Thursday, September 23, 2010

Last Call

Hippie Punching, 101.

Top Obama adviser David Axelrod got an earful of the liberal blogosphere's anger at the White House moments ago, when a blogger on a conference call directly called out Axelrod over White House criticism of the left, accusing the administration of "hippie punching."

"We're the girl you'll take under the bleachers but you won't be seen with in the light of day," the blogger, Susan Madrak of Crooks and Liars, pointedly told Axelrod on the call, which was organzied for liberal bloggers and progressive media.

Republicans fear their base.  Democrats despise theirs.

Axelrod didn't engage on "hippie punching," but he said he agreed with the blogger. "To the extent that we shouldn't get involved in intramural skirmishing, I couldn't agree more," Axelrod said. "We just can't afford that. There are big things at stake here."

Madrak replied that Axelrod was missing the point -- that the criticism of the left made it tougher for bloggers like herself to motivate the base. "Don't make our jobs harder," she said.

"Right back at'cha. Right back at'cha," Axelrod replied, a bit testily, an apparent reference to blogospheric criticism of the administration.

Exeunt AXELROD and company, Stage LEFT.

It's high school all over again.  Jock Teabaggers beat up on Preppie Republicans, Preppie Republicans take it out on the Gossip Village, the Gossip Village in turn takes it out on the Wannabe Democrats, the Wannabe Democrats in turn take it out on Emo Progressives, and the Emo Progressives beat themselves up.

Fecal matter gravitates downward along the slope.

Zandar's Thought Of The Day

Record high for this day in Cincy?  92, set in 1970.

Today's official high temp?  95.

But Al Gore is fat, so drive your SUV some more.

Swiper, No Swiping!

Barry Ritholtz is pretty steamed at this story, and you should be too.

“When Jason Grodensky bought his modest Fort Lauderdale home last December, he paid cash. But seven months later, he was surprised to learn that Bank of America had foreclosed on the house, even though Grodensky did not have a mortgage.
Grodensky knew nothing about the foreclosure until July, when he learned that the title to his home had been transferred to a government-backed lender. “I feel like I’m hanging in the wind and I’m scared to death,” said Grodensky. “How did some attorney put through a foreclosure illegally?”
Bank of America has acknowledged the error and will correct it at its own expense, said spokeswoman Jumana Bauwens.”

Let that sink in for few moments.  Guy bought and paid for the home up front.  He never took out a mortgage.  He never took out any sort of loan with Bank of America.   He bought it fair and square in a short sale and wired Bank of America the money.

Except Bank of America, being the upstanding free-market company complaining that there's too much government oversight and that we bailed out to the tune of tens of billions two years ago, fouled up the paperwork to the point of criminal negligence.

Court records show Countrywide Home Loans filed a foreclosure case in Broward County civil court against the former owner of the home on Southwest 14th Street in 2008. Bank of America took over Countrywide at the end of that year.
The following year, Grodensky and his father Steven bought the house for cash as an investment property. Jason Grodensky’s brother Kenny Sloan lives in the house now. They negotiated a short sale, which means the lender agreed to accept less than the mortgage amount. Documents show the sale proceeds were wired to Bank of America. The sale was recorded in December 2009 at the Broward County Property Appraiser’s Office.
But in court, the foreclosure case continued, the records show. There was a motion to dismiss the case in July, followed the next day by a motion to re-open it. A court-ordered foreclosure sale took place July 15. The property appraiser’s office recorded the transfer of the title to the Federal National Mortgage Association (Fannie Mae) the same day.

In other words, his home was foreclosed literally out from under him.  He only found out when the Broward County Sheriff's deputies came to throw his family out.

Bank of America is only interested in foreclosing and throwing these homes on the Fannie/Freddie bonfire as quickly as they can process them.  Our system continues to allow this to happen.  It must be forced to stop.  i think it will be soon.

It's What's Missing That Counts

David Corn takes a look at what's not in the GOP's Pledge To America plan:

Below is a list of words and phrases and the number of times they are each mentioned in the 45-page "Pledge."

Wall Street: 0
Bank: 0
Finance: 0
Mortgage crisis: 0
Derivative: 0
Subprime: 0
Lobbying: 0
Lobbyist: 0
K Street: 0
Campaign finance: 0
Campaign contribution: 0
Campaign donation: 0
Disclosure: 0
Climate change: 0
Environment: 1 ("political environment")
Alternative energy: 0
Renewable: 0
Green: 0
Transportation: 0
Infrastructure: 0
Poverty: 0
Food: 0
Food safety: 0
Housing: 0
Internet: 0
Education: 0
College: 0
Reading: 0
Science: 0
Research: 0
Technology: 0
Bush administration: 0

That's what's really missing from the GOP agenda:  actual plans to address any of those.  Might want to keep that in mind if you think any of those items should be important to America.

The Republicans sure as hell don't.

Texas-Sized Bigotry

Our friends on the Texas Board of Education are back, this time claiming that American history has a Muslim bias...too far in favor of Islam, that is.

Texas' State Board of Education - following a long history of throwing itself into "culture war" issues - is set to vote Friday on a resolution calling on textbook publishers to limit what they print about Islam in world history books.

The resolution cites world history books no longer used in Texas schools that it says devoted more lines of text to Islamic beliefs and practices than Christian beliefs and practices.

"Diverse reviewers have repeatedly documented gross pro-Islamic, anti-Christian distortions in social studies texts," reads a draft of the resolution, which would not be binding on future boards that will choose the state's next generation of social studies texts.

The measure was first suggested to the board this summer by Odessa businessman Randy Rives, who lost his Republican primary bid for a seat on the panel earlier this year.

The conservative-leaning and heavily evangelical Christian board pushed the item to a vote.

Board member Pat Hardy, R-Fort Worth, suggested the issue may be moot because none of the books cited by Rives still are being used in Texas, having been replaced in 2003, and said Rives "might want to go back and get newer copies of the books."

Naah, it's just easier to burn them.  History is written by the winners, they say.

Just so happens that in this case, it's literal.

A Towel Once Thrown, It Falls Alone

The hand throwing said towel is Harry Reid.

A senior Senate Democratic aide told TPM today there won't be a vote on extending the Bush tax cuts in the upper chamber before the November election, a blow to party leaders and President Obama who believed this would have been a winning issue.

It's also a signal that the House won't take action -- though nothing has been decided for certain, since leaders there have said all along they are waiting for the Senate.

"Absent a stunning turn of events, we're not going to do tax cuts before the election," the aide told TPM.

A double vote forcing the Republicans to go on record to continue trillions in tax cuts to the wealthiest Americans would completely unravel their deficit hypocrisy, and should be an election season cudgel to get what the Dems need to get passed as well as putting the American people firmly behind the Donks on the issues of taxes.

Instead it's the Democrats cowering because conservatives in their own party don't want to be forced to make rich people pay more.  The reality is now that there's a pretty good chance that the GOP will get those tax cuts made permanent, forcing Obama to either go back on his pledge and veto the bill and letting them expire (and ending his administration) or giving in to the GOP and jacking up the deficit even more.

The House has this afternoon followed suit and are dumping any tax cut votes until after the election.

I don't honestly understand the Dems on this.  They have a clear path to win-win, and they are taking lose-lose instead.  This is going to cost them badly.

Block Busted

Blockbuster Video as expected officially filed for Chapter 11 today in New York state.

Blockbuster filed for bankruptcy Thursday in its latest attempt to overcome nearly $1 billion in debt.

The movie rental store's U.S. businesses filed for Chapter 11 protection in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York. As part of its recapitalization plan, Blockbuster (BBI, Fortune 500) said it would attempt to reduce its debt load to $100 million or less.

n a release Thursday, the company said it has secured $125 million in financing from senior bondholders to keep its remaining U.S. businesses open during the bankruptcy proceedings.

Its stores, DVD vending kiosks, by-mail and digital businesses will continue serving customers. But the company will have to implement major cost-cutting measures to repay its investors, said Michael Pachter, an analyst with Wedbush Morgan Securities.

"Blockbuster is under the gun now to generate as much cash as possible," he said. "When they were run by shareholders, the company was making investments and trying to grow. Now that they've been seized by creditors... Blockbuster will have to manage the business as lean as possible."

Somehow, I don't see many of those Blockbuster stores remaining open with Netflix and Redbox lurking.  Then again, with people across the country cutting back on entertainment dollars (I know I am) it's not like those two companies are in terrifically better shape than Blockbuster is, either.  Netflix isn't exactly making tons of money off guys like me who pay for one Blu-Ray disc out at a time and unlimited digital streaming for $15 a month.

Still, just goes to show you that 10 years ago Blockbuster was a huge company.  Now it's fighting over scraps in a pockmarked economy.

Restoring Sanity

After yesterday's mildly frightening Quinnipiac poll showing Carl Paladino within six of Arndrew Cuomo for NY Governor, today's Siena College poll shows a number that should scare the crap out of someone...but it isn't Cuomo.

A new Siena poll in New York finds Andrew Cuomo (D) leading Carl Paladino (R) in the race for governor by 33 points, 57% to 24%, and Sen. Kristen Gillibrand (D) leading Joe DioGuardi (R) in the U.S. Senate race by 24 points, 57% to 31% -- very different from the latest Quinnipiac and SurveyUSA polls that show much closer races.

Two things to keep in mind: The Siena poll tests registered voters, not likely voters. And in the race for governor, the poll includes Rick Lazio as the Conservative Party candidate -- he gets 8% of the vote -- even though he's not yet announced whether he'll stay on the ballot.

So the real issue here may be Qunnipiac's likely voter model, which seems to indicate that so many more Republicans that wouldn't normally turn out for a midterm are going to do so, and that so many fewer Democrats are going to do so, that it's enough to cause a 20 plus point difference in polls with other outfits.

That means there may be serious issues with Quinnipiac's likely voter model.  I'm hoping Nate Silver would take a look at this in the next couple weeks, because usually Q-polls have been pretty decently accurate (and certainly not a Rasmussen unit or three off in favor of the GOP.)

It also means it's worth looking at recent Q-polls in states like Ohio, Florida, and Pennsylvania too.  Things may not be as bad for the Dems as once thought in those states, especially Ohio.

Carbon Copy Conundrum

Me, yesterday night on the health care reform repeal and replace provisions in the GOP's "Pledge To America" plan:

Which is funny, because all of those benefits are already in the health care plan that the Republicans plan to completely repeal.

So they're not planning to completely repeal the law at all. They just think you're a moron and won't notice.

Think Progress, this morning:

Starting today, insurance companies can no longer discriminate against children with pre-existing conditions, drop coverage because of a simple mistake on an application, institute lifetime caps, limit choice of doctors, charge more for emergency services obtained out of network, or levy deductibles, co-payments or co-insurance for certain preventive benefits. Children will also be able to stay on their parents’ plans until their 26th birthday and everyone will have the right to appeal insurer decisions to an independent third party.

Ironically, today Republicans are also unveiling a new ‘Pledge To America,’ an agenda which promises to “repeal” all of these benefits — as well as the entire health care law — and replace it with “reforms  that  lower  costs  for   families  and  small  businesses,  increase  access  to  affordable,  high-­‐quality  care  and  strengthen  the  doctor-­‐patient   relationship.” The document provides almost no specifics about what the party would do to control health care spending, improve quality, or pay for its reforms. And at least 7 of the GOP’s ideas on health care are already included in the health care law.

Glad to see I wasn't the only one who noticed this little shell game as major benefits of health care legislation take effect today.

If It's Thursday...

Another miss on jobless claims, another upward revision.  Up 12k from an adjusted 453k to 465k, and things continue to deteriorate.  Continuing claims revised upward from 4.49 million to 4.54 million...and dropped to 4.49 million (funny how that works).

Still not good news.

The Rich Still Got Richer

If I told you that a couple of hundred people had the same net worth as the entire bottom half of a country, you'd call that country a third world hellhole, more than likely.  You'd ask how it got that way and rail against European Socialism or Communism or decry a evil dictator whose fascism is ruining the place and say that what they needed was free-market capitalism like America.

Then I'd tell you I was talking about America.

Despite a hideous economy, the 400 richest Americans increased their net worth by an average of 8% according to Forbes Magazine.

The super-rich got even wealthier this year, despite the stumbling economy.

Forbes magazine released its annual list of the 400 richest Americans on Wednesday, and their combined net worth climbed 8% this year, to $1.37 trillion. Wealth rose for 217 members of the list, while 85 saw a decline.

Bill Gates is yet again the richest man in America. The founder of Microsoft, the world's largest software maker, is first on the Forbes list with an estimated fortune of $54 billion, up from $50 billion in 2009. He's followed by billionaire investor Warren Buffett, who is worth $45 billion.

Larry Ellison, chief executive of Oracle, stood at No. 3 with $20 billion.

Christy Walton took the No. 4 spot, while members of her family -- whose fortune comes from Wal-Mart -- took spots 7 through 9.

Charles and David Koch, of private energy conglomerate Koch Industries, tied for No. 5 at $21.5 billion each. Both men saw their wealth skyrocket by $5.5 billion from 2009.

Michael Bloomberg, the mayor of New York City, rounded out the list at No. 10 with $18 billion.

So going back to my Pareto distribution economy post from earlier this week, it's sobering to find out that the top 0.00013% of America controls some 2.5% of the wealth of the entire country.

That's still two and a half times the combined net worth of the bottom half of the American people, some 155 million of us are worth the same as about the top 155 people on this list.  The bottom 50% of the country accounts for 1% of the country's total combined net worth of roughly 55 trillion dollars.

Land of the free, home of the brave...


Related Posts with Thumbnails