Wednesday, August 31, 2011

"Rick Perry's Secret Plan"

Robert Reich's latest. Please follow link to original.

Rick Perry’s Secret Plan to Save Blue States from the Red States

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Of all the nonsense Texas Governor Rick Perry spews about states’ rights and the tenth amendment, his dumbest is the notion that states should go it alone. “We’ve got a great Union,” he said at a Tea Party rally in Austin in April 2009. “There’s absolutely no reason to dissolve it. But if Washington continues to thumb their nose at the American people, you know, who knows what might come out of that.”

The core of his message isn’t outright secession, though. It’s that the locus of governmental action ought to be at the state rather than the federal level. “It is essential to our liberty,” he writes in his book, Fed Up! Our Fight to Save America from Washington, “that we be allowed to live as we see fit through the democratic process at the local and state level.”

Perry doesn’t like the Federal Reserve Board. He hates the Internal Revenue Service even more. Presumably if he had his way taxpayers would pay states rather than the federal government for all the services and transfer payments they get.

This might be a good deal for Texas. According to the most recent data from the Tax Foundation, the citizens of Texas receive only 94 cents from the federal government for every tax dollar they send to Washington.

But it would be a bad deal for most other red states. On average, citizens of states with strong Republican majorities get back more from the federal government than they pay in. Kentucky receives $1.51 from Washington for every dollar its citizens pay in federal taxes. Alabama gets back $1.66. Louisiana receives $1.78. Alaska, $1.84. Mississippi, $2.02. Arizona, $1.19. Idaho, $1.21. South Carolina, $1.35. Oklahoma, $1.36. Arkansas, $1.41. Montana, $1.47, Nebraska, $1.10. Wyoming, $1.11. Kansas, $1.12.

On the other hand, fiscal secession would be a boon to most blue states. The citizens of California – harder hit by the recession than most – receive from Washington only 78 cents for every tax dollar they send to Washington. New Yorkers get back only 79 cents on every tax dollar they send in. Massachusetts, 82 cents. Michigan, 92 cents. Oregon, 98 cents.

In other words, blue states are subsidizing red states. The federal government is like a giant sump pump – pulling dollars out of liberal enclaves like California, New York, Massachusetts, and Oregon – and sending them to conservative places like Montana, Idaho, Oklahoma, Arizona, Wyoming, Kansas, Nebraska, and the Old South.

As a practical matter, then, Rick Perry’s fight to save America from Washington is really a secret plan to save blue states from red states.

Perry, it turns out, is a closet liberal.

Actually Fixing Social Security!

By the way, about the "Social Security is a ponzi scheme" lies -- here's a post from "Seeing The Forest For The Trees". Please follow link to original

Sen. Sanders' Plan To Actually Fix Social Security

-- by Dave Johnson

You hear over and over that Social Security is "in trouble" or that we "can't afford it." This is as far from true as can be, and the idea behind this is to convince people to just give up on defending the program and let the haters have their way. The people who hate Social Security the most are the ones who say they want to make these changes to "save" it. Well Bernie Sanders loves the program and has introduced a bill that actually will save it.

The Haters

Conservatives have hated Social Security from the start, because it is a program that demonstrates once and for all the value of progressive governance. Social Security is as clear an example of We, the People watching out for and taking care of each other as there ever was. It has made a huge difference n the lives of older people, and their/our families. It works, is cost-effective and requires minimal overhead to keep it going. So they hate it.

A very recent example of conservative hatred for Social Security came from Senator Marco Rubio of Florida, who said, that We, the People helping each other makes us weak,

"These programs actually weakened us as a people. ... All of a sudden, for an increasing number of people in our nation, it was no longer necessary to worry about saving for security because that was the government’s job."

Substitute the words "We, the People" or "each other" for "government" in Rubio's statement and you'll get the point: people don't have to worry so much because we're taking care of each other. He says that makes us weak. Yikes!

Decades Of Attacks

For decades conservatives who hate Social Security have been using every trick in the book to turn people against the program. Over and over you hear, "It's a Ponzi scheme." "It won't be there for you." This latest attack is that it "makes us weak." And of course the old classic: "Social Security is broke."

The "it's going broke" and "won't be there for you" attack strategy goes back to a 1983 Cato Institute Journal document, "Achieving a Leninist Strategy" by Stuart Butler of Cato and Peter Germanis of the Heritage Foundation. The document is still available at Cato, and select quotes are available at Plotting Privatization? from Z Magazine. If you have time it is worth reading the entire document (in particular the section "Weakening the Opposition") to more fully understand the strategy that has been unfolding in the years since. But if you can't, the following quotes give you an idea:

"Lenin recognized that fundamental change is contingent upon ... its success in isolating and weakening its opponents. ... we would do well to draw a few lessons from the Leninist strategy."

" construct ... a coalition that will ... reap benefits from the IRA-based private system ... but also the banks, insurance companies, and other institutions that will gain from providing such plans to the public."

"The first element consists of a campaign to achieve small legislative changes that embellish the present IRA system, making it in practice a small-scale private Social Security system.

"The second main element ... involves what one might crudely call guerrilla warfare against both the current Social Security system and the coalition that supports it."

"The banking industry and other business groups that can benefit from expanded IRAs ..." "... the strategy must be to propose moving to a private Social Security system in such a way as to ... neutralize ... the coalition that supports the existing system."

"The next Social Security crisis may be further away than many people believe. ... it could be many years before the conditions are such that a radical reform of Social Security is possible. But then, as Lenin well knew, to be a successful revolutionary, one must also be patient and consistently plan for real reform."

Here is what to take away from this: Every time you hear that "Social Security is going broke" you are hearing a manufactured propaganda point that is part of a decades-old strategy. Every time you hear that "Social Security is a Ponzi scheme" you are hearing that strategy in operation. Every time you hear that "Social Security won't be there for me anyway" " you are witnessing that strategy unfold.

The Problem

The Social Security program is entirely self-funded, separate from the way that the government taxes and spends for other programs. People set aside money in their working years, they get a monthly amount when they retire. (The program also has other benefits including disability benefits, survivors funds and others.) Social Security does not contribute to the deficit in any way.

You never hear that the huge, vast, bloated, enormous, mammoth military budget is "going broke" or "won't be there for you." But year after year you hear that Social Security is "in trouble."

Currently the program has built up a huge trust fund -- over $2.5 trillion. This is invested in US Treasury Bonds, and is earning interest. But there are projections that this trust fund will be depleted in approx. 2037, and if this happens the program will have to cut payouts by as much as 25%. (Hey. when does the military budget Trust Fund run down?)

One big reason for this shortfall is that the last time the programs was comprehensively adjusted (1983, Greenspan Commission) certain economic growth and income projections were used to decide how much "payroll tax" to take out of people's paychecks. They increased the amount taken out of paychecks, and set up an increasing "cap" on the income that would be taxed. Right now 6.2% (temporarily reduced to 4.2%) is taken out of paychecks, and employers kick in another 6.2%, on income up to a "cap" of $106,800. There is no "payroll tax" on amounts above that "cap."

But something changed between 1983 and now: almost all the income gains have gone to a few at the very top. Instead of people who mostly were under that "cap" getting raises, thereby increasing the amount they pay into the fund, the raises went to people who already pass that amount, so the increased income is not contributing to the program. So that money that was calculated would go into the Social Security Trust Fund instead went to the top few. As a result the program is no longer bringing in enough money to keep the trust fund fully-funded past 2037.

Sen. Sanders' Solution

Senator Bernie Sanders is introducing a bill to the Senate to fix this, once and for all. In simple terms, this bill will start taxing income above $250,000 a year to cover this Social Security shortfall. So instead of just "raising the cap" it lets that cap stay, and then takes it off again on income above $250,000. In effect it means there will be a gap between the current top income that is taxed, and $250K.

Get the money from where the money went: So because much of the real Social Security problem is that so much income is now going to just a few at the top, this gets the money to fix the problem from those top-level incomes.

Here is Sanders, talking about his bill:

“When [Social Security] was developed, 50 percent of seniors lived in poverty. Today, poverty among seniors is too high, but that number is ten percent. Social Security has done exactly what it was designed to do!”

By the way ---- Workers NEED Unions!

This from "Business Insider" -- our corporations are working folks to a point where NO "work/family balance" is possible. Please follow link to original.

By the way -- workers NEED UNIONS!

U.S. corporate profits and efficiency are getting absurd.

On Friday we saw record quarterly profits of $1,450 billion, making up a record share of GDP at 10.1%. We're also at record corporate efficiency of $15,278.72 -- up 22.3% from last year -- according to Sageworks Inc.

That last one says it all. Rampant job cuts and salary cuts, with new responsibilities for old workers, during the recession turned corporations into profit-making machines. Stimulative policies from the government and the Federal Reserve helped plenty. New technology also helps with efficiency.

Unfortunately there are no signs that corporations are turning revenue into jobs.

Disaster Relief Economics

This from Prof. Krugman. Please follow link to original

Disaster Relief Economics

In a way, I may be wasting my time doing any kind of rational analysis of Eric Cantor’s demand that any disaster aid in the wake of Irene be offset by spending cuts elsewhere. Cantor is, of course, being totally hypocritical; where were the demands for offsets to the cost of invading Iraq?

Still, it may be worth talking about just how bad an idea this is in terms of basic economics — and in this case, regular economics, not fancy-schmancy macro.

Think of the government budget as involving tradeoffs similar to those an individual household makes. On one side, there are all kinds of things the government could be doing, from dropping freedom bombs to providing children with dental care; think of each of these things as involving a certain marginal benefit per additional dollar spent, with the marginal benefit declining in the total amount spent on each concern. On the other side, raising revenue has a cost, both the direct cost of the money taken from taxpayers and the possible reduction in incentives from higher tax rates.

What the government should do, in this case, is set all the marginals equal: the marginal benefit of an additional dollar spent on bombs, dental work, national parks, soup kitchens, etc, should all be equal, and this common marginal benefit should equal the marginal cost of raising an additional dollar of revenue.

Now suppose a disaster strikes. What this does is raise the marginal benefit of spending on disaster relief. The appropriate response is to move all the marginals to get them in line: spend less on everything else, and also raise more in taxes. So even there it shouldn’t be all offsetting spending cuts.

But wait: even more important, the government can borrow (or, in principle, lend, if it pays off all its debt). So it should balance its budget in present discounted value terms, not year by year. This means that the tradeoffs should include future spending and taxes as well as this year’s spending and taxes. And a natural disaster, like a war, is a temporary event; it should be met largely through higher taxes and lower spending in the future rather than right away, which is another way of saying that it should be paid for in large part by a temporary increase in the deficit.

This isn’t some novel idea, by the way — it’s the standard theory of public finance during war, going all the way back to Ricardo. And the logic of wartime finance applies equally to natural disasters.

So the bottom line is that basic, regular economics says that Cantor isn’t making sense. Are you surprised?

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Monsanto GM corn is losing its pest-resistance

Gee-golly, "AmericablogNews" put up this "interesting" info. As he says at the end, "What could possibly go wrong?"

Please follow link to original

Monsanto GM corn is losing its pest-resistance

Thanks to Dave Roberts and the Tweet machine, we find this, from the Wall Street Journal (emphasis added):

Widely grown corn plants that Monsanto Co. genetically modified to thwart a voracious bug are falling prey to that very pest in a few Iowa fields, the first time a major Midwest scourge has developed resistance to a genetically modified crop.

The discovery raises concerns that the way some farmers are using biotech crops could spawn superbugs.

Iowa State University entomologist Aaron Gassmann's discovery that western corn rootworms in four northeast Iowa fields have evolved to resist the natural pesticide made by Monsanto's corn plant could encourage some farmers to switch to insect-proof seeds sold by competitors of the St. Louis crop biotechnology giant, and to return to spraying harsher synthetic insecticides on their fields.

Adds the Journal, with delightful un-self-consciousness:

The discovery comes amid a debate about whether the genetically modified crops that now saturate the Farm Belt are changing how some farmers operate in undesirable ways.

This from Money's favorite morning paper.

But wait, there's already a proposed solution, says Sarah Laskow at (my emphasis):

Scientists are already working on a new way to make buggies regret they ever thought for a second about eating corn: it's called RNA interference, and it builds genetic code into plants that turns off essential genes of any bugs that eat it. At least, we hope it only applies to bugs.

RNA interference — what could possibly go wrong?

Oh, that.

Catholic Group: Galileo Was Wrong

This from "Joe.My.God.". Follow link to original.

Catholic Group: Galileo Was Wrong

A bizarre sect of wingnut Catholics is back in the news for their long-running claim that Galileo was wrong about heliocentrism. Because it says so in the Bible. And according to the Chicago Tribune, the group's membership is growing.

Those promoting geocentrism argue that heliocentrism, or the centuries-old consensus among scientists that Earth revolves around the sun, is a conspiracy to squelch the church's influence. "Heliocentrism becomes dangerous if it is being propped up as the true system when, in fact, it is a false system," said Robert Sungenis, leader of a budding movement to get scientists to reconsider. "False information leads to false ideas, and false ideas lead to illicit and immoral actions — thus the state of the world today.… Prior to Galileo, the church was in full command of the world, and governments and academia were subservient to her." There is proof in Scripture that Earth is the center of the universe, Sungenis said. Among many verses, he cites Joshua 10:12-14 as definitive proof: "And the sun stood still, and the moon stayed, while the nation took vengeance on its foe.… The sun halted in the middle of the sky; not for a whole day did it resume its swift course."

Even the Vatican has ridiculed the group. A spokesman for the Creation Museum, however, hedged his bets, saying the Bible says nothing either way.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Our "leaders" are Assholes

This from "Some Assembly Required" -- please follow link to original - then follow his links to one of THE originals.

Note: Doesn't matter how you get there, as long as you get there.

e's opinion.
Monday, August 29, 2011
SAR #11240

Remember free markets?

Oracleizing: “Temporary factors can account for only a portion of the economic weakness that we have observed... Most of the economic policies that support robust economic growth in the long run are outside the province of the [Federal Reserve].” Chairman Ben, letting the cat out of the bag.

Translation Exercise: What does 'cooperation' mean in the German phrase "closer cooperation is the only way forward?" Or this: "Let us hope that being German and being European are now one and the same, today and forever."

Someone Finally Noticed: Why does this rate a headline? "Wall Street bailout failed to rescue Main Street" Where the hell you been for the last three years?

Storm Surge: In the first quarter of 2011, nearly 11 million homes – 23% of all US houses with a mortgage – were underwater. In Florida it's 46%, in California 31%. Why do these folks keep wasting their money?

Business Weak: A smaller percent of prime working-age men (those 25 -54) have jobs today than at any time since the end of World War II. The percentage of men working and the median wage they earned has dropped steadily since the 1970's, the decline was masked by the increasing numbers of women in the workforce. The portion of men holding a job- any job, part or full time - fell to 63.5% in July. This is the lowest number since 1948. —These are the lowest numbers in statistics going back to 1948. And men who do have jobs get paid less – their wages have dropped 27% in the last 40 years.

Conundrum: Why, if the government can finance its operations by borrowing money at a real, inflation adjusted, negative interest rate, are they trying to scrimp and save? Today it would be far cheaper for the government to borrow all of its cash and pay it back over 5 to 7 years. Yet our whole national discussion is pathologically focused on the idea that we are borrowing too much money.

Balanced Budget: In Pennsylvania, Governor Corbet cut $2 million from the education budget and granted $833 million in tax breaks to corporations. That’ll teach ‘em.

Republicans Against Science By PAUL KRUGMAN

This from Prof. Krugman in today's N.Y. Times -- please follow link to original

Republicans Against Science

Jon Huntsman Jr., a former Utah governor and ambassador to China, isn’t a serious contender for the Republican presidential nomination. And that’s too bad, because Mr. Hunstman has been willing to say the unsayable about the G.O.P. — namely, that it is becoming the “anti-science party.” This is an enormously important development. And it should terrify us.

To see what Mr. Huntsman means, consider recent statements by the two men who actually are serious contenders for the G.O.P. nomination: Rick Perry and Mitt Romney.

Mr. Perry, the governor of Texas, recently made headlines by dismissing evolution as “just a theory,” one that has “got some gaps in it” — an observation that will come as news to the vast majority of biologists. But what really got peoples’ attention was what he said about climate change: “I think there are a substantial number of scientists who have manipulated data so that they will have dollars rolling into their projects. And I think we are seeing almost weekly, or even daily, scientists are coming forward and questioning the original idea that man-made global warming is what is causing the climate to change.”

That’s a remarkable statement — or maybe the right adjective is “vile.”

The second part of Mr. Perry’s statement is, as it happens, just false: the scientific consensus about man-made global warming — which includes 97 percent to 98 percent of researchers in the field, according to the National Academy of Sciences — is getting stronger, not weaker, as the evidence for climate change just keeps mounting.

In fact, if you follow climate science at all you know that the main development over the past few years has been growing concern that projections of future climate are underestimating the likely amount of warming. Warnings that we may face civilization-threatening temperature change by the end of the century, once considered outlandish, are now coming out of mainstream research groups.

But never mind that, Mr. Perry suggests; those scientists are just in it for the money, “manipulating data” to create a fake threat. In his book “Fed Up,” he dismissed climate science as a “contrived phony mess that is falling apart.”

I could point out that Mr. Perry is buying into a truly crazy conspiracy theory, which asserts that thousands of scientists all around the world are on the take, with not one willing to break the code of silence. I could also point out that multiple investigations into charges of intellectual malpractice on the part of climate scientists have ended up exonerating the accused researchers of all accusations. But never mind: Mr. Perry and those who think like him know what they want to believe, and their response to anyone who contradicts them is to start a witch hunt.

So how has Mr. Romney, the other leading contender for the G.O.P. nomination, responded to Mr. Perry’s challenge? In trademark fashion: By running away. In the past, Mr. Romney, a former governor of Massachusetts, has strongly endorsed the notion that man-made climate change is a real concern. But, last week, he softened that to a statement that he thinks the world is getting hotter, but “I don’t know that” and “I don’t know if it’s mostly caused by humans.” Moral courage!

Of course, we know what’s motivating Mr. Romney’s sudden lack of conviction. According to Public Policy Polling, only 21 percent of Republican voters in Iowa believe in global warming (and only 35 percent believe in evolution). Within the G.O.P., willful ignorance has become a litmus test for candidates, one that Mr. Romney is determined to pass at all costs.

So it’s now highly likely that the presidential candidate of one of our two major political parties will either be a man who believes what he wants to believe, even in the teeth of scientific evidence, or a man who pretends to believe whatever he thinks the party’s base wants him to believe.

And the deepening anti-intellectualism of the political right, both within and beyond the G.O.P., extends far beyond the issue of climate change.

Lately, for example, The Wall Street Journal’s editorial page has gone beyond its long-term preference for the economic ideas of “charlatans and cranks” — as one of former President George W. Bush’s chief economic advisers famously put it — to a general denigration of hard thinking about matters economic. Pay no attention to “fancy theories” that conflict with “common sense,” the Journal tells us. Because why should anyone imagine that you need more than gut feelings to analyze things like financial crises and recessions?

Now, we don’t know who will win next year’s presidential election. But the odds are that one of these years the world’s greatest nation will find itself ruled by a party that is aggressively anti-science, indeed anti-knowledge. And, in a time of severe challenges — environmental, economic, and more — that’s a terrifying prospect.

Marvin Gaye - What's Going On

Martha Reeves and the Vandellas- Nowhere to Run

Martha & The Vandellas "Dancing in the Streets"

Paul Thorn - Joanie The Jehovah Witness Stripper (8-21-08)

Joe Ely "Hard Livin"

Ray Wylie Hubbard "Redneck Mother"

A Texas Treasure!!

Ray Wylie Hubbard "Down Home Country Blues"

You Never Even Called Me By My Name!

Three Pickers - Doc Watson Ricky Skaggs and Earl Scruggs

Chet Atkins, Leo Kottke and Doc Watson - Last Steam Engine Train

John Fahey - Poor Boy

Almanac Singers - Roll The Union On

Union Maid

Woody Guthrie Ludlow Massacre

Woody Guthrie - 1913 Massacre

Woody Guthrie - Will You Miss Me -- With Leadbelly, Cisco Houston, Sonny Terry, Bess Hawes

The Sinking of the Reuben James - The Weavers

Weavers - Goodnight Irene

For all my fans in the North East:

Day Off

That's right, Sunday was a DAY OFF. No concern about the economy. No dismay at the betrayal of working folks by both Republicans and Democrats. No writing about the evil perpetrated upon our nation by rabid-right-wing-fundamentalist-racist-homophobic-"christians".

Nope, I watched a little baseball, a little soccer, some History Channel "stuff" (what a "nice" word), and read the newspapers - N.Y. Times and Dallas Morning News.

It was still 104 or so today, so after spending the day out yesterday, and eating at a great dive -- Fred's in Fort Worth -- we both needed a day off..

Normal posting, complaining, worrying and wondering will resume Monday

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Dr. King Weeps From His Grave

This op-ed piece by Dr. Cornell West was in The New York Times on Aug 25th. Please follow link to original

Dr. King Weeps From His Grave

THE Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial was to be dedicated on the National Mall on Sunday — exactly 56 years after the murder of Emmett Till in Mississippi and 48 years after the historic March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. (Because of Hurricane Irene, the ceremony has been postponed.)

These events constitute major milestones in the turbulent history of race and democracy in America, and the undeniable success of the civil rights movement — culminating in the election of Barack Obama in 2008 — warrants our attention and elation. Yet the prophetic words of Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel still haunt us: “The whole future of America depends on the impact and influence of Dr. King.”

Rabbi Heschel spoke those words during the last years of King’s life, when 72 percent of whites and 55 percent of blacks disapproved of King’s opposition to the Vietnam War and his efforts to eradicate poverty in America. King’s dream of a more democratic America had become, in his words, “a nightmare,” owing to the persistence of “racism, poverty, militarism and materialism.” He called America a “sick society.” On the Sunday after his assassination, in 1968, he was to have preached a sermon titled “Why America May Go to Hell.”

King did not think that America ought to go to hell, but rather that it might go to hell owing to its economic injustice, cultural decay and political paralysis. He was not an American Gibbon, chronicling the decline and fall of the American empire, but a courageous and visionary Christian blues man, fighting with style and love in the face of the four catastrophes he identified.

Militarism is an imperial catastrophe that has produced a military-industrial complex and national security state and warped the country’s priorities and stature (as with the immoral drones, dropping bombs on innocent civilians). Materialism is a spiritual catastrophe, promoted by a corporate media multiplex and a culture industry that have hardened the hearts of hard-core consumers and coarsened the consciences of would-be citizens. Clever gimmicks of mass distraction yield a cheap soulcraft of addicted and self-medicated narcissists.

Racism is a moral catastrophe, most graphically seen in the prison industrial complex and targeted police surveillance in black and brown ghettos rendered invisible in public discourse. Arbitrary uses of the law — in the name of the “war” on drugs — have produced, in the legal scholar Michelle Alexander’s apt phrase, a new Jim Crow of mass incarceration. And poverty is an economic catastrophe, inseparable from the power of greedy oligarchs and avaricious plutocrats indifferent to the misery of poor children, elderly citizens and working people.

The age of Obama has fallen tragically short of fulfilling King’s prophetic legacy. Instead of articulating a radical democratic vision and fighting for homeowners, workers and poor people in the form of mortgage relief, jobs and investment in education, infrastructure and housing, the administration gave us bailouts for banks, record profits for Wall Street and giant budget cuts on the backs of the vulnerable.

As the talk show host Tavis Smiley and I have said in our national tour against poverty, the recent budget deal is only the latest phase of a 30-year, top-down, one-sided war against the poor and working people in the name of a morally bankrupt policy of deregulating markets, lowering taxes and cutting spending for those already socially neglected and economically abandoned. Our two main political parties, each beholden to big money, offer merely alternative versions of oligarchic rule.

The absence of a King-worthy narrative to reinvigorate poor and working people has enabled right-wing populists to seize the moment with credible claims about government corruption and ridiculous claims about tax cuts’ stimulating growth. This right-wing threat is a catastrophic response to King’s four catastrophes; its agenda would lead to hellish conditions for most Americans.

King weeps from his grave. He never confused substance with symbolism. He never conflated a flesh and blood sacrifice with a stone and mortar edifice. We rightly celebrate his substance and sacrifice because he loved us all so deeply. Let us not remain satisfied with symbolism because we too often fear the challenge he embraced. Our greatest writer, Herman Melville, who spent his life in love with America even as he was our most fierce critic of the myth of American exceptionalism, noted, “Truth uncompromisingly told will always have its ragged edges; hence the conclusion of such a narration is apt to be less finished than an architectural finial.”

King’s response to our crisis can be put in one word: revolution. A revolution in our priorities, a re-evaluation of our values, a reinvigoration of our public life and a fundamental transformation of our way of thinking and living that promotes a transfer of power from oligarchs and plutocrats to everyday people and ordinary citizens.

In concrete terms, this means support for progressive politicians like Senator Bernard Sanders of Vermont and Mark Ridley-Thomas, a Los Angeles County supervisor; extensive community and media organizing; civil disobedience; and life and death confrontations with the powers that be. Like King, we need to put on our cemetery clothes and be coffin-ready for the next great democratic battle.

Cornel West, a philosopher, is a professor at Princeton.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

The "good news" as writ by "Some Assembly Required"

Was quite busy all day. As a result -- well -- here are a few choice bits from "Some Assembly Required" -- please follow link to original.

Follow Punish the Leader: Because he wants to do his job and put criminals in jail, NY AG Eric Schneiderman has been kicked off the executive committee of the 50-state AGs trying to paper-over working toward a settlement with the banks over their foreclosure-related activities. This follows a "heated conversation", between Schneiderman and Kathryn Wylde of the NY Fed over the foreclosure settlement deal. The problem is that the politicians want to give the banks (especially Bank of America?) get-out-of-jail-free indemnity in return for pocket change, and a few AGs - led by Schneiderman - want to hold those who committed crimes responsible for their actions.

Sheep Dip: In our modern democracy, just because an elected official is holding public meetings with his constituents doesn't mean you can record it with your cell phone or camera. It's forbidden, at least in some Republican districts, for suspected Democrats to film public events. But participatory democracy always worked best as a theory.

Everything, Explained: Free trade is “almost always the best answer.” but sometimes there are “short-run distributional consequences that fall on some segments of the population” (ie. massive unemployment) that “we can always use protectionism” prevent. If slashing your arm is a good idea except for the need for bandages, I say put the knife down.

One More Time: The government plans to transfer sell its enormous portfolio of REO housing held by HUD, Fannie & Freddie to selected, pre-approved vultures investors from the hedge fund and “private investor” communities ( i.e. Goldman Sachs and friends). You? No, you cannot participate in this, the largest transfer of wealth from the public to the private sector since the railroad right-of-way bonanza in the 19th century.

Quoted: “The world economy is now in the grips of a damaging feedback loop involving deteriorating fundamentals, lagging policy responses and destabilized financial markets. ...the world risks slipping into a prolonged recession with worrisome institutional, political and social consequences.” PIMCO's El Erian.

Chapter 13: Last year the US spent over $1 trillion on national defense, adding to the nation's bankruptcy. For that money the US could have given every unemployed citizen with a job paying $50,000 a year, with over $200 billion left over for health insurance, job training...

There's a lot more. Go there and read it.

Really Upset

O.K. -- the BP "Deep Horizon" CAPPED oil well in the Gulf of Mexico is spewing oil again.

The banks are going to get away with illegal foreclosures.

There are CONSTANT, everyday reminders of the extent of corruption in our governments (Federal, State, and Local).

While the rich get richer and richer -- hiding away in gated communities, or areas like Manhattan, where almost all affordable housing is gone, leaving it a playground for the rich or near rich. While the working and middle classes get squeezed and disappear at the very same time. Our infrastructure crumbles, public education becomes a sham, and there is a severe curtailment of the very PUBLIC SERVICES that both working and middle classes depend on. So, the slide into poverty of both middle and working classes seem to be a direct effect of the greed and shortsightedness of both our "Masters Of The Universe" (corrupt bankers, financial folks, and the wealthy plutocrats), and our "elected" leaders who follow "The Golden Rule" ("he who has the gold, makes the rules").

The rich hire their own "security" people, they sometimes have their own separate and unequal infrastructure - (in the middle of both Dallas County and the City of Dallas lie "The Park Cities", a wealthy area that has its own water supply. They NEVER seem to have any drought restrictions -- interesting, no?).

As a result, most of the demonstrations that focus on any single issue - as important as it may be - are doomed to have little effect. Congress and the "regulatory" agencies appear to be bought and paid for.

We need broad based demonstrations. Folks coming together and pooling their strength, their anger, even their despair -- we really need both HOPE and CHANGE -- right now, neither party is willing or able to even make a start.

Blogging about this or that seems to have become nothing more than a way to let off steam.

Why don't all you young folks try to get something done. My cynicism is overwhelming any hope I have left.

Thank God I'm 72 and not 22.

This Labor Day We Need Protest Marches Rather than Parades

This from Robert Reich -- please follow link to original.

This Labor Day We Need Protest Marches Rather than Parades

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Labor Day is traditionally a time for picnics and parades. But this year is no picnic for American workers, and a protest march would be more appropriate than a parade.

Not only are 25 million unemployed or underemployed, but American companies continue to cut wages and benefits. The median wage is still dropping, adjusted for inflation. High unemployment has given employers extra bargaining leverage to wring out wage concessions.

All told, it’s been the worst decade for American workers in a century. According to Commerce Department data, private-sector wage gains over the last decade have even lagged behind wage gains during the decade of the Great Depression (4 percent over the last ten years, adjusted for inflation, versus 5 percent from 1929 to 1939).

Big American corporations are making more money, and creating more jobs, outside the United States than in it. If corporations are people, as the Supreme Court’s twisted logic now insists, most of the big ones headquartered here are rapidly losing their American identity.

CEO pay, meanwhile, has soared. The median value of salaries, bonuses and long-term incentive awards for CEOs at 350 big American companies surged 11 percent last year to $9.3 million (according to a study of proxy statements conducted for The Wall Street Journal by the management consultancy Hay Group.). Bonuses have surged 19.7 percent.

This doesn’t even include all those stock options rewarded to CEOs at rock-bottom prices in 2008 and 2009. Stock prices have ballooned since then, the current downdraft notwithstanding. In March, 2009, for example, Ford CEO Alan Mulally received a grant of options and restricted shares worth an estimated $16 million at the time. But Ford is now showing large profits – in part because the UAW agreed to allow Ford to give its new hires roughly half the wages of older Ford workers – and its share prices have responded. Mulally’s 2009 grant is now worth over $200 million.

The ratio of corporate profits to wages is now higher than at any time since just before the Great Depression.

Meanwhile, the American economy has all but stopped growing – in large part because consumers (whose spending is 70 percent of GDP) are also workers whose jobs and wages are under assault.

Perhaps there would still be something to celebrate on Labor Day if government was coming to the rescue. But Washington is paralyzed, the President seems unwilling or unable to take on labor-bashing Republicans, and several Republican governors are mounting direct assaults on organized labor (see Indiana, Ohio, Maine, and Wisconsin, for example).

So let’s bag the picnics and parades this Labor Day. American workers should march in protest. They’re getting the worst deal they’ve had since before Labor Day was invented – and the economy is suffering as a result.

Coalmines and Aliens

Dr. Krugman has a wonderful post on his blog -- here it is.

Follow link to original, read more stuff.

Coalmines and Aliens

By the way, nobody seems to have noticed that my suggestion that a fake alien threat would end the slump was nothing more than an updated version of Keynes’s “coalmine” thought experiment:

If the Treasury were to fill old bottles with banknotes, bury them at suitable depths in disused coalmines which are then filled up to the surface with town rubbish, and leave it to private enterprise on well-tried principles of laissez-faire to dig the notes up again (the right to do so being obtained, of course, by tendering for leases of the note-bearing territory), there need be no more unemployment and, with the help of the repercussions, the real income of the community, and its capital wealth also, would probably become a good deal greater than it actually is. It would, indeed, be more sensible to build houses and the like; but if there are political and practical difficulties in the way of this, the above would be better than nothing.

Keynes then goes on to explain that the actual business of gold mining — in which basically useless ore is mined and refined at great cost, then sent to sit idle in the basements of central banks — is for all practical purposes identical to his coalmine idea.

He was right then, and I’m right now — and if you find it strains your personal credulity, so what?

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Wingnuts really, really, hate America

"Joseph Farah: Hurricanes & Earthquakes Are Punishments For Homosexuality"

But, it was just a small earthquake -- could that be "punishment" for LOOKING "gay", or being a "metrosexual"?

Since the hurricane has not hit yet, what is Farah bitching about.

If all the extreme weather is not about global warming - which "doesn't exist" according to the wonderful world of wingnuts -- perhaps God is upset because all the supposed "Christians" want to rule the world, get rid of all homosexuals, and convert EVERYONE to THEIR specific brand of "Christianity".

That would be enough to piss off any one of the many different Gods folks have believed in over the years.

My last "demonstration"/ "protest"

I went to what might have been my last demonstration yesterday. It was outside a "town meeting held by Jeb Hensarling. It was a "town meeting" held at The Lakewood Country Club. In keeping with what appears to be typical Republican policy, the PUBLIC was not allowed into the Country Club. So, as opposed to the IDIOT DEMOCRATS who allowed everyone into their town meetings, the Republicans carefully choose the "acceptable" CITIZENS, insuring there would be no unruly demonstrations -- say, like those the "TEABAGGERS" held at Democratic town meetings. Of course, the "left wing media" never calls the Republicans on this.

I don't think their owners ALLOW them to. Our press is MANAGED. Welcome to the USA of PRAVDA.

There weren't many folks from "the left" there. Just about all the "left wing" folks I spoke to STARTED by saying, "I'm not a socialist." -- I, of course, said, "well, I am" (if only to get them thinking or just a little upset).

There were quite a few "Tea Party" folks there -- some even took off from work to oppose us "dangerous" leftys.

there were also quite a few cops -- I guess they were there to keep us rabble from polluting the Country Club grounds.

There is no real left left. We, the USA are a wholly owned subsidiary of various corporations. If anything is going to be done -- it would help if the younger folks would take over -- but -- I'm afraid they don't even know WHAT to protest. They've ALWAYS lived in our buttoned up, corporate, society.

Here's a little more about Hensarling from "Think Progress". Please follow link to original

Rep. Jeb Hensarling Calls Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid ‘Cruel Ponzi Schemes’

By Guest Blogger on Apr 16, 2011 at 9:04 am

As the House took up Rep. Paul Ryan’s plan to end Medicare and Medicaid yesterday, Rep. Jeb Hensarling, the GOP Conference chair, called the programs, along with Social Security, “cruel ponzi schemes” that will bankrupt the nation.

Hensarling admitted that the three programs had been “of great comfort and assistance to my grandparents and parents,” but he went on to claim that that they were now morphing into the greatest drivers of the national debt:

REP. HENSARLING: Let’s remember again the main drivers of this national debt are three large entitlement programs, programs that have been of great comfort and assistance to my parents and grandparents but they’re morphing into cruel ponzi schemes for my 9-year-old daughter and 7-year-olds. Unfortunately, the President ignores the reality, he doesn’t really give the facts to the American people and they will go bankrupt where we will save and secure these programs for future generations.

Watch it:

While he now calls for “saving and securing the programs for future generations,” Hensarling has previously shown little interest in effective entitlement reform or deficit reduction. Last December, Hensarling decried the health care reform law’s reforms to make Medicare more efficient. And in the last few weeks, Hensarling has declined to say whether he would play “chicken” on the debt ceiling and even argued that corporate tax rates should be lowered.

Hensarling is not the first conservative to call Social Security a Ponzi scheme. As ThinkProgress has previously reported, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) called the program “a Ponzi scheme that Bernie Madoff would be proud of.” Former House Majority Leader and FreedomWorks chairman Dick Armey called Social Security a “pay-as-you-go Ponzi scheme“; a month later, Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) also compared the program to a Ponzi scheme. And Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) campaigned by making the same comparison in his television commercials.

As Charles Ponzi’s own biographer, Michael Zulkoff, has noted, these programs are not Ponzi schemes because “no one is being misled,” and they are not automatically doomed to fail. Indeed, they’re the polar moral opposite: social insurance policies created to benefit retirees, the disabled and survivors of deceased workers, not a single individual.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

IOWA: Student Dies After Gay Bashing

This MUST have been caused by tsome of those "gay barbarians" Mr. Bachman is so worried about - don't you think?

Originally from Joe.My.God. -- please follow link to original

IOWA: Student Dies After Gay Bashing

A 19 year-old college student was beaten death in Michele Bachmann's hometown of Waterloo, Iowa this weekend. Witnesses say Marcellus Richard Andrew's attackers shouted anti-gay slurs while kicking him in the head.

Officers and paramedics said they found Andrews unconscious with severe head injuries in the early morning hours Friday. Andrews, who was slated to start studying interior design at Hawkeye Community College, spent part of Thursday practicing with members of the Crusaders, a drill team sponsored by Union Missionary Baptist Church. He led the step team for the group, which was days away from competing in March Against Darkness. Night found him at Nakita Wright's home on Cottage Street. She said the problems started at about 12:45 a.m. Friday when she and Tudia Simpson, her cousin, went for a walk down the street. Andrews opted to stay behind, waiting on the enclosed porch, she said. The two women hadn't made it as far as Adams Street a block away when they heard yelling back at the house. They ran back and found a truck stopped in the street, and the occupants were taunting Andrews, calling him "faggot" and "Mercedes," a feminization of his first name, Simpson said.

The police have made no arrests, despite the fact that the attackers knew Andrews' name.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Corrupt Obama Administration Pressuring New York Attorney General to Support Mortgage Whitewash

This from "Naked Capitalism" -- I guess Obama really is a total fraud. What a shame. Please follow link to original.

Corrupt Obama Administration Pressuring New York Attorney General to Support Mortgage Whitewash

It is high time to describe the Obama Administration by its proper name: corrupt.

Admittedly, corruption among our elites generally and in Washington in particular has become so widespread and blatant as to fall into the “dog bites man” category. But the nauseating gap between the Administration’s propaganda and the many and varied ways it sells out average Americans on behalf of its favored backers, in this case the too big to fail banks, has become so noisome that it has become impossible to ignore the fetid smell.

The Administration has now taken to pressuring parties that are not part of the machinery reporting to the President to fall in and do his bidding. We’ve gotten so used to the US attorney general being conveniently missing in action that we have forgotten that regulators and the AG are supposed to be independent. As one correspondent noted by e-mail, “When officials allegiances are to El Supremo rather than the Constitution, you walk the path to fascism.”

Revealingly, one of the Administration’s allies said: “Wall Street is our Main Street.” And the worst is that this remark may not be a cynical Ministry of Truth pronouncement. Team Obama bears all the hallmarks of being so close to banks and big corporations that it has lost all contact with and understanding of mainstream America.

The latest example is its heavy-handed campaign to convert New York state attorney general Eric Schneiderman to a card carrying member of the “be nice to our lords and masters the banksters” club. Schneiderman was the first to take issue with the sham of the so-called 50 state attorney general mortgage settlement. As far as the Administration is concerned, its goal is to give banks a talking point and prove to them that Team Obama is protecting their backs in a way that the chump public hopefully won’t notice.

The Administration joined this effort to hurry it forward and assure it resulted in a suitably financier-friendly outcome. And it has done so despite recent HUD inspector general’s audits finding that the five biggest servicers were defrauding taxpayers. We’ve heard not a peep of follow up on that front; instead, the Administration keeps leaking its tired “A settlement is just around the corner” story.

Schneiderman is far from the only person to see what a sellout this “settlement” is. The basic premise of a settlement is to obtain some sort of restitution to induce a prosecutor/plaintiff to drop a current or likely lawsuit. For the aggrieved party to get a good settlement, it needs to have a credible case, as in facts (a smoking gun or two) and a legal theory as to why those facts mean the perp is in hot water.

Aside from robosigning, which was all over the funny papers last year, the Administration and the AGs have made sure they have no facts. A member of the Administration who was involved in the settlement talks confirmed what we have long said on this blog: there was no investigation of any kind, despite Iowa attorney general Tom MIller’s lies claims to the contrary. They didn’t even bother getting to first base, namely making document requests.

And that is why at least some of the AGs are so uncomfortable with what is going on. Even though Gretchen Morgenson of the New York Times focuses tonight on the Administration’s efforts to leash and collar Schneiderman, he isn’t alone in having significant reservations. Beau Biden of Delaware is also making a broad-ranging investigation, which is inconsistent with entering into a settlement. Martha Coakley of Massachusetts and Catherine Masto of Nevada also have initiatives underway that are at odds with a settlement, and neither one looks interested in reversing course. We’ve also been told the Colorado AG may opt out of the deal.

And a story in the Wall Street Journal tonight suggests that this horse has already left the barn and is in the next county. Tellingly, Lisa Madigan, the Illinois AG, who is a political weathervane and was working closely with Tom Miller, has come forward and indicated she’ll at most support only a qualified release from liability, when the banks want a broad release. The article indicates that her view is shared by a fair number of the AGs. Per the Journal (hat tip reader Deontos):

“They wanted to be released from everything, including original sin,” said a U.S. official involved in the discussions. The legal protection sought by the banks included loan origination; securitization and servicing practices; fair-lending procedures; and their use of the Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems, an industry-owned loan registry that often acts as an agent for owners of mortgage loans…

“Those of us at the table…have maintained this investigation is about robo-signing and loss-mitigation problems,” Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan said in an interview. “The release should be narrowly drafted to cover those issues.”

If the AGs stick to this stance, there is no deal. The article maintains the AGs still want damages of $20 to $25 billion. The banks aren’t going to pay much if anything to settle on robosigning, and the AGs haven’t done the legwork to make a case on loss mitigation.

So the bullying of Schneiderman looks to be misguided, since the settlement is likely to fall apart. But it is nevertheless germane because it reveals the Administration’s warped thinking and sense of priorities. As we’ve said, the Administration’s decision to cast its lot with the banks in early 2009 dictated its course of action:

Obama’s incentives are to come up with “solutions” that paper over problems, avoid meaningful conflict with the industry, minimize complaints, and restore the old practice of using leverage and investment gains to cover up stagnation in worker incomes. Potemkin reforms dovetail with the financial service industry’s goal of forestalling any measures that would interfere with its looting. So the only problem with this picture was how to fool the now-impoverished public into thinking a program of Mussolini-style corporatism represented progress.

Morgenson shows how this plays out:

In recent weeks, Shaun Donovan, the secretary of Housing and Urban Development, and high-level Justice Department officials have been waging an intensifying campaign to try to persuade the attorney general to support the settlement…

But Mr. Donovan and others in the administration have been contacting not only Mr. Schneiderman but his allies, including consumer groups and advocates for borrowers, seeking help to secure the attorney general’s participation in the deal, these people said. One recipient described the calls from Mr. Donovan, but asked not to be identified for fear of retaliation.

Yves here. So get this: we have unemployment at roughly 16% if you include discouraged workers, and many “employed” workers are underemployed. The housing market hasn’t bottomed; experts have pushed their hopes estimates from 2011 to 2012. And continued concerns about unaddressed chain of title issues may well impede any housing recovery.

Yet rather than address real, serious problems, senior administration officials are instead devoting time and effort to orchestrating a faux grass roots campaign to con a state AG into thinking his supporters are deserting him because he has dared challenge the supremacy of the banks.

So how does the Administration rationalize its failure to do anything effective? It goes deeper into its propaganda hall of mirrors:

Mr. Donovan said…“our view is we have the immediate opportunity to help a huge number of borrowers to stay in their homes, to help their neighborhoods and the housing market.”

This doesn’t even qualify as competent three card monte. “No, don’t look at what we are trying to do for the banks. Really, all we care about is homeowners!”

Marcy Wheeler, who has more patience for this vomititious tripe than I do, explains why Donovan’s assertion does not pass the credibility test:

You see, the Administration has an “immediate opportunity to help a huge number of borrowers stay in their homes,” without any action from Eric Schneiderman. They have a way to do so more swiftly, in such a way the servicers actually would be held accountable It would involve offering refis with principal reductions to all the underwater homeowners whose loans are owned by Fannie and Freddie. That would not only help a huge number of borrowers stay in their home, but it would be massive stimulus.

But instead they’re sending Donovan to pressure Schneiderman to pursue a measure that would benefit far fewer homeowners and probably take more time, while putting the last nail in the coffin of the rule of law in this country.

Finally, to the toad-hopping-out-of-mouth utterance, “Wall Street is our Main Street.” That came from finance’s favorite camp follower, Kathryn S. Wylde. As we described in an earlier post, she’s wiling to throw the rule of law under the bus to serve the interests of the banks who happen to be major funders of the business-promoting not for profit she heads. And she is also a director of the New York Fed. So it should not be surprising that she got in a “contentious conversation” with Schneiderman when they crossed paths in public.

Her argument, as she recounted it to the Times, is intellectually and morally bankrupt:

[I]it is of concern to the industry that instead of trying to facilitate resolving these issues, you seem to be throwing a wrench into it. Wall Street is our Main Street — love ’em or hate ’em. They are important and we have to make sure we are doing everything we can to support them unless they are doing something indefensible.


In this state, banks count for a lot, and therefore your job it to make their problems go away. You don’t seem to understand that you are supposed to act like a proper bought and paid for public official. Your role is to support big companies. You are to go after them only when the things they do make the public so angry that you have to help us make a credible show that the elites care about the little people.

If you think that is an unfair rendition of Wylde’s remark, consider the damage the major banks have done. They have failed so badly at being competent lenders and record keepers that when judges in New York demand that bank attorneys certify that they have taken reasonable steps to verify documents submitted to the courts, foreclosures grind to a near halt. Two separate investigations, one by Fortune, the other by the New York Post, ascertained that an overwhelming majority of foreclosures took place when the banks failed to demonstrate that they had the right to do so. Banks have foreclosed illegally on servicemen, and have also foreclosed on people who didn’t have mortgages. Their is ample evidence that they have systematically violated their own contracts, the agreements that govern mortgage securitizations, and have on a widespread basis charged impermissible fees to borrowers. And when these junk and pyramiding fees precipitate foreclosures, the servicers have effectively ripped off investors too. They have tooth and nail fought every effort that would help borrowers if it in any way impinged on their profits, even though their very survival is the result of taxpayer munificence. Finally, they’ve made a mess of property records in this country.

But apparently none of this, in the eyes of Ms. Wylde, rises to the level of being worth remedying, much the less “indefensible”. Given the ample of evidence of malfeasance, we must reach one of two conclusions. One is that she has no idea what is going on and therefore can be ignored as being not competent to opine. The other is that no amount of economic harm to individuals rates as being worth pursuing in her eyes. It appears that the only thing that might rise to the level of being “indefensible” is damage to life and limb, so all white collar crimes are exempt. This is a classic totalitarian, “might makes right,” argument.

And mind you, Wylde allegedly represents “the public” on the New York Fed’s board. With friends like this, who needs enemies?

Felix Salmon wrote today of a global crisis of institutional legitimacy, and although his tour started with Libya, it focused mainly on Europe and the US. If you want to know why the governed are withdrawing their consent in advanced economies, you need look no further than toadies like Donovan and Wylde who defend institutionalized profiteering and seek to undermine the few like Schneiderman who’ve managed, despite the odds, to get in a position where they might be able to do something to reverse it.

If you are a New York resident, I hope you’ll call (800 771-7755 or 212 416-8000) or e-mail Schneiderman and thank him for standing up to the corruption of the banks and their enablers in the Administration. I think he will appreciate the show of support.

Sunday, August 21, 2011


Stan Getz and Chet Baker 1983

Bye Bye Blackbird [ 7 / 7 ] - Chet Baker.

Lambert Hendricks and Ross Doodling Song

annie ross - it dont mean a thing (if it aint got that swing)

Annie Ross - Twisted

Joe Williams & Count Basie Going To Chicago

Count Basie presiding over some unusually good singers and musicians; Joe Williams, and Jon Hendricks. The chorus backing Joe Williams is Lambert Hendricks, and Ross.

The US Deficit In One Picture.

This from "Jesse's Cafe Americain" - please follow link to original. It tells us some things we have to know about Social Security and those trust funds. In effect not fulfilling our obligations to our CITIZENS is a DEFAULT. Do not

I like this graphic for several reasons, but especially because it puts everything in proportion with regard to the US' current obligations.

One thing I would like to highlight is the large surplus funds in the Social Security Trust and others. These were 'invested' in a special type of intra-governmental Treasury note.

These funds are not 'gone' anymore than a Treasury bond is 'gone.' It is a sovereign debt holding. If the US defaults on its debt, then it defaults. But let's call it what it is.

The Trust Funds are not the money that the government 'owes to itself.' It is a Trust fund, that is, money held by the government in Trust for others. The Trustees invested it in a special category of Treasury bonds that do not trade on the open market.

So to somehow suggest that Social Security is bankrupt now because the government spent the funds on general obligations is to assert a violation of Trust, a fraud, and a selective default on the sovereign US debt.

And do not think that the world would view it any other way, despite the spin put on it by faux economists, useful idiots, and mainstream propagandists for the money men.

Where would you think they would put a Trust Fund of this size? In a passbook savings deposit account? Federal Reserve Notes? The stock market? It was given to the government to be invested in bonds that were judged to be the least risky form of storing that wealth.

No, the real problem is that the US has malinvested too much of its revenue in too many fruitless and unfunded projects like wars, overseas military bases, and other subsides to oil companies, banks, and multinational corporations. The partnership between the money men, their corporations, and the government has allowed corruption to grow and prosper.

The money men and their cronies directed the peace dividend into their own pockets. And now that hard times have come, they wish to not only keep their gains but multiply them, and visit hardships on the very people whom they have defrauded. Their greed and hypocrisy knows no bounds.

"Adversity makes men; prosperity makes monsters."

Victor Hugo

The US trade deficit and the stagnant real wage are major unaddressed problems, and has been so for the past twenty years. And those are the result of the distortions of fiat money regimes.

Reform and domestic growth is the answer to the US and UK problems, and not further looting and economic pillage of the laboring classes to provide largesse to the money men and paper manipulators.

This cartoon from Walt Handelsman - enjoy

Stock Tip: Be Worried. Workers are Consumers.

This from Robert Reich -- please follow link to original

Stock Tip: Be Worried. Workers are Consumers.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Repeat after me: Workers are consumers. Consumers are workers.

We’re slouching toward a double dip, and the stock market is imploding, because consumers – whose spending is 70 percent of the economy – have reached their limit.

It’s not just the jobless who can’t spend. It’s mainly people with jobs. Median wages continue to fall. Weekly wages in July for Americans with jobs were 1.3 percent lower than eight months before.

America’s median earners are now earning less (adjusted for inflation) than they earned ten years ago.

Every CEO of every company that continues to squeeze payrolls (Verizon, are you listening? Ford?) needs to understand they’re shooting themselves in the feet. Where do they expect demand for their products and services to come from?

They’re doing the reverse of what Henry Ford did back in 1914 – paying his workers three times what the typical factory employee earned at the time. The Wall Street Journal called his action “an economic crime” but Ford knew it was a cunning business move. With higher wages, his workers became his customers, snapping up Model-Ts and generating huge profits.

Many on Wall Street are scratching their heads, trying to understand why the stock market is plummeting. After all, they tell themselves, corporate earnings are still near record highs.

But it’s becoming clear those earnings can’t be sustained. Corporate earnings are the highest they’ve been relative to worker wages and benefits since just before the Great Depression. And the richest 1 percent of Americans are getting a higher percent of total income since just before the Great Depression.

Get it? It was only a matter of time before the boom on Wall Street turned into a bust. Economic booms cannot continue without American workers participating in them.

Foreign consumers have helped sustain earnings, but that won’t continue, either. The European economy is sinking and China is pulling in the reins on growth.

What will happen to the Dow Jones Industrial Average when corporate earnings revert to their historic average relative to American wages? I’ve seen various estimates. They’re not pretty.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Busy DaY

Stopped in at a gun show today --- holy !$#%^&***((*&$#@!! it was busy. Lots of folks who very obviously knew VERY little about guns.

People are frightened. People are worried. Lots of folks are afraid the entire fabric of our society will soon be torn. They might not know exactly HOW or WHY, but the fear is palpable.

Both right wing folks and left wing - or, should I say VERY left wing folks -- seem to upset by the same stuff. Anger towards Monsanto is shared by both left and right, destruction of our habitat, unbridled development, etc., etc., are all things left and right agree on.

These shared fears, shared values, shared attitudes might just be the things that allow us all to look at what is important, what affects our lives, what HAS to be changed.

When you talk to folks they seem to know the climate is changing, the earth is becoming overcrowded, and corporations have too damn much power.

Even though my idea of a solution might be very different from theirs -- there are so many commonalities that the basis for a coalition might be a part of our future.

Neither Republicans nor Democrats appear to give a damn about us -- perhaps a new party is in order.


Inland Bank & Trust, Oak Brook, Illinois, Assumes All of the Deposits of First Choice Bank, Geneva, Illinois

August 19, 2011
Media Contact:
LaJuan Williams-Young
(202) 898-3876

First Choice Bank, Geneva, Illinois, was closed today by the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation—Division of Banking, which appointed the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) as receiver. To protect the depositors, the FDIC entered into a purchase and assumption agreement with Inland Bank & Trust, Oak Brook, Illinois, to assume all of the deposits of First Choice Bank.

The sole branch of First Choice Bank will reopen on Saturday as a branch of Inland Bank & Trust. Depositors of First Choice Bank will automatically become depositors of Inland Bank & Trust. 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 up to applicable limits. Customers of First Choice Bank should continue to use their existing branch until they receive notice from Inland Bank & Trust that it has completed systems changes to allow other Inland Bank & Trust branches to process their accounts as well.

This evening and over the weekend, depositors of First Choice 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, 2011, First Choice Bank had approximately $141.0 million in total assets and $137.2 million in total deposits. In addition to assuming all of the deposits of the failed bank, Inland Bank & Trust agreed to purchase essentially all of the assets.

Customers with questions about today's transaction should call the FDIC toll-free at 1-800-517-8236. The phone number will be operational this evening until 9:00 p.m., Central Daylight Time (CDT); on Saturday from 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., CDT; on Sunday from noon to 6:00 p.m., CDT; and thereafter from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m., CDT. 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 $31.0 million. Compared to other alternatives, Inland Bank & Trust's acquisition was the least costly resolution for the FDIC's DIF. First Choice Bank is the 68th FDIC-insured institution to fail in the nation this year, and the seventh in Illinois. The last FDIC-insured institution closed in the state was Bank of Shorewood, Shorewood, on August 5, 2011.

#67 -- 17th in Georgia

Heritage Bank of the South, Albany, Georgia, Assumes All of the Deposits of First Southern National Bank, Statesboro, Georgia

August 19, 2011
Media Contact:
LaJuan Williams-Young
(202) 898-3876

First Southern National Bank, Statesboro, Georgia, was closed today by the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, which appointed the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) as receiver. To protect the depositors, the FDIC entered into a purchase and assumption agreement with Heritage Bank of the South, Albany, Georgia, to assume all of the deposits of First Southern National Bank.

The sole branch of First Southern National Bank will reopen on Saturday as a branch of Heritage Bank of the South. Depositors of First Southern National Bank will automatically become depositors of Heritage Bank of the South. 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 up to applicable limits. Customers of First Southern National Bank should continue to use their existing branch until they receive notice from Heritage Bank of the South that it has completed systems changes to allow other Heritage Bank of the South branches to process their accounts as well.

This evening and over the weekend, depositors of First Southern National 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, 2011, First Southern National Bank had approximately $164.6 million in total assets and $159.7 million in total deposits. Heritage Bank of the South will pay the FDIC a premium of 1.0 percent to assume all of the deposits of First Southern National Bank. In addition to assuming all of the deposits of the failed bank, Heritage Bank of the South agreed to purchase essentially all of the assets.

The FDIC and Heritage Bank of the South entered into a loss-share transaction on $115.7 million of First Southern National Bank's assets. Heritage Bank of the South 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 with questions about today's transaction should call the FDIC toll-free at 1-800-517-1846. 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 $39.6 million. Compared to other alternatives, Heritage Bank of the South's acquisition was the least costly resolution for the FDIC's DIF. First Southern National Bank is the 67th FDIC-insured institution to fail in the nation this year, and the seventeenth in Georgia. The last FDIC-insured institution closed in the state was High Trust Bank, Stockbridge, on July 15, 2011.

Friday, August 19, 2011


Go to "Calculated Risk" - read the rest of this: "An update: The U.S. is on pace for a record low number of total housing completions this year, and the fewest net housing units added to the housing stock since the Census Bureau started tracking completions in the '60s.".

Sounds like "recovery" -- no?

(please follow link to original)

It's 66!

Sabadell United Bank, National Association, Miami, Florida, Assumes All of the Deposits of Lydian Private Bank, Palm Beach, Florida

August 19, 2011
Media Contact:
LaJuan Williams-Young
(202) 898-3876

Lydian Private Bank, Palm Beach, Florida, was closed today by the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, which appointed the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) as receiver. To protect the depositors, the FDIC entered into a purchase and assumption agreement with Sabadell United Bank, National Association, Miami, Florida, to assume all of the deposits of Lydian Private Bank.

The five branches of Lydian Private Bank will reopen on Monday as branches of Sabadell United Bank, National Association. Depositors of Lydian Private Bank will automatically become depositors of Sabadell United Bank, National Association. 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 up to applicable limits. Customers of Lydian Private Bank should continue to use their existing branch until they receive notice from Sabadell United Bank, National Association that it has completed systems changes to allow other Sabadell United Bank, National Association branches to process their accounts as well.

This evening and over the weekend, depositors of Lydian Private 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, 2011, Lydian Private Bank had approximately $1.70 billion in total assets and $1.24 billion in total deposits. In addition to assuming all of the deposits of the failed bank, Sabadell United Bank, National Association agreed to purchase essentially all of the assets.

The FDIC and Sabadell United Bank, National Association entered into a loss-share transaction on $907.1 million of Lydian Private Bank's assets. Sabadell United Bank, National Association 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 with questions about today's transaction should call the FDIC toll-free at 1-800-523-0640. 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 $293.2 million. Compared to other alternatives, Sabadell United Bank, National Association's acquisition was the least costly resolution for the FDIC's DIF. Lydian Private Bank is the 66th FDIC-insured institution to fail in the nation this year, and the tenth in Florida. The last FDIC-insured institution closed in the state was Landmark Bank of Florida, Sarasota, on July 22, 2011.

"Some Assembly Required" has some "Good News" for Friday

There's so much good stuff out there that it's time to go to "Some Assembly Required" -- here are just a few juicy bits.

as always, please follow link to original.

Bar Bet: Neuroscientists report finding "few reliable differences between boys' and girls' brains" that would justify same-sex schooling. Yes, adolescents think about sex a lot. But they will do so anywhere, anytime. Remember?

Night of the Long Knives: An email from the Obama for America campaign describes Paul Krugman as "a political rookie." It goes on to blame the "ideologue Left" for complaining about Obama's willingness to sacrifice Medicare, which OFA believes "is a sound political strategy.”

You Are There: Let's see, the financial system is more leveraged today than during the Tech Bubble, mutual funds are more into stocks than at any time in the last 40 years, the global economy is slowing sharply, European banks are teetering, and the US recovery has gone AWOL. Should we expect a market correction - or civil unrest, bank holidays, riots and such?

Sure Thing: Ms. Bachmann claims she will bring back $2.00 a gallon gasoline. Interesting. Petroleum is a global commodity. While I'm sure she would cripple the US economy, the only reliable way to bring down the price that far would be a world wide depression.

Cutting Medicare/Medicaid, would deprive the largest health-care providers and insurers of easy profits...

Near Miss: The Philadelphia Fed's manufacturing index came in 8 standard deviations below the expert consensus estimate. It reinforces the negative report in the NY Fed's Empire Index earlier this week. The CPI numbers, at 0.5%, reflects the same big bump that the PPI reported earlier. (Although the gasoline price blip – half the increase - has now gone away.) Initial employment claims, at 408,000 were worse than expected, too. T-bills are at 70 year lows, mortgage rates are at 50 year lows and sales of existing houses were down 3.5% m/m. Gold closed the day at $1,822 and reached $1,870 overnight.

Robert Reich: Jobs Not Cuts


We start early today ...............................

Capital Bank, National Association, Rockville, Maryland, Assumes All of the Deposits of Public Savings Bank, Huntingdon Valley, Pennsylvania

August 18, 2011
Media Contact:
LaJuan Williams-Young
(202) 898-3876

Public Savings Bank, Huntingdon Valley, Pennsylvania, was closed today by the Pennsylvania Department of Banking, which appointed the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) as receiver. To protect the depositors, the FDIC entered into a purchase and assumption agreement with Capital Bank, National Association, Rockville, Maryland, to assume all of the deposits of Public Savings Bank.

The sole branch of Public Savings Bank will reopen on Friday as a branch of Capital Bank, National Association. Depositors of Public Savings Bank will automatically become depositors of Capital Bank, National Association. 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 up to applicable limits. Customers of Public Savings Bank should continue to use their existing branch until they receive notice from Capital Bank, National Association that it has completed systems changes to allow other Capital Bank, National Association branches to process their accounts as well.

This evening, Friday and over the weekend, depositors of Public Savings 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, 2011, Public Savings Bank had approximately $46.8 million in total assets and $45.8 million in total deposits. In addition to assuming all of the deposits of the failed bank, Capital Bank, National Association agreed to purchase essentially all of the assets.

Customers with questions about today's transaction should call the FDIC toll-free at 1-800-523-8089. The phone number will be operational this evening until 9:00 p.m., Eastern Daylight Time (EDT); on Friday from 9:00 a.m. until 6 p.m., 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 $11.0 million. Compared to other alternatives, Capital Bank, National Association's acquisition was the least costly resolution for the FDIC's DIF. Public Savings Bank is the 65th FDIC-insured institution to fail in the nation this year, and the first in Pennsylvania. The last FDIC-insured institution closed in the state was Earthstar Bank, Southampton, on December 10, 2010.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

JACKIE McLEAN, Message From Trane

Jackie McLean (alto saxophone); Scott Holt (bass); Woody Shaw (trumpet); LaMont Johnson (piano); Jack DeJohnette (drums). Recorded at Van Gelder Studio, Englewood Cliffs, NJ (12/22/1967).

JACKIE McLEAN, Don't Blame Me (Fields, McHugh)

Jackie McLean (alto saxophone); Blue Mitchell (trumpet); Walter Bishop Jr. (piano); Paul Chambers (bass); Art Taylor (drums).

Charlie Parker - "Groovin' High"

Charlie Parker (alt. sax),
Herbie Williams (tromp.), Rollins Griffith (Piano), Jimmy Woode (bass), Marquis Foster (drums)
Dec. 1953

Charlie Parker - All the things you are

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Daylight Robbery, Meet Nighttime Robbery

This from Naomi Klein, writing in "The Nation". Please follow link to original

Daylight Robbery, Meet Nighttime Robbery

Naomi Klein

I keep hearing comparisons between the London riots and riots in other European cities—window smashing in Athens or car bonfires in Paris. And there are parallels, to be sure: a spark set by police violence, a generation that feels forgotten

But those events were marked by mass destruction; the looting was minor. There have, however, been other mass lootings in recent years, and perhaps we should talk about them too. There was Baghdad in the aftermath of the US invasion—a frenzy of arson and looting that emptied libraries and museums. The factories got hit too. In 2004 I visited one that used to make refrigerators. Its workers had stripped it of everything valuable, then torched it so thoroughly that the warehouse was a sculpture of buckled sheet metal.

Back then the people on cable news thought looting was highly political. They said this is what happens when a regime has no legitimacy in the eyes of the people. After watching for so long as Saddam and his sons helped themselves to whatever and whomever they wanted, many regular Iraqis felt they had earned the right to take a few things for themselves. But London isn’t Baghdad, and British Prime Minister David Cameron is hardly Saddam, so surely there is nothing to learn there.

How about a democratic example then? Argentina, circa 2001. The economy was in freefall and thousands of people living in rough neighborhoods (which had been thriving manufacturing zones before the neoliberal era) stormed foreign-owned superstores. They came out pushing shopping carts overflowing with the goods they could no longer afford—clothes, electronics, meat. The government called a “state of siege” to restore order; the people didn’t like that and overthrew the government.

Argentina’s mass looting was called El Saqueo—the sacking. That was politically significant because it was the very same word used to describe what that country’s elites had done by selling off the country’s national assets in flagrantly corrupt privatization deals, hiding their money offshore, then passing on the bill to the people with a brutal austerity package. Argentines understood that the saqueo of the shopping centers would not have happened without the bigger saqueo of the country, and that the real gangsters were the ones in charge.

But England is not Latin America, and its riots are not political, or so we keep hearing. They are just about lawless kids taking advantage of a situation to take what isn’t theirs. And British society, Cameron tells us, abhors that kind of behavior.

This is said in all seriousness. As if the massive bank bailouts never happened, followed by the defiant record bonuses. Followed by the emergency G-8 and G-20 meetings, when the leaders decided, collectively, not to do anything to punish the bankers for any of this, nor to do anything serious to prevent a similar crisis from happening again. Instead they would all go home to their respective countries and force sacrifices on the most vulnerable. They would do this by firing public sector workers, scapegoating teachers, closing libraries, upping tuitions, rolling back union contracts, creating rush privatizations of public assets and decreasing pensions—mix the cocktail for where you live. And who is on television lecturing about the need to give up these “entitlements”? The bankers and hedge-fund managers, of course.

This is the global Saqueo, a time of great taking. Fueled by a pathological sense of entitlement, this looting has all been done with the lights left on, as if there was nothing at all to hide. There are some nagging fears, however. In early July, the Wall Street Journal, citing a new poll, reported that 94 percent of millionaires were afraid of "violence in the streets.” This, it turns out, was a reasonable fear.

Of course London’s riots weren’t a political protest. But the people committing nighttime robbery sure as hell know that their elites have been committing daytime robbery. Saqueos are contagious.

The Tories are right when they say the rioting is not about the cuts. But it has a great deal to do with what those cuts represent: being cut off. Locked away in a ballooning underclass with the few escape routes previously offered—a union job, a good affordable education—being rapidly sealed off. The cuts are a message. They are saying to whole sectors of society: you are stuck where you are, much like the migrants and refugees we turn away at our increasingly fortressed borders.

David Cameron’s response to the riots is to make this locking-out literal: evictions from public housing, threats to cut off communication tools and outrageous jail terms (five months to a woman for receiving a stolen pair of shorts). The message is once again being sent: disappear, and do it quietly.

At last year’s G-20 “austerity summit” in Toronto, the protests turned into riots and multiple cop cars burned. It was nothing by London 2011 standards, but it was still shocking to us Canadians. The big controversy then was that the government had spent $675 million on summit “security” (yet they still couldn’t seem to put out those fires). At the time, many of us pointed out that the pricey new arsenal that the police had acquired—water cannons, sound cannons, tear gas and rubber bullets—wasn’t just meant for the protesters in the streets. Its long-term use would be to discipline the poor, who in the new era of austerity would have dangerously little to lose.

This is what David Cameron got wrong: you can't cut police budgets at the same time as you cut everything else. Because when you rob people of what little they have, in order to protect the interests of those who have more than anyone deserves, you should expect resistance—whether organized protests or spontaneous looting.

And that’s not politics. It’s physics.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Clifford Brown - I cover the waterfront

Clifford Brown - trp, Gigi Gryce - as, Henry Renaud - p,
Jimmy Gourley - g, Pierre Michelot - b, Jean-Loius Viale - d.
september 29 1953.

Clifford Brown: What's New

Joe Henderson - Recorda-Me - with hancock-hubbard

With Freddie Hubbard,Bobby Hutcherson,Herbie Hancock,Ron Carter,Tony Williams

No Problem/Duke Jordan

There But For Fortune - Phil Ochs

Phil Ochs - Here's to The State of Mississippi

Unfortunately, the same type of folks who once ran Mississippi have branched out -- they now seem to control the politics of the USA. "Wingnuts" does not describe them. They are far more dangerous.

Isn't it time for Citizens of the USA to band together and reclaim our country -- the country of FDR, LBJ, MLK, and other REAL Americans.

The anti-government, anti-education, anti-science, anti-diversity, anti-gay, anti-women, policy of these dangerous folks must be stopped. It's not enough to say NO!! -- you must be willing to stand up.