Keating 5 Scandal – Something to think about…

I don’t have time to comment extensively on this just yet, but I will edit the post later with my thoughts.

This is a short documentary (released by the Obama campaign for the sake of full disclosure) that argues that John McCain directly contributed to the creation of the conditions for the banking collapse through his involvement with the deregulation of the Lincoln Savings and Loan in the 80s. It is also suggested that Charles Keating who ran the savings and loan previously made a significant financial contribution to McCain’s campaign. Like I said, more to come later, but at first blush I feel pretty confident when I say (nothing more, nothing less than) that I believe that the economic policies of John McCain are systematically incapable of solving the economic crisis long term.


How to Gain Friends and Influence the Market

I read a very eye-opening blog piece today that supports a notion that’s been developing in my head over the last year or so, namely, that the dominance of the capitalist ideology has been built upon the “misdirection play”, or to put it another way, by mastering the magician’s “slight of hand” technique.

“It’s magic!!!” Well no, not really… it’s just that we missed the coin dropping into the magician’s sleeve.

The premise of the argument is that the “deferred compensation” plan that drives the 401Ks and IRAs we’ve all become so dependent upon for retirement isn’t so much about putting ownership in the hands of the laborers, as it is about giving us that impression. I preface the link to this essay by openly admitting that it is highly contingent upon opinion, and a relatively small sample of citation for support. The author readily admits as much. If I ever manage to find some time of my own, I intend to do a little follow-up and check the credibility of the sources. But I also suggest that the argument makes logical sense, and furthermore, that many of the truths we now hold as self-evident themselves began as mere opinion, or hypotheses. For the time being, I’m willing to say that I’m reasonably convinced of the article’s premise. I will also say that if I am presented with convincing evidence that contradicts the premise, I’m willing to rethink the issue.

The conclusion of the essay is posted below. You can find the rest of the essay here: No Deal

Try not to dismiss it outright if you happen to dislike the website on which it was posted. There is a lot of material on these partisan blogs that is exaggerated and one-sided. That goes for the Left as well as for the Right. That doesn’t mean that there aren’t, at times, well thought out, logical positions containing truth from time to time. Our political culture would be much more palatable if we all conceded that.

Broad ownership of deferred compensation plans has greatly changed how we view the stock market and made us more willing to take action that benefits the market. It’s likely that not only the $700 billion bailout, but much of the deregulation that made that bailout necessary, would not have been possible without the change in attitude created through deferred compensation plans. We were willing to let them get away with being weasels, because we thought we would gather part of the benefit from their activities.

This is, of course, an illusion. This impression that stocks are now in the hands of average Americans is a thin veneer over the situation as it has always existed. The median amount of money Americans hold in retirement accounts is around $35,000 – hardly a stock market bonanza — and even this number fails to capture the real situation. For Americans below the 60th percentile on income, the amount held in retirement accounts is around $15,000. For the top 10%, the number is $182,000. Similar numbers apply to direct stock ownership. Around 85% of all stock is owned by those families in the top 10% income bracket. The top 1% owns over half.

What Reagan said in 1975 is still true – a very small number of Americans own the means of production, while the rest work for them. The difference now is that we think we are among the owners, which has been a tremendous benefit to that handful of “real capitalists.”

They turned the pension system into a weapon that worked to their benefit, both at the bank and in the polling booth. Which is why they’re so anxious to do the same for Social Security.

I Saw the Best Team of My Generation…

Who's going to bail out the Cubs?

Who's going to bail out the Cubs?

What it Feels Like to be a Cubs Fan

Who are these players??? Where are my Cubs?

Who are these players??? Where are my Cubs?

There are a lot of people out there writing stories about the collapse of the Cubs… of the curse… of horrific defense and gutless lack of offense. You’ve tried to characterize us like a giant fiesta party (SI); show us as a bunch of angry, resentful, bitter fans ready to toss in the towel (ESPN); but none of that really comes close enough to the cold hard reality of what it feels like to Bleed Cubbie Blue.

In a painful and fruitless search for words that could describe the feeling… I came across this. And it was like Nirvana. This, my friends, is how it feels to be a Cubs fan. We’re the guy in the fedora style hat, and his shorter friend.

“We know we bad… hey wait. That’s not the way we meant bad!”:

It’s Our Time – The Cubs Start Their Run Tonight

Woodys ready... are you?

Woody's ready... are you?

The Cubs begin their march to the Fall Classic tonight at 6:30pm EDT… and I’ll be taking the kids to Awana.

Somebody write that down and show it to my kids if they ever question my love for them. Seriously. This is killing me.

Go Cubs Go!

Don’t Let it Happen Again…

Beyond this, there could be November 4th surprise: the Republicans may try to steal the election. Again. They loudly claim to be concerned about voter fraud, even though a New York University study recently found that it “is more likely an individual will be struck by lightning than that he will impersonate another voter at the polls.” But in the name of this paltry risk, they are effectively stripping millions of people – overwhelmingly black and Democrats – of their vote.

Their first vote-stripping tactic is to require elaborate voter I.D. that black people disproportionately lack. For example, in Indiana – a crucial swing state – Republicans have passed a law requiring voters to bring an official government document bearing their photograph to the polling station. But a study by the University of Wisconsin found that 53 percent of black adults didn’t have a passport or driving license, compared to 15 percent of white people. So they can’t vote unless they travel for hours (often without a car) to a sparse government registry and queue for half a day to get the correct the correct documentation. The former political director of the Texas Republican Party, Royal Masset, explains: “Requiring photo IDs could cause enough of a drop-off in legitimate Democratic voting to add 3 percent to the Republican vote.”

Their second tactic is to strip the electoral rolls of black names. In almost all US states, criminals lose their vote for life. This is shocking in itself – it disenfranchises a quarter of all black men in Kentucky, for one. But many states have a sloppy process where they simply scrub anyone with the same name as a criminal off the list. So if there is a criminal called ‘Chris Wayne’ in a county, every black man called ‘Chris Wayne’ loses their vote. That’s a lot of Democrats. In Florida in 2000, black voters made up 13 percent of the electorate yet they were 26 percent of the people wrongly disenfranchised.

When a judge ordered the release of the paper-work, he found out why. The team under Florida governor Jeb Bush had ordered that black criminal names had to go – but Hispanic names were not to be touched. Black Floridians overwhelmingly vote Democrat, while Hispanics lean towards the Republicans. The Bush team said this was “absolutely unintentional” and “a coincidence.”

This time, the Republicans have added another group to strip from the rolls. James Carabelli, a Republican Party chairman in Michigan, says: “We have a list of foreclosed homes and will make sure people aren’t voting from those addresses.” These voters are supposed to register from their new addresses – but many are out of time, or too stressed to do it. So the Republicans have launched a national “voter challenge campaign” against honest people who have lost their homes. They know that 60 percent of sub-prime mortgages went to black voters, and virtually everyone who lost their home is angry with the Republicans.

October Surprises

Be Kind, for Everyone You Meet is Fighting a Hard Battle

There’s a woman named Penny who lives next door to my in-laws on a good-sized piece of land in Bath, Michigan. She has horses, dogs, and a baby deer. She has kids: girls in, or just out of, high school I believe.

She has thirty days to move out of the house. She can’t pay her mortgage.

Penny is temporarily leaving the animals on an acreage that belongs to her boyfriends parents.

Penny is going to be living in a horse trailer with no water or electricity.


There’s a guy who plays guitar everyday on the corner of Mt. Hope and Pennsylvania in Lansing, Michigan. He has a bucket at his feet and a sign around his neck that says “Food”. He’s out there everyday.


I’m tired and I have a lot of reading and grading to do…

…I have to swing by Kroger in the morning and pick up some peanut butter crackers, or tuna, or beef jerkey.

Something that will keep in a guitar case for a few hours.

If you can make any time, and you live in the area, go listen to some street music. The cover charge is a bottle of water, but a bunch of bananas would get you into the show.