September 2011 archive

Two for Tuesday

Hello everyone. My interest in politics and political blogging has gone way down. But I’m still a big fan of music and I’d like to move this little series here. It has never gotten much interest anywhere else but I’m hope you can enjoy it as much as I do.  

This failed series is about my many memories of many Tuesdays listening to back to back songs by the same band on WNEW-FM “Where rock lived.” The station is long gone now and as far as my music taste goes those favorite DeeJays have mostly been replaced by a man named John Schaefer.

If you listen to John Schaefer long enough you will hear this same named mentioned over and over as the man who was the direct link between “Rhythm & Blues” and “Rock & Roll.” The last time I heard John Schaefer mention this familiar Blues Man as a Father of Rock & Roll was on August 19th during the fascinating interview about Traveling the Chitlin’ Circuit.

Cartnoon

Wet Hare

Holding The Banks Acountable

Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

President Obama’s jettisoning the EPA regulations dominated the Friday news dump. What was buried in the usual media hullabaloo was this:

FHFA Sues 17 Firms to Recover Losses toFannie Mae and Freddie Mac

Apparently the FHFA has found something that this White House hasn’t, the courage to hold the banks accountable for the losses from the sale of mortgage backed securities (MBS) to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. The suit surpasses the $20 billion settlement that the 50 state AG settlement is reportedly attempting to extract from the banks for a liability release over ALL issues in foreclosure fraud.

The lawsuits cover $105 billion worth of securities, and FHFA wants returns on some portion of the losses taken on the securities, which they attribute to illegal actions by the banks when they sold the MBS (specifically, misrepresentations about the underlying loans). Earlier reports said that the losses for Fannie and Freddie on private-label MBS came to around $30 billion, so that’s probably around what they will ask for. The LA Times story puts it at $41 billion in losses. Whatever the number, this is more than the 50 state AG settlement is reportedly attempting to extract from the banks for a liability release over ALL issues in foreclosure fraud. And this is just a representations and warrants case.

This may derail the 50 state AG attempts at an agreement that absolves banks from any liability:

The biggest banks are already negotiating with the attorneys general of all 50 states to address mortgage abuses. They are looking for a comprehensive settlement that will protect them from future litigation and limit their potential mortgage litigation losses.

“This new litigation could disrupt the AG settlement,” said Anthony Sanders, finance professor at George Mason University and a former mortgage bond strategist.

Banks may be more reluctant to agree to a settlement if they know litigation from other government players could still wallop their capital, he said.

As David Dayen so astutely observes:

. . . . FHFA is just a canary in the coalmine for the losses and the liability that these banks are holding because of their actions in mortgage origination, securitization, and servicing. You cannot have a banking sector with this many liabilities and expect a robust, well-functioning economy. This action is necessary for the rule of law as well as for the health of the nation.

(emphasis mine)

Even better would be some of the people involved being held responsible and sent to prison.

On This Day In History September 6

Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

Find the past “On This Day in History” here.

September 6 is the 249th day of the year (250th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 116 days remaining until the end of the year.

On this day in 1995, Cal Ripken Jr of the Baltimore Orioles plays in his 2,131st consecutive game, breaking a record that stood for 56 years.

Calvin Edwin “Cal” Ripken, Jr. (born August 24, 1960) is a former Major League Baseball shortstop and third baseman who played his entire career (1981-2001) for the Baltimore Orioles.

During his baseball career, he earned the nickname “Iron Man” for doggedly remaining in the lineup despite numerous minor injuries and for his reliability to “show up” to work every day. He is perhaps best known for breaking New York Yankees first baseman Lou Gehrig’s record for consecutive games played, a record many deemed unbreakable. Ripken surpassed the 56-year-old record when he played in his 2,131st consecutive game on September 6, 1995 between the Orioles and the California Angels in front of a sold-out crowd at Oriole Park at Camden Yards. To make the feat even more memorable, Ripken hit a home run in the previous night’s game that tied Gehrig’s record and another home run in his 2,131st game, which fans later voted as Major League Baseball’s “Most Memorable Moment” in MLB history. Ripken played in an additional 502 straight games over the next three years, and his streak ended at 2,632 games when he voluntarily removed his name from the lineup for the final Orioles home game of the 1998 season. His record 2,632 straight games spanned over seventeen seasons, from May 30, 1982 to September 20, 1998.

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.

We all wear masks, and the time comes when we cannot remove them without removing some of our own skin.

–André Berthiaume



Art Glass 49

Late Night Karaoke

Countdown with Keith Olbermann: Worst Persons 9.2.2011

Worst Persons: Lucien Chenier, Nan Hayworth and Mike Shaw{/center.

Find out why Lucien Chenier of Ottawa, Ontario, is WORSE; Westchester Rep. Nan Hayworth is WORSER; and Mike Shaw, the acting chairman of the Republican Committee of Pima County, Ariz., is the WORST PERSON IN THE WORLD for September 2, 2011.

 

Today on The Stars Hollow Gazette

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The Stars Hollow Gazettte

This is an Open Thread

Why Democrats Will Lose in 2012

Salon.com has a piece up urging Democrats to dump Obama and go with a candidate who will restore their party to its New Deal era politics.  According to the column by Matt Stoller, there are a number of reasons why they should, including:

If would be one thing if Obama were failing because he was too close to party orthodoxy. Yet his failures have come precisely because Obama has not listened to Democratic Party voters. He continued idiotic wars, bailed out banks, ignored luminaries like Paul Krugman, and generally did whatever he could to repudiate the New Deal. The Democratic Party should be the party of pay raises and homes, but under Obama it has become the party of pay cuts and foreclosures. Getting rid of Obama as the head of the party is the first step in reverting to form.

This is an institutional crisis for Democrats. The groups that fund and organize the party — an uneasy alliance of financiers, conservative technology interests, the telecommunications industry, healthcare industries, labor unions, feminists, elite foundations, African-American church networks, academic elites, liberals at groups like MoveOn, the ACLU and the blogosphere — are frustrated, but not one of them has broken from the pack. In remaining silent, they give their assent to the right-wing policy framework that first George W. Bush, and now Barack Obama, cemented in place. It will be nearly impossible to dislodge such a framework without starting within the Democratic Party itself.

In other words, party inflexibility has a price. If the economy worsens going into the fall, and the president continues as he has to attempt to cut Social Security, Democrats might be facing a Carter-Reagan scenario. Reagan, at first considered a lightweight candidate, ended up winning a landslide victory that devastated the Democratic Party in 1980. Carter wasn’t the only loss; many significant liberal senators, such as George McGovern, John Culver and Birch Bayh, fell that year.

Stoller nails it by pointing out the extreme inflexibility inherent in the Democrat Party today.  Its leaders have decided that they want it to be the party of Big Business, and they don’t care what base voters think – so long as the Republicans are content to be the party of overt extremists, as opposed to the Democrats’ “covert” extremism, they reason, voters will at the end of the electoral season either shut up and vote for them anyway or else not vote at all.  Either way, that suits Democrat Party leaders just fine, wanting all the perks of power but none of the responsibility.  Stoller continues toward the end of his column by writing:

Obama has basically endorsed every major plank of George Bush’s administration, yet Democrats still grant their approval. What we’re finding out is that Obama’s pathologically pro-establishment and conflict-averse DNA was funded by party insiders and embraced by liberal constituency groups in 2008 for a reason.

Political parties need to be flexible enough to allow for new ideas to come into the process, or else third parties or civil disorder are inevitable. All it would take to provide this flexibility are well-known Democratic elders who understand that rank and file Democrats deserve a choice, and a few political insiders who realize that they can increase their own power by encouraging a robust debate. I don’t think this will happen.

Stoller rightly points out that the disastrous presidency of Grover Cleveland necessitated the removal of him as the Democrats’ candidate in 1896 in favor of William Jennings Bryan, who pressed for many populist reforms and began laying the groundwork for both the Progressive Era of the early 1900s and the New Deal Era of the 1930s and 1940s.  But for that to happen, there had to be widespread acknowledgment within the party that the path being taken could only lead to its ultimate collapse – self preservation instinct had to take over in order for the party to save itself, and in the 1890s, that realization rose and was accepted by party leaders.

Many disaffected Democrats still presume to think that they can take back the party from the corporate interests that have seized it.  But not one of them has dared come up with any serious roster of candidates willing to risk political suicide by running against Obama next year.  Corporate money, and therefore corporate influence, is so entrenched within the Democrat Party that it is now beyond all hope of repair.  Thomas Hartman does offer advice for retaking the Democrat Party from the corporatists, but it’s probably far too late for that.  The party has so alienated and disillusioned voters with its pro-war, anti-labor, anti-civil liberties, pro-corporate, anti-democracy nature that it is now highly unlikely that enough citizens trust that their activism will result in any significant reforms.

A serious effort to build a strong, viable third party organization can send the needed message to Democrat leaders that they can no longer take voters for granted, that we do have alternatives and we will turn to them if Democrats keep refusing to live up to their obligation to represent the public interest.  In 1992, H. Ross Perot’s strong showing of nearly nineteen percent of the vote in that year’s presidential election demonstrates that it is possible within our own era to gain significant votes to fundamentally alter the political landscape.  Progressives, laborers, and traditionally oppressed citizens can and should begin building that third party effort now, while the iron is white hot.  While we are doing that, remaining progressives within Democrat ranks can begin their takeover of the party by gaining precinct committee seats, especially executive committee seats, to obtain more control over the candidate-nominating process.  Sun Tzu admonishes students of warfare not to fight on multiple fronts, but to instead force the enemy to do so, thereby dividing his forces.  In World War II, Nazi Germany lost because it faced the dual military threats of the Allied forces in the West and the Soviet forces in the East, each of which operated in tandem with the other to close in around their mutual enemy and destroy him.  In politics, the same strategies and tactics apply.

Now, Democrat Party loyalists will cry foul, claiming that any attempt to run a primary opponent against Obama or draw voters to third parties will almost certainly result in a Republican victory next year.  But the way their party is doing things now, that result is practically inevitable regardless of what progressives do.  Obama and corporatist Democrats at the top are leading their party off a cliff, and no amount of hope will cause them to deviate from their chosen path.  What’s more, Republican vote-rigging is already well underway with highly restrictive ballot access and voter ID laws to prevent poor and minority voters from exercising their right to vote.  By running as the party of continuation with George W. Bush’s extreme right-wing policies, Obama and his sycophants are guaranteeing a close enough electoral result that Republicans will easily be able to steal 2012, just as they did in 2000-2006.  That they have such enthusiastic help from Democrats themselves makes GOP electoral “victories” all but inevitable.

When homophobia reigns

Sam P. Yalley, a so-called public interest lawyer and a former deputy minister in the administration of former military dictator Jerry John Rawlings.  He is proposing that persona arrested for acts of homosexuality be charged with genocide.  His reasoning is that homosexuality exterminates the concept of procreation.

He made his comments in response to the Attorney General, Martin Amidu, who said that homosexual acts between two consenting adults were not illegal with regard to Ghana’s laws if they were confined to the privacy of the partner’s bedroom.

For me there is another session of the criminal code which people are not taking a look at, it is about genocide.

Genocide results in the extermination of the human race and if you expand the meaning of homosexuality to mean that a man cannot have a child with another man then it means that that practice would lead to the extermination of mankind and therefore for me if i am to charge anybody apart from having unnatural carnal knowledge, i would also charge him with genocide and see how he can get out of that situation.

If you are a man and you are having canal knowledge with a man how are you going to have a child?

I agree totally with the clergy in condemning it.

Sam P. Yalley

On This Day In History September 5

Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

Find the past “On This Day in History” here.

September 5 is the 248th day of the year (249th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 117 days remaining until the end of the year..

On this day in 1882, the first Labor Day was celebrated in NYC with a parade of 10,000 workers. The Parade started at City Hall, winding past the reviewing stands at Union Square and then uptown where it ended at 42nd St where the marcher’s and their families celebrated with a picnic, concert and speeches. The march was organized by New York’s Central Labor Union and while there has been debate as to who originated the idea, credit is given to Peter McGuire, general secretary of the Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners and a co-founder of the American Federation of Labor.

It became a federal holiday in 1894, when, following the deaths of a number of workers at the hands of the U.S. military and U.S. Marshals during the Pullman Strike, President Grover Cleveland  put reconciliation with the labor movement as a top political priority. Fearing further conflict, legislation making Labor Day a national holiday was rushed through Congress unanimously and signed into law a mere six days after the end of the strike. The September date was chosen as Cleveland was concerned that aligning an American labor holiday with existing international May Day celebrations would stir up negative emotions linked to the Haymarket Affair. All 50 U.S. states have made Labor Day a state holiday.

Cartnoon

A Sheep in the Deep

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