Thursday, September 30, 2010

wisdom from 50cent

Ah yes, one of our current entertainment "super-stars" with a message about suicide -- this after three kids who were being bullied killed themselves.

WELL DONE Mr. 50 cents -- I see you are another of "natures noblemen". Perhaps you should contemplate doing yourself in -- after all, you really can't be very happy if you want others to kill themselves -- right?

What does it matter to you if someone else does things you don't? How does it harm you in any way?

I wonder what you would do if you had a gay son, or a lesbian daughter? What would you do if they were wonderful, kind, loving, beautiful children? Would you want them to "change"? Would you disown them? Would you want them to kill themselves too?

I wonder?

50 Cent Encourages Gay Suicide
By Editors

No stranger to antigay tweets, 50 Cent has posted an ill timed message on his Twitter page, suggesting that any man who isn’t into women should kill himself right now.

“If you a man and your over 25 and you don’t eat pu**y just kill your self damn it. The world will be a better place. Lol.”

Earlier this month, the rapper tweeted, "Perez Hilton called me douchebag, so I had my homie shoot up a gay wedding. wasnt his, but made me feel better."

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Another gay youth suicide -- roommate secretly filmed him hooking up, put video on twitter, kid killed himself shortly after

Damn it!! This crap has to stop! So much fun to embarrass the "faggot". Such a kick to let the world know what the pervert does.

So? He killed himself -- who gives a damn?

Idiot children. Idiot children who don't give a damn about ANYONE or ANYTHING -- except their futures as "masters of the universe".


(please follow link to original)

Rutgers freshman kills self after classmates use hidden camera to watch his sexual activity: sources

BY Alison Gendar and Larry Mcshane

Originally Published:Wednesday, September 29th 2010, 10:45 AM
Updated: Wednesday, September 29th 2010, 3:08 PM
Tyler Clementi, sources say, killed himself jumping off the George Washington Bridge.

A Rutgers University freshman killed himself after two classmates used a hidden dorm room camera to splash his sex life across the internet, sources told the Daily News.

A distraught Tyler Clementi, 18, left his wallet on the George Washington Bridge before plunging to his death in the Hudson River last Wednesday, sources said.

A Twitter post from one of the students accused of streaming the sexual encounter live on the internet indicated Clementi, a renowned high school violinist, was with another man.

"Roommate asked for the room till midnight," read the post from Dharun Ravi, 18. "I went into Molly's room and turned on my webcam. I saw him making out with a dude. Yay."

The Twitter post went up Sept. 19 - three days before Clementi's suicide.

At least two people spotted Clementi standing on the south walk of the bridge near the New York side at 8:50 p.m. The Ridgewood, N.J., teen left no note before jumping, the sources said.

His body remained missing, although the NYPD Harbor Unit discovered a corpse floating Wednesday in Spuyten Duyvil near W. 218th St., north of the bridge. The body had not yet been identified.

The teen's car was parked on the New Jersey side of the bridge.

"We are not talking right now," said the victim's father, Joseph Clementi, 54. "We are still in mourning. It's been a lot to deal with."

The stunning details emerged one day after authorities announced the arrests of Ravi and Molly Wei for cyber-voyeurism.

The pair used the hidden dorm room camera to stream their fellow student's sex session, officials said.

Clementi graduated in June from Ridgewood High School, where he was well-known for his musical prowess. His former classmates became aware of his disappearance late last week, said schools Superintendent Daniel Fishbein.

"We've had counselors available for students and staff for some time," said Fishbein.

Ravi, 18, of Plainsboro, was free Wednesday on $25,000 bail. Co-defendant Wei, 18, of Princeton, was released on her own recognizance after the suspects surrendered to campus police.

The pair, who were high school classmates, were charged with two counts each of invasion of privacy for the Sept. 19 broadcast, said Middlesex County Prosecutor Bruce Kaplan.

Kaplan had no immediate comment about additional charges in the wake of Clementi's death.

Ravi was additionally charged with two more invasion of privacy counts for trying to arrange the airing of a second session on Sept. 21, Kaplan said.

Ravi's lawyer was not available Wednesday for comment.

The top count against each suspect carries a five-year jail term. The two students were on the Piscataway campus less than a month before their arrests.

Ravi pulled down his Twitter account, where he also made a cryptic Sept. 21 reference to his roommate asking to have their room to himself.

"Yes, it's happening again," he wrote.

Rutgers students who knew the duo were shocked by the arrests.

Ravi was a ping-pong player and Frisbee enthusiast, while Wei was described by one friend as a dedicated student from a strict household.

"She studies a lot," said the 17-year-old, who attended West Windsor-Plainsboro High School with the pair. "She gets good grades. She never did anything bad."

Rutgers issued a statement saying it would not comment on any details of the case.

"The university takes these matters seriously and has policies to deal with student behavior," said spokeswoman Sandra Lanman. "Under federal law, the university cannot comment on specifics."

FRAMING -- or, how to tell damn lies

"One in five OPPOSE 'Obamacare'."

In reality -- FOUR out of FIVE support "Obamacare" -- or think it DOESN'T GO FAR ENOUGH!!

Stupid, Venal, Crackpot Politics

This from another blog -- "As Time Goes By -- what it's really like to get older." A blog that has the "Another Old Woman's" total seal of approval.

Written by "Crabby Old Lady", the following does a very good job of presenting the issues and the reality: (as usual -- please follow link to original -- then BOOKMARK the site)

Wednesday, 29 September 2010
Stupid, Venal, Crackpot Politics

Crabby Old Lady is appalled, frightened and snarling mad. You should be too.

The United States is on a crazy train to doom and no one with a bigger platform than Crabby will say so. There is only one thing that matters right now. Only one. JOBS. But you wouldn't know that from the news nor from elected officials who are the only people who have the power to effect change on the large scale the country needs.

Instead, they are dealing in stupid, venal, crackpot politics that is harming our country and destroying the lives of the people.

To those same politicians and candidates who want to replace them: stop telling the country that rich people's tax cuts create jobs. It is a lie. They've had those tax cuts for eight years and look where it got us – millions of permanently lost jobs and 10 percent “official” unemployment that is actually much higher.

To rich people and their sycophant politicians: stop attacking Social Security. No cutting benefits. No privatization. No raising the age of eligibility without an exclusion for people who do heavy labor. And Joe Miller in Alaska? Social Security is not unconstitutional. It is a lie to say that.

To politicians, candidates and rich people: stop attacking Medicare. Expand it to everyone in the U.S. which Congress and President Obama should have done the first time around. A smart 11-year-old can see that would make health care affordable for everyone.

Politicians and corporations: stop sending jobs overseas. It started long before the recession and has not stopped. Just yesterday, the Senate GOP shot down a bill that would end tax credits to corporations that outsource jobs to other countries. Huh? Why did they have tax credits for that in the first place?

To rich people and political parties: stop funding sleazy, nutter candidates. The country does not need a man who repeatedly emails pornography. It doesn't need a senator who is ignorant of evolution voting on science-related legislation. It doesn't need anyone at all in office who believes the president is a Muslim or not born in the U.S.

To cable news media: stop filling 90 percent of your air time with fact-free talking heads flapping their gums in total ignorance of everything. Crabby Old Lady has never learned one useful thing from them. Pay some trained reporters, instead, to do some real journalism. A whole lot of them are out of work and they'll do the job for less money than your “star” bloviators.

To the American public, you're not off the hook either: stop wearing tricorn hats; you look like idiots in them. Stop listening to Sarah Palin; she's an opportunistic quitter who can't speak in intelligible sentences. Turn off Glenn Beck; he's an ignorant, raving lunatic.

And to rank-and-file tea partiers: you are batshit crazy to believe you are not being manipulated by the Koch brothers and other rich tyrants who want to steal your Social Security, cancel your Medicare and leave you to eat cat food until you die from lack of medical care.

If Crabby can slow down enough for a moment to take a breath, here is what mystifies her: all the existing and proposed policies of right wingers, their candidates and followers lead inexorably to impoverishment of 95 percent of the population. When fewer and fewer people are employed at subsistence wages, no one will be left to buy the widgets companies make. And if they can't sell their merchandise, their companies will go under and they will become poorer.

Even Henry Ford, hardly a paragon of political virtue, knew that. A hundred years ago, he took a lot of grief from other rich corporatists for paying his auto workers the then-magnificent salary of $5 a day. He did so, he said, because he wanted to sell more Model Ts and to do that, more people had to be able to afford them.

It worked so well, his naysayers followed his lead. What has happened to their sense of self-preservation since then?

Crabby is letting fly because she is deeply frightened for her country. Politicians have always been corrupt, but in the past – even in Crabby's lifetime – many also cared about the well-being of their constituents and their country, were well educated enough to discuss the Constitution and the ideals of liberty with intelligence, and managed to cooperate with one another to get important legislation done to improve the country.

There was a time when most Republicans and Democrats identified with the middle of the political spectrum, left or right a bit from the center point, because they knew that extremism is dangerous. Now, the few existent centrists are all pretty much behind in the polls for this election.

Our country is in serious trouble on all fronts, but nothing will begin to improve until the people can get back to work.

Never in Crabby Old Lady's memory have we needed intelligent leadership more. But what do we have? Candidates who are porn distributors, tax cheats, barely concealed racists, panderers, religious zealots, liars, nihilists and handmaidens to corporations.

No good will come of this.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

TEXAS: 13 Year-Old Boy Commits Suicide After Years Of Anti-Gay Bullying

This stuff is unacceptable. Children are NOT supposed to KILL themselves because the supposed "ADULTS" around them are not willing to protect them from predators. Bullying is WRONG. As someone who was bullied by my peers when I was young -- I do know it leaves a scar. even though we push ahead, move on, regroup and lead productive lives -- it still leaves a mark. There are some kids I still dislike -- others who just leave me confused. I still wonder what it was that made me a "target". Oh well, at least I managed to survive. Today, many kids do not.

This crap is just WRONG -- and the "adults" should hang their heads in shame. Useless bags of rotten flesh. Refusing to protect innocent kids because of prejudice, "religion", or other "reasons". Just wrong!

TEXAS: 13 Year-Old Boy Commits Suicide After Years Of Anti-Gay Bullying

Eighth grader Asher Brown put a bullet in his brain this week after enduring years of anti-gay taunting and bullying at his Texas middle school. His parents say they complained to the school repeatedly. The school, of course, claims no knowledge of such complaints.

Cy Fair ISD officials said Monday that they never received any complaints from Brown's parents before the suicide about the way the boy was being treated at school. School district spokeswoman Kelli Durham said no students, school employees or the boy's parents ever reported that he was being bullied. That statement infuriated the Truongs, who accused the school district of protecting the bullies and their parents.

"That's absolutely inaccurate — it's completely false," Amy Truong said. "I did not hallucinate phone calls to counselors and assistant principals. We have no reason to make this up. … It's like they're calling us liars." David Truong said, "We want justice. The people here need to be held responsible and to be stopped. It did happen. There are witnesses everywhere." Numerous comments from parents and students on the Web site of KRIV-TV Channel 26, which also reported a story about Brown's death, stated that the boy had been bullied by classmates for several years and claimed Cy-Fair ISD does nothing to stop such harassment.

On the morning of his suicide, Asher told his parents that he was gay, but his stepfather says they were accepting of Asher's revelation. "We didn't condemn," he said. The day before, Asher had been tripped and pushed down a flight of stairs at his school. The school claims to have investigated that incident, but says they can find no corroboration.

Texas law does not protect students from anti-gay bullying, no doubt thanks to the work of Christianist groups like Focus On The Family, who lobby nationwide for the right of Christian students to abuse LGBT kids. (This from Joe.My.God> -- please follow link to original)

Required Reading!! -- there will be a test. It's called LIFE.

Once again -- please go to "Some Assembly Required" -- follow link.

Here's a little sample:

The government's numbers are accurate, reality needs adjusting.

Clip & Save: One bunch is claiming the Dow will climb above 38,000 in an eight year 'super boom' beginning in 2017. But Robert Prechter, president of Elliott Wave International, predicts that the Dow will fall below 1000 by 2016.

Media Slant: The polls showed that 4 out of 5 Americans did not oppose health care reform, but the headline read “1 in 5 oppose health care reform.”

Goose/Gander: Iranian forces crossed into neighboring Iraq and killed 30 fighters from a group it says was involved in last week’s bombing of a military parade. The US was outraged. Meanwhile, Pakistan was similaely outraged that NATO troops have engaged in cross-border raids into their territory.

Now What? Ann Coulter claims that marriage is not a civil right. So, what is it, a religious obligation?

The Beatings Will Continue: The Temporary Assistance for Needy Families – a billion dollar program that has been one of the more effective jobs programs is running out of money. and the tens of thousands on that program will soon lose their jobs. The trouble with temporary jobs and temporary funding is that they are temporary, not actual fixes.

Q&A: Is There Hope for the Rule of Law in America? Don't know, never really been tried.

The Quote: “It’s become patently obvious to anybody with half a brain and a pulse that President Obama’s “progressivism” has more in common with Mussolini’s corporatism than anything remotely connected to a genuinely progressive agenda.”

STAN GETZ - "Out of Nowhere"

Stan Getz - Jan Johansson (p), Ray Brown (b), Ed Thigpen (dr). Dusseldorf, Germany - 1960


Clifford Brown (tp)
Zoot Sims (ts)
Bob Gordon (bs)
Stu Williamson (vtb)
Russ Freeman (p)
Joe Mondragon (b)
Carson Smith (b)
Shelly Manne (ds)

Recorded at Capitol Recording Studios, Los Angeles, California on July 12 & August 8, 1954

Bill Watrous "The Road Goes Ever Onward"

The Road Goes Ever Onward (Ken Kaplan)
From the lp "I'll play for you!". 1978.
Bill Watrous:trombone
Jim Cox:Piano
Tom Childs:bass
Chad Wackerman:drums
Dave Levine:percussion

Danny Stiles and Bill Watrous - Dirty Dan

Danny Stiles with Bill Watrous

Dizzy Gillespie - One Note Samba

Dizzy GiIlespie,James Moody - One Note Samba

Christian McBride performing "Blue Monk" with Super Bass

Super Bass -- Ray Brown, John Clayton, Christian McBride

Monday, September 27, 2010

19 Facts About The Deindustrialization Of America That Will Blow Your Mind

This from a site named "The Economic Collapse" -- not one I tend to follow -- but, every so often they have something that makes you stop, think, and shudder. I have not fact-checked their claims, and I realize they are selling a point of view (among other things) -- this is just food for thought -- and, if accurate, VERY scary. (as usual -- please follow link to original)

« S. 510: 12 Reasons Why The Food Safety Bill From Hell Could Be Very Dangerous For The U.S. Economy
20 Signs That The Economic Collapse Has Already Begun For One Out Of Every Seven Americans »
19 Facts About The Deindustrialization Of America That Will Blow Your Mind

The United States is rapidly becoming the very first "post-industrial" nation on the globe. All great economic empires eventually become fat and lazy and squander the great wealth that their forefathers have left them, but the pace at which America is accomplishing this is absolutely amazing. It was America that was at the forefront of the industrial revolution. It was America that showed the world how to mass produce everything from automobiles to televisions to airplanes. It was the great American manufacturing base that crushed Germany and Japan in World War II. But now we are witnessing the deindustrialization of America. Tens of thousands of factories have left the United States in the past decade alone. Millions upon millions of manufacturing jobs have been lost in the same time period. The United States has become a nation that consumes everything in sight and yet produces increasingly little. Do you know what our biggest export is today? Waste paper. Yes, trash is the number one thing that we ship out to the rest of the world as we voraciously blow our money on whatever the rest of the world wants to sell to us. The United States has become bloated and spoiled and our economy is now just a shadow of what it once was. Once upon a time America could literally outproduce the rest of the world combined. Today that is no longer true, but Americans sure do consume more than anyone else in the world. If the deindustrialization of America continues at this current pace, what possible kind of a future are we going to be leaving to our children?

Any great nation throughout history has been great at making things. So if the United States continues to allow its manufacturing base to erode at a staggering pace how in the world can the U.S. continue to consider itself to be a great nation? We have created the biggest debt bubble in the history of the world in an effort to maintain a very high standard of living, but the current state of affairs is not anywhere close to sustainable. Every single month America does into more debt and every single month America gets poorer.

So what happens when the debt bubble pops?

The deindustrialization of the United States should be a top concern for every man, woman and child in the country. But sadly, most Americans do not have any idea what is going on around them.

For people like that, take this article and print it out and hand it to them. Perhaps what they will read below will shock them badly enough to awaken them from their slumber.

The following are 19 facts about the deindustrialization of America that will blow your mind....

#1 The United States has lost approximately 42,400 factories since 2001. About 75 percent of those factories employed over 500 people when they were still in operation.

#2 Dell Inc., one of America’s largest manufacturers of computers, has announced plans to dramatically expand its operations in China with an investment of over $100 billion over the next decade.

#3 Dell has announced that it will be closing its last large U.S. manufacturing facility in Winston-Salem, North Carolina in November. Approximately 900 jobs will be lost.

#4 In 2008, 1.2 billion cellphones were sold worldwide. So how many of them were manufactured inside the United States? Zero.

#5 According to a new study conducted by the Economic Policy Institute, if the U.S. trade deficit with China continues to increase at its current rate, the U.S. economy will lose over half a million jobs this year alone.

#6 As of the end of July, the U.S. trade deficit with China had risen 18 percent compared to the same time period a year ago.

#7 The United States has lost a total of about 5.5 million manufacturing jobs since October 2000.

#8 According to Tax Notes, between 1999 and 2008 employment at the foreign affiliates of U.S. parent companies increased an astounding 30 percent to 10.1 million. During that exact same time period, U.S. employment at American multinational corporations declined 8 percent to 21.1 million.

#9 In 1959, manufacturing represented 28 percent of U.S. economic output. In 2008, it represented 11.5 percent.

#10 Ford Motor Company recently announced the closure of a factory that produces the Ford Ranger in St. Paul, Minnesota. Approximately 750 good paying middle class jobs are going to be lost because making Ford Rangers in Minnesota does not fit in with Ford's new "global" manufacturing strategy.

#11 As of the end of 2009, less than 12 million Americans worked in manufacturing. The last time less than 12 million Americans were employed in manufacturing was in 1941.

#12 In the United States today, consumption accounts for 70 percent of GDP. Of this 70 percent, over half is spent on services.

#13 The United States has lost a whopping 32 percent of its manufacturing jobs since the year 2000.

#14 In 2001, the United States ranked fourth in the world in per capita broadband Internet use. Today it ranks 15th.

#15 Manufacturing employment in the U.S. computer industry is actually lower in 2010 than it was in 1975.

#16 Printed circuit boards are used in tens of thousands of different products. Asia now produces 84 percent of them worldwide.

#17 The United States spends approximately $3.90 on Chinese goods for every $1 that the Chinese spend on goods from the United States.

#18 One prominent economist is projecting that the Chinese economy will be three times larger than the U.S. economy by the year 2040.

#19 The U.S. Census Bureau says that 43.6 million Americans are now living in poverty and according to them that is the highest number of poor Americans in the 51 years that records have been kept.

So how many tens of thousands more factories do we need to lose before we do something about it?

How many millions more Americans are going to become unemployed before we all admit that we have a very, very serious problem on our hands?

How many more trillions of dollars are going to leave the country before we realize that we are losing wealth at a pace that is killing our economy?

How many once great manufacturing cities are going to become rotting war zones like Detroit before we understand that we are committing national economic suicide?

The deindustrialization of America is a national crisis. It needs to be treated like one.

If you disagree with this article, I have a direct challenge for you. If anyone can explain how a deindustrialized America has any kind of viable economic future, please do so below in the comments section.

America is in deep, deep trouble folks. It is time to wake up

little rant -- our depression

We are in a DEPRESSION. No one is willing to say it.

The RICH complain that their taxes on everything OVER $250,000.00 per year might be raised -- even though they would also benefit from lower taxes on anything UNDER $250,000.00.

That tells me everything under $250,000.00 is UNIMPORTANT to them. They must be making far more than $250,000.00 per year to be "hurt" so badly.

In other words, they are a bunch of nasty, crybaby, assholes (at the very least). This at a time when formerly middle class folks are celebrating their descent into poverty -- you know, those hard working good solid Americans who have always supported the system. The folks who thought THEY were "doing the right thing" -- they are now, officially, "losers" in the eyes of the still well to do.

They do not even know how to react.

In Europe, where workers still have some safeguards, where there is still a safety net -- they riot in the streets. Here in the USA, those "solid citizens" who are just beginning to realize how truly SCREWED they are do not (YET) know how to react.

As the truth hits home -- I think some of the currently "well to do" will join the losers. We will see what happens then.

It's going to be interesting -- after all, neither political party gives a damn about the flesh and blood citizens -- they care about the CORPORATE "citizens".

When our economy implodes a bit more, even our corporate "overlords" will realize the current path is a "lose-lose".

Why are so many "smart people", so many "masters of the universe" so stupid, so lacking in insight, so short sighted? When the entire planet goes into a major depression, when wars and rebellions break out across the globe -- where will they move to?

Please go to "Some Assembly Required"

In my never ending quest for original material, I will once again direct you to a blog assembled by someone else. It consists of other people's opinions. In other words, my creativity consists of third hand (at the very least) material.

It's just that other folks usually manage to articulate what I'm thinking at least as well as I do -- with better footnotes.

Anyway --- please go to "Some Assembly Required" -- please follow link to original.

Here's a little sample:

Collapse is a common failing of civilizations.

Deja vu All Over Again: The FBI is out raiding the homes of anti-war activists, serving search warrants in hopes of finding enough evidence to arrest them as terrorists and to let the public know that dissent has consequences.

Facts Not In Evidence: It's beginning to look like the GOP may need to restate their disdain for health care reform; only 20% oppose it and 2 out of 3 think it should have done more, to include some form of single payer/universal coverage. Oops. This may be one reason why polls show the Democrats are not at all out of the race.

Snapshot: Over 52% of all houses sold in August went for under $200,000, while new house prices fell to their lowest level in 7 years.

Let's Make a Deal: Rumor has it that California has arrived at a budget deal with the following reductions in state spending: Cut Medicaid by $1.6 billion. End the Healthy Families ($600 mil) program, End the Cal Works employment program for the poor (nearly $2 bil). End in-home social health services for the elderly ($1.5 bil) Cut state payroll by 10% by reducing staff and paying them less ($1 bil). Cut school funding by a billion. California is the nation's trend setter.

Republican Economics as Social Darwinism

While glancing at the internet (surfing, if you will) this morning, I was struck, once again, by the clarity shown by Robert Reich. He makes a great deal of sense. So ............ here's his latest. (as always, plwasw follow link to original)

Republican Economics as Social Darwinism

Sunday, September 26, 2010

John Boehner, the Republican House leader who will become Speaker if Democrats lose control of the House in the upcoming midterms, recently offered his solution to the current economic crisis: “Liquidate labor, liquidate stocks, liquidate the farmer, liquidate real estate. It will purge the rottenness out of the system. People will work harder, lead a more moral life.”

Actually, those weren’t Boehner’s words. They were uttered by Herbert Hoover’s treasury secretary, millionaire industrialist Andrew Mellon, after the Great Crash of 1929.

But they might as well have been Boehner’s because Hoover’s and Mellon’s means of purging the rottenness was by doing exactly what Boehner and his colleagues are now calling for: shrink government, cut the federal deficit, reduce the national debt, and balance the budget.

And we all know what happened after 1929, at least until FDR reversed course.

Boehner and other Republicans would even like to roll back the New Deal and get rid of Barack Obama’s smaller deal health-care law.

The issue isn’t just economic. We’re back to tough love. The basic idea is force people to live with the consequences of whatever happens to them.

In the late 19th century it was called Social Darwinism. Only the fittest should survive, and any effort to save the less fit will undermine the moral fiber of society.

Republicans have wanted to destroy Social Security since it was invented in 1935 by my predecessor as labor secretary, the great Frances Perkins. Remember George W. Bush’s proposal to privatize it? Had America agreed with him, millions of retirees would have been impoverished in 2008 when the stock market imploded.

Of course Republicans don’t talk openly about destroying Social Security, because it’s so popular. The new Republican “pledge” promises only to put it on a “fiscally responsible footing.” Translated: we’ll privatize it.

Look, I used to be a trustee of the Social Security trust fund. Believe me when I tell you Social Security is basically okay. It may need a little fine tuning but I guarantee you’ll receive your Social Security check by the time you retire even if that’s forty years from now.

Medicare, on the other hand, is a huge problem and its projected deficits are truly scary. But that’s partly because George W. Bush created a new drug benefit that’s hugely profitable for Big Pharma (something the Republican pledge conspicuously fails to address). The underlying problem, though, is health-care costs are soaring.

Repealing the new health-care legislation would cause health-care costs to rise even faster. In extending coverage, it allows 30 million Americans to get preventive care. Take it away and they’ll end up in far more expensive emergency rooms.

The new law could help control rising health costs. It calls for medical “exchange” that will give people valuable information about health costs and benefits. The public should know certain expensive procedures only pad the paychecks of specialists while driving up the costs of insurance policies that offer them.

Republicans also hate unemployment insurance. They’ve voted against every extension because, they say, it coddles the unemployed and keeps them from taking available jobs.

That’s absurd. There are still 5 job seekers for every job opening, and unemployment insurance in most states pays only a small fraction of the full-time wage.

Social insurance is fundamental to a civil society. It’s also good economics because it puts money in peoples’ pockets who then turn around and buy the things that others produce, thereby keeping those others in jobs.

We’ve fallen into the bad habit of calling these programs “entitlements,” which sounds morally suspect – as if a more responsible public wouldn’t depend on them. If the Great Recession has taught us anything, it should be that.anyone can take a fall through no fault of their own.

Finally, like Hoover and Mellon, Republicans want to cut the deficit and balance the budget at a time when a large portion of the workforce is idle.

This defies economic logic. When consumers aren’t spending, businesses aren’t investing and exports can’t possibly fill the gap, and when state governments are slashing their budgets, the federal government has to spend more. Otherwise, the Great Recession will turn into exactly what Hoover and Mellon ushered in – a seemingly endless Great Depression.

It’s also cruel. Cutting the deficit and balancing the budget any time soon will subject tens of millions of American families to unnecessary hardship and throw even more into poverty.

Herbert Hoover and Andrew Mellon thought their economic policies would purge the rottenness out of the system and lead to a more moral life. Instead, it purged morality out of the system and lead to a more rotten life for millions of Americans.

And that’s exactly what Republicans are offering yet again

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Grayson Ad.

It's about time someone had the courage to tell the truth:

Few Have Remained Unscathed

This from "Financial Armageddon" -- though I often disagree with some opinions there, this is well done. I think all the attempts to say this group, or that group are hit the hardest is just smokescreen, just an attempt to convince folks this downturn is not that bad, not that widespread, will soon be over. In other words --- SPIN.

(please follow link to original -- this is another blog you should read on a regular basis)

Few Have Remained Unscathed

Has the worst downturn since the Great Depression had the biggest impact on men --

"A 'Mancession?' Recession Hitting America's Men Harder than Women" (KXTV)

SACRAMENTO, CA - The economy may be starting to recover now that the 18-month recession seems to be over. However, many families are still struggling to overcome a layoff.

In this substantial period of cutbacks and downsizing, this recession has become a "mancession" for many families. Some people have called the downturn a "mancession" because so many men have been affected by layoffs.

"The men, the traditional breadwinners, are being hurt," said UC Davis professor Ann Huff Stevens said. "More of the higher wage men are out of work right now. Their unemployment rates have been higher than womens' during this recession

-- single women --

"Recession Hits Single Women Harder" (KPSP)

The country's recession has seemed to touch all sorts of people, but single mother in particular appear to have been hit harder than others.

-- mothers --

"'Wal-mart Moms' Struggle to Stay Afloat" (Coshocton Tribune)

Ten "Wal-mart Moms," representing one of this fall's hot electoral groups, were assembled in a conference room in Denver earlier this month, where they were asked to describe the condition of the country this fall.

The words tumbled out: "Downhill." "Recession." "Depressing." "Backwards." "Unfortunate." "Sad." "Loss of control."

For the next 90 minutes, the Denver moms, half of whom had voted for Barack Obama in 2008, described lives of quiet doubt and modest expectations as they struggled to stay afloat in the middle class. Some had lost jobs or homes, or both, and several had unemployed husbands or partners.

"The education system, the jobs and the economy ... all of it is collectively getting worse," said Kelly, a stay-at-home mom of a 9-year-old.

-- children --

"Anne Jarvis: Recession Hurt Kids" (The Windsor Star)

"My dad lost his job. He's really angry. Maybe it would be better if I wasn't here."

That's what a 12-year-old boy told a child psychiatrist at the height of the recession in Windsor.

Lost jobs, lost homes - and scared kids. They were all part of the profound toll here of the worst economic downturn in more than a generation.

-- parents --

"Money Woes Change Parents’ Plans" (MarketWatch)

With a baby like Eve at home, the idea of having another child is tempting.

Our 1-year-old daughter is a joy — smart, lively and sweet — but my husband and I aren’t sure about expanding our family again anytime soon. There’s the cost, the time, and the discomfort of pregnancy (while this is a side issue for us, for some it is a substantial concern).

But what are these worldly concerns compared with snuggles and smiles? Our baby is cute even when crying.

If only cuteness bought diapers. But, unless your baby is also exceptionally camera-ready, it doesn’t, and finances are a major concern for families considering bringing another child into the world.

Forty-four percent of women said they wanted to reduce or delay childbearing because of the economy, according to a 2009 report from the Guttmacher Institute, a reproductive-health think tank.

-- older workers --

"Jobless Older Workers Face Hurdles to Getting Hired" (Indianapolis Star)

Decked out in a crisp, cream-colored suit with briefcase in hand, Sherry Everling was someplace Wednesday she never expected to be at age 62: a job fair.

But Everling, like the room full of older workers who swarmed around her, is desperate for a job and not getting hired.

"I really do need to be working right now," said Everling, Beech Grove, who until a year ago was vice president of a sign distribution company. "I'm getting no calls back."

The job market is so bad for older Hoosiers that Indiana was one of 19 states chosen by AARP for a job fair. The organization teamed up with to hold the fairs in states with the worst unemployment among its members.

"This recession has really hit older workers hard," said Martin DeAgostino, with AARP Indiana. "It's hit everybody hard, but the thing about older workers is we have less time to recover. Being out of work is tough -- much tougher for them."

-- young people --

"College Graduates Are Really Screwed" (24/7 Wall St.)

Attention college seniors: it’s an awful year to graduate college. Anyone with a brain knows that given the state of the economy but the Brookings Institution recently spelled it out in frightening detail.

For these young adults just entering the labor market for the first time, the impacts of the recession will last well into the future. According to one study (Kahn 2010), young people graduating from college during today’s severe recession will earn approximately 17.5 percent less per year than comparable peers graduating in better labor markets. This lower wage effect is highly persistent, fading away only after 17 years of work.

What does this mean in terms of lost income? For the average college graduate this year, this translates into approximately $70,000 (in today’s dollars) in lost earnings over the next decade. For the 2008, 2009, and 2010 classes combined that amounts to over $330 billion in lost earnings over 10 years. The projected losses are even larger for graduates who cannot find a job upon graduation.

-- or minorities --

"U.S. Labor Chief Cites ‘Unacceptable’ Jobless Rates for Minorities" (Kansas City Star)

Hilda Solis, the U.S. secretary of labor, told a group of columnists last week that she and the administration recognize that unemployment numbers for African-American males are at an alarming level. And they are trying to do something about it.

While unemployment for the nation hovers well over 9 percent, for African-Americans, unemployment is estimated at 15 percent.

In recognizing Labor Day, Solis did a telephone interview with members of the Trotter Group, a group of black columnists from across the nation. Solis used the occasion to provide a sort of state of the economy.

“For young people and especially people of regions of the country hardest hit by the recession, and especially people of color, as you know, the unemployment rate is much higher,” Solis said. “And I am very concerned about that. To me, it’s unacceptable. In some communities, it goes as high as 25 to 30 and even as high as 40 percent.”

If the following Bloomberg report, "Recession Hurt More Than Half of Americans, Pew Survey Finds," is anything to go by, few groups -- except, perhaps, for the well-to-do -- have remained unscathed.

The worst economic slowdown since the Great Depression hurt more than half of Americans, especially younger people, minorities and those with a high school education or less, a Pew Research Center survey found.

“For a narrow majority of Americans, 55 percent, the Great Recession brought a mix of hardships, usually in combination: a spell of unemployment, missed mortgage or rent payments, shrinking paychecks and shattered household budgets,” according to the survey released today in Washington. “But for the other 45 percent of the country, the recession was largely free of such difficulties.”

The survey, taken May 11-31, reflects the responses of 2,967 people to eight questions designed to measure economic hardships experienced during the recession. The margin of error was plus or minus 2.2 percentage points.

10" LP: Lester Leaps In - Jazz At The Philharmonic Vol. 12, 1949 - Mercury MG Vol. 12

This is also from the same concert that featured Ella Fitzgerald scatting "Perdido". ;)

So feast hearty with this LIVE jam session with a pile of the top jazz men of the day - I've hardly heard Buddy Rich play with more feeling and so in touch with the groove as he is here.

The personnel for this September 18, 1949 concert are:

Roy Eldridge - trumpet
Tommy Turk - trombone
Charlie Parker - alto sax
Flip Phillips, Lester Young - tenor saxes
Hank Jones - piano
Ray Brown - bass

BONUS JATP!: Perdido with Ella Fitzgerald - Jazz At The Philharmonic, 1949

The personnel for this September 18, 1949 cut are:

Ella Fitzgerald - vocal
Roy Eldridge - trumpet
Tommy Turk - trombone
Charlie Parker - alto sax
Flip Phillips, Lester Young - tenor saxes
Hank Jones - piano
Ray Brown - bass
Buddy Rich - drums

Lester Young & Teddy Wilson - All of Me

Charlie Parker - All the things you are

Charles "Bird" Parker, Jr.
All The Things You Are

Sonny Rollins - Strode Rode - from Saxophone Colossus

Sonny Rollins — tenor saxophone
Tommy Flanagan — piano
Doug Watkins — bass
Max Roach — drums

Sonny Rollins / Oleo

Saturday, September 25, 2010

The Dismantling of Civilized Society

This from Common Dreams -- please follow link for original

Published on Saturday, September 25, 2010 by
The Dismantling of Civilized Society

by David Michael Green

How stupid are you?

I mean, let's just face it, shall we? That is precisely the question the right has been asking the American public for thirty years (and more) now. And that is the question the American public has been enthusiastically answering for the same period of time.

Like a crack junkie, in fact.

In the 1980s, Ronald Reagan presented America with a set of economic lies so transparent that even a monster like George H. W. Bush called them "voodoo economics". When he was contesting Reagan for the Republican nomination, that is. Once Bush had lost it, and when he wanted to be added to the ticket as the Vice Presidential nominee, everything became hunky dory, and no more voodoo critiques were uttered. That was one of the greatest acts of treason (I choose my words carefully) in American history.

But back to Reagan. "Watch this", he said. "I'm gonna slash taxes, especially for the rich, spend huge sums on ‘defense', and balance the budget at the same time".

Okay, so he wasn't a math major in college. Two out of three ain't bad, though, eh? Well, it is if you have to pay for his ‘mistakes', plus interest, as so many of us continue to do to this day. Prolly not a big problem, though. Even though Americans hate taxes with the passion of the truly infantile, I'm sure they don't mind working extra hours flipping burgers each week to pay for the enrichment of the previous generation of plutocrats and defense contractors. Right?

Or maybe it's just that their answer to the "How stupid" question is: "Very".

You might think that, because Reagan and Bush actually managed to quadruple the national debt with their little exercise in national folly. Or you might especially think that because Lil' Bush came along with the exact same snake oil a decade later. You had to be stupid to buy it the first time, but you had to have been really stupid to buy it the second time. We, of course, were.

And not just in terms of federal debt, either. A generation of Reaganomics has now succeeded in suspending ninety-eight percent of the country in standard-of-living formaldehyde, so that they felt zero effect whatsoever from the substantial growth in GDP over the last thirty years, and now those policies are cutting off their legs from underneath them altogether. All while the people of Reagan's class, of course, just piled on the riches. How stupid do you have to be to not notice who's diddling you?

Very, of course, but not necessarily as stupid as is maximally possible. ‘Cause, guess what? Here they come again. This week Republicans once again have issued a manifesto calling for slashing taxes on billionaires and cutting deficits, all at the same time. And once again they will win big electoral landslide victories in November despite that patent idiocy. Or perhaps because of it.

Why don't they just come out and do magic tricks, instead? Oh wait. That's their Jesus bit. Never mind.

On the one hand, I don't blame Americans for voting for the party that isn't the Democratic Party this fall. Obama and crew are miserable failures, as completely unable to provide meaningful solutions to the problems facing Americans today as they are inept at winning political fights against manifest criminals. Looking at the landscape in front of them as it appears to voters' blinkered vision, it makes perfect sense to desperately swing to the party not in government when the house is on fire and the party in government is showing up with squirt guns. What could be more logical? This is, indeed, the fundamental notion of ‘responsible government' itself, and it is at the core of democratic theory.

On the other hand, of course, there are two very excellent reasons why such a vote is completely idiotic. First, because there actually are more than two alternatives to choose from. I wish we had viable third parties in America but I don't normally advocate for them, given the massive systemic improbability of their success. That said, if there was ever a moment for which a third party vote was called for, this is it.

And second, because ‘the alternative' to the Democrats are the very folks who put us in these crises to start with, and they are now explicitly devoted to making conditions even worse for ordinary Americans. That's exactly what will happen, of course, and if you think the present moment is grim, wait until you see how much fun the next two years are gonna be. They're gonna look like the mangled and ferocious spawn of a tainted marriage between the Depression politics of the Hoover era, the sick depravity of McCarthyism, the relentless scandal-mongering of the Gingrich era, and the completely unmitigated greed of the Cheney years. Welcome to the dismantling of civilized society in America. Yes, yes, I know - it's quite arguable whether such a beast ever existed. Well, at least that's one debate we're about to put to rest definitively.

And we also know for sure of yet one more thing Ol' W was wrong about. Remember when he said: "There's an old saying in Tennessee - I know it's in Texas, probably in Tennessee - that says, fool me once, shame on - shame on you. Fool me - You can't get fooled again!"

He shoulda checked with Karl Rove and the rest of his party of predatory shucksters, who seem quite incapable of not constantly trying to fool the public. And he shoulda considered the ridiculous improbability of his own presidency before attempting to quote Pete Townshend. Not to mention the current moment. We know why the GOP has to lie, and does so compulsively. Even in contemporary America, surely the stupidest country on the planet, the homo sapiens are still sentient enough to opt out of the most overt cases of self-immolation. If kleptocratic Republicans told the truth, who in the world would ever vote for them, other than the richest two percent of Americans?

The bigger mystery is why people continue to fall for this crap over and over. This is the "shame on me" concept that Dauphin George was reaching for but couldn't quite grasp (too bad he didn't actually, er, study, when he was at Yale). How many times can fools be told the same foolish line and be fooled into foolishly falling for it, like a pack of so many fools?

It would appear that for Americans, at least, there is no limit, based on the contents of the Republicans' just released "Pledge to America" manifesto, which I could have drafted for them, so predictable is its contents. There is of course, loads of debauchery and rampant destruction in there, dressed up as piety and patriotism. But the fiscal insanity is the most egregious. Can they really pledge the old voodoo economics once again - slashing tax revenue while simultaneously cutting deficits - and get away with it? Yes they can, and yes they have.

Perhaps their lies are more plausible because they have promised to cut spending. It's just that there are two little caveats they hope you won't notice. First, that they somehow miraculously fail to specify in advance of the election what they intend to cut. Gee, I wonder why that is? Could it be that if people knew what those cuts would be they would be aghast? Or could it be - and this brings us to the other small footnote - that what they are proposing is to mathematics what a dropped object falling upward would be to physics?

As Paul Krugman notes, the Republican Pledge claims that "everything must be cut, in ways not specified - ‘except for common-sense exceptions for seniors, veterans, and our troops.' In other words, Social Security, Medicare and the defense budget are off-limits. [Krugman should have also mentioned service to the existing debt, which is one of the biggest single items in the federal budget today, and absolutely cannot be touched.] So what's left? Howard Gleckman of the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center has done the math. As he points out, the only way to balance the budget by 2020, while simultaneously (a) making the Bush tax cuts permanent and (b) protecting all the programs Republicans say they won't cut, is to completely abolish the rest of the federal government: ‘No more national parks, no more Small Business Administration loans, no more export subsidies, no more N.I.H. No more Medicaid (one-third of its budget pays for long-term care for our parents and others with disabilities). No more child health or child nutrition programs. No more highway construction. No more homeland security. Oh, and no more Congress.'"

And yet - of course - poll data shows that the folks purveying this heap of garbage are about to be swept into office. Meanwhile, city governments are folding their tents across America, slashing all their services entirely, and the GOP is nominating former witches, anti-masturbators, racists, wrestling promoters and every other form of personal screw-up and jive con-artist to be found everywhere killers and thieves congregate.

I'm sorry, but surveying the landscape, it just feels so over now in America. We seem like little more than a popped balloon, with only the faux blustering fart noises of rapid deflation remaining where once there was an empire and once there were truly revolutionary and truly valuable ideas.

It's no accident, either, that the near-complete obsession of the tea party right and their followers is taxes. It's naked greed, it's more infantile than the politics of a kindergarten sandbox, and it's as corrosive as can be. Oliver Wendell Holmes wrote "Taxes are what we pay for civilized society". He meant it, too. When he died, he donated his estate to the US government.

What is happening to America today is nothing short of the dismantling of such civilized society. Does anyone think the country is economically better off today than in the 1950s or 1960s? Does anyone seriously think that the Millennial Generation will be better off than their parents? Would anyone seriously bet on America today, as an economic comer? Does anyone think that the next hundred years will be the American century?

There is so much tragedy to this story that it is hard to know where to start. Perhaps the greatest ugliness of the whole affair is the self-inflicted nature of our demise, and, therefore, the complete lack of necessity for all the pain and suffering already endured and the vastly greater amounts still to come. It never had to be this way, which just makes it all the more pathetic.

If there is any silver lining here it is that the hooligans of the right will manifestly fail at governing, which at least opens up the potential for them to be rejected once again.

I will be interested - as a political scientist, not as a citizen - to see what sort of budget proposal Republicans will pass out of the House once they control it. Like Reagan and Bush before them, their numbers cannot possibly jibe. Unlike Reagan and Bush, however, they will have far less luxury to resort to the shell game of grossly irresponsible deficits as a way out of their own lies, having made deficit reduction so overtly the centerpiece of their campaign this year. The freaks of the tea party right don't seem so likely to let them off the hook for another round of campaign lies as they were the last two times out. How's that for an irony? The only prospect of real accountability for these monsters would be coming from the monsters of their own constituency.

But, assuming the GOP can find a way around that problem (perhaps by proposing a draconian pretend budget that they know could never be accepted by congressional Democrats or Obama?), I would expect them to prevail again in 2012. Unless the jobs picture changes radically in 2011 - and no economist that I know of is predicting that - Obama is complete toast. Indeed, he is probably so wounded that we might expect a Democrat or two to challenge him in the primaries for the nomination. Doesn't matter, though. Either way, whoever the Republicans nominate will be the next president.

Which is where I start to get real nervous. Governments that combine a commitment to holding power at all costs with a total absence of real policy solutions and an amoral willingness to do anything to serve their true aspirations are a truly scary prospect. History suggests that the years after 2012 could be the ones during which the wheels finally came off the wagon of what is left of American democracy.

But it could be far worse than that, too, for us and for others. The prospect of a hugely powerful empire lashing out at the rest of the world - whether in rage or seeking domestic diversion - is not a pretty one at all. The Soviet superpower was kind enough to implode rather innocuously. I'm not at all convinced that we yanks would be quite so gracious about doing the same.

I remain haunted to this day by the words of John le Carré, written on the eve of the Bush invasion of Iraq: "America has entered one of its periods of historical madness, but this is the worst I can remember: worse than McCarthyism, worse than the Bay of Pigs and in the long term potentially more disastrous than the Vietnam War".

Sadly, I think he had everything right in his assessment, save for the word "periods". That term implies a temporariness to our condition that might at least make it somehow barely tolerable.

But what if it only gets worse from here?

And let's be honest. Given the nature of the Republicans, the Democrats, the media and the public in America today, how does it not

Recession Ends; Nobody Notices

The National Bureau of Economic Research declared this week that the Great Recession ended over a year ago. Yet, for some reason, the average American isn't ready to break out the champagne.

"Every single one of the individuals who wrote the report needs a serious reality check," said Bob Johnson of the Queens borough of New York, who is 46, had worked in communications and has been looking for a job for more than three years.

The American working class is hurting. The unemployment rate is only marginally down from the peak and the economy has been losing jobs over the last three months. Households were $1.5 Trillion poorer last quarter, and $12.3 Trillion poorer than three years ago. Most of this is reflected in the crushed dreams of retirement. The poverty rate is at a 15-year high.

We Haven’t Hit Bottom Yet

This from The New York Times by Bob Herbert (please follow link to original):

We Haven’t Hit Bottom Yet
Published: September 24, 2010

Marcus Vogt is 20 years old and homeless. Or, as he puts it, “I’m going through a couch-surfing phase.”

Mr. Vogt is a Wal-Mart employee but he was injured in a car accident and was unable to work for a couple of months. With no income and no health insurance, he quickly found himself unable to pay the rent. Even meals were hard to come by.

(His situation is quite a statement about real life in the United States in the 21st century. On the same day that I spoke with Mr. Vogt, Forbes magazine came out with its list of the 400 most outrageously rich Americans.)

I met Mr. Vogt at Master’s Manna, a food pantry and soup kitchen here that also offers a variety of other services to individuals and families that have fallen on hard times. He told me that his cellphone service has been cut off and he has more than $3,000 in medical bills outstanding. But he was cheerful and happy to report that he’s back at work, although it will take at least a few more paychecks before he’ll have enough money to rent a room.

Other folks who make their way to Master’s Manna are not so upbeat. The Great Recession has long since ended, according to the data zealots in their windowless rooms. But it is still very real to the millions of men and women who wake up each morning to the grim reality of empty pockets and empty cupboards.

Wallingford is nobody’s definition of a depressed community. It’s a middle-class town on the Quinnipiac River. But the number of people seeking help at Master’s Manna is rising, not falling. And when I asked Cheryl Bedore, who runs the program, if she was seeing more clients from the middle class, she said: “Oh, absolutely. We have people who were donors in the past coming to our doors now in search of help.”

The political upheaval going on in the United States right now is being driven by the economic upheaval. It’s sometimes hard to see this clearly amid the craziness and ugliness stirred up by the professional exploiters. But the essential issue is still the economy — the rising tide of poor people and the decline of the middle class. The true extent of the pain has not been widely chronicled.

“The minute you open the doors, it’s like a wave of desperation that’s hitting you,” said Ms. Bedore. “People are depressed, despondent. They’re on the edge, especially those who have never had to ask for help before.”

In recent weeks, a few homeless people with cars have been showing up at Master’s Manna. Ms. Bedore has gotten permission from the local police department for them to park behind her building and sleep in their cars overnight. “We’ve been recognized as a safe haven,” she said.

In two of the cars, she said, were families with children.

It’s not just joblessness that’s driving people to the brink, although that’s a big factor. It’s underemployment, as well. “For many of our families,” said Ms. Bedore, “the 40-hour workweek is over, a thing of the past. They may still have a job, but they’re trying to survive on reduced hours — with no benefits. Some are on forced furloughs.

“Once you start losing the income and you’ve run through your savings, then your car is up for repossession, or you’re looking at foreclosure or eviction. We’re a food pantry, but hunger is only the tip of the iceberg. Life becomes a constant juggling act when the money starts running out. Are you going to pay for your medication? Or are you going to put gas in the car so you can go to work?

“Kids are going back to school now, so they need clothes and school supplies. Where is the money for that to come from? The people we’re seeing never expected things to turn out like this — not at this stage of their lives. Not in the United States. The middle class is quickly slipping into a lower class.”

Similar stories — and worse — are unfolding throughout the country. There are more people in poverty now — 43.6 million — than at any time since the government began keeping accurate records. Nearly 15 million Americans are out of work and home foreclosures are expected to surpass one million this year. The Times had a chilling front-page article this week about the increasing fear among jobless workers over 50 that they will never be employed again.

The politicians seem unable to grasp the immensity of the problem, which is why the policy solutions are so woefully inadequate. During my conversations with Ms. Bedore, she dismissed the very thought that the recession might be over. “Whoever said that was sadly mistaken,” she said. “We haven’t even bottomed-out yet.”

Bank of America Collection Agency Harrassed Borrowers With Racist, Obscene Calls

This by way of "Naked Capitalism" -- please follow link to original

Tom Adams pointed out a story on ABC about the sleazy strong arming tactics used by a debt collection agency engaged by Bank of America debt collection agency called ACT Technologies. I imagine we are going to hear more and more about this sort of thing, not simply because high unemployment rates mean more people getting into credit trouble (yes, banks reported a fall off in new delinquencies, but a robin does not mean a spring. In addition, banks are also getting more aggressive on other fronts. For instance, banks would get a deficiency judgment when a foreclosure sale failed to recover the mortgage balance plus other charges. They would seldom pursue it, since people who lose their homes are under financial stress and you can’t get blood from a turnip. Since discussions of strategic defaults are now common, banks now appear to believe they are widespread, when the studies that have touted that idea are simply not reliable (I’m regularly called in to evaluate possible corporate investments, and my work often includes assessing consultant and academic research). So expect more debt collectors to be called in to pursue people who have lost their homes, even when there is nothing more to get.

The Bank of America case is particularly striking since the collection agency violated the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. Bank of America continued to use the agency after a $1.5 million judgment against the collection agency, which also included Bank of America, and ABC News sent copies of abusive phone calls. It was only after they ambushed the CEO, Michael Moore style, to discuss the problem that the bank dismissed the firm.

As Tom noted:

While the circumstances are quite different, they remind me of the way the banks ran the mortgage and CDO deals during the bubble days. They know what they are doing is wrong, but they also know it works. If they bully people, they can get what they want and the odds are very low they’ll suffer in any meaningful way. This time, BofA got caught, so they fired the agency and they move on, otherwise unaffected.

The Super Rich Get Richer, Everyone Else Gets Poorer, and the Democrats Punt

Some good sense from Robert Reich -- please follow link to original

The Super Rich Get Richer, Everyone Else Gets Poorer, and the Democrats Punt

Friday, September 24, 2010

The super-rich got even wealthier this year, and yet most of them are paying even fewer taxes to support the eduction, job training, and job creation of the rest of us. According to Forbes magazine’s annual survey, just released, the combined net worth of the 400 richest Americans climbed 8% this year, to $1.37 trillion. Wealth rose for 217 members of the list, while 85 saw a decline.

For example, Charles and David Koch, the energy magnates who are pouring vast sums of money into Republican coffers and sponsoring tea partiers all over America, each gained $5.5 billion of wealth over the past year. Each is now worth $21.5 billion.

Wall Street continued to dominate the list; 109 of the richest 400 are in finance or investments.

From another survey we learn that the 25 top hedge-fund managers got an average of $1 billion each, but paid an average of 17 percent in taxes (because so much of their income is considered capital gains, taxed at 15 percent thanks to the Bush tax cuts).

The rest of America got poorer, of course. The number in poverty rose to a post-war high. The median wage continues to deteriorate. And some 20 million Americans don’t have work.

Only twice before in American history has so much been held by so few, and the gap between them and the great majority been a chasm — the late 1920s, and the era of the robber barons in the 1880s.

And yet the Bush tax cuts of 2001 and 2003, which conferred almost all their benefits on the rich, continue.

Democrats have decided to delay voting on whether to extend them for the top 2 percent of Americans or for the bottom 98 percent until after the mid-term elections.

Democrats have thereby given up a defining issue that could have enabled them to show the big story of the last three decades — the accumulation of almost all the gain from economic growth at the top — and to make a start at reversing it.

When will they ever learn


Press Releases
Whidbey Island Bank, Coupeville, Washington, Assumes All of the Deposits of North County Bank, Arlington, Washington

September 24, 2010
Media Contact:
Greg Hernandez
Office: (202) 898-6984
Cell: (202) 340-4922

North County Bank, Arlington, Washington, was closed today by the Washington Department of Financial Institutions, which appointed the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) as receiver. To protect the depositors, the FDIC entered into a purchase and assumption agreement with Whidbey Island Bank, Coupeville, Washington, to assume all of the deposits of North County Bank.

The four branches of North County Bank will reopen on Monday as branches of Whidbey Island Bank. Depositors of North County Bank will automatically become depositors of Whidbey Island Bank. Deposits will continue to be insured by the FDIC, so there is no need for customers to change their banking relationship in order to retain their deposit insurance coverage. Customers of North County Bank should continue to use their existing branch until they receive notice from Whidbey Island Bank that it has completed systems changes to allow other Whidbey Island Bank branches to process their accounts as well.

This evening and over the weekend, depositors of North County Bank can access their money by writing checks or using ATM or debit cards. Checks drawn on the bank will continue to be processed. Loan customers should continue to make their payments as usual.

As of June 30, 2010, North County Bank had approximately $288.8 million in total assets and $276.1 million in total deposits. Whidbey Island Bank will pay the FDIC a premium of 2.0 percent to assume all of the deposits of North County Bank. In addition to assuming all of the deposits of the failed bank, Whidbey Island Bank agreed to purchase essentially all of the assets.

The FDIC and Whidbey Island Bank entered into a loss-share transaction on $221.9 million of North County Bank's assets. Whidbey Island Bank will share in the losses on the asset pools covered under the loss-share agreement. The loss-share transaction is projected to maximize returns on the assets covered by keeping them in the private sector. The transaction also is expected to minimize disruptions for loan customers. For more information on loss share, please visit:

Customers who have questions about today's transaction can call the FDIC toll-free at 1-800-508-8289. The phone number will be operational this evening until 9:00 p.m., Pacific Daylight Time (PDT); on Saturday from 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., PDT; on Sunday from noon to 6:00 p.m., PDT; and thereafter from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m., PDT. Interested parties also can visit the FDIC's Web site at

The FDIC estimates that the cost to the Deposit Insurance Fund (DIF) will be $72.8 million. Compared to other alternatives, Whidbey Island Bank's acquisition was the least costly resolution for the FDIC's DIF. North County Bank is the 127th FDIC-insured institution to fail in the nation this year, and the ninth in Washington. The last FDIC-insured institution closed in the state was The Cowlitz Bank, Longview, on July 30, 2010.


First Southern Bank, Boca Raton, Florida, Assumes All of the Deposits of Haven Trust Bank Florida, Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida

September 24, 2010
Media Contact:
Greg Hernandez
Office: (202) 898-6984
Cell: (202) 340-4922

Haven Trust Bank Florida, Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida, was closed today by the Florida Office of Financial Regulation, which appointed the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) as receiver. To protect the depositors, the FDIC entered into a purchase and assumption agreement with First Southern Bank, Boca Raton, Florida, to assume all of the deposits of Haven Trust Bank Florida.

The two branches of Haven Trust Bank Florida will reopen during their normal business hours beginning Saturday as branches of First Southern Bank. Depositors of Haven Trust Bank Florida will automatically become depositors of First Southern Bank. Deposits will continue to be insured by the FDIC, so there is no need for customers to change their banking relationship in order to retain their deposit insurance coverage. Customers of Haven Trust Bank Florida should continue to use their existing branch until they receive notice from First Southern Bank that it has completed systems changes to allow other First Southern Bank branches to process their accounts as well.

This evening and over the weekend, depositors of Haven Trust Bank Florida can access their money by writing checks or using ATM or debit cards. Checks drawn on the bank will continue to be processed. Loan customers should continue to make their payments as usual.

As of June 30, 2010, Haven Trust Bank Florida had approximately $148.6 million in total assets and $133.6 million in total deposits. First Southern Bank did not pay the FDIC a premium for the deposits of Haven Trust Bank Florida. In addition to assuming all of the deposits of the failed bank, First Southern Bank agreed to purchase essentially all of the assets.

The FDIC and First Southern Bank entered into a loss-share transaction on $127.3 million of Haven Trust Bank Florida's assets. First Southern Bank will share in the losses on the asset pools covered under the loss-share agreement. The loss-share transaction is projected to maximize returns on the assets covered by keeping them in the private sector. The transaction also is expected to minimize disruptions for loan customers. For more information on loss share, please visit:

Customers who have questions about today's transaction can call the FDIC toll-free at 1-800-430-6165. The phone number will be operational this evening until 9:00 p.m., Eastern Daylight Time (EDT); on Saturday from 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., EDT; on Sunday from noon to 6:00 p.m., EDT; and thereafter from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m., EDT. Interested parties also can visit the FDIC's Web site at

The FDIC estimates that the cost to the Deposit Insurance Fund (DIF) will be $31.9 million. Compared to other alternatives, First Southern Bank's acquisition was the least costly resolution for the FDIC's DIF. Haven Trust Bank Florida is the 126th FDIC-insured institution to fail in the nation this year, and the twenty-fourth in Florida. The last FDIC-insured institution closed in the state was Horizon Bank, Bradenton, on September 10, 2010

Friday, September 24, 2010

Eddie Fisher -- RIP

"Wish You Were Here" Eddie Fisher

Folks today don't realize what a huge star he was -- enjoy

APNewsBreak: 4th man sues Ga. megachurch pastor (AP)

"AP - A fourth young male member of Bishop Eddie Long's megachurch is suing the prominent pastor, claiming Long coerced him into a sexual relationship."

Soon he will be "Eddie Long Gone" -- what a dirtbag

Regulators Step in to Aid Credit Unions

Ah yes! The recession is over. Perhaps it is -- it's been replaced by our new model DEPRESSION!! (this from The New York Times -- please follow link to original)

Regulators Step in to Aid Credit Unions
Published: September 24, 2010

Nearly two years after Wall Street’s giants were rescued by the federal government, regulators on Friday took over three financial institutions that provide the underpinning for hundreds of the nation’s credit unions.

The three entities, known as wholesale credit unions and located in Connecticut, Illinois and Texas, were seized by regulators from the National Credit Union Administration, which supervises about 7,500 credit unions that provide basic banking services to millions of Americans. Most of those customers are linked to credit unions through their employers or through membership organizations.

Although an overwhelming majority of those credit unions are financially sound, some of the wholesale entities behind them have been hobbled by losses on subprime mortgage bonds and other complex investments. Of the 27 wholesale credit unions operating in the United States, five have been seized by regulators over the last 18 months.

The agency announced a plan Friday to separate billions of dollars of the bad assets that have crippled those institutions and then repackage them for sale with a federal guarantee. It also established a set of regulations that will require wholesale credit unions to hold more capital and improve their risk management and governance practices.

It is the latest action by regulators to try to put the financial system on stronger footing, and comes as the nation’s banks and thrifts have shown signs that they are gradually returning to health. Many of the biggest and most troubled institutions, like IndyMac and Washington Mutual, were resolved in the early days of the financial crisis.

The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, which insures money deposited in commercial and savings banks, has shuttered more than 295 lenders over the last few years, including two on Friday. The pace of those interventions has been slowing.

The credit union rescue, however, presents a new twist. Credit unions have billed themselves as conservative safe havens that were insulated from risky business like subprime and commercial real estate lending. Now, two years into the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, it seems that no area of the financial industry managed to escape the effects of the credit bubble.

Officials from the credit union regulator said they believed the steps taken on Friday should create stronger safeguards for the nation’s credit unions and get the industry back on its feet.

“We feel the steps that we have taken have stabilized the system,” said Debbie Matz, the agency’s chairwoman. “We are in the next stage: resolution and reform.”

Officials said they did not expect the rescue to cost taxpayers anything. Credit unions, however, will be liable for the cost, which Ms. Matz estimated to be as much as $9.2 billion. That could force many retail credit unions to pay higher insurance premiums to the National Credit Union Administration in the coming quarters, as the agency looks to replenish its deposit insurance fund.

Consumers, meanwhile, should not experience any service disruptions. Deposits are protected up to $250,000 per account.

The entities seized on Friday were Members United Corporate Federal Credit Union of Warrenville, Ill.; Southwest Corporate Federal Credit Union of Plano, Tex.; and Constitution Corporate Credit Union of Wallingford, Conn.

Last year, regulators closed two wholesale credit unions in Kansas and California and took control of their operations. Regulators will help repackage and sell off about $35 billion of troubled mortgage-related assets held by the five institutions.

Regulators had been grappling over how to deal with the troubled wholesale credit unions since the crisis unfolded two years ago, when the value of big portfolios of complex mortgage investments suddenly collapsed. Wholesale credit unions provide payment clearing and investment services to retail credit unions. They also give the retail credit unions a place to put their cash.

To stave off a run on the troubled wholesale credit unions, the National Credit Union Administration propped them up with an emergency guarantee on all their deposits. It also stepped up scrutiny of those institutions and began working with officials at the Treasury Department, the Federal Reserve and other regulatory agencies to develop a broader resolution plan.

As part of the effort, the Treasury secretary, Timothy F. Geithner, agreed to postpone the deadline for the credit union industry to cover the cost of the mortgage-related losses at the wholesale credit unions until June 2021. Previously, they had until 2016.

Just a Closer Walk -Kid Howard

It is Avery "Kid" Howard playing "Just a Closer Walk With Thee" with the George Lewis Stompers in May 1945. It was recorded in Edgar Mosley's house on St. Philips Street N.O. The line-up is:-
Kid Howard; tpt. George Lewis; clt. Jim Robinson; tmb. Lawrence Marrero; bjo. Alcide Pavageau; bss. and Edgar Mosley; dms. Who could ask for more?!!

High Society King Oliver 1923

High Society - King Oliver's Creole Jazz Band 1923

In the second recording session of the "Jazz King" of Chicago Joe Oliver and his Creole Jazz Band recorded in Chicago as well. This was done on June 24 1923.
In this famous band we hear Joe Oliver and Louis Armstrong on cornets, Johnny Dodds on Clarinet, Lil Hardin on piano, Bud Scott on banjo and Baby Dodds on drums

Mabel's Dream -- King Oliver's Jazz Band 1923

Mabel's Dream -- King Oliver's Jazz Band 1923
This a track from the famous Oliver/Armstrong recordings. The band plays Mabel's Dream. A famous movie star in those years was Mabel Normand.
Could this composition and it's name have had anything to do with her popularity? Maybe, or maybe not. Who is there still to ask?


Mabel Normand was known as the female Chaplin and the undisputed queen of comedy. It was Mabel who is credited with throwing the first custard pie as a gag on screen. She helped get Charlie Chaplin his start in movies, even directing him in his first films. She ranked with Charlie Chaplin, Buster Keaton and Harold Lloyd. It might be said that Charlie was a male Mabel.

Mabel told people that she was born on November 10, 1893, in New Brighton, Staten Island, New York. Mabel was a natural athlete and a breathtaking beauty.

At the time of her death in February 1930 she left behind a world full of broken hearts that mourned her carefree innocence and brilliant comic style. Sadly, the screen has never again seen the likes of darling, dainty, dashing Mabel with the curly locks. Always happy and gay; that's her way!
Of all the comediennes of the silent film era, none was more talented and touching, more original and funny than Mabel Normand. As well as being one of early film comedy's most notable stars, she was also one of its most innovative and creative pioneers

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Some Assembly Required

It's time to go to "Some Assembly Required" again (if you haven't been going there every day).

Then, follow their links to various articles -- even if you do not agree with them.

(as always, please follow link to original)

Some samples:

Thursday, September 23, 2010
SAR #10266

American prosperity was based on constantly expanding debt.

Flood Stage: Banks seized 95,364 properties last month, raising the on-hand inventory above the 12.5 month level for the first time in over a decade. The FHFA's house price index fell 0.5% from June to July and 3.3% Y/Y, a result of the number of foreclosed properties flooding the market.

Profit Margins: Nigeria could provide electricity for its 150 million citizens for less than 0.5% of its oil and gas revenues. But this would cut into the money traditionally diverted into politicians' pockets, so it has asked for international investors to buy up and privatize the national electric company.

Asked & Answered: Can the US slip into deflation? Yes. Will it? Ah, another question...

True Story: The people have already decided on gays in the military – a wide majority, including President Obama and the Joint Chiefs of Staff, want Don't Ask Don't Tell repealed. Republican politicians don't agree.

Selfishness: In some cities in Brazil there are “People’s Restaurants” that daily serve 12,000 or more people every day – mostly with locally grown food - for about 50 cents a day. This is what socialism looks like: bureaucratic drones distorting free markets to feed the hungry and the poor and saving dying babies.

Progress? Today 77% of the US population lives paycheck to paycheck, nearly double the rate just 3 years ago. And they don’t get bonus checks, either.

Why No Amount of Fiscal or Monetary Stimulus Will Be Enough, Given How Small A Share of Total Income the Middle Now Receives

This from Robert Reich -- please follow link to original

Why No Amount of Fiscal or Monetary Stimulus Will Be Enough, Given How Small A Share of Total Income the Middle Now Receives

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Fiscal policy is deadlocked. So, apparently, is monetary policy.

The Fed’s decision today (Tuesday) to keep short-term interest rates near zero is no surprise. What’s odd is its apparent decision not to boost the economy by buying hundreds of billions of bonds — despite its acknowledgment that ”the pace of recovery in output and employment has slowed in recent months,” and that prices are rising too slowly for comfort (i.e., we might be facing deflation).

Every indicator suggests third-quarter growth will be as slow if not slower than in the second quarter. Consumer confidence is down. Retail sales are down. Housing sales are down. Commercial real estate is in trouble.

A growth rate of 1.6 percent means even higher unemployment ahead. Maybe we’re not in a double-dip but we might as well be in one. Growth this slow is the equivalent of heading downward, relative to the growth needed to get us out of the hole we’re in.

The Fed is deadlocked because it harbors hawks who worry near-zero interest rates will lead to another round of speculation, ending in an even bigger bust. Kansas City Fed President Thomas Hoenig, for example, is openly dissenting from the Fed’s near-zero policy and I’m sure he resists doing anything more to stimulate borrowing.

I don’t generally side with the hawks but they have a point.

Even though economy is heading downward, flooding it with more money may not help.

The problem isn’t the cost of capital. Most businesses can get all the money they need. Big ones are still sitting on $1.8 trillion in cash.

The problem is consumers, who are 70 percent of the economy. They can’t and won’t buy enough to turn the economy around. Most don’t qualify for more credit given how much they already owe (or have already defaulted on).

Without consumers, businesses have no reason to borrow more. Except to speculate by buying back their own stock and doing mergers and acquisitions, which is exactly what they’re doing.

Ultimately, even if fiscal and monetary policy weren’t deadlocked, we’d still face the same conundrum. Say the White House and Ben Bernanke got everything they wanted to boost the economy. At some point these boosts would have to end. The economy would have to be able to run on its own.

But it can’t run on its own because consumers have reached the end of their ropes.

After three decades of flat wages during which almost all the gains of growth have gone to the very top, the middle class no longer has the buying power to keep the economy going. It can’t send more spouses into paid work, can’t work more hours, can’t borrow any more. All the coping mechanisms are exhausted.

Anyone who thinks China will get us out of this fix and make up for the shortfall in demand is blind to reality.

So what’s the answer? Reorganizing the economy to make sure the vast middle class has a larger share of its benefits. Remaking the basic bargain linking pay to per-capita productivity.

Let me end with a brief commercial. My new book, “Aftershock: The Next Economy and America’s Future” is out today. In it, I explain this in detail.

From: Grasping Reality with Both Hands

This from Paul Krugman by way of Bradford DeLong (please follow link to original)

Paul Krugman:

Who You Gonna Believe?: I went through my mail today, and got the usual batch of letters declaring that I’m wrong about everything, and that we should do the opposite of anything I say. Hey, it’s a free country. But I found myself wondering, as I often do, about the determination with which people believe pundits who please them ideologically, no matter how wrong they have repeatedly been — wrong in ways that, if you believed them, cost you money.

Suppose you had spent the last five years actually believing what you read from the usual suspects — the WSJ opinion pages, National Review, right-wing economists, etc.. Here’s what would have happened:


In 2006 you would have believed that there was no housing bubble.

In 2007 you would have believed that the troubles of subprime couldn’t possibly spread to the financial system as a whole.

In 2008 you would have believed that we weren’t in a recession — and that the failure of Lehman was unlikely to have bad consequences for the real economy.

In 2009 you would have believed that high inflation was just around the corner.

At the beginning of 2010 you would have believed that sky-high interest rates were just around the corner.

Now, we all make mistakes and get things wrong — although it’s striking how often the trolls on this blog feel the need to accuse yours truly of saying things I didn’t. But after this string of errors, wouldn’t you at least begin to suspect that the people you find congenial have a fundamentally wrong-headed view of how the world works?

.Another Anti-Gay Pastor Caught With His Pants Down

Lawyer: Other young men went on trips with pastor (please follow link to original)

By ERRIN HAINES and GREG BLUESTEIN, Associated Press Writer Errin Haines And Greg Bluestein, Associated Press Writer – Thu Sep 23, 8:53 am ET

ATLANTA – The pastor of a nationally known Atlanta-area megachurch took other young men on trips as part of a mentoring program but stands by his denial of claims that he had sex with three of them, a lawyer for the religious leader said Thursday.

Bishop Eddie Long plans his first public response to the allegations Sunday during services at his 25,000-member church, attorney Craig Gillen said on the Tom Joyner Morning Show after Long canceled an interview with the nationally syndicated radio program.

In lawsuits filed this week, three men who were members of the New Birth Missionary Baptist Church claimed Long coerced them into sexual relations with gifts including cars, cash and travel when they were 17 or 18 years old. The sprawling church in suburban Lithonia counts politicians, celebrities and the county sheriff among its members and hosted four U.S. presidents during the 2006 funeral of Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.'s widow, Coretta Scott King.

One of the claims in the lawsuits is that Long had sexual contact with the young men, who were enrolled in New Birth's ministry for teen boys, during trips he took them on in the U.S. and abroad. Gillen said the travel was part of a mentoring program that other young men also participated in.

"The mentoring process involving travel is not exclusive to the three plaintiffs making these allegations," Gillen said.

Gillen also read a statement from Long in which the pastor, a married father of four, said he's anxious to respond to the allegations but that his lawyer has advised him not to yet.

"Let me be clear. The charges against me and New Birth are false," Long's statement said.

Gillen also said the three making the allegations were motivated by money, adding that one of them is accused of breaking into Long's office.

In addition to canceling the radio show appearance, an expected Thursday news conference with Long was also called off.

Gillen said Long will speak directly about the allegations to his church congregation Sunday.

B.J. Bernstein, an attorney representing the plaintiffs, said she opened her investigation after getting a call from one of the men. The Associated Press normally does not name people who claim they are victims of sexual impropriety, but Bernstein said all three — Maurice Robinson, 20, Anthony Flagg, 21, and Jamal Parris, 23 — have consented to making their identities public.

Bernstein said she didn't trust local authorities to investigate the claims.

"This is a really large church that's incredibly politically powerful," Bernstein said. "There are pictures of this guy with every politician around. With something this important, how can I trust that word didn't get back to the bishop?"

DeKalb County Sheriff Thomas Brown has been a member of New Birth for more than 15 years and sits on the advisory board for Long's Longfellows Youth Academy. He said he would stand by the bishop and bristled at Bernstein's suggestion that local authorities couldn't be trusted.

"I take offense to that," he said. "It does not merit a dignified response."

Their pastor has been silent and so are most at Long's 25,000-strong church. But those who will speak say they are supporting him.

Lance Robertson, who joined New Birth nearly two decades ago and has coached youth basketball there, said Wednesday that members were hurting.

"I support and will stand with my bishop, but right now in the court of public opinion, it does not look good," Robertson said. "This affects too many people. As the bishop goes, New Birth goes. He built New Birth."

Bernstein said that her case hinges on her three clients' testimony and that she doesn't have much physical evidence backing up her complaint. Long sent dozens of e-mails and phone calls to her clients, though they weren't "overly sexual," she said. Bernstein said she plans to subpoena records from Long that will show he traveled with the young men to New York, Las Vegas, New Zealand and elsewhere.

Robertson, the church's youth basketball coach, said he wants to hear Long respond to the accusations.

Long was appointed pastor of New Birth in 1987 and built it up into a complex on 250 acres with a $50 million, 10,000-seat cathedral and more than 40 ministries. President George W. Bush and three former presidents attended the church's 2006 funeral service for Coretta Scott King. Long introduced the speakers and the Rev. Bernice King, the Kings' younger daughter, delivered the eulogy. She is also a pastor there.

The church was among those named in 2007 in a Senate committee's investigation into a half-dozen Christian ministries over their financing.

Long has called for a national ban on same-sex marriage. In 2004, he led a march with Bernice King to her father's Atlanta grave to support a national constitutional amendment to protect marriage "between one man and one woman."

This isn't the first allegation against a religious leader who has crusaded against gay marriage. Ted Haggard left New Life Church of Colorado Springs, Colo., in 2006 after a male prostitute said Haggard paid him for sex. Haggard denied the allegations but later admitted to "sexual immorality" and launched a new church in June 2010