Sunday, March 6, 2011

Last Call

At what point does Scott Walker realize he's won the battle, but lost the war?

Yet another poll in Wisconsin, this time commissioned by a free-market think tank, the Wisconsin Policy Research Institute, shows voters disapproving of Gov. Scott Walker, and saying he should compromise on his budget proposal and its anti-public employee union provisions. Furthermore, the key groups with whom Walker is jousting -- Democrats in the state legislature, public employee unions in general, teachers' unions in particular -- all have significantly better favorable ratings than he does.

It should be noted that WPRI's polling, despite the organization's ideological bent, is often cited in Wisconsin's media as a reliable survey, and is conducted by UW-Madison political science professor Ken Goldstein. This demographically weighted poll of Wisconsin adults was conducted from February 27-March 1, and has a ±4% margin of error.

Walker's overall approval ratings and personal favorable numbers are identical, at 43% approval/favorable to 53% disapproval/unfavorable, with only some internal variation between the "strongly" and "somewhat" sub-categories in each.

By contrast, the favorable-unfavorable numbers for the Democrats in the legislature -- who are most famous now for the minority state Senate Dems, who have fled the state in order to block budget quorum on the proposals -- stand at 50%-42%. The public employee unions' favorables are 59%-34%, and teachers' unions are at 59%-36%.


Walker is getting annihilated here.  He should really come to the table, but he refuses to do so.  He's gotten 90% of what he wants from the unions too:  salary cuts, benefit cuts, pension cuts.  But the coolective bargaining he refuses to budge on.

And that last mile is costing him everything.

In Which Zandar Answers Your Burning Questions

Commenter Shalimar at Balloon Juice asks the $200 million question about David Koch:

Why would he donate $200 million for cancer research when he knows he can give $100k to the Republican National Committee and get Republican congresspersons to increase funding by the same amount?

Because the Koch brothers would rather give $100k to get Republicans to reduce taxes on the Kochs and Koch Industries by a lot more than $200 million, frankly.  It's about power.

Turn On The Lights, Watch The Roaches Scatter Part 63

WaPo columnist Dana Milbank?  Meet Foreclosuregate, up close and personal-like.

The problem in the nation's housing market now isn't subprime lending. It's subpar lenders.

Last fall, my wife and I refinanced our mortgage with Citibank. Sixty days later, we received a "cancellation notice" from our homeowners insurance company "for non-payment of premium."

Turns out Citibank, which had been collecting hundreds of dollars a month from us to pay the insurer, hadn't made the payments. It was, I later learned, one of the usual tricks mortgage servicers use to squeeze more cash out of their customers. About a month later, I learned of another trick: Citibank informed us that it was increasing our monthly payment by nearly $300.

Along the way, a simple refi became a months-long odyssey: rates misquoted, interest charged on a phantom account, legal documents issued in wrong names, a mortgage officer who disappeared for days at a time (first it was his birthday, then his laptop was in the shop), a bounced check from Citibank's own title company, and the freezing of our bank accounts.

For me, this amounts to no more than the hassle of arguing with Citibank to fix its "mistakes." But consumer advocates tell me these are typical of the screw-ups by the big banks that service home mortgages. And these errors - accidental or otherwise - are driving large numbers of people into default and foreclosure when it otherwise would not have happened.

It's a bad situation - and the new majority in the House is poised to make it even worse. 

I'd laugh my ass off except for the fact that if Citibank can screw a Very Serious And Responsible Villager over, then nobody in America is safe on a mortgage re-fi.

That of course is because nobody in America is safe on a mortgage re-fi, and that's been true for years now since deregulation of the mortgage industry brought about by MERS pushed digital speed over accuracy.  The result:  the prolonged housing depression.  Nobody can fix the problem because nobody knows who owns some half the mortgages in the United States.

That's a problem with only one real solution.  And the longer it takes to implement it, the more damage will be done to our economy.

Looking Out For Grandma

More than 90 percent of nursing homes hired employees with criminal convictions according to a new government report obtained by CBS News.
Government investigators ran background checks on all workers who were employed on June 1, 2009 at 260 nursing homes across the country. The results showed 92 percent of the facilities hired at least one employee with a criminal conviction.
The report, by the Inspector General for Health and Human Services, also says that at nearly half of the nursing homes, "five or more individuals" with criminal backgrounds were hired.

Investigators found seven registered sex offenders employed in five different nursing homes. Overall 43 percent of the criminal convictions were for property crimes such as "burglary, shoplifting, writing bad checks."

The government is offering programs that will help a universal background check system.  Under some conditions, the government will cover the cost of the background checks.  Families who do not know what to ask or expect are putting their loved ones in situations that can lead to danger for their vulnerable elderly relatives.  I will follow up on this and continue to address this particular situation.  I worked in the health care industry for several years, and I have seen the best and worst of what our long-term care institutions have to offer.  Any comments or contributions are certainly welcome.

What A Tangled Web We Weave

There have been new safety violations with the Spider-Man play on Broadway. OSHA has contributed findings that indicate harnesses and other safety equipment were not set properly. A spokesman for the production company states that they are in compliance with regulations.
OSHA said it issues a serious citation "when there is substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known."

It's time to cut losses before someone gets hurt.  This has been a bust from the very beginning, and the injuries and problems are just piling up.

Zandar's Thought Of The Day

Technically, the "end of the world is coming on this date!" people only have to be right once.

They walked away from work, families and communities in places as far-flung as California, Kansas, Utah and New Jersey. Among them are an electrician, a TV satellite dish installer, a former chef, an international IT consultant and a man who had worked with the developmentally disabled.

They gave away cars, pets, music collections and more to relatives, friends and neighbors. Some items they kicked to the curb. In homes that weren't emptied, clothes are still hanging in closets, and dishes, books and furniture -- including one man's antique collection -- are gathering dust. Unless, of course, they've been claimed by others. If you believe it's all going to be over soon, why would it matter if you close the front door, much less lock it, when you walk away?

It's a mid-winter morning in Jacksonville, Florida, when CNN joins this faithful caravan. The "ambassadors," as they call themselves, are easy to spot. They are the 10 people milling about in an RV park drawing stares, eye rolls, under-the-breath mutters and, at times, words of support.

They're wearing sweatshirts and other clothing announcing the "Awesome News," that Judgment Day is coming on May 21. On that day, people who will be saved will be raptured up to heaven. The rest will endure exactly 153 days of death and horror before the world ends on October 21. That message is splashed across their five sleek, vinyl-wrapped RVs, bearing this promise: "The Bible guarantees it!"

I should probably return those Netflix DVDs.  On the other hand, expect a lot of birthdays this time next year.

We Gotta Clean Up Tea On Aisle Five

Steve M. completely called shenanigans on this story on Friday morning about those Dirty F'ckin Hippies wrecking Wisconsin's capitol with their protests.

State officials said Thursday that damage to the marble inside and out the State Capitol would cost an estimated $7.5 million.

Cari Anne Renlund, chief legal counsel for the state Department of Administration, said in Dane County court that estimates of damage to marble includes $6 million to repair damaged marble inside the Capitol, $1 million for damage outside and $500,000 for costs to supervise the damage.

Much of the damage apparently has come from tape used to put up signs and placards at the Capitol.

It was not immediately clear how the estimates were made....

Hurr, the Dirty F'ckin Hippies hate the environment and God and Wisconsin and you and me and they are so immoral and they are costing you millions and don't you just want to do something to them?

But quelle surprise!  The story was bovine fecal matter.

It's not stopping the Tea Party folks from leaking stigmata and leaving heavy cross splinters everywhere as they don their horsehair shirts for "clean-up duty".

It is time to take out the trash… literally. In true Flash Mob fashion, on Sunday at exactly 1300 hours (1:00 pm for you non-military types) we will do an extensive police call (pick up the trash) around the capitol square. Regardless of the state the grounds are in, we will do this as both a literal and symbolic way to show our respect for our home.

TEA Partiers know how this is done. It is time to show OUR pride for OUR state OUR way and be the example.

Yeah, "OUR" example is lie, get sympathy, and then blame the evil teachers for it.   This story has been a fabrication all weekend, but facts never stop them.

[UPDATE]  Corrected the estimate of the damage being $100,000 and not the total cost of the damage.
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