Labor's Pains

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Gun (lobby) Safety

What a Single Payer Health Insurance Plan Looks Like

From Huff Post: Dan Froomkin: Reporters Know What the 'Voter ID' Push Is Really About. Why Don't They Just Say So?

Dan Froomkin: Reporters Know What the 'Voter ID' Push Is Really About. Why Don't They Just Say So?

Does any journalist who is not an overt shill for the right actually believe that Republicans are pushing voter ID laws because they’re concerned about voter fraud?

No, of course not.

And for good reason. Voter fraud simply isn’t a problem in this country. Studies have definitively debunked the voter fraud myth time and again.

In Pennsyvlania, which just adopted a tremendously restrictive photo-ID law that could disenfranchise 1 in 10 voters, state officials conceded they have no evidence of voter fraud, nor any reason to believe it could become a problem.

By contrast, there is ample evidence that voter ID laws inhibit voting, particularly among minorities and the poor — two major demographic segments that tend to vote Democratic.

And that’s hardly a coincidence. Consider the recent bragging by the Pennsylvania House Republican leader that his state’s voter ID bill “is gonna allow Governor Romney to win the state of Pennsylvania.”

This is not simply another gratuitously partisan act by the GOP. This is an attack on the very notion of democracy. The voter ID push, along with intimidation of voter registration groups and purges of voter rolls have only one goal: blocking legitimate but probably Democratic voters from exercising their constitutional rights. It is a poll tax with a new twist
And the pursuit of this goal ostensibly in the name of voter fraud is an outrageous deception that only works if the press is too timid to call it what it really is.

For reporters to treat this issue like just another political squabble is journalistic malpractice. Indeed, relating the debate in value-neutral he-said-she-said language is actively helping spread the lie. After all, calling for someone to show ID before voting doesn’t sound pernicious to most people, even though it is. And raising the bogus issue of voter fraud at all stokes fear. “Even if you say there is no fraud, all people hear is ‘fraud fraud fraud’,” said Lawrence Norden, a lawyer at the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University School of Law.

Think about it. If you were covering elections in another country, and one political party was actively trying to limit voting in the name of a problem that objectively didn’t exist, would you hesitate for a moment to call out that tactic — and question that party’s legitimacy? Hardly.

Modern American journalists strive for impartiality, but there is a limit. Mainstream journalists shouldn’t be afraid of being accused of taking sides when what they’re doing is standing up for basic constitutional rights. Indeed, the greater danger is that readers condemn them — or even worse, stop paying attention to them — for having no convictions at all, and no moral compass.

The GOP has taken increasingly radical positions, confident that the media’s aversion to taking sides will protect it from too much negative coverage. But failing to call out the voter ID push is like covering the civil rights movements and treating “separate but equal” as if it was said with sincerity.

All reporters should get every candidate they can on the record about the issue of ballot access, make it clear to readers whether those candidates want to make voting easier or harder, and then assert the simple truth that there is no plausible justification for making it more difficult to vote, other than partisan trickery at the expense of the rights of minorities and the poor.

Monday, July 30, 2012

What else will Wall Street's millions buy: how about a former drunken ex mayor

LP - It good to have the endorsement of the career hard drinking career politician. I'm sure the Republican electorate believes strongly in career politicians and it is something that Scott Brown hopes to grow into, now that he's moved his wife Gail Huff off of making all his commercials for him. There is no sign as to when Curt Schilling will make his appearance again. I have heard he's been tied up with some business dealings in Rhode Island. Now let's meet Scott Brown's newest advocate and for god sake can somebody get him a well paying job in the private sector.

This what the Boston Phoenix wrote about the former governor.

At 58, the old warrior is saddling up to run for governor, apparently for the worst of reasons: having failed to secure a high-paying, high-profile private sector job (he was even snubbed for the athletic director's post at Northeastern University), he can't think of anything better to do.

Even before last Friday, his chances of actually winning the governor's office had been rated as slim. And now he's been whacked out by his old friends at the Boston Globe, a paper that endorsed him twice, that provided him not just with ideological support but also with drinking buddies during those long nights at Doyle's and J.J. Foley's.

The story, by Walter Robinson, Kate Zernike, and David Marcus -- headlined FLYNN AT THE VATICAN: HIS MAYORAL STYLE DIDN'T CUT IT -- was devastating. Much of the post-publication buzz has focused on revelations concerning Flynn's drinking; but about two-thirds of the piece was devoted to establishing that, during his final year as ambassador, he virtually ceased working. Numerous sources were quoted, both by name and anonymously, to the effect that Flynn became increasingly out of touch and isolated, rarely coming to the embassy office and spending vast amounts of time in Rome's Irish pubs.
Although the questions about Flynn's once-inspiring work ethic were surely new, his drinking is the oldest of stories among political and media insiders. The difference is that editors today -- whether at the Globe or any other news organization -- are far less inclined than they were in the past to keep such knowledge to themselves. This shift is especially telling at the Globe, which, until recent years, had a reputation for protecting its favorites, allowing national media to break stories about Senator Ted Kennedy's debauchery or to poke holes in former governor Michael Dukakis's record.

Flynn's reaction has been to deny everything, and to accuse the Globe of coming after him because he's working-class, Irish, and Catholic. It is a ridiculous allegation, of course. Boston has been run by Irish Catholics for most of this century. The editor of the Globe, Matt Storin, is an Irish Catholic with a modest middle-class background. But such class-warfare demogaguery has always been one of Flynn's stocks in trade. He hoists like a shield his concern for "working-class families," a phrase that pops up in his lexicon with the same approximate frequency that it does in Marx's Das Kapital.

A demagogue needs a villain, and Flynn, for the moment, has settled on Globe publisher Ben Taylor, whom the ex-mayor has variously referred to during the past week as a polo-watching, penthouse-dwelling, chablis-sipping, brie-nibbling elitist.

...Meanwhile, Flynn's performance in office was deteriorating. Arguably an outstanding mayor in his first two terms, he displayed indifference and boredom during his third. He fought for the right to appoint the school committee, then shocked supporters by loading it up with cronies. The police department, run by his childhood friend Mickey Roache (now a popular city councilor), was beset by corruption and incompetence. Thus, when Bill Clinton tapped Flynn for the ambassadorship to the Vatican in 1993, the appointment was met by many in the city with genuine excitement for Flynn, combined with relief that he was finally leaving.

Flynn's triumph, though, quickly turned to tragedy and farce. A former aide, Douglas deRusha, was convicted of embezzling more than $200,000 from Flynn's campaign and was sent to prison. A trusted associate, Joe Fisher, went to prison for corruption. Attorney General Scott Harshbarger -- now the frontrunner for the office Flynn intends to seek -- investigated Flynn, a probe that ended inconclusively. Flynn was also hit by accusations that he was too political and raw to be an ambassador (he was reprimanded twice by the State Department for speaking out of turn). And his son Ray Jr. was battling substance abuse problems.

Flynn considered running for governor in 1994, but decided against it in the face of rapidly dropping poll numbers. A headline in the Sunday Globe Focus section that spring read: ONCE MASSACHUSETTS' MOST POPULAR POLITICIAN, RAY FLYNN IS NOW ITS FAVORITE POLITICAL JOKE.

...Robinson insists that doing in Ray Flynn was the last thing on his mind when he saw Flynn, on August 6, weaving on Hanover Street in the North End, drunkenly hailing him and insisting that he and a friend join him for a drink.

"My role at the time was simply to get him off the street, because he was making a fool of himself," Robinson says, adding that he called a Flynn "acolyte" and told him: "This is a serious problem."

The full story:

Scott Brown Features Foreign Businesses In 'Let America Be America Again' Ad

Scott Brown Features Foreign Businesses In 'Let America Be America Again' Ad:

'via Blog this'

LP - The Democratic Presidents at the beginning are a nice touch for the Wall Street. What will Wall Street money buy you click on it and enjoy it.

According to Daily Kos

US Senator Scott Brown, who played a critical role in the battle over the 2010 financial regulatory overhaul, has used a joint fund-raising committee to collect$2.9 million in political donations over the last year, nearly half of which came from the nation’s financial sector.
The mechanism is a joint committee, the Scott Brown Victory Committee, between Brown and the National Republican Senatorial Committee. Campaign finance laws allow this kind of committee much higher donation limits than traditional campaign committees, $30,800 per donor per election cycle versus the $5,000 limit for regular committees.
So he has this Victory fund, along with his regular campaign committee, allowing for seven times the donation power for donors, an effective limit of $35,800. Among those donors, theGlobe reports, are "deep-pocketed venture capitalists, bankers, and leaders of some of the country’s largest investment firms."
Full Story here:

WASHINGTON -- Letting "America Be America Again" may be a tall order, if the filming locations of some clips in Sen. Scott Brown's latest reelection ad are any indication.
The two-and-a-half-minute spot, which the Massachusetts Republican's reelection team has hailed as an "online sensation,"features three instances of stock footage filmed overseas, undercutting the ad's running theme of growing American business.
In one scene, a beaming chef is shown before he flips ingredients in a frying pan over an open flame, while President Gerald Ford praises American capitalism. According to Getty Images, the kitchen is located in Barcelona, Spain, a country currently stuck in its second recession in three years.
"Through our system of democracy and free enterprise, the United States has achieved remarkable, unbelievable progress," Ford booms as the chef flicks the frying pan.
In two other scenes, video portraits depict a butcher standing in the doorway of his shop and another worker posing in front of a delivery truck full of boxes. Both clips were filmed in Dublin, according to Getty Images.
Shortly before the camera hovers on the Irish butcher shop, President Ronald Reagan pays tribute to "the forgotten heroes of America, those who create most of our new jobs, like the owners of stores down the street."
The three clips are tagged with "Non US Location" on the Getty Images website, which also lists filming locations in each respective caption.
A Getty Images representative confirmed Monday that the cities and countries listed in the stock footage captions indicate filming locations.
A Brown spokeswoman did not respond to several requests for comment Monday.
In a statement, Massachusetts Democratic Party spokesman Matt House called Brown's rhetoric "as phony as his stock footage."
Full Story:

From The Onion: Report: 2012 Election Likely To Be Decided By 4 Or 5 Key Swing Corporations

WASHINGTON—With polls this week showing the race between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney tightening even further, a growing number of political experts have declared this year's election will almost certainly be decided by a small handful of swing corporations.
"While most publicly traded companies are solidly red or blue, there are four or five major corporations that are complete tossups right now, and any one of them could prove decisive come November," said Nate Silver of The New York Times, noting in particular that Procter & Gamble, a traditional bellwether for the country as a whole, remained a "total wildcard." "Both candidates will have to focus almost exclusively on these swing businesses in order to gain the upper hand."
"And given how close this race is, I wouldn't be surprised if the whole thing comes down to undecided executives at Dow Chemical or Disney," Silver continued. "Let's not forget 2000, when Philip Morris International single-handedly put George W. Bush into office."
According to polling data, the president's favorability has fallen steadily among independent-leaning multinationals, a demographic that effectively carried him to victory in 2008. Additionally, the latest figures suggest that even some reliably Democratic strongholds, such as Google, may now be in play, buoying hopes within the Romney camp that the GOP challenger could take the White House with an unexpected victory in a key tech boardroom.
Recognizing the importance of these closely contested conglomerates, both Obama and Romney have made frequent campaign stops at swing corporations in recent weeks and delivered speeches aimed squarely at these pivotal companies’ interests, with both candidates blasting each other as out of touch with the issues that truly matter to real American CEOs.
"As president, I promise to stand up for you in Washington and always put you first," Romney said earlier this week, addressing an audience in the battleground boardroom of Time Warner during a barnstorming tour through the communications sector. "All of you good, hardworking people gathered here represent the best of America, and mark my words, I will do everything in my power to fight for your freedoms and prosperity."
Political observers have noted the stakes of this year's election are unusually high, with many experts claiming the Affordable Care Act's fate, the tax burden on American families, and a possible U.S. invasion of Iran are questions that now reside entirely in the hands of those few Fortune 500 corporations that remain up for grabs.
"I went with Obama in 2008, but now I'm having my doubts," said Kenneth Frazier, an undecided CEO at the Merck corporation. "Frankly, I've been disappointed with his failure to follow through on the promises he made to us four years ago. This time around, I want to make sure I'm voting for someone who truly has the best interests of me and my company at heart."
"It's kind of exciting, though," Frazier added. "Who knows? Maybe in November it will be our $15 million backing funneled anonymously into a political action committee that decides this whole thing."

Story originally posted here:,28900/

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Post from friend of the blog Jerry: Sandy Weill bring back Glass Steegall

An extremely ironic thing happened this week. On CNBC's Squawk Box, the 79-year-old former chairman and CEO of Citigroup (NYS: C) , Sandy Weill, endorsed breaking up the nation's largest banks -- in addition to Citigroup, he was presumably referring to JPMorgan Chase (NYS: JPM) and Bank of America (NYS: BAC) , among others.
"What we should probably do is go and split up investment banking from banking," Weill said. "Have banks be deposit takers, have banks make commercial loans and real estate loans, have banks do something that's not going to risk the taxpayer dollars, that's not too big to fail." In effect, Weill was calling for a reimposition of the Glass-Steagall Act -- the Depression-era legislation that for 66 years forbade the commingling of investment and commercial banking.

The irony comes from the fact that Weill was the chief architect of Glass-Steagall's repeal in 1999. The year before, Weill had orchestrated the megamerger between Citicorp, a traditional Wall Street bank, and Weill's Travelers Group, a financial conglomerate with concerns in insurance, brokerage, and investment banking. According to Weill at the time, the act's presumed prohibition of the merger was "archaic" and needed to go. It's said that Weill himself even called President Clinton the night before the act's repeal to personally lobby for its demise.

Now, truth be told, while I can't help agreeing with his point, I also can't help wondering what motivated the change of heart. Why now? Why not 10 years ago? Is he eager to get back into banking? Did he miss the national spotlight? Or, dare I ask, is he trying to exact some revenge on his erstwhile protege, Jamie Dimon? It's impossible to say.

What isn't impossible to say is that breaking up the "too big to fail" banks in an orderly manner would move our financial system one step closer to regaining the confidence of investors here and abroad.

Rome wasn't built in a day

To be fair, as my colleague Michael Lewis reminds us, breaking up the banks isn't alone a panacea for future crises or, for that matter, past crises. Michael points to the facts that Bear Stearns and Lehman Brothers were solely investment banks at the time they collapsed, Merrill Lynch only became entangled with Bank of America once the crisis had metastasized, and the biggest recipient of bailout money was an insurance company -- though one could argue that AIG (NYS: AIG) was merely a conduit for its counterparties like Goldman Sachs (NYS: GS) .

But Rome wasn't built in a day, and neither is a competent regulatory infrastructure. Congress worked for years to remedy the failures that caused the Panic of 1929 and ensuing Depression. And what they finally put into place, from the Securities Act of 1933 to the Investment Company Act of 1940, served as the backbone of our capital markets for more than half a century.

That is, until it started to be torn down in the deregulatory fervor of the 1980s and continued -- undisturbed by its progeny, the savings-and-loan crisis -- until four years ago. In 1998, for instance, as I've noted before, Alan Greenspan, then chairman of the Federal Reserve, prevented the Commodities and Futures Trading Commission from regulating a particular type of derivatives known as swaps that would ultimately bring down AIG and play a major role in the 2008 financial crisis. Doing so was "unnecessary," according to Greenspan, because "participants in financial futures markets are predominantly professionals that simply do not require the customer protections that may be needed by the general public." Talk about famous last words.

To get back to the point, acknowledging that the Glass-Steagall Act wouldn't have pre-empted the most recent crisis isn't the same thing as saying that it shouldn't be reinstated. That's throwing the baby out with the bathwater, as its perceived impotence stems rather from the fact that it's only one of many prescriptions necessary to cure a much broader ailment. To steal a phrase from my brilliant colleague Morgan Housel, the financial industry has simply become too big for its britches.

The heart of the matter

It's to be expected that wealthy bankers with vested interests like Jamie Dimon of JPMorgan Chase will squeal about prudent regulatory safeguards like the Volcker Rule, which bans bankers from gambling with the money in your savings account. But the reality is that this type of activity offers little to no value to anyone beyond the bankers themselves. As Federal Reserve Governor Sarah Raskin recently put it, "I view proprietary trading as an activity of low or no real economic value that should not be part of any banking model that has an implicit government backstop."

And the same thing can be said about the marriage of investment banks and traditional banks. The function of a traditional bank is simple: to allocate capital between borrowers who wish to engage in economically productive activities, such as starting a business or purchasing a home, and depositors who have funds that are otherwise sitting idle. We've deemed this function so valuable, in fact, that we as taxpayers have even assumed the risk of loss by federally insuring depositors. Alternatively, a model that's predicated instead on the fancy buzzwords of investment banking -- market-making, equity underwriting, proprietary trading, and the like -- ignores this core function. And as a result, the latter model shouldn't be entitled to the same type of preferential treatment as traditional banks merely because they're under the same corporate umbrella.

A Fool's take

I can't help applauding Weill's decision to renounce the crowning achievement of his career. For once, maybe even he's looking out for something other than his own net worth -- though I won't truly believe it until he calls the president.

The article Sandy Weill Calls for the Return of Glass-Steagall originally appeared on

LIBOR - Insider Trading on a Massive Scale


Chris Hayes will let the democrats to take on the investor class

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Friday, July 27, 2012

Ben and Jerry way in on Citizens United

Former Fla. Republican Party chairman: Florida Republicans tried to suppress black vote | The Political Carnival

Former Fla. Republican Party chairman: Florida Republicans tried to suppress black vote | The Political Carnival

Former Florida Republican Party chairman Jim Greer has filed a lawsuit against his former colleagues, saying he was improperly denied a $130,000 severance package after being forced out his leadership position.

 In a deposition recorded in late May, Greer described a party that had fallen into disarray and become divided between competing factions. [...]

In addition to saying the Florida Republican had come under the sway of “whack-a-do, right-wing crazies,” he claimed that party leaders met and discussed ways to suppress the black vote.

Now Jim Greer is not exactly Mr. Perfect, but calling them “whack-a-do, right-wing crazies” does have a ring of truth to it, and he said that under oath in a deposition.

His exact words about voter suppression: “They talked about not letting blacks vote” and that party officials believed that “minority outreach programs were not fit for the Republican Party.”
I think we can safely say that minority outreach isn’t a priority for the GOP.

Meantime, a federal judge won’t block the Florida voter purge, so you can see why Greer’s testimony is meaningful.

Oiginal post:

Detroit Teachers to Emergency Manager: We Will Fight! | Crooks and Liars

Detroit Teachers to Emergency Manager: We Will Fight! | Crooks and Liars

If Detroit Emergency Manager and Rick Snyder appointee Roy Roberts thought it was a good idea to pink slip all of Detroit's teachers, gut funding for schools and then force a contract on those teachers who were returning, he hasn't come face to face with AFT President Randi Weingarten recently. She and over 500 angry teachers had a message for Roberts: You had better sit down at the table and start negotiating rather than dictating.

Weingarten met with Roberts for about 45 minutes Friday after firing up the troops at a general session of about 3,000 teacher-delegates. As things stand now, the "new", imposed contract by Roberts ignores teachers' concerns while he imposes total control over the schools. As Weingarten said, "[Roberts] has used that power to gut school funding, pink-slip every teacher and slash teacher pay. He has refused to negotiate with us to solve the deep challenges that Detroit schools face."

Those paragraphs tell you a story, but they don't tell you the story. My last encounter with Randi Weingarten was last November, when I got to see her vision of "solution-driven unionism" in action in McDowell County, West Virginia. Recognizing that poverty is one of the biggest barriers to students' success in school, the AFTis partnering with local and state government, private enterprise, and charitable organizations to not only educate children, but improve their lives and the lives of their families.

It's working, too. As Weingarten pointed out in her keynote today, Cincinnati students are achieving at a higher rate than other schools in Ohio based on a similar model of uniting those they represent with those they serve. Or in simpler terms, widen the community from the ranks of union members to the community. If you think union membership is simply about strikes and contracts, I challenge you to think again.

Rest of story:

Mitch McConnell Blinked

LP - A bad day for the talking turtle.

Good Violence, Bad Violence | Common Dreams

Good Violence, Bad Violence | Common Dreams

“In the end, after he has felt the full force of our justice system, what will be remembered are the good people who were impacted by this tragedy,” President Obama said this week in Aurora, Colo., after the shootings.Aurora Police Chief Daniel Oates, center, looks at the memorial across from the movie theater, Wednesday, July 25, 2012 in Aurora, Colo. Twelve people were killed and over 50 wounded in a shooting attack early Friday at the packed theater during a showing of the Batman movie, "The Dark Knight Rises." (Photo: Alex Brandon / AP

That’s probably not true.

From Charles Whitman up to the present day, the collective American memory preserves the name of the killer . . . the lone psycho, the shadow hero. We’re far too fascinated with violence not to mythologize its perpetrators. And just as we all know (because the media tell us) that there will be a “next war,” we know, oh God, in the deep churnings of the heart, that there will be more murder victims — schoolchildren, college students, shoppers, churchgoers, theatergoers, bystanders. We know because we live in a culture that tolerates and perpetuates violence.
James Holmes may have been a “loner,” but, like his predecessors, he acted in a complex American context. He wasn’t alone at all.

The U.S. is far more violent than other developed countries, for reasons seldom addressed or even looked at in anything like a holistic way. The root of the matter, as I see it, is our false distinction between “good violence” and “bad violence.” We don’t address the issue systemically because of our social investment in “good violence” and the enormous payoff it delivers to some. But good violence — the authorized, glorified, “necessary” kind — inevitably morphs into bad violence from time to time, and thus we are delivered jolts of headline-grabbing horror on a regular basis.

The factors that make up our culture of violence include, but are hardly limited to, the following:

A. The easy availability of guns, including semiautomatic weapons, ammunition and other paraphernalia. Holmes, for instance, not only purchased some 6,000 rounds of ammo on the Internet but “a high-capacity ‘drum magazine’ large enough to hold 100 rounds and capable of firing 50 or 60 rounds per minute — a purchase that would have been restricted under proposed legislation that has been stalled in Washington for more than a year,” according to the New York Times.

A culture of fear and the popular association of guns with personal empowerment guarantee that simply stanching the availability of high-capacity killing equipment to angry loners slipping into mental illness isn’t likely anytime soon. Indeed, we’re going the wrong direction. The AR-15 semiautomatic rifle Holmes used had been illegal under the federal ban on assault weapons that Congress allowed to expire in 2004. One unaddressed question: To what extent does easy access to military weaponry inspire lost souls even to consider mass murder as their ticket to glory and public attention?

B. The media — entertainment and news — feed the popularity of “good violence.” Violence is the driving plot device for thousands of forgettable, special-effects-permeated flicks. Its opposite is wimpiness. Movie and TV violence is abstract and consequence-free: the quickest way to solve a problem, find love, attain manhood, do good. America’s Army, the violent but bloodless videogame maintained by the U.S. Army, sucks in 13-year-olds. Violence occupies the American consciousness. “Why are we violent but not illiterate?” asked journalist Colman McCarthy. The answer: We’re taught to read.

As our newspapers collapse and TV culture permeates American households, the distinction between news and entertainment continues to blur. Peace and nonviolence are far too complex to grab readers’ and viewers’ attention. Violence sells. Violence advertises. Give us a war, any war, and the media will line up behind it, at least until it starts to go bad. “I guess I was part of the groupthink,” Bob Woodward lamented several years into the Iraq war, when the Washington Post examined its failure to be the least bit critical of the disaster initially. A serious part of the defense budget is public relations; it’s always money well spent.

C. Violence drives government policy. We’re now engaged in an endless, Orwellian war against dark-skinned, foreign evil. The “Washington consensus” is the same thing as the military-industrial complex. We torture, we carpet-bomb. We’ve wrecked two countries, killed civilians by the thousands or hundreds of thousands. We assassinate by drone and keep our civilian kill-count low by regarding all military-age males as combatants (by which measure, seven of Holmes’ victims shouldn’t count). We’re continuing to develop the “next generation” of nuclear weapons.

Violence also drives domestic policy. Our prison-industrial complex is the largest in the world — and becoming privatized. We have no mercy on the poor. Social spending bears the brunt of “austerity.” The police are becoming increasingly militarized. We control through punishment, which seems to be the same thing as revenge (“. . . after he has felt the full force of our justice system . . .”).

D. We worship winning and create unity around common enemies. Racism is endemic. We live in a domination culture; competition rules, even in education settings. The default American truism is “survival of the fittest.” Everything we do is based on the military model. We go to war against all our problems rather than try to heal them. We think love means weakness. Sonia Sotomayor was mocked as the “empathy nominee” for Supreme Court justice.

Good violence is the original bait-and-switch. As we mourn the latest to die so unnecessarily, let us vow not to let our grief turn to revenge.


Walmart Respect DC Flash Mob

Boris Johnson, Mayor Of London, Rips Mitt Romney At Rally (VIDEO)

Boris Johnson, Mayor Of London, Rips Mitt Romney At Rally (VIDEO)

This probably wasn't the warm welcome Mitt Romney was hoping for.

At a boisterous pre-Olympics rally on Thursday, London's mayor, Boris Johnson, ridiculed the presumptive Republican presidential nominee for his remarks questioning the city's readiness for the games.

"People are coming from around the world and they're seeing us," Johnson told the estimated 60,000-person crowd, who had gathered to mark the end of the Olympic Torch relay. "They are seeing the greatest city in the world!"

He then turned his comments to Romney.

"There are some people who are coming from around the world who don't yet know about all the preprations we've done to get London ready in the last seven years," he said. "I heard there's a guy called Mitt Romney who wants to know whether we're ready. Are we ready? Yes we are!"

To top it off, Johnson finished his appearance by leading the crowd in a chant of 'Yes We Can,' President Barack Obama's famous campaign slogan from 2008.

"Can we put on the greatest Olympics games that have ever been held?" he asked. "Can we beat France? Yes we can! Can we beat Australia? Yes we can!"

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Rolling Stone Mobile - Politics - Politics: No kidding: The Most Incoherent Tom Friedman Column Ever

Rolling Stone Mobile - Politics - Politics: No kidding: The Most Incoherent Tom Friedman Column Ever

I realize this is not a statement anyone can make lightly, but: this morning's column by Thomas Friedman, "Syria is Iraq," is the single most incoherent thing he has ever written. It's… well, breathtaking is the only word.

Others, like Glenn Greenwald, have already pointed out the most obvious contradictions. But for those who missed it, here are two passages that were written, not as a joke, by the same human being in the same opinion column. Start with passage #1:

And, for me, the lesson of Iraq is quite simple: You can't go from Saddam to Switzerland without getting stuck in Hobbes — a war of all against all — unless you have a well-armed external midwife, whom everyone on the ground both fears and trusts to manage the transition. In Iraq, that was America.

Got that? Here's the second passage:

Because of both U.S. incompetence and the nature of Iraq, this U.S. intervention triggered a civil war in which all the parties in Iraq – Sunnis, Shiites and Kurds – tested the new balance of power, inflicting enormous casualties on each other and leading, tragically, to ethnic cleansing that rearranged the country into more homogeneous blocks of Sunnis, Shiites and Kurds.

This pair of passages can be summed up in a Friedman-syllogism:

Syria will not become Switzerland unless it has the kind of help America gave to Iraq.
When America helped Iraq, it triggered a terrifying civil war that left the country reeling in blood-soaked, genocidal chaos and hopelessly partitioned along ethnic and religious lines – very much like Switzerland, where a diverse collection of ethnic groups speaking different languages live peacefully under democratic rule.

Therefore, when your wife needs help giving birth, she should hire a midwife who stands outside the door and carries an automatic weapon.

This column today is so crazy I have to think Friedman is kidding. The line about how everyone on the ground in Iraq trusts America is especially awesome. Of course! True, you can't even open a Humvee door there to dump a pebble out of your shoe without getting your face shot off, but still, they trust us!
And yet the best thing of all was the rhetorical flourish at the end – a rare triple-figurative dismount, which he sticks with Nadia Comneci-esque confidence:

Without an external midwife or a Syrian Mandela, the fires of conflict could burn for a long time.
God bless this man. There's never been another like him!

LP- Most incoherent is really saying something.

President Obama Speaks About Gun Violence

Mitt Romney Registered As Lobbyist For Salt Lake City Olympics

Mitt Romney Registered As Lobbyist For Salt Lake City Olympics

WASHINGTON -- Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney loves to talk about his role salvaging the 2002 scandal-tarnished Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City. It's one of the only items on his resume that he will discuss without hesitation. He's so proud of the accomplishment, he wrote a book about it called "Turnaround: Crisis, Leadership, And The Olympic Games."

His Olympics success was pivotal in his winning run for Massachusetts governor in 2002, and it may turn out to be just as important in his current campaign for the presidency. It's why he plans on cheering from the good seats when the opening ceremonies commence for the summer games in London this week.

But when it comes to the retelling of his Olympics story, Romney never mentions the L word. Lobbyist.

Romney wasn't just the head of the Salt Lake Organizing Committee. Romney was also a registered lobbyist for the organization, Utah state records show.

Romney last worked as a lobbyist on Dec. 31, 2000, according to a spokesman for the state lieutenant governor, who oversees the registry.

As a lobbyist and president of the Salt Lake Organizing Committee, Romney didn't just stabilize the balance sheet. He brought in a record $1.3 billion in federal dollars for Salt Lake City's games and more from Utah. In 1996, the Atlanta Summer Olympics cost U.S. taxpayers $609 million. The Salt Lake Tribune wrote in March 2000: "If charming state lawmakers were an Olympic event, Mitt Romney would be draped in a flag about now, singing the national anthem."

After winning support from Utah's Legislature for Olympics projects, Romney told reporters that "hosting the world is obviously bigger than SLOC can do alone. The Legislature recognizes they are a critical partner. I am very pleased they have confidence in us and confidence in our plans."

full story:

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Priorities USA Action: "Romney's Gold"

Americans they’re armed and dangerous and ready to go off at any time.

More notes from the American shooting gallery: another group of kids who will look like they had no idea that something like this was even possible…the media will be dumbstruck before the hot camera lights like an animal into headlights at night…they’ll talk about every detail of the attack: the killer chose to wear all black, how there was a vacant look on his face, how he might have thought he was the Joker in the new Bat Man movie, how no one seemed to really know him. It was all so senseless; and yet it seemed to make perfect sense as the last half a dozen time the same thing happened.

They’ll treat the killer like he is something other than one of us; when really his actions seems to make him more quintessentially American. And after each new massacre the conclusion has always been the same. There’ll be a moment hesitation as people sense the obvious our country is violent as hell and awash with too many weapons. The we’ll slip into our reflexive defensive mode that what our society really needs is more weapons? If more people were armed to teeth this never would have happened.

It’s like a society that keeps making the same mistakes again and again is too stupid to even consider trying something different. They’ll again go to the factors several time removed rather than considering our love affair with the most obvious. Was it the video games he played? Grand theft auto comes to mind. Was it the music he listened too? The ones with lyrics kill, kill, kill interspersed between every refrain. Was it the wars he watched? Including the drone strikes which have so much better graphic than most video games. Was it batman’s fault? The fact that the directors of these new superhero movies aren’t satisfied making just substandard movies they need to be substandard and worhip at the altar of our favored god: violence. Was it just his craziness? The American society does seem to have a knack of producing isolated, lonely, young men who want to be famous and are also armed to the teeth.

The one thing that can’t be responsible for this mass shooting was the people who helped keep automatic weapons so easily accessible - and don’t you dare politicize it - they‘re as American as apple pie or the second amendment of the constitution. One wonders what the founders would have thought when they saw people so set in their ways that they used the words of a two hundred year old document to stop people from solving their problems. The people who fought so hard to make sure that gunman was able to purchase a semi-automatic attack weapon, a police helmet, a bullet proof vest, protection for his chest and groin like his victims actually could have shot back. Guns don’t kill people. People kill people. The one thing I know it wasn’t the NRA fault. Instead by the time the NRA gets finished spinning it, the gun control people will have more to do with the massacre than they will.

It’s incredible how many people in the theater that night were ex-military people. It’s incredible the anger that permeates through the society under the surface. It’s incredible the way the Americans settle for treating one another like crap. They’re kept poor, are fed the crappiest food (no regulation here), and watch the crappiest movies, because they really don’t deserve much more. Yet they’re told over and over how great they are and how the rest of the world is jealous; until they almost start believing it. At least every time there is a massacre for a moment somebody notices them and actually cares for a little while - at least until the next celebrity winds up in rehab.

Sandy Weill, In Stunning Reversal, Tells CNBC It's Time To Break Up The Banks

In a stunning reversal, a former big bank CEO who crusaded for policies that helped create the so-called "too-big-to-fail" banks now says we need to break up the banks.

"What we should probably do is go and split up investment banking from banking, have banks be deposit takers, have banks make commercial loans and real estate loans, and have banks do something that's not going to risk the taxpayer dollars, that's not going to be too big to fail," former Citigroup Chairman and CEO Sanford "Sandy" Weill told CNBC on Wednesday morning.

It's a shocking statement coming from Weill, who was responsible for turning Citi into one of the largest banks in the world. During his tenure, he bought up one financial institution after another and orchestrated the merger of Travelers Group and Citibank in 1998--at the time, the largest merger in history. He retired as CEO of Citigroup in 2003 and stepped down as chairman in 2006.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

According to friend of blog Jerry: Jason Alexander rant on automatic weapons

Jason Alexander, the actor famous for playing George on “Seinfeld,” posted a long argument for a ban on assault-style weapons on Twitter Sunday:
I’d like to preface this long tweet by saying that my passion comes from my deepest sympathy and shared sorrow with yesterday’s victims and with the utmost respect for the people and the police/fire/medical/political forces of Aurora and all who seek to comfort and aid these victims.
This morning, I made a comment about how I do not understand people who support public ownership of assault style weapons like the AR-15 used in the Colorado massacre.
That comment, has of course, inspired a lot of feedback. There have been many tweets of agreement and sympathy but many, many more that have been challenging at the least, hostile and vitriolic at the worst.
Clearly, the angry, threatened and threatening, hostile comments are coming from gun owners and gun advocates. Despite these massacres recurring and despite the 100,000 Americans that die every year due to domestic gun violence – these people see no value to even considering some kind of control as to what kinds of weapons are put in civilian hands.
Many of them cite patriotism as their reason – true patriots support the Constitution adamantly and wholly. Constitution says citizens have the right to bear arms in order to maintain organized militias. I’m no constitutional scholar so here it is from the document itself:
As passed by the Congress:
“A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”
As ratified by the States and authenticated by Thomas Jefferson, Secretary of State:
“A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.”
So the patriots are correct, gun ownership is in the constitution – if you’re in a well-regulated militia. Let’s see what no less a statesman than Alexander Hamilton had to say about a militia:
“A tolerable expertness in military movements is a business that requires time and practice. It is not a day, or even a week, that will suffice for the attainment of it. To oblige the great body of the yeomanry, and of the other classes of the citizens, to be under arms for the purpose of going through military exercises and evolutions, as often as might be necessary to acquire the degree of perfection which would entitle them to the character of a well-regulated militia, would be a real grievance to the people, and a serious public inconvenience and loss.”
Or from Merriam-Webster dictionary:
Definition of MILITIA
a : a part of the organized armed forces of a country liable to call only in emergency
b : a body of citizens organized for military service
: the whole body of able-bodied male citizens declared by law as being subject to call to military service
The advocates of guns who claim patriotism and the rights of the 2nd Amendment – are they in well-regulated militias? For the vast majority – the answer is no.
Then I get messages from seemingly decent and intelligent people who offer things like: @BrooklynAvi: Guns should only be banned if violent crimes committed with tomatoes means we should ban tomatoes. OR @nysportsguys1: Drunk drivers kill, should we ban fast cars?
I’m hoping that right after they hit send, they take a deep breath and realize that those arguments are completely specious. I believe tomatoes and cars have purposes other than killing. What purpose does an AR-15 serve to a sportsman that a more standard hunting rifle does not serve? Let’s see – does it fire more rounds without reload? Yes. Does it fire farther and more accurately? Yes. Does it accommodate a more lethal payload? Yes. So basically, the purpose of an assault style weapon is to kill more stuff, more fully, faster and from further away. To achieve maximum lethality. Hardly the primary purpose of tomatoes and sports cars.
Then there are the tweets from the extreme right – these are the folk who believe our government has been corrupted and stolen and that the forces of evil are at play, planning to take over this nation and these folk are going to fight back and take a stand. And any moron like me who doesn’t see it should…
a. be labeled a moron
b. shut the fuck up
c. be removed
And amazingly, I have some minor agreement with these folks. I believe there are evil forces at play in our government. But I call them corporatists. I call them absolutists. I call them the kind of ideologues from both sides, but mostly from the far right who swear allegiance to unelected officials that regardless of national need or global conditions, are never to levy a tax. That they are never to compromise or seek solutions with the other side. That are to obstruct every possible act of governance, even the ones they support or initiate. Whose political and social goal is to marginalize the other side, vilify and isolate them with the hope that they will surrender, go away or die out.
These people believe that the US government is eventually going to go street by street and enslave our citizens. Now as long as that is only happening to liberals, homosexuals and democrats – no problem. But if they try it with anyone else – it’s going to be arms-ageddon and these committed, God-fearing, brave souls will then use their military-esque arsenal to show the forces of our corrupt government whats-what. These people think they meet the definition of a “militia”. They don’t. At least not the constitutional one. And, if it should actually come to such an unthinkable reality, these people believe they would win. That’s why they have to “take our country back”. From who? From anyone who doesn’t think like them or see the world like them. They hold the only truth, everyone else is dangerous. Ever meet a terrorist that doesn’t believe that? Just asking.
Then there are the folks who write that if everyone in Colorado had a weapon, this maniac would have been stopped. Perhaps. But I do believe that the element of surprise, tear gas and head to toe kevlar protection might have given him a distinct edge. Not only that, but a crowd of people firing away in a chaotic arena without training or planning – I tend to think that scenario could produce even more victims.
Lastly, there are these well-intended realists that say that people like this evil animal would get these weapons even if we regulated them. And they may be right. But he wouldn’t have strolled down the road to Kmart and picked them up. Regulated, he would have had to go to illegal sources – sources that could possibly be traced, watched, overseen. Or he would have to go deeper online and those transactions could be monitored. “Hm, some guy in Aurora is buying guns, tons of ammo and kevlar – plus bomb-making ingredients and tear gas. Maybe we should check that out.”
But that won’t happen as long as all that activity is legal and unrestricted.
I have been reading on and off as advocates for these weapons make their excuses all day long. Guns don’t kill – people do. Well if that’s correct, I go with @BrooklynAvi, let them kill with tomatoes. Let them bring baseball bats, knives, even machetes — a mob can deal with that.
There is no excuse for the propagation of these weapons. They are not guaranteed or protected by our constitution. If they were, then we could all run out and purchase a tank, a grenade launcher, a bazooka, a SCUD missile and a nuclear warhead. We could stockpile napalm and chemical weapons and bomb-making materials in our cellars under our guise of being a militia.
These weapons are military weapons. They belong in accountable hands, controlled hands and trained hands. They should not be in the hands of private citizens to be used against police, neighborhood intruders or people who don’t agree with you. These are the weapons that maniacs acquire to wreak murder and mayhem on innocents. They are not the same as handguns to help homeowners protect themselves from intruders. They are not the same as hunting rifles or sporting rifles. These weapons are designed for harm and death on big scales.
We will not prevent every tragedy. We cannot stop every maniac. But we certainly have done ourselves no good by allowing these particular weapons to be acquired freely by just about anyone.
I’ll say it plainly – if someone wants these weapons, they intend to use them. And if they are willing to force others to “pry it from my cold, dead hand”, then they are probably planning on using them on people.
So, sorry those of you who tell me I’m an actor, or a has-been or an idiot or a commie or a liberal and that I should shut up. You can not watch my stuff, you can unfollow and you can call me all the names you like. I may even share some of them with my global audience so everyone can get a little taste of who you are.
But this is not the time for reasonable people, on both sides of this issue, to be silent. We owe it to the people whose lives were ended and ruined yesterday to insist on a real discussion and hopefully on some real action.
In conclusion, whoever you are and wherever you stand on this issue, I hope you have the joy of family with you today. Hold onto them and love them as best you can. Tell them what they mean to you. Yesterday, a whole bunch of them went to the movies and tonight their families are without them. Every day is precious. Every life is precious. Take care. Be well. Be safe. God bless.
Jason Alexander

An excerpt from Donald Hall's One Days: thanks to a friend of the blog Sue

From a stanzaof "One Day" - a book-length poem by Donald Hall:

"There are ways to get rich: Find an old corporation,
self-insured, with capital reserves. Borrow
to buy: Then dehire managers; yellow-slip maintenance;
pay public relations to explain how winter is summer;
liquidate reserves and distribute cash in dividends:
Get out, sell stock for capital gains, reward the usurer,
and look for new plunder -- leaving a milltown devastated,
workers idle on streetcorners, broken equipment, no cash
for repair or replacement, no inventory or credit.
Then vote for the candidate who abolishes foodstamps."

 It was published in 1988.

Monday, July 23, 2012

George Will: Record Heat Waves and Drought Are Just Summer, "Get Over It"

Bruce Springsteen Memorial Concert 22 July Oslo Norway. We Shall overcome

Mitt Gets Worse: Julie Goodridge

Global Super Rich Now Hoard $31 Trillion in Tax Havens: Report | Common Dreams

Global Super Rich Now Hoard $31 Trillion in Tax Havens: Report | Common Dreams

A new report by the Tax Justice Network released Sunday reveals that between $21 trillion and $31 trillion is currently tucked away in global tax havens by the global super-rich--an amount that far exceeds previous estimates. Through exploiting gaps in global tax rules, the global financial elite are managing to hide "as much as the American and Japanese GDPs put together" from taxation, leaving the world's poor to carry the burden of global debt through harsh austerity measures.
The Cayman Islands: common tax haven.(David Doubilet/National Geographic) $32 trillion of hidden financial assets in offshore tax havens represents up to to $280 billion in lost income tax revenues, according to the study released to the Guardian's Observer.
The report pools data from the World Bank, International Monetary Fund, United Nations and global central banks.
In the report, The Price of Offshore Revisited, the Tax Justice Network details the ways in which the trillions of dollars are essentially smuggled out of countries into tax free havens such as Switzerland and the Cayman Islands through private banks.

According to the calculations, £6.3tn of assets is owned by only 92,000 people--0.001% of the world's population

"The problem here is that the assets of these countries are held by a small number of wealthy individuals while the debts are shouldered by the ordinary people of these countries through their governments," the report says.

"These estimates reveal a staggering failure: inequality is much, much worse than official statistics show, but politicians are still relying on trickle-down to transfer wealth to poorer people," said John Christensen of the Tax Justice Network. "People on the street have no illusions about how unfair the situation has become."

James Henry, who compiled the report, stated: “[Wealth is] protected by a highly paid, industrious bevy of professional enablers in the private banking, legal, accounting and investment industries taking advantage of the increasingly borderless, frictionless global economy.”

originally posted:

cheating chancellor Michelle Rhee talks how to fix education, the economy and anything else they care to ask on Meet the GE Press

Sunday, July 22, 2012

John Oliver on American pollitics

Why is cheating Chancellor Michelle Rhee talking about gun control on a national network

Shocking Romney's one success that just didn't benifit him was with govt. money

How Mitt Romney Got So Rich... - Business Insider

How Mitt Romney Got So Rich... - Business Insider

One of the many mysteries arising from Mitt Romney's unprecedented refusal to release his tax returns* is the one about how he got so rich--and how, more specifically, he managed to accumulate $20-$102 million in his IRA.

On the IRA question, donations to individual retirement accounts, which are shielded from taxes until withdrawals begin, are limited to $4,000 per year (and used to be $2,000).
So, barring a miraculous rate of return from as-yet-unspecified "investments," it's hard to see how Romney's IRA could have grown so large.

The speculation is that Romney probably placed some investments in the IRA when they were worth little or nothing, only to have them explode in value over the ensuing years.

And the perfectly fair question that arises from that theory is whether the "little or nothing" value that Romney attributed to the investments when he contributed them was actually a fair valuation--or whether Romney low-balled the value to dodge some taxes.

The only way to answer that question is to know the specific investments and analyze them.
But since Romney's IRA investments are disguised via a byzantine series of offshore entities designed at least in part to minimize US taxes, it is impossible to do this analysis without having access to his returns.

(This is one reason why it's so important for Romney to release his returns--so the public can understand the truth about Romney's finances, as well as the reality of tax laws that allow super-rich Americans to take advantage of sophisticated loopholes that most Americans, for all practical purposes can't.)

...Meanwhile, if Bain's filings were correct, Romney's repeated claims that he left three years earlier than he did will be a huge blow to his credibility.

So this issue is potentially a huge deal. And the Romney campaign hasn't even begun to address or explain it in a satisfactory way.

Buried in the SEC filings that the Boston Globe unearthed, however, may be a clue as to how Romney got so rich and accumulated so much money in his IRA.

The filings said that Romney was the "sole shareholder" of Bain Capital in the 1999-2002 period, more than 15 years after Bain Capital was founded.

If this is true, it is very startling, and it raises a host of additional questions:
  • Why would Romney be the sole shareholder of a firm launched within Bain Consulting? Wouldn't Bain want to own a piece of it?
  • Why did Romney get 100% ownership of the firm?
  • Weren't there any other partners added along the way?
  • Etc.
This is also probably part of the explanation about how Romney got so rich so fast: If he was the sole shareholder of Bain Capital 15+ years after its founding, this would be like Steve Schwarzman being the sole shareholder of The Blackstone Group, a private-equity firm he co-founded and runs. The Blackstone Group trades publicly and is worth more than $6 billion (and has thousands of shareholders in addition to Mr. Schwarzman). So unless Mitt Romney sold out of a lot of his stake in Bain, it would be conceivable that he could be worth a great deal more than the $250 million most people think he is worth.

bain and company(Bain isn't public, so we can't assess its financials. But it's a big, successful private equity firm, so it is presumably worth a lot.)
Lastly, these filings may explain how Romney could legitimately have accumulated so much money in his IRA.

If Romney was given 100% of the stock of Bain Capital when it was started, he might well have stashed some of these shares in his IRA. At that moment, when Bain Capital was little more than a document of incorporation, the shares would have been worth basically zero. So Romney could have perfectly legitimately stuffed a big percentage of the stock of Bain Capital in his IRA and still not exceeded the $2,000 annual donation limit.

And then, over the ensuing years, the value of that stock would have exploded as Bain became a highly successful private-equity firm.

Importantly, if THIS is how Romney's IRA came to be worth so much, it would be perfectly legitimate. Romney would not have had to lowball the value of any investments, or generate miraculous rates of return on his later Bain investments. He would merely have had to have built a successful company, which he did.

If this is the answer on the IRA, it will begin to answer one of the many questions around Romney's finances.

It won't save him from the potential fraud or from the credibilty blow of having claimed to have left Bain before he did.

But it might at least provide a compelling and legitimate explaination for one of the Romney money mysteries.

Read more:

Who says the US is no longer number one in things: according to Huff Post U.S. Poverty On Track To Rise To Highest Since 1960s

U.S. Poverty On Track To Rise To Highest Since 1960s

WASHINGTON — The ranks of America's poor are on track to climb to levels unseen in nearly half a century, erasing gains from the war on poverty in the 1960s amid a weak economy and fraying government safety net.

Census figures for 2011 will be released this fall in the critical weeks ahead of the November elections.

The Associated Press surveyed more than a dozen economists, think tanks and academics, both nonpartisan and those with known liberal or conservative leanings, and found a broad consensus: The official poverty rate will rise from 15.1 percent in 2010, climbing as high as 15.7 percent. Several predicted a more modest gain, but even a 0.1 percentage point increase would put poverty at the highest since 1965.

Poverty is spreading at record levels across many groups, from underemployed workers and suburban families to the poorest poor. More discouraged workers are giving up on the job market, leaving them vulnerable as unemployment aid begins to run out. Suburbs are seeing increases in poverty, including in such political battlegrounds as Colorado, Florida and Nevada, where voters are coping with a new norm of living hand to mouth.

"I grew up going to Hawaii every summer. Now I'm here, applying for assistance because it's hard to make ends meet. It's very hard to adjust," said Laura Fritz, 27, of Wheat Ridge, Colo., describing her slide from rich to poor as she filled out aid forms at a county center. Since 2000, large swaths of Jefferson County just outside Denver have seen poverty nearly double.

Fritz says she grew up wealthy in the Denver suburb of Highlands Ranch, but fortunes turned after her parents lost a significant amount of money in the housing bust. Stuck in a half-million dollar house, her parents began living off food stamps and Fritz's college money evaporated. She tried joining the Army but was injured during basic training.

Now she's living on disability, with an infant daughter and a boyfriend, Garrett Goudeseune, 25, who can't find work as a landscaper. They are struggling to pay their $650 rent on his unemployment checks and don't know how they would get by without the extra help as they hope for the job market to improve.

In an election year dominated by discussion of the middle class, Fritz's case highlights a dim reality for the growing group in poverty. Millions could fall through the cracks as government aid from unemployment insurance, Medicaid, welfare and food stamps diminishes.

"The issues aren't just with public benefits. We have some deep problems in the economy," said Peter Edelman, director of the Georgetown Center on Poverty, Inequality and Public Policy.

Full story:

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Did You Hear About the Shooting? - WhoWhatWhy

Did You Hear About the Shooting? - WhoWhatWhy

One of the most striking things about shooting incidents in America…is how common they are. Another striking thing is how often the media fails to note the previous point, or to explore what that means—or what might be done about it.

Late last night, a gunman walked into a movie theater in a Denver suburb, killed 12 and injured 50. Two days earlier a gunman opened fire outside a bar in Tuscaloosa, Alabama in an incident in which at least 17 were hurt. These were not really so exceptional. Every year, about 100,000 Americans are victims of gun violence, and every week, people calmly enter our schools, our workplaces, our leisure gathering spots and open fire on innocent bystanders.

Whenever we tweet or post about these, often the only people we hear from are those who say we need more guns not less. “If I had been there with my gun….” The problem, of course, is the public at large is being asked to arm everyone and trust that, while the rest of us cower, “the right people” will quickly dispatch “the wrong people” in the modern equivalent of the Shootout at the OK Corral. No mention of whether the teacher is supposed to be armed…when a nut walks into a preschool and starts firing away.

Meanwhile, the media doesn’t have any answers at all. Each time such an incident occurs, they primarily evince a morbid interest in the grotesque details of the incident and the psycho of the day. In this case, early indications were that the suspect in custody, James Holmes, said to be a dropout from a medical school, had some kind of imagined association with the film being shown, the Batman movie “The Dark Knight Rises.”

From an Unlikely Source, a Serious Challenge to Wall Street | Matt Taibbi | Rolling Stone

From an Unlikely Source, a Serious Challenge to Wall Street | Matt Taibbi | Rolling Stone

Something very interesting is happening.
There’s been so much corruption on Wall Street in recent years, and the federal government has appeared to be so deeply complicit in many of the problems, that many people have experienced something very like despair over the question of what to do about it all.
But there’s something brewing that looks like it might be a blueprint to effectively take on the financial services industry: a plan to allow local governments to take on the problem of neighborhoods blighted by toxic home loans and foreclosures through the use of eminent domain. I can't speak for how well the program will work, but it's certaily been effective in scaring the hell out of Wall Street.
Under the proposal, towns would essentially be seizing and condemning the man-made mess resulting from the housing bubble. Cooked up by a small group of businessmen and ex-venture capitalists, the audacious idea falls under the category of "That’s so crazy, it just might work!" One of the plan’s originators described it to me as a "four-bank pool shot."
Here’s how the New York Times described it in an article from earlier this week entitled, "California County Weighs Drastic Plan to Aid Homeowners":
Desperate for a way out of a housing collapse that has crippled the region, officials in San Bernardino County … are exploring a drastic option — using eminent domain to buy up mortgages for homes that are underwater.
Then, the idea goes, the county could cut the mortgages to the current value of the homes and resell the mortgages to a private investment firm, which would allow homeowners to lower their monthly payments and hang onto their property.
I’ve been following this story for months now – I was tipped off that this was coming earlier this past spring – and in the time since I’ve become more convinced the idea might actually work, thanks mainly to the extremely lucky accident that the plan doesn’t require the permission of anyone up in the political Olympus.

Read more:

Friday, July 20, 2012

Sadly, Nation Knows Exactly How Colorado Shooting's Aftermath Will Play Out | The Onion - America's Finest News Source

Sadly, Nation Knows Exactly How Colorado Shooting's Aftermath Will Play Out | The Onion - America's Finest News Source

While admitting they "absolutely hate" the fact they have this knowledge, the nation's 300 million citizens told reporters they can pinpoint down to the hour when the first candlelight vigil will be held, roughly how many people will attend, how many times the county sheriff will address the media in the coming weeks, and when the town-wide memorial service will be held.

Additionally, sources nationwide took no pleasure in confirming that some sort of video recording, written material, or disturbing photographs made by the shooter will be surfacing in about an hour or two.

"I hate to say it, but we as Americans are basically experts at this kind of thing by now,” said 45-year-old market analyst Jared Gerson, adding that the number of media images of Aurora, CO citizens crying and looking shocked is “pretty much right in line with where it usually is at this point." "The calls not to politicize the tragedy should be starting in an hour, but by 1:30 p.m. tomorrow the issue will have been politicized. Also, I wouldn’t be surprised if the shooter’s high school classmate is interviewed within 45 minutes."

"It's like clockwork," said Gerson, who sighed, shook his head, and walked away.

full story:,28857/

From Democracy Now: Matt Taibbi: Libor Rate-Fixing Scandal "Biggest Insider Trading You Could Ever Imagine"

Mitt Romney Avoided Major Tax Hit By Shifting Stock Of Offshoring Firm

Mitt Romney Avoided Major Tax Hit By Shifting Stock Of Offshoring Firm

WASHINGTON -- Mitt Romney saved himself hundreds of thousands of dollars in taxes in 2010 by transferring stock in two companies from his personal account to a nonprofit entity he set up. The stock maneuver included $172,397 in shares of Sensata Technologies, a company now under fire for a high-profile effort to offshore central Illinois jobs to China.

Sensata produces sensors, switches and various mechanical controls. The Attleboro, Mass.-based company is owned by Bain Capital, the private equity firm Romney founded, and it already does most of its work in overseas plants. A remaining factory in Freeport, Ill., garnered national attention when remaining workers began pleading with Romney to exercise his influence over Bain Capital to save their jobs.

Romney had received the Sensata stock as part of a Bain payout; he listed no cost for it on his tax return. By transferring that stock to his nonprofit Tyler Charitable Foundation, he avoided roughly $25,000 in capital gains taxes he would have owed. He also shaved an additional $50,000 off his tax bill by deducting the charitable contribution from his income.

Workers laid off when the Freeport plant is shuttered will be entitled to far less than that in unemployment compensation. Freeport Mayor George Gaulrapp suggested that as long as Romney was giving that $172,397 in stock away, he could have given it back to the workers. "There's about a thousand dollars that could go to each of the workers here set to lose their jobs," he told The Huffington Post, noting the 170 people scheduled to lose their jobs in November when the plant finally closes.

Sensata employee Cheryl Randecker, who will be laid off under Bain's offshoring plan for the Freeport plant, criticized Romney in a video interview with HuffPost on Wednesday. "We continue as Americans to move our jobs overseas, thinking about the dollar ... instead of putting people first like this country was based on," Randecker said. "We actually just want Governor Romney to come and sit down and talk to us and explain why he continues to outsource jobs to the Chinese and other countries. And we need the jobs ... not the minimum-wage jobs, but the good-paying jobs that you can actually raise a family on."

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Mitt Romney: Cayman Islands Accounts Used By Foreign Investors To 'Not Be Subject To' U.S. Taxes

Mitt Romney: Cayman Islands Accounts Used By Foreign Investors To 'Not Be Subject To' U.S. Taxes

WASHINGTON -- Some tax experts are alarmed by Mitt Romney's apparent admission that Bain Capital set up offshore accounts in the Cayman Islands to help wealthy investors avoid paying U.S. taxes.

During an interview with the National Review's Robert Costa, Romney said that offshore sub-companies in the Cayman Islands help foreign investors avoid paying taxes on investments in the United States. Bain Capital currently has 138 such sub-companies headquartered in the Cayman Islands.

"The so-called offshore account in the Cayman Islands, for instance, is an account established by a U.S. firm to allow foreign investors to invest in U.S. enterprises and not be subject to taxes outside of their own jurisdiction," Romney said. "So in many instances, the investments in something of that nature are brought back into the United States. The world of finance is not as simple as some would have you believe. Sometimes a foreign entity is formed to allow foreign investors to invest in the United States, which may well be the case with the entities that Democrats are describing as foreign accounts."

By taxes "outside of their own jurisdiction," Romney is referring to taxes imposed by the U.S. government.

"He's basically admitting here that the Bain funds are set up in the Cayman Islands to help people avoid tax," said Rebecca Wilkins, senior counsel for federal tax policy at Citizens for Tax Justice, a nonprofit tax reform group. "If you want to cheat on your taxes, boy, they're making it really easy."
Since the Cayman Islands do not report information on their investors' accounts to other nations, however, such sub-companies don't merely help foreign investors avoid U.S. taxes, they help investors avoid paying taxes in other nations, as well. The ploy can even help American taxpayers invest in U.S. companies without accruing a tax bill with the IRS. By establishing personal offshore entities, Americans can pose as foreign investors and avoid paying U.S. taxes on investments in American firms.

From Stephanie Miller: sung to the Beatles taxman a song for Romney it's his taxes man

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

David Gergen, CNN Analyst, Reveals Extent Of Bain Capital Ties While 'Reporting' On Firm

David Gergen, CNN Analyst, Reveals Extent Of Bain Capital Ties While 'Reporting' On Firm

NEW YORK -- CNN senior political analyst David Gergen defended Mitt Romney this week against the Obama campaign's charges that the presumptive Republican nominee hasn't been honest about his tenure at Bain Capital -- a private-equity firm the former presidential adviser-turned-TV pundit knows something about.

On Monday, Gergen acknowledged having a "past relationship with the top partners at Bain that is both personal and financial" -- a disclosure that the Daily Beast's Andrew Sullivan suggested is "what's wrong with the press corps" and raised questions about Gergen's role in analyzing Romney's experience at the firm.

"I have worked with them in support of nonprofit organizations such as City Year," Gergen wrote. "I have given a couple of paid speeches for Bain dinners, as I have for many other groups. I was on the board of a for-profit childcare company, Bright Horizons, that was purchased by Bain Capital. It was a transaction with financial benefits for all board members and shareholders, including me."
Gergen, while acknowledging his "bias" on Monday, wrote how he's "come to admire and like the leaders of Bain Capital" because the firm "stands out for the respect in which it is generally held and for the generous philanthropy of some of its partners."

The Romney campaign is facing a media firestorm over the candidate's ties to Bain after February 1999, when the campaign maintains he gave up involvement in management and investment decisions to run the Olympics. Reporters at The Huffington Post, among other outlets, have challenged the campaign's claims, while revealing Romney's continued ties to Bain through 2002, including signed SEC documents confirming his position as Bain's sole owner and chief executive and sworn testimony that he continued sitting on Bain-affiliated boards of companies for years after the Olympics.

But Gergen said he also looked into the matter, noting that "when the story first broke Thursday in the Boston Globe suggesting that Romney and Bain had fudged, CNN asked if I would do some reporting." And Gergen's Bain sources, speaking anonymously, backed up the campaign's claims, thus leading the CNN analyst to argue the Obama team's charges aren't supported by facts.

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LP - Everything wrong with the American media, American politics, and American business. I still remember when he was on public television the non-business channel.