Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Hillary Clinton Gives A Powerful Speech on Gay Rights

The Obama Administration has done more to further Gay Rights then any administration in history. This is worth the 30 minutes it will take to watch the entire speech. Hillary Clinton has been an amazing voice for the LGBT Community. Her voice in Government will be sorely missed.

Thursday, December 01, 2011

A Banker Speaks, With Regret

This article by Nicholas Kristof needs to be read by every American.
If you want to understand why the Occupy movement has found such traction, it helps to listen to a former banker like James Theckston. He fully acknowledges that he and other bankers are mostly responsible for the country’s housing mess.

As a regional vice president for Chase Home Finance in southern Florida, Theckston shoveled money at home borrowers. In 2007, his team wrote $2 billion in mortgages, he says. Sometimes those were “no documentation” mortgages.

"On the application, you don’t put down a job; you don’t show income; you don’t show assets," he said. "But you still got a nod."

"If you had some old bag lady walking down the street and she had a decent credit score, she got a loan," he added.

Theckston says that borrowers made harebrained decisions and exaggerated their resources but that bankers were far more culpable — and that all this was driven by pressure from the top.

“You’ve got somebody making $20,000 buying a $500,000 home, thinking that she’d flip it,” he said. “That was crazy, but the banks put programs together to make those kinds of loans.”

Especially when mortgages were securitized and sold off to investors, he said, senior bankers turned a blind eye to shortcuts.

“The bigwigs of the corporations knew this, but they figured we’re going to make billions out of it, so who cares? The government is going to bail us out. And the problem loans will be out of here, maybe even overseas.”

One memory particularly troubles Theckston. He says that some account executives earned a commission seven times higher from subprime loans, rather than prime mortgages. So they looked for less savvy borrowers — those with less education, without previous mortgage experience, or without fluent English — and nudged them toward subprime loans.

These less savvy borrowers were disproportionately blacks and Latinos, he said, and they ended up paying a higher rate so that they were more likely to lose their homes. Senior executives seemed aware of this racial mismatch, he recalled, and frantically tried to cover it up.

Theckston, who has a shelf full of awards that he won from Chase, such as “sales manager of the year,” showed me his 2006 performance review. It indicates that 60 percent of his evaluation depended on him increasing high-risk loans.

In late 2008, when the mortgage market collapsed, Theckston and most of his colleagues were laid off. He says he bears no animus toward Chase, but he does think it is profoundly unfair that troubled banks have been rescued while troubled homeowners have been evicted.

When I called JPMorgan Chase for its side of the story, it didn’t deny the accounts of manic mortgage-writing. Its spokesmen acknowledge that banks had made huge mistakes and noted that Chase no longer writes subprime or no-document mortgages. It also said that it has offered homeowners four times as many mortgage modifications as homes it has foreclosed on.

Still, 28 percent of all American mortgages are “underwater,” according to Zillow, a real estate Web site. That means that more is owed than the home is worth, and the figure is up from 23 percent a year ago. That overhang stifles the economy, for it’s difficult to nurture a broad recovery unless real estate and construction revive.

All this came into sharper focus this week as Bloomberg Markets magazine published a terrific exposé based on lending records it pried out of the Federal Reserve in a lawsuit. It turns out that the Fed provided an astonishing sum to keep banks afloat — $7.8 trillion, equivalent to more than $25,000 per American.

The article estimated that banks earned up to $13 billion in profits by relending that money to businesses and consumers at higher rates.

The Federal Reserve action isn’t a scandal, and arguably it’s a triumph. The Fed did everything imaginable to avert a financial catastrophe — and succeeded. The money was repaid.

Yet what is scandalous is the basic unfairness of what has transpired. The federal government rescued highly paid bankers from their reckless decisions. It protected bank shareholders and creditors. But it mostly turned a cold shoulder to some of the most vulnerable and least sophisticated people in America. Last year alone, banks seized more than one million homes.

Sure, some programs exist to help borrowers in trouble, but not nearly enough. We still haven’t taken such basic steps as allowing bankruptcy judges to modify the terms of a mortgage on a primary home. Legislation to address that has gotten nowhere.

My daughter and I are reading Steinbeck’s "Grapes of Wrath" aloud to each other, and those Depression-era injustices seem so familiar today. That’s why the Occupy movement resonates so deeply: When the federal government goes all-out to rescue errant bankers, and stiffs homeowners, that’s not just bad economics. It’s also wrong.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Cain Blames The Unemployed For Their Situation

Cain again blames the unemployed and the crowd cheers. What I find most disgusting is the complete lack of compassion these people feel for those truly hurting through no fault of their own.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

What More Do You Need To See?

How can they even pretend to care about the suffering of the American People?
It was all predicted, but the unanimous decision by Senate Republicans on Tuesday to filibuster and thus kill President Obama’s jobs bill was still a breathtaking act of economic vandalism. There are 14 million people out of work, wages are falling, poverty is rising, and a second recession may be blowing in, but not a single Republican would even allow debate on a sound plan to cut middle-class taxes and increase public-works spending.

The bill the Republicans shot down is not a panacea, but independent economists say it would have a significant and swift effect on the current stagnation. Macroeconomic Advisers, whose forecasts are often used by the Federal Reserve, said it could raise economic growth by 1.25 percentage points and create 1.3 million jobs in 2012. Moody’s Analytics estimated new growth at 2 percentage points and 1.9 million jobs. Those economists say that Republican ideas for increasing growth would have no measurable effects in the next year.

The Republicans offer no actual economic plans, only tired slogans about cutting regulations and spending, and ending health care reform. The party seems content to run out the clock on Mr. Obama’s term while doing very little. On Tuesday, Mr. Obama’s campaign manager, Jim Messina, accused Republicans of trying to “suffocate the economy” in hopes that the pain would work to their political advantage. They are doing little to refute that charge.

Their lack of serious ideas was on full display in both the Senate and the presidential debate on Tuesday night in New Hampshire. The debate was ostensibly about the economy, but when the freshest and most-talked-about idea is Herman Cain’s ridiculous “9-9-9” tax plan, it is clear that the economy they were debating is not the one Americans are forced to live in. Mr. Cain — whose rise in the polls says everything you need to know about the amateur-hour decline of his party — wants to replace all federal taxes with a 9 percent levy on corporate income, personal income and sales. As Bruce Bartlett, an economist who has worked in Republican administrations, recently wrote in The Times, it is a formula designed to cut taxes for the rich and increase them for the poor, raising the deficit and doing nothing for growth.

The other candidates were no less vacuous. Mitt Romney offered an ash heap of used ideas, saying he would push a balanced-budget amendment, cut back on regulations, and go chest to chest with China on trade. Rick Perry, when he could be stirred to speak, vowed to somehow put 1.2 million people to work in the energy industry, as if the whole country were Texas and drills could pop up on every block.

Republican candidates fear the Tea Party too much to acknowledge that economists are solidly behind government intervention to awaken growth. The jobs bill rejected by Republican leaders will now be reintroduced piece by piece, and Republicans are not likely to go along with much more than an extension of the payroll tax cut (which is opposed by Mr. Romney). But at least the record is increasingly clear who is advocating real ideas and who is selling an empty vessel.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Do You Still Want to Gut the EPA?

Greed is actually killing people. Those who vote to gut the EPA should have to trade homes with these people.

Saturday, October 08, 2011

Looking for A family Devastated by the Financial Crisis.

I am sorry for the short diary but I have been approached by a Swiss TV Producer out of Washington DC. Here is the body of the e-mail I received:

Dear Sir,

I am the producer of the Swiss Television in Washington DC. We are working on a 5/7 minutes feature story about the "death of the middle-class" in the Unites States. We would like to illustrate it by telling someone's story.

We are looking for someone willing to be filmed next week, for at least half a day - between October 10 and October 13. Someone who suffered in the last years because of the consequences of the economic crisis, who was definitely part of the middle class - but lost a lot (job and/or foreclosure) and is struggling now in the actual economic climate. We would like this person to be also part of the demonstrations ("Wall Street Protests") in NY or in any other part of America.

This can be an individual, or a family portrait.

I hope you could help us find someone who would agree to be filmed.

Swiss TV is the primary public broadcaster for the country of Switzerland. We have three channels for each of our three languages. In the DC bureau we cover news, politics, and other US-based stories for our nightly news programs in Zurich, Geneva, and Lugano.

You can find our news stories, from our three channels, here:

I was approached due to the fact that I own this website. This seems like a good way to publicize the protests and the reasons for the protests to a broader audience.

I would also welcome help in developing my website. I am fortunate enough to still be working so my time to concentrate on this site is limited. I can tell you that three times I have been approached by right wing groups to buy the name. I would imagine they saw it as a way to propagandize and confuse Americans about exactly why the middle class is an endangered species.

My current idea is to build the site out to include pages for each state which would educate on voter suppression tactics, corruption and other needed information on a statewide level. This could also be used to bring people together to get prepared for the 2012 elections. We are a nation in trouble. The influence of big money on our politics has turned our political system into legalized bribery and this bribery goes all the way to Supreme Court.

If people understand who is the enemy they will know what needs to be done to stop this madness.

I can also be reached through twitter @savethemiddle.

Any help you can give to find a compelling story from the protests would be greatly appreciated.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Republicans Boo A Soldier

According to these freaks a Gay soldier should forever keep his private life private. The cheering for Santorum (Google it) is a sure sign of the rampant homophobia by the far right. It is OK to go and die for your country but you are just cannon fodder for these freaks if you are gay. These people truly make me sick. According to these assholes our soldiers die so that we can remain free except of course the gay soldiers who should live a life alone and in secret. How exactly is that free?

Monday, September 12, 2011

This Is Why We Need National Healthcare

No one thinks they are going to get sick and die at an early age which is why both Romney Care and Obama Care have the individual mandate. Listening to these Tea Party freaks scream out that a person should be allowed to die if they did not have insurance is rather sickening. It is no wonder they are as popular as a whore in church. Let's see if it was there child in the same situation how they would feel. It is time for Medicare for all.

Thursday, September 08, 2011

Obama Goes Big

Finally I saw a glimmer of hope that the person I voted for was actually still there. The plan is far from perfect but it is a pragmatic approach to what is possible with the current house of Representatives. I believe they will be forced to go along with this plan or risk being decimated in the next election.
The American Jobs Act proposal includes more than $250 billion in tax incentives for small businesses and employers, according to administration estimates. The rest of the money would be devoted to infrastructure spending, state aid, unemployment insurance, and neighborhood rehabilitation. The president will pay for the proposal by asking the congressional super committee tasked with finding $1.5 trillion in deficit reduction to offset the cost of the package in their proposal.

Senior administration officials said that the White House plans to introduce the president's proposal next week as a single piece of legislation. The same administration officials did not rule out the idea that the White House would petition the congressional super committee to simply include the jobs bill in the set of recommendations that they reveal later this fall. In his speech to a joint session of Congress, however, the President repeatedly made the case that quicker action is needed.

"I am sending this Congress a plan that you should pass right away," he said. "There should be nothing controversial about this piece of legislation. Everything in here is the kind of proposal that's been supported by both Democrats and Republicans -- including many who sit here tonight. And everything in this bill will be paid for. Everything."

A White House official said Obama phoned House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) earlier in the day to discuss the need for rapid passage of his jobs plan. During his speech, which was peppered with a defiant sometimes combative tone, he pledged to sell his plan outside of the D.C. Beltway as well.

"I intend to take that message to every corner of this country," Obama said. "I also ask every American who agrees to lift your voice and tell the people who are gathered here tonight that you want action now. Tell Washington that doing nothing is not an option." In all, the phrase "pass this jobs bill" was uttered eight times in the president's speech, with several variations of the phrase appearing elsewhere.

There was no mention as to how many jobs the president believed his proposal would create. At a briefing before the speech, senior administration officials declined to make such an estimate as well. But underlying the whole proposal was the promise that, down the road, it would be paid for. And in the latter portion of his speech, Obama called for Congress to close special interest tax loopholes as one way to cover that cost.

"This isn’t political grandstanding," he said. "This isn’t class warfare. This is simple math. These are real choices that we have to make."

At the heart of the president's plan is an extension of the payroll tax cut passed last year, through 2012. The proposal, which would affect an estimated 160 million workers by providing a $1,500 tax cut for the average family, comes in at a cost of $175 billion.

The tax components of the president's plan don't end there. The White House also wants a payroll tax holiday for businesses that add new workers or increase the wages of current employees; a fifty percent reduction of the tax rates businesses pay on the first $5 million in payroll; and a $4,000 tax credit for employers who hire long-term unemployed workers.

On the spending side, the president is calling for $50 billion in infrastructure repairs; $10 billion for an infrastructure bank to help leverage private capital; $30 billion for school modernization and repairs; and $35 billion in aid to states and municipalities for the purposes of rehiring and retaining teachers and first responders. The proposal would also re-authorize federal unemployment benefits for another year, with additional incentives for employers to retain their workers and train new ones without any cost. A national wireless internet initiative and changes to federal refinancing programs are also part of the American Jobs Act.

The most innovative addition may be the $15 billion that the president is proposing for "Project Rebuild" a program that would leverage private capital to finance the refurbishing of vacant or foreclosed homes. According to a senior administration official, the program would focus on "emerging residential and commercial foreclosure problems" in an effort to raise plummeting property values in those areas and avoid "community blight."

The president's suggested spending totals are a drop in the bucket in terms of the economy's actual needs. Obama's top advisers have, in the past, estimated that the country faces a $2 trillion infrastructure deficit. There is an estimated $270 billion to $500 billion in backlogged school maintenance costs. More than 200,000 government jobs have been slashed in the past year, many of them teachers and emergency first responders.

But the outlines were cheered by Democrats as an important start, as well as a much-needed shift in a political conversation that has been dominated by budget cuts.

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

UN:Austerity Measures and Deficit Cuts Is Pushing The World Economy Towards Disaster

By Tom Miles - Reuters

The pursuit of austerity measures and deficit cuts is pushing the world economy toward disaster in a misguided attempt to please global financial markets, the annual report of the United Nations economic thinktank UNCTAD said on Tuesday.

The report, entitled "Post-crisis policy challenges in the world economy," savaged U.S. and European economic policies and called for wage increases, stricter regulation of financial markets, including a return to a system of managed exchange rates, and a conscious break with market-led thinking.

"The message here is very pragmatic: we need to reverse our course quickly," said UNCTAD Secretary General Supachai Panitchpakdi.

Supachai, a former head of the World Trade Organization, said the policy response to the crisis, with an emphasis on fiscal tightening, was misconceived and inept.

The report's lead author Heiner Flassbeck said the global economic situation was extremely dangerous and, without more stimulus, a decade of stagnation was the best-case scenario.

The current policies were a disaster, said Flassbeck, head of the globalization and development strategies division at the U.N. Conference on Trade and Development, and a former deputy finance minister in Germany.

"If interests rates everywhere are zero, and if governments stick to the policy of not only keeping fiscal deficits where they are but retrenching, cutting public expenditure, then we will end up in permanent recession," he said.

"Unemployment depends very much on demand. And if you have no demand then you need government to step in with a huge program for stimulating the economy. This was the U.S. scenario in the past. Now it's worse because wages are rising less than in the past so you're going to need a bigger stimulus program."

The recovery from the financial crisis was not only jobless, which was to be expected, but it was also "wageless," he said, with Americans, Japanese and Europeans -- 70 percent of the world economy -- expecting their incomes to stagnate.

In its last report a year ago, UNCTAD said a premature removal of stimulus policies might cause a deflationary spiral with attendant slumps in growth and employment around the world.

"Let's not fool ourselves. This is a realistic scenario for the whole developed world, if we do not understand the lessons now, and really quickly, because we do not have other instruments any more," Flassbeck told a news conference to launch this year's report. "To revive the economy with a wageless recovery with diminished expectations by the private economy, by private households, what are the instruments at hand? There is nothing." He said that even if things go well, global economic growth would slow to about 1.5 percent in 2012, less than half the U.N. forecast of 3.1 percent growth for this year.

HERD MENTALITY The report put much of the blame for the crisis on deregulation of financial markets, which it said invited destabilizing "herd behavior" by speculators, and allowed an over-concentration of banking activities. "What we've seen in the past and we never learn is that countries seem to have excessive belief in the financial markets. And we've seen time and again that financial markets are not very sound in their judgment," said Supachai. "But still people keep thinking that they are doing these austerity measures because they want to please the markets so that the markets give them better ratings, including the rating agencies which do not always produce the best assessment."

Flassbeck said the herd mentality was evident whenever equity markets and commodity markets all lurch in tandem on the same day, an effect that could not conceivably be caused by real swings in demand. But the world was ignoring it, he said. "If the G20 negotiations were not confidential I would tell you that it's ignored even there," he said. A November summit of the 20 biggest economies would reach "extremely weak" conclusions on tackling the crisis and would underestimate the influence of financial markets, he said. "We have three areas where the G20 wanted to be strong. The first is the coordination of economic policy: nothing. The second is commodities speculation: more or less nothing; and the third is international global monetary order: nothing. So that's the result of nine months deliberation by the G20."

The U.N. report said the world should introduce a system of rules-based floating exchange rates, which would kill off distorting "carry trades" in which investors borrow currencies with low interest rates to buy higher-yielding currencies. The system would be based on divergences between the consumer prices or interest rates applicable to different currencies, and unlike the defunct Bretton Woods system, it would cater for continual adjustments in exchange rates.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Child Poverty Grows

One of the most distressing statistics of the last decade is the rapid increase in child poverty.
Child poverty afflicted nearly 15 million children, or 20 percent of America's juvenile population, according to a new study released on Wednesday.

The report is written by the Annie E. Casey Foundation and is based on data from a number of sources, including the Mortgage Bankers Association, National Delinquency Survey and U.S. Census Bureau.

According to NPR, more than 30 million children were in households where no parent had a full-time year-round job.

In totality, the child poverty rate grew about 18 percent over the past decade.

The impact of child poverty can be devastating and long-lasting. Researchers found that low-income children are likely to suffer academically, economically and socially long after their parents have recovered. Child poverty also leads to less of a likelihood to find gainful employment in adulthood.
Can we seriously be considering austerity measures at a time when child poverty is so quickly on the rise? Are we OK with throwing away 20% of our future and if we do, wouldn't we just spent the saved money in the criminal justice system somewhere down the line?

Actions have consequences and austerity at this time in our history is counter productive. President Obama has so far played right into Republican hands by starting negotiations from a position in the center while the Republicans have been unwilling to compromise.

Mitch McConnell stated that defeating Obama was his number one priority and America's children are now collateral damage. Should a Republican win the Presidency next year then America as we have known it will be officially dead. Will American's pay close enough attention to what is actually happening to stop this or will they be fooled into once again voting against their own best interests? I am afraid for the future of this country for the first time in my life.

Monday, April 04, 2011

The Foreclosure Nightmare Continues

Wall St. walked away with the money while Americans were left holding the bag. The housing market continues to decline and everyone is effected. Where is the shared sacrifice from Wall St.?

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Floridians Realize They Hired A Crook

I hate to say I told you so but anyone with any sense would have seen this coming. Why would someone with no prior interest in politics but a real interest in ripping people off want to be the Governor of a struggling state? It seems his own financial enrichment was the real goal.
Oh! And he basically crafts policy for the sole purpose of personal enrichment. If there's one word that could account for Scott's dramatic fall from -- we hesitate to use the word, but, okay -- "grace," it is Solantic. That's the name of Scott's post-HCA company, a chain of urgent care facilities in which he had a $62 million stake.

But rather then divest himself of the company, he shifted his share to his wife, a move that met "the letter of Florida ethics laws, if not the spirit."

He then set about crafting policy designed to ensure that Solantic would do very, very well:

Scott and Florida Republicans are currently trying to enact a sweeping Medicaid reform bill that would give HMOs and other private health care companies unprecedented control over the government health care program for the poor. Among the companies that stand to benefit from the bill is Solantic, a chain of urgent-care clinics aimed at providing emergency services to walk-in customers.
You see he doesn't care how unpopular he is or if he gets a second term. Hhe will have ripped off the citizens of Florida and laughed all the way to the bank. This is what low information voting does and the scary thing is that this is happening all over the country. The goal is to keep the electorate at home or too stupid to make a good decision. So far the goals are being met and this country is in real danger of becoming a third world nation.

Monday, March 28, 2011

The Assault on the Middle Class Continues

The new Governor of Michigan is proving to be more of an asshole than in neighboring Wisconsin. You wonder what he is thinking when he cuts off unemployment after five months when most people are unemployed for longer than six months.
There is no valid reason why keeping federally-financed Extended Benefits in place in Michigan should require a permanent reduction in the 26 weeks of unemployment benefits paid in our state’s UI program," Rick McHugh, a staff attorney with the National Employment Law Project, said in a statement. "The Governor’s actions today mean that Michigan will be the only state paying less than 26 weeks for their maximum duration of benefits in the U.S. Michigan has paid 26 weeks of benefits since 1954."
Why Michigan, which has suffered so much at the hands of outsourcing and trade policies that guarantee an unfair playing field , would elect a tea party Republican is a mystery. I would hate to say I told you so but......

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Class warfare is coming

It is time to wake up. The middle class is dying a slow agonizing death with more and more wealth concentrated in fewer and fewer hands. Our jobs are being shipped away at alarming rates and people live in fear that they will be next. This is economic terrorism by the super rich on the rest of us.

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Pawlenty Talks Out of Both Sides of His Ass

How can Tim Pawlenty be considered a serious candidate when he is pandering to the Tea Party in one statement then facing reality in the next.
Former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty urged congressional Republicans on Sunday to not vote to raise the debt ceiling when the matter is considered in the spring.

But in a sign of how knotted the debate has become, the likely presidential candidate suggested that lawmakers pass additional legislation to prevent the government from defaulting -- the exact purpose of raising the debt ceiling in the first place.

"They should not raise the debt ceiling," Pawlenty said. "I believe they should pass legislation that would allow them to sequence the spending as revenues come in to make sure they don't default. And then have a debate about what other spending could be reduced."

The problem with this logic is exactly what gets cut? Why is it that they are allowed to keep using Social Security as a place to cut when Social Security has a surplus and can pay out 100% of benefits for the next 29 years? So are we going to cut Medicaid for the poor? Food stamps for the hungry? All while advocating tax cuts for the wealthy who are creating jobs in India and China and not the US?

Why is it that these people are not called out for their hypocrisy? Ronald Reagan TRIPLED the national debt and no one said a word. George H.W. Bush helped as well then came President Clinton and a balanced budget and the largest surpluses in our history and the first time in the modern era that national debt was being paid off. Then came George W. Bush who exploded the debt all while fools like this remained silent. Where was the outcries over TWO wars that were not on in the budget and unpaid tax cuts?

Why is it that these Republican politicians feel the need to pander to the Tea Party instead of giving them actual facts? This would be the same as a Doctor telling a patient he knows has a liver condition that he has irritable bowel syndrome because that is what the patient believes. What is even scarier is that fools like this are willing to treat the irritable bowel syndrome instead of the liver condition and sit by while the patient worsens.