April 5, 2011 archive

Today on The Stars Hollow Gazette

Our regular featured content-

and these featured articles-

The Stars Hollow Gazette

This is an Open Thread

You’re Surprised, Really!

This morning after my workout I passed a newstand and noted this headline in the Sun-Times:

RAHM WARNS UNIONS (Teachers to work longer Hours)

Day Laborers to show up in greater numbers

Surprised boobala!  Really.  He was a DLCer when he was an alderman in Chicago and Washington DC only strengthened that line of thought.  Note also that the stats show more working class, AAs, Latinos are moving out to suburbs and the wealthier are moving into the City of Chicago.  I was chased out of my little bungalow in Chicago, so that a $2 million house could be built.  I can attest to how the working class, lower middle and now middle were chased out of the City.  Rahm was alderman of one of the north side areas during this time period.

Rahm Emanuel warns teaching, labor unions about changes

Mayor-elect RE is layin down the law to two unions whose cooperation he needs to turn Chicago around:  teachers he wants to work a longer school day and laborers he wants to simply show up at work in greater numbers.  During the campaign, he declared his support for curtailing teachers’ right to strike.  He also made it clear that, if teachers won’t agree to work longer hours for extra pay, he’ll ask the Illinois General Assembly to mandate it.

My guess is (and I was a long time resident of Chicago) the “extra pay” will fall by the wayside and charter schools will benefit from this someway.  

Also, the use of the word “laborers” troubles me.  Nothing wrong with laborer – we’re all laborers in a sense but it cuts down to size certain unions – say carpenters, plumbers – who are rightly proud of what it is they do.  It lumps all into the Laborer camp.  And we all know how laborers are respected in 2011 USA.  Implicit in the wording is that the laborers are getting paid even though they don’t show up for work.

It’s unlikely Chicago’s elites will send their children to public school in any event.  They’ll go to private schools where kindergarten for instance costs something like $14,000 a year.  Class War, anyone!    

LET THE PRIVATIZATION BEGIN.  Because of course it will save the taxpayers lots of money! N.O.T.

US Libya Intervention Is Aggression

Glen Ford, co-founder of the Black Agenda Report and author of The Big Lie: An Analysis of U.S. Media Coverage of the Grenada Invasion, talks with Paul Jay of The Real News Network about the Libya “humanitarian intervention” by the US, the UK, France and the other “coalition” member countries, with his analysis of the causes and goals of the intervention, saying that…

…it is an imperial assault. We don’t need to lose sight of the forest just because individual trees are acting this way and that. What we’re seeing is a unified Euro-American assault on a major oil producer. But the context must include what people are calling the “Arab Spring”, this Arab nationalist reawakening. And that had Washington and all the smaller imperial capitals very, very confused and off-balance. They desperately wanted to find some way that they could appropriate to themselves some part of the Arab reawakening. Libya has provided that opportunity to them, or they have provided themselves with the opportunity to somehow identify with rising Arab nationalist forces, which they will of course call democratic, even though if they come to power in Libya it will be by force of United States and European arms.


They targeted [Gaddafi] because they had the opportunity. They also, as I said earlier, were desperately seeking a way to put themselves on the right side of the Arab reawakening, and this was an opportunity. As well, it was what the Saudi’s wanted. It’s well known, it’s been known for a very long time, that the Saudi leadership and Gaddafi were at knife’s edge. Gaddafi liked to bait them and, well, badmouth them, and kings and monarchs don’t like that. So it was an opportunity to take him out. And just because he was collaborating with the United States and the Europeans, collaborating with AFRICOM in terms of operations to find al-Qaeda, just because he was doing that does not mean he was considered reliable. What the imperialists want is a regime that will totally open up the country to Western corporate penetration. They cannot tolerate independence of any kind. They can’t tolerate any nationalism except their own French nationalism or United States nationalism. And that’s why they’re so off balance with his reawakening of Arab nationalism.

Real News Network – April 5, 2011

US Libya Intervention Is Aggression

Glen Ford: The US intervention does not have humanitarian objectives

…full transcript follows…

Quaker Schools: The Testimony of Cognitive Dissonance

A recent article in The New York Times about Quaker schools has ginned up no small controversy within the Religious Society of Friends.  The association between individual Quaker meetings and churches and affiliated schools has long been contentious.  And it has been contentious in meetings and churches across the country.  This issue is especially commonplace on the East Coast, which is historically where most Quakers settled and lived.  The Times article correctly notes that these schools have often become bastions of higher income, not of Quaker teaching.  Quaker principles often include self-sufficiency, making do, and keeping matters simple.  


If you can.

Wisconsin Progressive/Labor Alliance Gears Up for Major Electoral Test Tomorrow

By: David Dayen Monday April 4, 2011 6:15 am

I haven’t seen any public polling on the Prosser race against JoAnne Kloppenburg, though private polling is said to show a dead heat. Because of the unpredictable turnout in an off-year election, the impact of the protest movement and heightened attention to political matters in Wisconsin, the power of incumbency for Prosser and the wave of money on both sides, I think you can make a reasoned argument that either candidate will win. We’ll have to see on Tuesday.

However, the fact that almost all of the conservative money is coming late is a sign, at least, that they’re nervous that Prosser could falter, a victim of Scott Walker’s policies. Also, major elections in the key Democratic bastions of Milwaukee and Madison could increase turnout there, which would help Kloppenburg.

This is a key moment for the progressive/labor alliance that rose out of the protests in Madison. If they can extend their reach, and take down a sitting Supreme Court justice, it would send a serious message about the sustainability of their movement, and provide momentum for the recalls in the summer.


Ali Baba Bunny

Where The Money Is

Why We Must Raise Taxes on the Rich

Robert Reich

Monday, April 4, 2011

The vast majority of Americans can’t afford to pay more. Despite an economy that’s twice as large as it was thirty years ago, the bottom 90 percent are still stuck in the mud. If they’re employed they’re earning on average only about $280 more a year than thirty years ago, adjusted for inflation. That’s less than a 1 percent gain over more than a third of a century.

Yet even as their share of the nation’s total income has withered, the tax burden on the middle has grown. Today’s working and middle-class taxpayers are shelling out a bigger chunk of income in payroll taxes, sales taxes, and property taxes than thirty years ago.

The top 1 percent’s share of national income has doubled over the past three decades (from 10 percent in 1981 to well over 20 percent now). The richest one-tenth of 1 percent’s share has tripled.

Yet, remarkably, taxes on the top have plummeted. From the 1940s until 1980, the top tax income tax rate on the highest earners in America was at least 70 percent. In the 1950s, it was 91 percent. Now it’s 35 percent. Even if you include deductions and credits, the rich are now paying a far lower share of their incomes in taxes than at any time since World War II.

If the rich were taxed at the same rates they were half a century ago, they’d be paying in over $350 billion more this year alone, which translates into trillions over the next decade. That’s enough to accomplish everything the nation needs while also reducing future deficits.

Yes, the rich will find ways to avoid paying more taxes courtesy of clever accountants and tax attorneys. But this has always been the case regardless of where the tax rate is set. That’s why the government should aim high.

And yes, some of the super rich will move their money to the Cayman Islands and other tax shelters. But paying taxes is a central obligation of citizenship, and those who take their money abroad in an effort to avoid paying American taxes should lose their American citizenship.

(T)he reason we have a Democrat in the White House – indeed, the reason we have a Democratic Party at all – is to try to rebalance the economy exactly this way.

This shouldn’t be difficult. Most Americans are on the receiving end. By now they know trickle-down economics is a lie. And they sense the dice are loaded in favor of the multi-millionaires and billionaires, and their corporations, now paying a relative pittance in taxes.

The MSM Notices Foreclosure Fraud

Cross Posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

The CBS News program, “60 Minutes” aired a Mortgage paperwork mess: the next housing shock? segment on foreclosure fraud which, as most economists agree, is the biggest threat to the US economy. Scott Pelley looks for the answer and a at the possible solutions to the question of “who owns your mortgage”:

It’s bizarre but, it turns out, Wall Street cut corners when it created those mortgage-backed investments that triggered the financial collapse. Now that banks want to evict people, they’re unwinding these exotic investments to find, that often, the legal documents behind the mortgages aren’t there. Caught in a jam of their own making, some companies appear to be resorting to forgery and phony paperwork to throw people – down on their luck – out of their homes.

Sheila Bair, Chairperson of the FDIC, says she will call for a clean-up super fund

   Banks so poorly handled documentation on millions of mortgages that many today cannot prove that they own the homes they want to foreclose on. The resulting rash of lawsuits from people seeking to save their homes has one of the government’s top banking regulators worried that the torrent of litigation will delay the real estate market’s recovery.

   Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation Chair Sheila Bair tells Scott Pelley banks should be forced to contribute billions to a clean-up fund that will help stressed homeowners stay in their homes and stave off lawsuits – there are 30,000 already – that threaten the economic rebound […]

   Like last year, banks are expected to foreclose on a million mortgages this year, a scenario that could generate more lawsuits over mismanaged paperwork. “I think that this litigation could easily get out of control,” says Bair. “…We’re already feeling like we’re falling behind it,” She thinks a large clean-up pool funded by the banks that would pay homeowners to accept a bank’s ownership claim without a lawsuit is necessary. “I would assume it would be billions [that the fund would need],” Bair tells Pelley.

But as, David Dayen points out, this “super fund” would not stop any claims in state courts on behalf of homeowners, federal regulators don’t have the authority to do that.

And the more banks resist it, the more liable they will become. In an important case this week, a judge in Alabama dismissed a foreclosure because the bank failed to comply with the pooling and servicing agreement for transferring mortgages to the trust. This would be a stunning ruling if applied broadly, though whether or not it will stand as precedent across other states remains to be seen; it’s far too early in the process to determine that. But we know that banks simply did not convey mortgages to trusts properly as a general rule. Foreclosure fraud can be seen as a coverup for that original sin. And if state courts are starting to make rulings based on that sin, banks will be stuck and unable to pursue foreclosures on tens of millions of loans.

The ruling in favor of the borrower endorses an argument we have made since last year on this blog, that the pooling and servicing agreement stipulated a specific set of transfers be undertaken to convey the borrower note (the IOU) to the securitization trust within a specified time frame. New York trust law was chosen to govern the trusts precisely because it is unforgiving; any act not specifically stipulated by the governing documents is deemed to be a “void act” and has no legal force. So if a the parties to a securitization failed to convey a note to the trust within the stipulated timetable, retroactive fixes don’t work. In this case, the note had been endorsed by the originator, Encore, but not by the later parties in the securitization chain as required in the pooling and servicing agreement.

Yves Smith at naked capitalism, has a problem with what Bair said:

One aspect that is distressing is that per her remarks in this clip, Sheila Bair does not appear to understand or worse, understands but is not willing to admit the seriousness of the chain of title issues. Often, the banks botched the transfer process in such a fundamental manner that retroactive fixes are not possible. This isn’t a matter of “if the banks spend enough time, they can prove the trust they are acting for owns the note” as Bair contends. It’s that in many cases the note didn’t get to the trust as stipulated, and the trust doesn’t have the ability under New York law, which governs virtually all of these trusts, to accept it now. A party earlier in the securitization chain is typically the owner, but no one wants that party to foreclose, since it would confirm the failure to handle the assignment of the note properly.

I’m not so sure that this Congress would be amenable to another multi-billion dollar bail out but this is a better proposal that the one that would strip homeowners of their right to due process.

(all emphasis is mine)

Six In The Morning

Heavy fighting loosens Gbagbo’s grip


Sustained machinegun and heavy weapons fire rang out from the direction of the palace in the commercial capital Abidjan before dawn in the heaviest fighting since soldiers backing presidential claimant Alassane Ouattara entered the city five days ago, a Reuters witness said.

A spokesperson for Ouattara’s government said late on Monday his troops had already taken control of Gbagbo’s official presidential residence, but his statement could not be independently verified.

Muse in the Morning

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket
Muse in the Morning

Time for a break from poetry…in order to create some art.

If you don’t control your mind, someone else will.

–John Allston


Late Night Karaoke

Fuck Politics

I don’t care anymore.

Maybe it’s because I really just can’t take it anymore, but more than likely it’s the fact that it’s maddening yet trivial to me.

I see the fact that the government has absolutely no power.  They can huff and puff but they can’t blow our new house down.  Even if they did, we’re mostly in the basement.

What do you need to know?

Know this.

I’m absent from the blogs but always present.  It’s just that you all met me at a very strange time in my life, and it demands of me a personal sacrifice of free time, so that I can help others get their freedom.

Load more