Saturday, March 19, 2011

No “Home” For Repug Housing Calamity Help

Before I take note of a couple of votes from last week’s Area Votes in Congress writeup in the Philadelphia Inquirer, let’s “set the wayback” for January 2004 and check out this USA Today story…

In a bid to boost minority homeownership, President Bush will ask Congress for authority to eliminate the down-payment requirement for Federal Housing Administration loans.

In announcing the plan Monday at a home builders show in Las Vegas, Federal Housing Commissioner John Weicher called the proposal the "most significant FHA initiative in more than a decade." It would lead to 150,000 first-time owners annually, he said.

Nothing-down options are available on the private mortgage market, but, in general, they require the borrower to have pristine credit. Bush's proposed change would extend the nothing-down option to borrowers with blemished credit.

FHA loans carry higher risks of delinquency and foreclosure than do private mortgages, and the proposed change presumably will lead to greater losses to the government than the current program does.

Weicher said the added risk will be offset by higher fees charged to borrowers who opt to make no down payment.
Uh huh, sure…

And with this in mind, I present the following from the week ending 3/13…


FHA refinance program
. Voting 256-171, the House passed a Republican bill (HR 830) to repeal a six-month-old initiative known as the FHA Refinance Program. The program is designed to help homeowners who owe more on their mortgage than their house is worth, who are current in their loan payments, and whose loans are not insured by the Federal Housing Administration.

A yes vote was to pass the bill.

Voting yes: John Carney (D., Del.), Charles W. Dent (R., Pa.), Michael Fitzpatrick (R., Pa.), Jim Gerlach (R., Pa.), Frank A. LoBiondo (R., N.J.), Pat Meehan (R., Pa.), Joseph R. Pitts (R., Pa.), Jon Runyan (R., N.J.), and Christopher H. Smith (R., N.J.).

Voting no: Robert E. Andrews (D., N.J.), Robert A. Brady (D., Pa.), Chaka Fattah (D., Pa.), Tim Holden (D., Pa.), and Allyson Y. Schwartz (D., Pa.).

Jobless homeowners. Voting 242-177, the House passed a bill (HR 836) to repeal the Emergency Mortgage Relief Program, which is designed to help homeowners who have lost their jobs meet mortgage obligations and keep their homes. The assistance is available for up two years to those who have fallen behind in mortgage payments due to loss of work or a serious medical condition.

A yes vote was to pass the bill.

Voting yes: Dent, Gerlach, Fitzpatrick, Holden, LoBiondo, Meehan, Pitts, Runyan, and Smith.

Voting no: Andrews, Brady, Carney, Fattah, and Schwartz.
I think the following should be noted about these votes from here…

The first bill, (H.R. 830), calls for closure of the FHA’s Refinance Program, also known as the FHA “Short-Refi”. The program facilitates homeowner refinance of mortgages that are underwater, as long as lenders agree to write-off at least 10 percent of the loan’s original principle amount. Although the program received over $8 billion in financing, only 245 applications have been submitted, and only 44 loans have been approved under the program since September of 2010. The lack of participation and limited effectiveness making the program an easy target for House members eager to enact cost-cutting measures. Some House Democrats have called the move to end the program premature, saying that the program needs to be given time to prove its worth.

The second passed bill, (H.R. 836), seeks to cease funding for the Emergency Mortgage Relief Program (EMRP), which provided for bridge loans of up to $50,000 for unemployed homeowners who found themselves unable to make their monthly mortgage payments. Although authorized for funding of up to $1 billion, the program has yet to even begin, due (according to the FHA Commissioner) to onerous red tape required before the program could be established. With the funds as-of-yet unspent, the program has been deemed fair game for cut, particularly since it only serves to increase the debt-burden of homeowners who are already showing signs of financial difficulty.
Also, let it be recorded that “Democrat” John Carney voted for HR 830 and “Democrat” Tim Holden voted for HR 836 (and Mikey The Beloved, of course, sided with those who would throw homeowners facing difficulty into the street in the name of fiscal prudence…and by the way, assuming both of these trash bills make it out of the Senate, Obama has quite rightly said he will veto both...we should be looking at ways to modify mortgage payments for troubled borrowers, which makes better financial sense than throwing them, for the most part, out on their ear; the Repugs continue their laser-like focus on job creation…not!).

If one day it turns out that 30-year fixed-rate FHA mortgages have gone the way of Woolworth’s and Horn and Hardart in this country, it will be because of the road we started down with bills like H.R. 830 in particular, as an attempt at a remedy for a problem that never should have arisen in the first place (as I’ve said in the past, agencies of government like the FHA and GSEs like Fannie and Freddie all worked fine until the Bush crowd was installed by the Supreme Court in 2000).

This week, the GOP-run House took up repeals of Democratic-written laws on housing foreclosures and debated a war-powers resolution. Both chambers considered stopgap spending to avert a government shutdown.

Saturday Stuff

Rachel Maddow provides a great history lesson here on why Dems should support working men and women and families in this country (sad that they need to be reminded of that from time to time) considering what's going on in the Midwest (and the report also explains why the Repugs target labor and organizations like ACORN, which of course has ceased to exist because of this...and speaking of '90s "culture war" crap, I give you this, almost too despicable for words - and this is ironic at least concerning conservative "fair-haired boy" O'Keefe)...

...and yes, this video is about Dubya's Not-So-Excellent Adventure in Iraq, which began eight years ago today, but in a way, it's also about Afghanistan; even though there's an image of Obama implying that he's going to fix everything...well, he's definitely made progress for us in Iraq, but he owns the land where empires crumble now, along with Petraeus, who is making deals with criminals to concoct something approximating "victory," as far as he's concerned, in our name.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Friday Stuff

My for-profit activities impacted my posting again today, but I hope to be back at it soon.

In the meantime, it looks like those farcical hearings by Peter King, in addition to wasting taxpayer dollars, definitely missed the target, as noted here (surprised this guy didn't try to vandalize a public radio or TV station while he was at it, allegedly of course)...

...and I think this is a whompin' little number to help us kick off the weekend.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Thursday Stuff

Two things: 1) Today turned out to be a horrendous day for trying to post - maybe back tomorrow, and 2) I know I've said practically nothing about Japan, but it's not because I don't care - far from it. It's just that there's no way that I have the bandwidth to come anywhere close to posting on that calamity the way I want to. Covering what is going on, in particular with the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear reactor, is a job for legitimate news professionals, and I am not professionally employed in that capacity. If anyone has the means and/or desire to help, click here.

OK, that being said, kudos to Anthony Weiner and his sarcasm (here...I still think Ron Paul is the "crazy uncle in the attic," but every once in awhile he nails it too, and he did likewise here...and for what it's worth, Mikey The Beloved voted to kill Elmo)...

(I'm still going to say something a bit sacrilegious, though, and that is - even though it would be political suicide for any politician who votes for it - that part of me wants to see this horrendous budget passed and NPR and the CPB defunded, despite the great efforts of these people; this is coming from someone who supports public programming, by the way. If that's what it will take to get it through the rock-hard skulls of many voters in this country that the Republican Party on the national level will never give a damn about them but instead will do everything they possibly can to reward their deep-pocketed puppet masters on the one hand while, on the other, crying "poor mouth" at everybody else and concocting "values" issues in lieu of practicing actual governance like adults, then so be it. If this is what it will finally take to cement that reality into the brains of everyone else but the "pay no price, bear no burden" bunch, then maybe it should come to pass...and under a Repug President and both houses of Congress, it would.)

...and here's something in honor of this day in particular, which still has about an hour left in this time zone (the kid has good pipes, as they say).

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Wednesday Stuff

And oh yeah, let's not forget about Michigan either (and you'd better be paying attention, Governor Tom "Space Cadet" Corbett)...

...and geez, take it easy on the slopes, willya James? (one of my favorite songs from him, which probably isn't surprising I'm sure - sorry about the captions).

Wednesday Mashup (3/16/11)

  • Looks like some of our lower life forms have a new fake controversy to blame Obama for this week, as noted here, and that would be the invasion of Bahrain by the Saudis (there are actual legitimate ones such as the continued illegal detention of Pfc. Bradley Manning, but Heaven knows the wingnutosphere checked out of the real world some time ago)…

    As Saudi troops swept into Bahrain on Monday, President Obama kept playing his favorite new role: the Invisible Man.

    Bahrain is a key US ally and headquarters to the Navy's Fifth Fleet, which patrols the Persian Gulf and Indian Ocean from the Horn of Africa to Bangladesh.
    In response, I give you the following (here)…

    The massive protests on the tiny island of Bahrain have been met with violence before, but the level of violence is about to be taken to a whole new level amid reports that Saudi Arabian troops are going to invade the country as soon as Monday, at the invitation of the Bahraini Crown Prince.

    The protests in Bahrain have broken down largely along sectarian lines, with the nation’s Shi’ite majority complaining of discrimination by the nation’s Sunni royal family, and indeed has sparked similar (albeit small) protests among the Shi’ites along neighboring Saudi Arabia’s northeast coast.

    The Bahraini protesters initially wanted reforms, but after violent crackdowns, they began demanding the ouster of the royal family entirely and its replacement with a democracy. The Crown Prince, Salman bin Hamad al-Khalifa, insisted today that the regime could no long accept the protests continuing.
    Of course, partly because of conservative caterwauling, Iran ended up blaming us anyway, for what it’s worth (here).

  • Next, I have a feeling the “teahadists” aren’t going to be very happy with our PA-08 U.S. House Rep Mikey the Beloved, considering that he voted for the latest U.S. House stopgap measure, as noted from here.

    Of course, ever true to form, Majority Leader Eric Cantor blamed the Democrats, even though, without our support, this stupid band-aid of a spending bill would never have passed (inasmuch as I can actually trust former Majority Leader Steny Hoyer on anything, I hope that he’s not just playing us by saying that he won’t support another “stop gap” bill).

    Also, this Guest Opinion appeared in the Bucks County Courier Times today about another bad Fitzpatrick vote to defund Planned Parenthood (the author, Maggie Leigh Groff, is director of Public Affairs for the Planned Parenthood Association of Bucks contact Planned Parenthood, click here - I'd like to post it all here since I'm sure this link will eventually expire, but I have to be careful about that sort of thing).

  • In addition, former Fed chairman Alan Greenspan blamed “the stim” for our “lagging economic recovery” (here)…

    "What we need to do now is to calm down; let things move by themselves," he said at a forum at the Council of Foreign Relations. "And indeed the rate of activism has decreased significantly and the ratio of capital flow has inched back up."

    Some economists blame Greenspan, who served as Fed chair from 1987 to 2006, for keeping interest rates too low for too long and for failing to sound the alarm that Wall Street was over-leveraged and running wild.

    But with Republicans in control of the House, Greenspan's views are starting to gain an audience again. Many Republicans share his opinion that intervention has created uncertainty and deterred private sector investing.
    Oh Heavens, there’s that dreaded “U” word again, even though, as noted here, U.S. businesses earned their highest profits in 60 years in the third quarter last year (of course, unemployment is another matter – curious to see the latest numbers when they’re due out tomorrow I think with the Repugs waging economic war on public employment).

    This is all of course ridiculous from Greenspan, who did indeed fail to do his due diligence as noted above, once claiming here that the burst of the subprime mortgage bubble was due to the collapse of the Berlin Wall in 1989, saying that, as a result “central planning, in one form or another, was discredited and widely displaced by competitive markets.”

    Uh, no.

    Also, Paul Krugman pointed out that, in 2004, “the wizard” told us we needn’t worry about a national housing bubble, and Greenspan followed that up by saying in 2005 that “complex financial instruments” have created a “resilient” financial system.

    I’d like to see Greenspan try to make his argument about government involvement in the economy to GM, by the way; as noted here, that basically saved an entire industry in this country. And anyone who was tricked into buying an adjustable rate mortgage should curse Greenspan’s name, he being a guy who once pimped these sleazy products, knowing full well that, as a high priest of the “pay no price, bear no burden” crowd, he would never have to face the proverbial music over it.

  • Finally, this Miami Herald story tells us the following (first read this today in the New York Times)…

    Voters swept Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Alvarez out of office by a stunning margin Tuesday, capping a dramatic collapse for a politician who was given increased authority by voters four years ago to clean up much-maligned county government but was ushered out in the largest recall of a local politician in U.S. history.

    The spectacular fall from power comes after two years of missteps, ranging from granting top staffers big pay hikes to construction of a publicly funded stadium for the Florida Marlins to implementation of a property-tax rate increase that outraged an electorate struggling through an ugly recession.

    Alvarez tried to fend off ouster by twice filing suit to block a recall vote. After the lawsuits went nowhere, he defended his record in speeches, radio and television appearances and paid advertisements, arguing that he made the tough calls to preserve vital services for residents.

    But voters responded by handing the mayor a humiliating defeat: Nearly nine of every 10 voted to remove Alvarez from office.

    “The voters have spoken and a time of healing and reconciliation must now begin,’’ Alvarez said in a statement Tuesday night. “No matter which side of the recall issue, one thing is certain: We all care very deeply about this community… I wish the next mayor of Miami-Dade County much success.”
    And you’ll never guess who led the recall to boot Alvarez – a guy named Norman Braman.

    As anyone with even a passing familiarity with Philadelphia sports knows, Braman is the former owner of the Philadelphia Eagles, one of the true legendary tightwads in a city that has seen a bunch of them over the years.

    Now I’ll grant you that Alvarez, if nothing else, was certainly tone-deaf to his constituents in a number of ways including those cited above; the Herald story also tells us the following…

    In May, Alvarez came under fire for shopping for a new BMW 550i Grand Turismo sedan subsidized by an $800-a-month car allowance. He got the new car even as he already had two Chevy Suburbans to ferry him around on official business. Alvarez — earning a $233,123 salary and $92,187 in benefits — refused to get rid of the car allowance, saying he wasn’t “going to do something that is symbolic.”
    Turn over hand on desk to show open palm and smack yourself in the forehead with it, Former Mr. Mayor.

    However, I refuse to cast Braman in the role of a hero; as Wikipedia tells us, he once fought a one-cent sales tax increase to benefit mass transit (God, what is it with that issue in that state between Braman and Lex Luthor? Just think of it as the Disney monorail only with graffiti and sliced-up seat cushions, if that helps). And as noted here…

    Starting Oct. 17 I worked in one of the petition offices (to recall Alvarez) and I never saw Norman Braman in my office at 2020 NE 163rd Street in North Miami. This was arguably the main office out of three because it was the one that housed the petition circulation organizers. In a small space without a window and almost without air conditioning, two other people and I “proofed” these petitions. Like a sweatshop in Chinatown, we worked for Braman seven days a week and at least 12 hours per day. In America we say, “If you aren’t cheatin’, then you aren’t tryin’.” Norman Braman is trying the hardest of them all.
    And as noted here from Esquire (click on Braman's pic, which is the third in the middle of the right side of the page)…

    In the nascent days of free agency, the penny-pinching Braman underbid for fan favorites Reggie White, Clyde Simmons, and Keith Jackson — all of whom left for greener pastures (Veterans Stadium left little to be desired). He feuded with White, the pious Pro Bowler who rallied against the owners in the 1987 players' strike and was publicly disappointed with Braman's firing of coach Buddy Ryan in 1990. "Reggie may be devout," Braman said, "but his first love is the almighty dollar."
    Takes one to know one, doesn’t it, Norm?
  • Tuesday, March 15, 2011

    Tuesday Stuff

    I think I saw this at Eschaton first, but then I saw it at Daily Kos (hat tips to both) - now, you're seeing it here...

    ...and every year I make a mental note to put up this song on this date, and every years I forget - not sure why I remembered this year, but here it is (I know everyone here is a little "long in the tooth" - hey now! - but they're having fun, so it's all good).

    Tuesday Mashup (3/15/11)

  • The Bucks County Courier Times provided more idiocy from Simon Campbell of the Pennsbury School Board today (here)…

    …teachers can't be laid off for economic reasons and tenure ensures a job for life.
    Campbell is specifically referring to the teachers in the Pennsbury School District, even though, for some reason, be mentions the Neshaminy School District also (didn’t know he is on that board as well, or so he thinks – news to me). And I don’t have enough knowledge of the Pennsbury situation to assume that Campbell is lying, though it wouldn’t surprise me in the least to find out that that’s the case.

    However, I can most definitely tell you that tenure is under attack along with teachers’ bargaining rights across the country.

    As noted here, tenure has been phased out for new teachers in Idaho, and this tells us about the effort to strip tenure in Ohio and Missouri. Also, here is more background on Wisconsin, where tenure is very much at issue (also in Indiana, Tennessee, Florida and Oklahoma), including the following…

    The solution, (Yolanda Sealey-Ruiz, an assistant professor of English education who is a former corporate executive and former high school teacher) says, is not to eliminate tenure but to retrain and support struggling teachers, as many private sector employers do, before letting them go. But that would be a challenge, she noted, for school systems having to cut budgets. “I don’t think there’s any way around it without spending time and spending money,” she said.

    Some educators say that mentoring or rehabilitating ineffective teachers – tenured or not – will not stop some principals from abusing their power. “If you get on a principal’s bad side,” said one alumnus and high school teacher, “they will write you up for things that they have minimal documentation for.”

    Some (experts at TC’s Hechinger Institute) believe tenure could work better if teachers were fairly evaluated and received the support they need to improve. Even Randi Weingarten, president of the powerful American Federation of Teachers, has conceded that tenure rules need to be streamlined.
    But as is the case with so many issues in this country, the politicized shouting matches have taken over the process of reasonable dialogue (just a general observation, particularly concerning Campbell's antics).

    Still, though, for all of his griping about teachers, I’d like to see Campbell (who made his money as a futures trader) try and last an entire day running a classroom. It would be truly entertaining.

  • Also, staying with the Courier Times, J.D. Mullane tells us the following here today (in a column where he seems to compliment Japan for the lack of looting during its current misery, as compared to our country during Katrina I guess, or so he alleges…kind of hard to loot during a tragedy which Japan has called the worst they experienced since World War II – as bad as Katrina was, it just doesn’t compare to this…trying hard not to smack myself in the middle of the forehead for actually continuing to pay for this dreck).


    Climate-change enthusiasts, in Pavlovian reaction, attributed the quake to global warming. Yes, global warming cleaved the ocean floor, leaving a fissure 150 miles long and 50 miles wide. Global warming did that. Sure.
    God, what an idiot – as noted here…

    So far, today’s tsunami has mainly affected Japan—there are reports of up to 300 dead in the coastal city of Sendai—but future tsunamis could strike the U.S. and virtually any other coastal area of the world with equal or greater force, say scientists. In a little-heeded warning issued at a 2009 conference on the subject, experts outlined a range of mechanisms by which climate change could already be causing more earthquakes, tsunamis, and volcanic activity, albeit of a scale and nature quite different from Friday’s tragedy.

    A 2009 paper by Bill McGuire, professor at University College London, says “observations suggest that the ongoing rise in global average temperatures may already be eliciting a hazardous response from the geosphere.”

    It’s important to note that this response has nothing to do with Friday’s tsunami, which is a ‘subduction zone earthquake,’ whereas the tsunamis discussed by scientists cited here would be the product of catastrophic events—collapse of methane hydrate deposits at the bottom of the ocean on the continental shelf, for example—for which a tsunami would be but one of many negative impacts.

    “When the ice is lost, the earth’s crust bounces back up again and that triggers earthquakes, which trigger submarine landslides, which cause tsunamis,” McGuire told Reuters. (McGuire’s 2009 paper notes that such effects will be much more pronounced in areas with significant ice cover, in other words, at higher latitudes.)

    Scientists have known for some time that climate change affects not just the atmosphere and the oceans but also the earth’s crust. These effects are not widely understood by the public.

    “In the political community people are almost completely unaware of any geological aspects to climate change,” said McGuire.
    Yes, it seems that there is no direct link between the events in Japan and the climate crisis. But only a fool (or a Bucks County Courier Times opinion columnist published three days a week, and I certainly don’t mean Kate Fratti) would dismiss climate events out of hand regarding potential future catastrophes.

  • Next (catching up a bit), I give you more from the New York Times and the false equivalency file (here)…

    The reporter in disguise has largely faded from mainstream American journalism. But the tactic is alive and well in the hands of passionate partisans.

    As their pursuit of the “gotcha” moment has become part of the cost of life in the public eye, one question is how willing politicians will be to advance their agendas on the backs of these muckrakers 2.0.

    In just the last month, surreptitiously recorded conversations have embarrassed NPR and Planned Parenthood, organizations long under assault from conservatives, as well as Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin, a Republican and target of the political left for his anti-union stance.
    To begin, it is utterly laughable to insinuate that anything James O’Keefe and his fellow propagandists are doing is anything remotely comparable to actual journalism; as noted here, his latest hit job on NPR was heavily edited, removing six different instances where former NPR fundraiser Ron Schiller tells O’Keefe that donors cannot buy the kind of coverage they want on NPR.

    By contrast, the call to Hosni Mubarak Walker came from Ian Murphy (posing as David Koch) of the “Buffalo Beast” web site originated by Matt Taibbi (noted here). Both Murphy and Taibbi are actual reporters, and I would really like someone to try and explain to me how Walker’s private words to “David Koch” are inconsistent with his public words and actions.

    The Times story also tells us the following…

    Political strategists express worry that this sort activity has been creeping into campaigns for some time now. But the fact that they can so often have a political benefit leaves many torn.

    “I find the whole thing bordering on unsavory on both sides,” said Ari Fleischer, a White House press secretary under President George W. Bush. “As much as I love it when liberal hypocrisy is exposed,” he added, “do we really want to get to the point where it becomes standard fare — especially in political campaigns — for opponents to engage in sting operations?”
    Such a comment is hilarious coming from a partisan as rabid as Fleischer, who was one of the first to attack Helen Thomas for claiming that the Jews should get the “hell” out of Palestine while giving Flush Limbore and “Crazy Train” Beck a pass for their own bloviations (here); Fleischer also incorrectly said that Obama had a proposal to eliminate charitable deductions, for which he was not called out by Wolf Blitzer (here, which is kind of funny when you consider the Repug budget machinations in the House), and here, he told the mother of a dead U.S. soldier that “there are going to be a lot more mothers like you” (nice, Ari).

    Yeah, when it comes to “unsavory,” Ari sure is a subject matter expert, isn’t he?

  • And here is yet another item from the New York Times’ false equivalency file…

    Critics in New York contend the new Prospect Park bike lane is badly designed, endangering pedestrians and snarling traffic. Cape Wind opponents argue the turbines will defile a pristine body of water. And in Berkeley, store owners worried that reduced traffic flow and parking could hurt their business (from the proposed full bus rapid transit system).

    But some supporters of high-profile green projects like these say the problem is just plain old Nimbyism — the opposition by residents to a local development of the sort that they otherwise tend to support.
    I don’t know anything about the bus system proposed for Berkeley, CA, and I’m sorry, but I think it’s stupid to complain about a traffic bike lane (and yes, I’ve driven in Philadelphia enough times to just learn to deal with them where I find them).

    However, lumping the Cape Wind project with the Berkeley BRT project and the New York City bike lanes is idiotic as far as I’m concerned; as noted here, Cape Wind poses the threat of an oil spill, as well as a danger to over 7,000 gray and harbor seals and potentially six million migratory birds, among other ecological dangers.

    Throw a “NIMBY” charge at me all you want, but I’m sorry – I absolutely refuse to believe that sticking a bunch of wind turbines in the middle of Nantucket Sound is the best option available for generating wind power, to say nothing of the cost.

  • Finally, the New York Times also tells us here that Holy Joe Lieberman will continue to whine and pontificate to his heart’s content until he is finally, dutifully, mercifully GONE AT LONG LAST! (the story has to do with him and other departing U.S. Senators)...

    As he readies himself for some policy fights, Mr. Lieberman said he had already seen ads run against colleagues for daring to talk about changes to programs like Social Security and Medicare. Now, he says, he doesn’t have to sweat such possibilities even if he chooses to get out in front on the entitlement issue.

    “Those are easy subjects to demagogue,” Mr. Lieberman said. “When you are not running again, you worry less about that.”
    “Daring to talk about changes,” Carl Hulse of the Times? You mean about a program that will remain solvent for at least the next 30 years (here, speaking about Social Security)? Interesting bit of editorializing there.

    And on the subject of Social Security (speaking of demagoguery), I give you the following (here)…

    (Lieberman) defended McCain’s privatization plan: Lieberman falsely claimed that Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) “is not for the private accounts to take the place of social security.” “He’s for what Bill Clinton used to call Social Security plus,” said Lieberman. [3/30/08]

    (Lieberman) hinted at support for “private accounts” in 2005: Although Lieberman said “it’s important Social Security remain what it is,” a social insurance program that “provides a floor of income,” he would not rule out personal accounts. Lieberman added, “if we can figure out a way to help people through private accounts or something else, great.” [1/05]

    (Lieberman) said we eventually will have “individual control” of Social Security: In a May 4, 1998, interview, Lieberman said “it doesn’t make sense” not to broaden the Social Security portfolio, and added, “Same is true of this idea of privatizing.” “I think in the end that individual control of part of the retirement/Social Security funds has to happen,” he told the Copley News Service. [5/4/1998]
    And on the subject of privatization, as noted here, Think Progress tells us that “under a Bush-style privatization plan, an October 2008 retiree (who had saved for 35 years) would have lost $26,000 in that year’s market turmoil.”

    The Times story tells us that the group of eight (so far) Senators departing Washington is calling itself the “Bucket List Caucus,” in homage of sorts to the movie, and by that they mean that they intend to make good on their remaining days in “the world’s greatest deliberative body.”

    While I have great respect for the actors Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman, playing two men stricken with cancer, real-life cancer survivor and esteemed film critic Roger Ebert referred to the film’s portrayal of that disease as "a laff riot followed by a dime-store epiphany" (to be fair, I saw a few minutes in the beginning which are fairly rough).

    Still, I think “dime-store epiphany” aptly describes the attitude of Lieberman and his pals, trying to sound heroic for doing the business at the end of their Senate careers that they should have been doing all along anyway.

    And by the way, I don't know if - speaking of U.S. Senators, or former ones - Evan Bayh is more loathesome and execrable than Lieberman, but he's right up there (here - h/t Atrios).
  • Monday, March 14, 2011

    Monday PM Stuff

    (Hopefully back to posting tomorrow...)

    Sorry, Rachel, somehow I don't think it's possible for John Ensign to do anything with dignity, even leave, which he still isn't even going to do the way he should have by now (based on a comment at the very end)...

    ...and maybe Vitter, Ensign and any other future Repug politician caught in a scandal should learn this little number.

    Monday AM Stuff

    Here is what a Democratic politician is supposed to sound like (hat tip to Ministry of Truth at Daily Kos)...

    ...and consider this an admittedly small gesture of support on behalf of the people of Japan (to help, click here).

    Sunday, March 13, 2011

    Sunday Stuff

    Be careful turning up the volume on this to hear the awesome barnburner of a brief speech by Wisconsin farmer Tony Schultz, or else you're going to hear some really loud whooping it up by assembled crowd, which is definitely a good thing (here...the rally turned out to be bigger than any manufactured "teahadist" throng)...

    ...and Tom Morello of Rage Against The Machine has helped out in Wisconsin also, so here's a little number from him (a bit oxymoronic that this was produced by the Murdoch Street Journal, I'll admit).