05.23.12

If Mitt were your neighbor

Posted in Accountability, Mitt Romney at 10:52 am by angela

[I found this great analogy on DailyKos.]

The professional political media have expressed considerable consternation about “Obama’s Attack On Bain… And The Capitalist Way of Life!” Is it fair to examine a candidate’s business experience, especially when said candidate touts his business acumen as bona fides for running the country? Really? This is debatable?

I’d like to suggest a thought experiment. Mitt Romney wants to bring his business sense to running our country. His business ways are a way of American life. So let’s see how a private equity scenario might play out in my neighborhood…

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

I’ve always like my neighbor’s house. I asked some banker friends if they knew anything about the house or the family that owned it. And, as luck would have it, my banker friends did know about the house and the family. They told me that the house was worth $250,000, but the neighbor only owed $25,000 on it. They also informed me that the family had a bank account with $210,000 set aside for their children’s college education.

I told my banker friends that I wanted to buy that house. I asked them if I could use my neighbor’s house and bank accounts as collateral for the loan to buy the house. They said, “Sure!”

So I bought my neighbor’s house using my neighbor’s income and assets as collateral for the loan.

Once I took possession of the home, I named myself the new head of my neighbor’s family. Since I bought the house from the family, and I was now the head-of-the-family, I paid myself the money my neighbors would have received when I bought the house from them.

I was so proud of myself that I dipped into my neighbor’s college fund and paid myself a $55,000 management fee for being so brilliant. Oh, yeah, and for my new responsibilities as head-of-the-family. Almost forgot about that. So I took another $15,000 out of that college fund, just to be safe.

The family was really nervous about all these changes. Who could blame them? But as the new head-of-the-family, it was my responsibility to take care of them. After I asked the parents to vacate the master bedroom – I was the head-of-the-family after all – I told them that I’d build them a nice bedroom suite in the basement. “It’d be great,” I told them, “just you wait and see.”

I looked around the house and saw a few other changes that I wanted to make, so I went back to my banker friends and asked for another loan against the house to spruce up the place. Another $225,000 should do the trick.

I called up plumbers, electricians, roofers, framers, landscapers, drywallers, designers, architects and got them working on sprucing up the place.

Managing all of that construction chaos was a lot of work. I needed another management fee. Another $50,000 did the trick.

And then I had a very serious conversation with my neighbors. I explained that I’m doing a lot for them, but it takes money to do this. I told them that they needed to increase their income by 25% in order to cover the monthly payments on those loans I took out.

I also asked them to cut out any money they were spending on groceries. I said, “Think of how much space is wasted storing food, not to mention all the space taken up by the appliances used to cook the stuff. We can make more efficient use of the space without all that kitchen-y stuff taking up square footage. It’ll make a lot more sense for you to eat all your meals at restaurants – leave food storage and prep to the professionals.”

I wanted to redecorate, as well. So I sold all the household furnishings on Craigslist – that old stuff had to go! I pocketed about $12,000 by selling those furnishings.

But now I had an empty house I needed to fill with new stuff. So back to the bankers I went, and I got another line of credit against the house for $75,000 to pay for the new furnishings. But, again, this was a lot of work. So I dipped into the college fund one more time for $20,000 in management fees.

Have you ever tried living in a house while you’re renovating it? It is impossible. So, being the responsible head-of-the-family, I moved myself and my neighbor’s family to a really nice hotel that I own. For six months! I think they’ve seen the error of their ways with the whole “cooking” thing. Six months of restaurant dining was the best!

When the construction on the house was finally done and all the new furnishings were in place, we were ready to move back in. But we had a little problem. Remember how I asked my neighbors to make 25% more money to take care of these loan payments. They got a 2% raise at the beginning of the year, but that was it. And the hotel and restaurant bills were pretty high, so I had to use a lot of the money we borrowed for construction and redecorating to pay the hotel and restaurant. That alone came to $185,000. So, we were coming up short and couldn’t pay the plumbers, electricians, framers, landscapers, drywallers, designers, architects, or decorators… or the bank.

So I had to make a very big head-of-the-family decision. And big decisions are really hard to make. So, for all my troubles, I needed one last management fee from the college fund – the last $70,000. And then I made the big decision.

I decided to hand the bank the keys to house, let them take possession of it, and name them the new head-of-the-family. I thought maybe the bank could sell it and make back some of its money. Who knew the $250,000 house I bought, then poured another $300,000 into, would only be worth $295,000 when all was said and done?

When all was said and done, I walked away with $657,000 ($250,000 for buying the house, $210,000 in management fees, $12,000 for the old furnishings, and $185,000 for my hotel and restaurant.). Since the bank’s loans were secured, they got first shot at being made whole. The bank had loans of $550,000 against the house, but could only sell it for $295,000, leaving them in the hole for $255,000. But only $435,000 of the $550,000 in loan proceeds were used, so the bank recouped $115,000. That left them short only $140,000. What about the plumbers, electricians, framers, landscapers, drywallers, designers, architects, and decorators? Their claims against the family were “unsecured,” so they would have to split whatever assets were left. After the bank got its share, there were no assets left. So, that meant there wasn’t any money left to pay the plumbers, electricians, framers, landscapers, drywallers, designers, architects, or decorators. They lost $300,000.

And what about my neighbors? Well, they aren’t neighbors anymore. They had to leave the house when the bank foreclosed on it. The kids won’t be able to go to college, because their college funds are gone. My neighbors believe so much in the value of a college education that they would’ve borrowed money for their kids’ tuition. But, their credit is shot because of the foreclosure. And the bankruptcy. Oh yeah, they had to declare bankruptcy, too, because they couldn’t pay the plumbers, electricians, framers, landscapers, drywallers, designers, architects, or decorators. I heard some of the plumbers, electricians, framers, landscapers, drywallers, designers, architects, and decorators had to declare bankruptcy, too, since they didn’t get paid.

But, as Mitt says, “That’s the way America works.” Some people experienced a loss in this case because of a bad decision. By the way, there was someone who made a gain. The $900,000 they lost someone else gained.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Of course no one would stand for this if one’s life could be taken over in such a manner. But replace the house with a company, the college fund with a pension fund and you’re not very far off mark in describing how private equity can disrupt the lives of so many for the benefit of so few.

So is this a “fair” line of attack? Is it fair to consider the adverse reactions to a particular action? Why don’t you ask all those pregnant women who used Thalidomide to treat morning sickness? Thalidomide was an effective treatment for morning sickness, so why even worry about the extremely high rate of birth defects attributed to the drug?

Being a good steward to our country means taking as many of the costs and benefits into account as possible. Mitt Romney’s business experience is fair game. And it does not speak well of his ability to govern for the benefit of us all.

02.13.12

We’ll Occupy – repost this song

Posted in Accountability at 6:56 pm by angela

This is such an inspiring song.

03.20.11

The thing about Republicans and “jobs”

Posted in Accountability, Economics, Economy at 11:27 pm by angela

This is specifically about Republican governors like Rick Scott. who campaigned on the idea that they would be working for their constituents to bring jobs to the state, then turned around and killed projects to save a little bit of money, projects that would have brought a great many jobs to the state.

And it’s also about Republicans in any state and at the federal level who seem to be working very hard to kill jobs, increase unemployment, and destroy the economy.

It is important, first, to remember that Scott is not a politician in any normal sense of the word. As we know, “politicians” are at least in theory vulnerable to having their constituents vote them out of office when they get upset enough.

Rather, he is a corporate CEO. As we all know, he is one of the worst corporate criminals around, having been responsible for the largest corporate fine when his health insurance company was caught ripping off the taxpayer and bilking Medicare. What that means is he sees his job as maximizing profits and cutting losses. He sees no responsibility to the taxpayer, just as corporate executives see no responsibility to those who work for them for a living.

In fact, having come from a background where he is handsomely rewarded for ending the employment of as many workers as possible, he feels privileged to make the decision of who works and who does not. And like so many in charge of corporate America, he feels that there are way too many people at the bottom who do not even deserve to exist, and rich folks ought to change that – by eliminating as many jobs as possible, so that people who don’t deserve jobs will die off quietly.

The high speed rail project that would have brought so many jobs to his state, and even more jobs by boosting the economy, had to be killed, because the people who got those jobs don’t deserve to be working, or they’d have jobs already.

It’s corporate warfare, nothing less and nothing more. The revolution is coming. Take a number.

09.24.10

Contract on America 2.0: In their own words

Posted in Accountability, Contract on America 2.0, Republican party at 1:18 pm by angela

Jon Stewart blows away GOP’s Pledge to America!

Awesome research by the Daily Show staff in exposing just how the GOP’s “new” Pledge to America is nothing but retreads from years past.  Excellent research digging up a speech from Boehner in 1998 where he said the exact same words he said yesterday.

By BruinKid of DailyKos

REP. JOHN BOEHNER, R-OH (9/23/2010): … a smaller …

BOEHNER (3/3/1998): … a smaller …

BOEHNER (9/23/2010): … less costly …

BOEHNER (3/3/1998): … less costly …

BOEHNER (9/23/2010): … and more accountable …

BOEHNER (3/3/1998): … and more accountable …

BOEHNER (9/23/2010 AND 3/3/1998): … government in our nation’s capitol.

….

So two years ago America broke up with you, because you had badly mistreated her. … And you come back rapping on our door, hat in hand, and you say, “Baby, I know you love me.  But if we get back together, I pledge to you, I promise you, I will still try to f*ck your sister every chance I get.

Update: Oh, almost forgot.  Since school’s started up again for us, I won’t be able to post these diaries at this time anymore; my sleep schedule’s gonna change quite a bit.  Over the summer, I tried to get these posted almost as soon as the videos were put up online by Comedy Central.  I can’t do that anymore, and I’ll be on campus during the daytime, so what would you guys prefer I do?  I’ve added a poll to see what time suits the community the best, where you’d see the diary before it disappears.  (And yes, these diaries take up enough time and effort to get everything correct, that I don’t want to do it, only to have only 2 or 3 people notice it before it falls away.)

A year and a half ago, the Republican Party was reeling, still picking shrapnel out from a can of whoop-ass that had been opened up on them in the 2008 elections.  It was time for some self-reflection.

REP. MIKE PENCE, R-IN (4/30/2009): There’s no question it’s been a challenging time for the GOP.

REP. ZACH WAMP, R-TN (3/25/2009): It’s time for new faces, new leadership, to lead our party.

REP. MIKE PENCE, R-IN (4/30/2009): … we’re bringing new ideas …

REP. JOHN BOEHNER, R-OH (11/23/2008): You’ll see a lot of effort on our part to be the party of new ideas.

New ideas, everything is on the table.  Uh, spitballing here, how about something like this?  We got a black guy too!  You know, just spitballing here.

So the search for new ideas began in Northern Virginia, in a well-respected think tank/pizza place called Pie-Tanza‘s.  Of course, Pie for pizza pie, and Tanza for owner Tony Tanza.

But that was just the start.  The Republicans held town hall meetings.  They spoke to their constituents.  They took donors to Hollywood lesbian bondage clubs.  They even started their own website.

REP. JOE BARTON, R-TX (8/19/2010): AmericaSpeakingOut.com, that’s a website that the Republicans are using in the House of Representatives to try to get your ideas.

But seriously, they had nothing.  They had nothing.  They were completely out of ideas.  Well now, it’s nearly two years later, crucial midterm elections around the corner, and House Republicans poised with a real chance to win huge.  So they’re ready to unveil the fruits of their labor.  I give you, the 2010 Republican Pledge to Pie-Tanza… I mean, America.  Enjoy.

9/23/2010:

REP. MARSHA BLACKBURN, R-TN: We pledge to honor our families, traditional marriage, and life.

REP. BILL CASSIDY, R-LA: … real tort reform …

REP. SHELLEY MOORE CAPITO, R-WV: … don’t spend more than you take in …

REP. JEB HENSARLING, R-TX: … stop out of control spending …

REP. MAC THORNBERRY, R-TX: Support our troops, fight the terrorists, stand by our friends, and protect our citizens.

Whoa!  Who are these fresh faced young guns and their bold new ideas… wait a minute!  That’s the same shit we heard before!  I think your fresh new ideas… if I’m not mistaken, your fresh new ideas sound slightly like, I’m sorry, did I say slightly?  Exactly like your old ideas.

REP. PETER ROSKAM, R-IL (9/23/2010): … rein in the Washington, D.C., red tape …

REP. DENNIS HASTERT, R-IL (1/3/2001): … cut Washington red tape …

REP. JEB HENSARLING, R-TX (9/23/2010): … act immediately to reduce spending …

REP. NEWT GINGRICH, R-GA (6/5/1998): … have real reforms to reduce spending …

REP. JASON CHAFFETZ, R-UT (9/23/2010): … change the way we do business in Washington …

REP. JIM NUSSLE, R-IA (11/19/1994): … change business as usual in Washington …

REP. PETER ROSKAM, R-IL (9/23/2010): … make the tax cuts permanent …

REP. DICK ARMEY, R-TX (9/15/2002): … make the existing tax cuts permanent …

REP. BILL CASSIDY, R-LA (9/23/2010): … health savings accounts that puts the patient firmly in control …

REP. DENNIS HASTERT, R-IL (8/30/2004): … health savings accounts, which will give families more control …

REP. JEB HENSARLING, R-TX (9/23/2010): … reduce the size of our government …

REP. NEWT GINGRICH, R-GA (9/18/1998): … reducing the size of government …

REP. JOHN BOEHNER, R-OH (9/23/2010): … a smaller …

REP. JOHN BOEHNER, R-OH (3/3/1998): … a smaller …

REP. JOHN BOEHNER, R-OH (9/23/2010): … less costly …

REP. JOHN BOEHNER, R-OH (3/3/1998): … less costly …

REP. JOHN BOEHNER, R-OH (9/23/2010): … and more accountable …

REP. JOHN BOEHNER, R-OH (3/3/1998): … and more accountable …

REP. JOHN BOEHNER, R-OH (9/23/2010 AND 3/3/1998): … government in our nation’s capitol.

(wild audience applause)

(Jon making motorboating sound)

Wow!  I don’t even know what to say!  This thing’s not even a sequel, it’s like a shot-by-shot remake!  I thought the Pledge was you were humbled, and you were gonna come back with fresh new ideas.  Wasn’t that the Pledge?

REP. JOHN BOEHNER, R-OH (9/23/2010): On the point we make in this preamble to our pledge, is that we are not going to be any different than what we’ve been.

I believe that is a promise you can keep.  So two years ago, just to get this straight, two years ago America broke up with you, because you had badly mistreated her.  And so you disappear, do some soul-searching, get your head together, and you come back rapping on our door, hat in hand, and you say, “Baby, I know you love me.  But if we get back together, I pledge to you, I promise you, I will still try to fuck your sister every chance I get.  It’s who I am, baby!  It’s who I am!  Now, make up your mind, because I’m not going to ask you twice!

You may also want to see Jon Stewart pick apart Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s dickishness, as well his excellent interview with King Abdullah II of Jordan (extended version here) on the prospects of Middle East peace.

And Stephen concluded his work as a migrant farmer to hilarious extremes, as well as hitting back at Fox & Friends for criticizing him for testifying before Congress today on behalf of the migrant farm workers.

07.26.10

Shocking video shows Breitbart’s true colors

Posted in Accountability, Bad boys, Blogging, MoveOn.org, neocon crackpots, Propaganda, racism, Republican party at 10:56 pm by angela

Or does it?

After last week’s propaganda debacle, MoveOn.org has released an amateurishly-edited video of Andrew Breitbart talking about his allegiance to al-Qaeda, proving that with video editing anything can be proven.

Breitbart and embattled RNC Chairman Michael Steele will be appearing side by side at an upcoming Republican event, just in case you’ve forgotten who works for whom.

06.15.10

Rand Paul, “board-certified opthalmologist”

Posted in Accountability, Fraud, Health care, irrational thought at 9:28 am by angela

Okay. Didn’t we discuss this before?

Salon has a lovely article this morning updating us on Rand Paul’s current position on his board certification for opthalmology. You remember how he started his own certification board because he thought having to pay money to that other board was wasted, and he didn’t want to have to spend his time getting training or continuing education or taking tests when he could just jump in there and start operating, the free market at work.

His own certification board has no website and apparently no paper documentation. It is nothing but a PO Box in Bowling Green, KY. He did recently claim to be certified by that “other” board, which is nothing but a lie.

He’d like to get rid of government programs. But he thinks doctors are different. They should be guaranteed a comfortable standard of living by the government.

Does he inform his patients when examining them that his “board certification” is by himself, so they can make those “informed decisions” that lead to success or failure at the hands of the free market?

I wouldn’t want a doctor who had no need of certification and was unwilling to discuss his qualifications cutting open my eyes. Would you?

The guy is a liar, a creep, a fake, and a douchebag. Medicare ought to stop paying for surgery he does.

05.31.10

Israeli navy attacks supply ships, 19 massacred

Posted in Accountability, International relations, Terrorism, war crimes at 10:53 am by angela

Showing their true colors

The flotilla of ships carrying 10,000 tons of humanitarian aid for Palestinians in blockaded Gaza was attacked last night by the Israeli navy. Commandos boarded the ships, which had put up no resistance, and massacred 19 unarmed civilians. The ships had been waiting in international water for months.

Story

Prime Minister Netanyahu has called off Tuesday’s scheduled meeting with Obama, voicing full support for the navy’s actions – probably to prevent Obama from canceling first.

The White House said in a written statement that the United States “deeply regrets” the loss of life and injuries and was working to understand the circumstances surrounding this “tragedy.” Huffpo story

In other words, Obama is scratching his head, asking Rahm, “WTF were they thinking?”

The Israeli justification for murdering all those people is that they were attacked after they stormed the ship without justification. They did indeed seize the other ships uneventfully, and all have been towed to port.

So why did they seize the ships, which were moored in international waters? They wanted the goods and the ships. It was an official act of piracy.

How will the mainstream media manage to suppress this? Do you suppose this will show up on Fox News?

05.22.10

In the mind of Rand Paul

Posted in Accountability, irrational thought, libertarianism at 2:26 pm by angela

So he canceled on his Meet The Press appearance this Sunday, only the third scheduled guest to do so in 62 years.

Maybe he is thinking that he needs to work on his message with his handlers. If this is what he’s doing, it means he thinks his message is not ready for prime time. He needs to work on his sound bites to take back control of the interview from real journalists. You can never tell when a journalist will ask an inconvenient question, and he’s just had a rude awakening about what a real interview is after all the fawning softball questions he was fielding.

He’s probably not thinking about the big gaps in libertarianism that might make it unworkable as a political system, the ones he might not want to be associated with even though he may fully agree.

Paul is new to politics and really naive. He previously had said very little about his opinions. Most people simply do not know what classic hard line libertarianism stands for, and Maddow was the first member of the press to ask him hard questions. He was under the impression that after hearing what he had said while campaigning, most people understood his positions and agreed. Like many who associate themselves with the Tea Party, he thought mistakenly that his personal beliefs and positions are some sort of a consensus in this country and that the polls are wrong.

If he was more politically sophisticated he would probably have had an answer practiced for the question she asked him, but for him that would have necessitated dealing with a campaign manager who believes in research.

Many people agree with a few of the positions of libertarians. Hardly anyone thinks that we should go back to an era where segregation was legal, and he wouldn’t take a stand against it.

The idea that someone who is running for public office has the right to keep their opinions to themselves and not tell us what they believe in is absurd. If he can’t stand the heat of honest inquiry, he shouldn’t be running at all. Right now it looks like he won that primary on his name and his pretty face.

05.20.10

Rand Paul, “rights”, and libertarianism

Posted in Accountability, irrational thought, neocon crackpots at 10:32 am by angela

Last night Rachel Maddow spoke with Rand Paul, and he was evasive, to say the least.

I have read numerous blog posts about her interview, and I think there is a basic misunderstanding of his position on “rights”.

I think his difficulty (impossibility?) with answering the question “should a business owner be able to refuse to serve customers based on race?” is more than just evading that question itself.

It is a matter of trying to keep his philosophy out of sight. For all intents and purposes he seems to have succeeded in maintaining control of the issue. It doesn’t look good for him right now, but they aren’t asking him the questions he really, really doesn’t want anybody to hear.

Years ago I accidentally bought a hardcore libertarian book by mail, and I was absolutely shocked what I read. I had no idea. I was young, but not quite so naive after reading that.

The “rights” they perceive are very different from the ones we would think of as “human rights”.

He feels that it is a basic human right to discriminate against anyone you wish to discriminate against for whatever reason you may have. It is infringing on that right for the government step in and say you can’t.

It goes far beyond the question of a restaurant owner discriminating against black people. It extends to hiring practices, housing, pretty much all are considered “business dealings” that the government should keep out of.

The potential hiree and the business owner have the “right” to negotiate their terms of employment. The government should not interfere with such things as labor laws, safety regulations, etc. It is up to the potential employee to either work out a deal to his satisfaction, go somewhere else, or buy a factory and refuse to hire the guy who discriminated against him.

There is no recognition of the idea that the unequal power in such a situation means that there can be no fair negotiation.

Environmental issues? They were not a consideration when this philosophy was carved in stone. Many people at the time thought that they would take care of themselves, or at least they would only happen in the poor part of town. It would be interesting to get his take on the BP disaster right now.

I’d guess he favors the Alan Greenspan notion that people will make reasoned decisions based on full disclosure when deciding who to take their business to, rather than the fact that given a completely unregulated situation, those with no ethics will steal everyone else blind.

Taxes? Please, rich people shouldn’t have to pay taxes at all. Let investor groups build roads and bridges and erect toll plazas to pay for maintenance.

The libertarian philosophy is the direct ancestor of the “culture of greed” that we see touted so often, even among those who are being repressed by it.

Libertarianism is basically anarchist at heart, but at least anarchists are realists about the violence that would exist. In the libertarian utopia, there is no need for enforcement, as money does all the talking that counts. If you need to protect your property, you can hire a goon squad security company to deal with the issues.

What sort of issues? Well, when they get rid of public education and illiteracy soars, some of those unemployable people might decide to exercise their Second Amendment rights to buy guns and then take back their country.

03.05.10

Colbert as Hannity’s Pimp

Posted in Accountability, humor, Hypocrisy at 2:07 pm by angela

Following up on the farce that the supposed ACORN tapes have turned out to be… The transcripts of the originals show that both the O’Keefe and Giles were dressed in street clothes. He was posing as a college student trying to help an abused prostitute escape with some underage prostitutes from her pimp, all the rest is creative editing and dubbing.

Nobody does it better than Stephen Colbert, if the “it” he does best is creative editing to make it look like someone is saying something they never meant to say.

The Colbert Report Mon – Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Tip/Wag – James O’Keefe & Sean Hannity
www.colbertnation.com
Colbert Report Full Episodes Political Humor Skate Expectations

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