09/04/2012 archive

2012 Democratic National Convention: Day 1

Just as with the Republicans, all the real business (except for the nominations) takes place with the acceptance of the temporary officers of the Convention and the reports of the Credentials, Rules, and Platform committees.  Since there was no alternative primary candidate the votes themselves are likely to be uncontentious, but that doesn’t mean the polices are-

Unlike the Republicans, the Democrats are delaying the release of daily schedules until 10 pm the previous night.  I hate it because it puts more deadline pressure on me and I hate to tell you how much time I’m already spending on the orchids Archie.

5:00 PM – 6:00 PM

  • Call to Order Debbie Wasserman Schultz Chair of the Democratic National Committee Member of the US House of Representatives, Florida
  • Invocation His Eminence Metropolitan Nicholas Bishop of the Greek Orthodox Diocese of Detroit
  • Presentation of Colors Disabled American Veterans, The Stanly County Chapter 12 Honor Guard
  • Pledge of Allegiance 3rd Grade Class, W.R. O’Dell Elementary School Concord, North Carolina
  • National Anthem Amber Riley
  • Remarks Stephen J. Kerrigan Chief Executive Officer of the Democratic National Convention Committee
  • Welcome Video
  • Presentation of Credentials Committee Report from Co-Chairs Bishop Vashti McKenzie African Methodist Episcopal Church, Julian Castro Mayor of San Antonio, Texas
  • Presentation of Rules Committee Report from Co-Chairs Kamala D. Harris Attorney General of California, Martin O’Malley Governor of Maryland
  • Appointment of Convention Officers
  • Gaveling-in of Permanent Chair Antonio R. Villaraigosa Chair of the 2012 Democratic National Convention Committee Mayor of Los Angeles, California
  • Remarks Steny Hoyer Parliamentarian of the 2012 Democratic National Committee Convention Democratic Whip and Member of the US House of Representatives, Maryland, Andrew Tobias Treasurer of the Democratic National Committee, Alice Germond Secretary of the Democratic National Committee
  • Roll Call for Attendance

6:00 PM – 7:00 PM

  • Platform Committee Remarks Barbara Lee Member of the US House of Representatives, California Lieutenant General Claudia Kennedy (Retired) First woman to reach rank of three-star general in the US Army
  • Platform Video and Remarks Cory A. Booker Mayor of Newark, New Jersey
  • Remarks Bev Perdue Governor of North Carolina
  • American Hero Video: Education
  • American Voices Remarks Ryan Case
  • Remarks Mary Kay Henry International President of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU)
  • Remarks from Members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Charles Gonzalez Member of the US House of Representatives, Texas Chair of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, Nydia M. Velazquez Member of the US House of Representatives, New York
  • Remarks Pat Quinn Governor of Illinois
  • Remarks Doug Stern Cincinnati, Ohio Firefighter
  • Remarks Tim Kaine Candidate for the US Senate, Virginia Former Governor of Virginia Former Chairman of the Democratic National Committee

7:00 PM – 8:00 PM

  • Remarks Anthony R. Foxx Mayor of Charlotte, North Carolina
  • Harry Reid Democratic Majority Leader and Member of the US Senate, Nevada
  • An Economy Built to Last Video: Education
  • Women of the US House of Representatives
  • Jimmy Carter Video
  • Remarks Ken Salazar
  • Kennedy Family Tribute Video
  • Remarks Joe Kennedy III Candidate for the US House of Representatives, Massachusetts
  • Live Performance Ledisi
  • Remarks Robert Wexler President of the S. Daniel Abraham Center for Middle East Peace Former Member of the US House of Representatives, Florida

8:00 PM – 9:00 PM

  • Remarks R.T. Rybak Mayor of Minneapolis, Minnesota Jared Polis Member of the US House of Representatives, Colorado
  • Stronger Together Video: Reproductive Choice
  • American Voices Remarks Maria Ciano
  • Remarks Nancy Keenan President of the National Abortion Rights Action League – Pro-Choice America (NARAL)
  • Progress for People Video: American Veterans
  • American Voices Remarks Nate Davis
  • Remarks Tammy Duckworth Candidate for the US House of Representatives, Illinois Former Assistant Secretary of the US Department of Veterans Affairs
  • Lincoln Chafee Governor of Rhode Island
  • James E. Clyburn Assistant Democratic Leader and Member of the US House of Representatives, South Carolina
  • Progress for People Video: Health Care
  • American Voices Remarks Stacey Lihn
  • Remarks Xavier Becerra Democratic Caucus Vice Chair and Member of the US House of Representatives, California

9:00 PM – 10:00 PM

  • Ted Strickland Former Governor of Ohio
  • Kathleen Sebelius
  • Rahm Emanuel Mayor of Chicago, Illinois Former White House Chief of Staff
  • Remarks Kal Penn Actor/Producer Former Associate Director of the White House Office of Public Engagement
  • Remarks Craig Robinson and Maya Soetoro-ng Brother of Mrs. Obama and Sister of President Obama
  • Stronger Together Video: Equal Pay
  • Remarks Lilly Ledbetter Women’s equality leader and namesake of the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act
  • Deval Patrick Governor of Massachusetts

10:00 PM – 11:00 PM

  • Martin O’Malley Governor of Maryland
  • Introduction of Keynote Speaker Julian Castro Joaquin Castro Brother of Mayor Julian Castro Candidate for the US House of Representatives, Texas
  • Keynote Address Julian Castro Mayor of San Antonio, Texas
  • Michelle Obama Video and Remarks Elaine Brye
  • Remarks Michelle Obama First Lady of the United States
  • Benediction Jena Lee Nardella Founder and Executive Director of Blood: Water Mission

I’d say the highlights are Robert Wexler, Lincoln Chaffee, and Michelle Obama.  A variation TheMomCat noted is that Michelle Obama will be scheduled after the keynote, minimizing Chris Christie comparisons.

In looking at the agenda it seems the Democrats are putting more emphasis on pre-recorded contentent.

A Jim Blaine story-

I helped produce a folly of the myth of Persephone, a deeply symbolic piece about a young girl’s coming of age with incense and readings and a world beat sound track with live dancing and acting.

Performed by a cast of whomever we could scrape together and subject to 2 or 3 hours of make up and costume and choreography.

How to create this silk purse?  Pre-recording.  Teleprompters are for wimps.  Dual cassettes with live cast and 8 hours in the studio later you end up with something you hope the fireworks will distract from.

“Ok, now at the end of this song you all end up in a circle around Persephone.  Dragon?  Where’s the Dragon?  I need the Dragon on Stage now.”

The point?  There never was a bullier old ram…  oh.  Well, simply that while it may seem like a lot when you read it, the Republican convention was full of it too.

I removed all the “The Honorables” because none of them are.

Corporate Welfare Has Not Created Jobs

The 2012 Democratic National Platform talks big about job creation and rebuilding the middle class which has been taking hits since the Reagan tax cuts in 1984. While it touts the fact that the private sector has created jobs and the manufacturing sector is growing, its not enough. Most of the jobs that have been created are low paying. The Democratic Party has done little to debunk the lie that the wealthy corporations and individuals are job creators. By rubber stamping the past policies of giveaways to corporations and extending the Bush/Obama tax cuts, the Democrats have made the problems for the ever shrinking middle class even worse.

In two articles at Common Dreams, writers Paul Buchheit and John Atcheson debunk the “job creators fraud” and lay out the real problem ailing the economy, “corporate welfare”. In Mr. Buchheit’s article, he concisely cuts through the “job creator” nonsense with the facts.

Based on IRS figures, the richest 1% nearly tripled its share of America’s after-tax income from 1980 to 2006. That’s an extra trillion dollars a year. Then, in the first year after the 2008 recession, they took 93% (pdf) of all the new income.

He also notes that the wealthiest 10% own 83% of the financial wealth (pdf) and only pay 15% tax under the premise that they would create jobs. Instead they put that wealth into tax fee accounts overseas (pdf).

Mr. Atcheson breaks it down noting that the 15% tax rate allows the wealthy to avoid some $59 billion in taxes per year and by sheltering profits off shore, “(c)orporations are given $58 billion a year in tax breaks (pdf).” Hedge fund managers are given a tax break that allows them to pay only 15% on their earnings, avoiding at least $2.1 billion in taxes a year. Yet, as he further points out:

We spend $59 billion on social welfare programs, but more than $92 billion on corporate subsidies.  According to the Environmental Law Institute, fossil fuel industries alone get more than $70 billion in subsidies, with most going to the oil and gas sector.  Yeah, we certainly can’t afford to deprive Exxon of its record profits just to give money to needy kids.

Add to that $1.2 trillion the $9 trillion in low interest and no interest loans from the Federal Reserve and $700 billion bank bailout that these corporations and banks are making huge profits on and paying no taxes. You have, Mr. Buchheit notes, “$10 trillion in misdirected dollars.  Just 1/10 of that would create 25 million jobs, one for every unemployed or underemployed worker in America. Or a $45,000 a year job for every college student in the United States.”

These are the facts that Mr. Buchheit’s lays out:

The Wall Street Journal noted in 2009 that the Bush tax cuts led to the “worst track record for jobs in recorded history.” 25 million people remain unemployed or underemployed, with 30 to 50 percent of recent college graduates in one of those categories. Among unemployed workers, nearly 43 percent have been without a job for six months or longer.

For the jobs that remain, most are low-paying, with the only real employment growth occurring in retail sales and food preparation. A recent report by the National Employment Law Project confirms that lower-wage occupations (up to about $14 per hour) accounted for 21 percent of recession losses and 58 percent of recovery growth, while mid-wage occupations (between $14 and $21 per hour) accounted for 60 percent of recession losses and only 22 percent of recovery growth.

The minimum wage is shamefully low, about 30% lower (pdf) than the inflation-adjusted 1968 figure. And the tiny pay can’t be blamed on small business. Two-thirds of America’s low-wage workers, according to another National Employment Law Project (pdf) report, work for companies that have at least 100 employees.

All these job woes persist while productivity has continued to grow, with an 80% increase since 1973 as median worker pay has stagnated. [..]

With the bulk of their assets buried in “low-risk investments (bonds and cash), the stock market, and real estate”, the wealthy are not creating jobs:

… Only 3 percent of the CEOs, upper management, and financial professionals were entrepreneurs (pdf) in 2005, even though they made up about 60 percent of the richest .1% of Americans. A recent study found that less than 1 percent of all entrepreneurs came from very rich or very poor backgrounds. They come from the middle class.

There is ample evidence that more jobs were created when the top marginal tax rates were high.

Instead of cutting our social safety net, as President Obama has agreed to do in his “Grand Bargain”, we need to end the corporate welfare programs and put an end to the lie that if we tax the wealthy less they’ll create jobs.

Punting the Pundits

“Punting the Pundits” is an Open Thread. It is a selection of editorials and opinions from around the news medium and the internet blogs. The intent is to provide a forum for your reactions and opinions, not just to the opinions presented, but to what ever you find important.

Thanks to ek hornbeck, click on the link and you can access all the past “Punting the Pundits”.

Follow us on Twitter @StarsHollowGzt

Robert Kuttner; What Bernanke Couldn’t Quite Say

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke used his much-anticipated Friday speech at the Fed’s annual end-of-summer conference in Jackson Hole, Wyo., to sound almost like the last Keynesian.

As he put it: “Monetary policy cannot achieve by itself what a broader and more balanced set of economic policies might achieve; in particular, it cannot neutralize the fiscal and financial risks that the country faces.”

Commentators made much of the fact that Bernanke said that he considered the economy dangerously soft; that unemployment was far too high for this stage of a recovery; that housing continued to be a major drag, as well as state and local budget cuts.

The New York Times: Mr. Bernanke’s Next Task

It will be another week – at a meeting of the Federal Reserve policy-making committee on Sept. 12 and 13 – before anyone knows for sure what Ben Bernanke thinks the Fed should do, if anything, to stimulate the weak economy. What is known is that, without more help, the economy is likely to remain weak, or grow weaker, through the rest of this year.

In his speech on Friday at the annual meeting on monetary policy in Jackson Hole, Wyo., Mr. Bernanke said that past Fed interventions had been a plus for the economy, raising growth enough to add an estimated two million jobs, but that economic conditions are still “obviously far from satisfactory.” Then he said that more help would be forthcoming “as needed.”

But, by his own analysis, help is needed now.  

Joseph Stiglitz: Mitt Romney’s Tax Avoidance Weakens Bonds of American Society

If politicians and those around them do not pay their fair share of taxes, how can we expect that anyone else will?

Mitt Romney’s income taxes have become a major issue in the American presidential campaign. Is this just petty politics, or does it really matter? In fact, it does matter – and not just for Americans.

A major theme of the underlying political debate in the United States is the role of the state and the need for collective action. The private sector, while central in a modern economy, cannot ensure its success alone. For example, the financial crisis that began in 2008 demonstrated the need for adequate regulation.

Moreover, beyond effective regulation (including ensuring a level playing field for competition), modern economies are founded on technological innovation, which in turn presupposes basic research funded by government. This is an example of a public good – things from which we all benefit, but that would be under-supplied (or not supplied at all) were we to rely on the private sector.

Conservative politicians in the US underestimate the importance of publicly provided education, technology, and infrastructure. Economies in which government provides these public goods perform far better than those in which it does not.

Bob Herbert: How We Can Bring Millions of Americans to the Middle Class

The United States needs to be reimagined. A recent study from the Pew Research Center tells us that in economic terms the middle class “has suffered its worst decade in modern history.” It’s shrinking.

With jobs scarce, wages declining and the nation’s wealth concentrating ever more intensely at the top, the middle class has shrunk in size for the first time since World War II. [..]

What we’re experiencing is nothing less than an historic generational decline in living standards. We’ve obviously been doing something very wrong.

Laura Flanders; Labor Day Message: We Can’t Labor Without Our Lives

“Every culture lives within its dream,” wrote Lewis Mumford in 1934:

   “It is reality – while the sleep lasts. But, like the sleeper, a culture lives within an objective world that…sometimes breaks into the dream, like a noise, to modify it or to make further sleep impossible.”

This Labor Day it’s conventional wisdom to say the American dream is broken. For those who ever dreamed it, that dream featured all that typically fills the fantasies of capitalist cultures: if not heaven, then at least happiness here on earth, built from stuff and standing acquired through human sweat and toil; Americans sold themselves (and others) another fancy too, a fair shake, in a “city upon a hill” nation replete with opportunity. (The facts of slavery, land theft and genocide notwithstanding.)

For many who were sleeping soundly previously, the noise that’s broken in is that of millions of Americans living without enough to eat (46 million, including one in five of all children); the racket of rampant ill-health, the half-of-all jobs that barely lift families out of poverty ($34,000 or less) and the kicker: less social mobility than exists in most of Old World Europe.

Joe Nocera: They’re Not What They Used to Be

What did I miss while I was away? Ah, yes, the Republican National Convention. I hear the Republicans nominated Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan for president and vice president. Imagine that. [..]

As usual, journalists vastly outnumbered the delegates. As usual, the thing was so finely scripted, Eastwood aside, that there wasn’t a whole lot of genuine news to report. As Jeremy Peters put it in The Times, “Today’s media labor to enliven coverage of what typically are endless hours of preordained events.” The decision by the major networks to cut back coverage to an hour a night is not irrational. [..]

On the other hand, old-style conventions, for all their flaws, demanded compromise that is essential for governing. Nor were the party bosses willing to throw their weight behind candidates who were too far outside the mainstream.

The primary system has allowed the two parties to be captured by their more extreme elements. Compromise is now a dirty word. Centrism is for losers. Conventions now enforce the views of the hard-liners.

Michael Steele

As Aired

Part 1

Part 2

In a nation run by swine, all pigs are upward-mobile and the rest of us are fucked until we can put our acts together: Not necessarily to Win, but mainly to keep from Losing Completely.

On This Day In History September 4

This is your morning Open Thread. Pour your favorite beverage and review the past and comment on the future.

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

September 4 is the 247th day of the year (248th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 118 days remaining until the end of the year.

On this day in 1886, Apache chief Geronimo surrenders to U.S. government troops. For 30 years, the mighty Native American warrior had battled to protect his tribe’s homeland; however, by 1886 the Apaches were exhausted and hopelessly outnumbered. General Nelson Miles accepted Geronimo’s surrender, making him the last Indian warrior to formally give in to U.S. forces and signaling the end of the Indian Wars in the Southwest.

While Geronimo (Chiricahua: Goyaale, “one who yawns”; often spelled Goyathlay or Goyahkla in English) said he was never a chief, he was a military leader. As a Chiricahua Apache, this meant he was one of many people with special spiritual insights and abilities known to Apache people as “Power”. Among these were the ability to walk without leaving tracks; the abilities now known as telekinesis and telepathy; and the ability to survive gunshot (rifle/musket, pistol, and shotgun). Geronimo was wounded numerous times by both bullets and buckshot, but survived. Apache men chose to follow him of their own free will, and offered first-hand eye-witness testimony regarding his many “powers”. They declared that this was the main reason why so many chose to follow him (he was favored by/protected by “Usen”, the Apache high-god). Geronimo’s “powers” were considered to be so great that he personally painted the faces of the warriors who followed him to reflect their protective effect. During his career as a war chief, Geronimo was notorious for consistently urging raids and war upon Mexican Provinces and their various towns, and later against American locations across Arizona, New Mexico, and western Texas.


In 1886, General Nelson A. Miles selected Captain Henry Lawton, in command of B Troop, 4th Cavalry, at Ft. Huachuca and First Lieutenant Charles B. Gatewood to lead the expedition that captured Geronimo. Numerous stories abound as to who actually captured Geronimo, or to whom he surrendered, although most contemporary accounts, and Geronimo’s own later statements, give most of the credit for negotiating the surrender to Lt. Gatewood. For Lawton’s part, he was given orders to head up actions south of the U.S.-Mexico boundary where it was thought Geronimo and a small band of his followers would take refuge from U.S. authorities. Lawton was to pursue, subdue, and return Geronimo to the U.S., dead or alive.

Lawton’s official report dated September 9, 1886 sums up the actions of his unit and gives credit to a number of his troopers for their efforts. Geronimo gave Gatewood credit for his decision to surrender as Gatewood was well known to Geronimo, spoke some Apache, and was familiar with and honored their traditions and values. He acknowledged Lawton’s tenacity for wearing the Apaches down with constant pursuit. Geronimo and his followers had little or no time to rest or stay in one place. Completely worn out, the little band of Apaches returned to the U.S. with Lawton and officially surrendered to General Miles on September 4, 1886 at Skeleton Canyon, Arizona.

The debate still remains whether Geronimo surrendered unconditionally. Geronimo pleaded in his memoirs that his people who surrendered had been misled: his surrender as a war prisoner was conditioned in front of uncontested witnesses (especially General Stanley). General Howard, chief of Pacific US army division, said on his part that his surrender was accepted as a dangerous outlaw without condition, which has been contested in front of the Senate.

In February, 1909, Geronimo was thrown from his horse while riding home, and had to lie in the cold all night before a friend found him extremely ill. He died of pneumonia on February 17, 1909 as a prisoner of the United States at Fort Sill, Oklahoma. On his deathbed, he confessed to his nephew that he regretted his decision to surrender. He was buried at Fort Sill in the Apache Indian Prisoner of War Cemetery

Exposing the Lies in the 2012 Democratic National Platform

The Democratic National Convention formally convenes at 5 PM EDT in Charlotte, North Carolina. The 2012 Democratic National Platform was released to the press Monday afternoon. I haven’t read it in its entirety but  I was drawn to read the housing section because of these two tweets from FDL‘s David Dayen:

Stabilizing the Housing Market and Hard-Hit Communities.

For more than a decade, irresponsible lenders tricked buyers into signing subprime loans while too many homeowners got in over their heads by buying homes they couldn’t afford. But when the housing bubble burst, it hurt everyone, including responsible homeowners who played by the rules, but saw their home values decline and their neighbors’ houses sit vacant. The housing market’s dramatic collapse did more than punish millions of innocent Americans; it also triggered the economy’s downward spiral into recession. President Obama took swift action to stabilize a housing market in crisis, helping five million families restructure their loans to help them stay in their homes, making it easier for families to refinance their mortgages and save hundreds of dollars a month, and giving tax credits to first-time home buyers. He also cracked down on fraudulent mortgage lenders and other abuses that contributed to the housing crisis. Democrats have held the largest financial institutions accountable by requiring them to provide relief for homeowners still struggling to pay their mortgages and to change practices that took advantage of homeowners. Democrats also understand the importance of helping communities fightback against the foreclosures that threaten entire neighborhoods, which is why the President proposed to expand the successful neighborhood stabilization efforts in his American Jobs Act. Too many people still owe more on their homes than they are worth. That is why Democrats are fighting to give every responsible homeowner the chance to refinance their home, spurring investment in communities that have been hit hardest by foreclosure, and taking whatever steps we can to avoid more foreclosures. The President remains committed to creating an economy that’s built to last, where homeownership is an achievable dream for all Americans

Emphasis mine

David is right, this has to be the most outrageous lie since Paul Ryan took to the stage at the RNC Convention.

From the September 1 New York Times Editorial: Still No Justice for Mortgage Abuses:

The Office of Mortgage Settlement Oversight, the monitor of the settlement, released a preliminary report last week showing that 138,000 homeowners had received some form of relief from March 1 through June 30. That is roughly the number that would have been expected under various aid programs in effect before the settlement. Worse, with some three million borrowers now in or near foreclosure, according to Moody’s Analytics, it is nowhere near the level of relief needed to fix the housing market. [..]

Short sales are better than foreclosures, in part because they prevent vacancies that depress house values. But they are not punishment for wrongdoing in any meaningful sense; rather, they allow banks to get higher prices for underwater properties than they could have gotten in foreclosure sales.

Nor do they fulfill the settlement’s main purpose: to keep underwater borrowers in their homes by reducing the principal on their mortgage loans. According to the monitor’s report, $8.7 billion of debt has been written off in short sales versus only $750 million of principal reduction from loan modifications.

And the fraud continues, thanks to MERS. Don’t let the rosy housing price increases fool you:

(N)ew foreclosures continued to be filed – 256,000 people had a foreclosure added to their credit reports in the June quarter – but that figure was the lowest since mid-2007, the Fed said.

In stark contrast to this improving backdrop are the legal battles still being waged over wrongful foreclosure practices. The glacial progress in these cases is not surprising, given the crowded courts and combatants’ usual stalling tactics.

What is surprising is the fresh evidence these cases are turning up of cockeyed mortgage practices, during both the boom and the bust. As these matters are adjudicated, perhaps we will finally learn whether these practices were intended or accidental. [..]

A foreclosure from Ohio highlights this problem. The facts from this matter are central to a prospective class action filed by a borrower, who contends he was charged improper court costs and legal-related fees in his foreclosure.

The case involved legal moves taken against a bank in 2007 that did not even have an interest in either of the two mortgage liens associated with the foreclosed property. Even though the bank should never have been dragged into the matter, it was – generating $775 in court costs and legal fees paid by the borrower, documents show. Only two years later, during the discovery process, did it emerge that the bank had no ownership in the underlying property.

That $775 may not sound like much. But Paul Grobman, a lawyer in New York who represents the borrower, said he believed the collection of what he called improper legal charges is rampant in foreclosures.

Here is the entire platform:

Document the lies.