a very well known economic adviser to the Clinton campaign, said about her economic plan to this particular audience. 

Mr. Moore was given 10 minutes to outline Trump's economic plan.  He explained that this election was a contest between the Elites represented by Clinton and the Working Class represented by Trump.  His view is that the regular people that live outside the areas of power are resentful over what has happened over the past few years because for them there has been no economic recovery.  The people want real change.  Moore outlined the Trump economic plan including lower corporate income taxes, lower personal income taxes and US energy independence policy.  The Trump team is committed to achieving a four percent GDP growth rate. 

Ms. MacGuineas asked each of the speakers to outline their candidate's key economic strategies.  Moore answered Corporate Tax Policy, US Energy Independence, and Regulatory Relief.  Sperling's answer was very fuzzy.  He spoke in a wandering manner talking about helping workers and the middle class with no definitive strategy other than an infrastructure investment.  The two speakers agreed that worker equity ownership participation is a good idea (many companies already have this) and there should be more support for families through child care credits and other means. 

Ms. MacGuiness then stated the forecast for the national debt.  All models agree that the debt will grow faster than the GDP for the foreseeable future.  This increases the current debt to GDP ratio from very high levels, highest since post WWII era, to higher levels for every year into the future.  She asked the speakers how the candidates will address this issue.  The bottom line is that neither Sperling or Moore answered the question.

Sperling basically supported the status quo with some income redistribution from the one percent to others.  He didn't indicate that a Clinton administration cared about the national debt and how it impacted the economy now or the future.  It appears that Clinton thinks that the existing $600B year and growing deficit is baked in and she is only attempting to balance out additions to the existing forecasted debt growth. 

Moore emphasized that the GDP growth rate during the Obama era has been less than two percent and is currently running at one percent.  Trump is committed to achieving a five year four percent growth rate that would increase the overall GDP by 20 percent after five years.  This will be achieved by impact of the corporate tax cut, individual tax cuts, the energy independence program and slowing or stopping regulatory impact on business.  Moore didn't address the additional debt that would be incurred during the implementation of this plan or its long term impact on federal debt growth. 

Ms. MacGuiness then asked the speakers some questions that had been submitted by attendees. Some of the highlights of that portion of the event included a non-answer from Sperling regarding the future of Social Security and Medicare funding levels.  His only meaningful comment was that Social Security payments should be increased for some recipients.  Moore repeated Trump's position that there should be no Social Security cuts and implied that economic growth would solve the funding problem with no specifics.  Later Moore attacked the federal debt build-up and wasted spending under Obama and Sperling countered with Obama forced to deal with the financial crisis that developed during the Bush administration and the increase in debt was not his fault.  Moore attacked Obamacare and its negative impact on many citizens due to its high cost relative to medical insurance cost before Obamacare.  Sperling countered with some of the positive aspects of Obamacare, total number of people covered, coverage to age 26 and coverage of pre-existing conditions.

There was very little discussion of trade issues during the discussion.  During his initial comments Moore noted that he doesn't agree on Trump's views on free trade and Trump knows it and it doesn't impact their relationship. 

After the event I had the opportunity to shake hands with Mr. Moore and ask him to think about the $100T to $200T of unfunded liabilities of the US government.  He responded that a number of existing programs needed to sunset - very true - and he would think about the issue. 

After Mr. Moore left I discussed the event and the issues with two gentlemen that I met at the event.  They each made a comment that I found very interesting.  First, the US economy and government don't work with a two percent GDP growth rate.  This is independent of the amount of Federal debt we have today.  The point is well made.  We must grow much faster or face fundamental restructuring of our economy on every level.  Second, this election is a choice about economic policies of the 80's - Trump and the 90's - Clinton.  Neither approach is going to solve the economic issues that we must deal with in 2020. 

I heard very little good news during the event today.  Neither side is prepared to deal with our future economic issues.  I do agree with the Trump focus on US energy independence and reduced regulation.  As the Trump team proposes we must fix our US corporate tax rate and make it competitive with the rest of the world.  We need to stop taxing profits made by US companies in foreign countries so they can bring their cash back to US.  I heard very little about the Clinton plan that was positive to the overall economic health of the country.  Clinton continues the US on a low growth economy with no impact on our future debt growth.  Clinton's primary focus is redistribution of existing wealth. 

The US needs an economic plan for today and tomorrow not 20 or 30 years ago.  I have some thoughts and I will discuss them sometime in the near future.


5:45 pm          Comments

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