This Is Your Community Too!!

Bumped and promoted. Originally posted 2009-03-21 06:56:35 -0500. -- GH

Is Anybody Listening?

Many have already heard about the kids from Pomona California Village Academy High School, many have probably caught their little eight minute video that has launched them into the National Spotlight and Political Debate on what this Country is now going through. But this isn't new it's just affecting many more kids and families now, with more added each day. Kids can't learn and achieve any dreams they might have if their families are struggling and their living those struggles daily.

Last night on the PBS News Hour they showed a report on these kids and their videoed thoughts and feelings, that report is directly below.

Open Thread -- The Pending AIG Clawback Edition

The recent furor over the $165 million in bonuses paid to AIG executives -- allegedly for "retention" even though 11 of 17 recipients are now no longer at the firm -- has resulted in a whirlwind of activity on Capitol Hill and from the White House, resulting in statements and claims that virtually every last dollar of those ill-gotten gains (the bonuses) will be recovered.

According to this piece on Reuters, U.S. to claw back AIG bonuses, lawmakers eye tax,

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Obama administration turned up the heat on AIG (AIG.N) on Tuesday over its employee bonuses, saying the embattled insurer will be forced to repay U.S. taxpayers before it gets another bailout of $30 billion.

Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner laid out the conditions in a letter to congressional leaders as irate lawmakers moved quickly toward legislation that would slap a heavy tax on $165 million in bonuses paid by American International Group Inc.


Beyond the bonuses, anger flared anew on Sunday when AIG disclosed that Goldman Sachs Group Inc (GS.N) and a host of European banks were the major beneficiaries of $93 billion in payments from the insurer -- more than half of the U.S. taxpayer money spent to rescue it.

The ongoing bruhahas -- which I strongly suspect won't be the last ones related to this burgeoning crisis -- are not completely unexpected. For some interesting reading regarding clawbacks and the "polluter pays principal" see the following Journal articles by Michael Thomas:

Use Clawbacks to Fund Wall Street Bailouts, by Michael Thomas
US Treasury $copy; 2008 TH(ePluribus Media)  

Attorney Michael Thomas shares his insights from working with dot com and venture capitalists and witnessing first hand how they cleaned up the dot com bubble mess using clawbacks.

He has some suggestions for the Wall Street One Percenters.


Use Polluter Pays Principle to Fund Bailout, by Michael Thomas
US Treasury $copy; 2008 TH(ePluribus Media)  

Michael Thomas recognizes that the Bailout bill that failed to pass in the House on Monday was at best, a compromise. Instead of a 700 billion dollar bailout, Thomas suggests that there is a viable alternative for funding the bailout through the concept of the "Polluter Pays" principle used in Super Fund Cleanup legislation. 


Check 'em out, and keep an eye open for more "good stuff" as it comes along on both the ePluribus Media Journal and over here, on our Community Site.

This is an Open Thread.

Waiting for Bottom - unemployment hits 20% in LA

Missed this my first time thru -- bumped and promoted. Thanks, Susie! Originally posted 2009-03-17 09:03:16 -0500.  -- GH

I am under the impression that 20% is a magic number - a sort of rubicon - that denotes depression with a capital D.

One in Five Angelenos Is Out of Work
By Jack Noyes,, March. 15, 2009 By

Southern California economic guru Jack Kaiser [sic] said Wednesday night the true unemployment rate in Los Angeles County stands at 20 percent.

While the official unemployment rate for Los Angeles County is 12 percent, Kaiser said recent research indicates the real and true rate of unemployment is 20 percent.

WWPGD? (What would Phil Gramm do?)

Jack Kyser is the founding economist of the Kyser Center for Economic Research at the Los Angeles Economic Development Corporation. According to his bio, he has strong ties to the Chamber of Commerce. That relationship that suggests he's not prone to exaggeration for the benefit of a bunch of whining unemployed workers. In what was described as a 'dour' report to the Torrance Chamber of Commerce last month, he predicted a recovery wouldn't start to take hold until 2010.

It sounds like we're a very long way from the bottom.

The Rigor Mortis Chronicles

Bumped and promoted. Interesting and worthwhile bit of reflection from the national gadfly.  It was originally posted the other day (I lost the timestamp). -- GH

My 'day job' has me traveling today.  I am in rural MA, but I could be anywhere.  Looking at this hotel and the, I am actually nowhere.  That has nothing to do with the city, though.  It has everything to do with the effect this economy is having on the people.

I've traveled for business for a couple decades now and I have this habit of getting up at the crack of dawn, showering, getting dressed and being the first one down to the hotel restaurant for breakfast.  It gives me a little mental edge to know that I'm prepared and ready for the day and I avoid any risk of becoming - that dumbass that rolled into the meeting late with his necktie crooked and his cell phone unmuted.

Michelle: "It Hurts!!", "It Hurts!!"

I went over to ABC News to see if they had posted a video report that I caught last night, never got to that as this is what I found, and will be airing this morning on GMA.


Exclusive: 'It Hurts,' Says First Lady of Military Families on Food Stamps


Recovery Begins With Truth

I am an alcoholic.

I got sober almost 20 years ago.  Before that, I abused alcohol, drugs, sex and money in order to ignore the damage I had done to my life, deluding myself .  I crawled through life in a cycle of being drunk or not yet drunk, making more mistakes that would need more drinking to erase.  I am nobody special.  Absolutely nobody.  Everyone on this planet has problems and I have mine.  I chose to deal with them by 'feeling better', one glass at a time.  All day.  Each and every day...week...month and year - until I turned to someone for help.

Nick Benton's Corner: Zeroing in on Middle America

Originally posted, 2009-02-25 07:58:28 -0500 with permission by Nicholas Benton, Eeditor/owner of Falls Church News Press

by Nicholas Benton

The unfathomable gulf between Washington-think and sentiments in the rest of the land, and globe, has never been clearer than in the first month of the new Obama presidency.

It appears that for the first time since President Johnson's "War on Poverty" initiatives of the mid-1960s, there's a man in the White House dedicated to directing serious national resources to alleviate pain among average Americans.

The president's announcement of his plan to address the home mortgage crisis struck a very deep resonating core in middle America yesterday, zeroing in like a fine, powerful laser on the heartstrings of struggling and fearful households and bypassing with deaf ears, so to speak, all the cacophony of Beltway and Wall Street pundits, critics, hesitators, cynics and enemies.

Open Thread -- Road Rage Edition

From March 20, 2008 -- an excerpt from a piece posted here by wade norris:

OK let's review. Last Spring, Bush said their was no recession. This summer, 'a few bumps in the road' - this fall, "Stormy weather", now, well their might be a depression, but my tax break will fix it. My opinion of these changes reflect that there is indeed a serious recession and possible depression occurring, but our news media doesn't cover the issues. At least BBC has covered the newest element of our spiraling economy - Bush's own 'Hoovervilles' are here.

A "few bumps in the road" appears to have turned into a highway to (or at least skirting) Hell. Even the magickally prosperous and ever-growing Dubai isn't immune:

With Dubai’s economy in free fall, newspapers have reported that more than 3,000 cars sit abandoned in the parking lot at the Dubai Airport, left by fleeing, debt-ridden foreigners (who could in fact be imprisoned if they failed to pay their bills). Some are said to have maxed-out credit cards inside and notes of apology taped to the windshield.

The government says the real number is much lower. But the stories contain at least a grain of truth: jobless people here lose their work visas and then must leave the country within a month. That in turn reduces spending, creates housing vacancies and lowers real estate prices, in a downward spiral that has left parts of Dubai — once hailed as the economic superpower of the Middle East — looking like a ghost town.

No talking? No facts or feedback if it'll hurt the government or reputation? Mmmm...maybe that's why Dick Cheney's former company, Halliburton, finds it a great place to retreat to. Of course, the voices of reality sometimes have a habit of catching back up with people -- and governments.

Click to enlarge. Attribution: xkcd.1

It may not be a voice in the back of your head, but you can bet on the likelihood that someone is talking, somewhere. In this day and age, it's difficult to hide anything completely successfully.

No one knows how bad things have become, though it is clear that tens of thousands have left, real estate prices have crashed and scores of Dubai’s major construction projects have been suspended or canceled. But with the government unwilling to provide data, rumors are bound to flourish, damaging confidence and further undermining the economy.

Instead of moving toward greater transparency, the emirates seem to be moving in the other direction. A new draft media law would make it a crime to damage the country’s reputation or economy, punishable by fines of up to 1 million dirhams (about $272,000). Some say it is already having a chilling effect on reporting about the crisis.

Last month, local newspapers reported that Dubai was canceling 1,500 work visas every day, citing unnamed government officials. Asked about the number, Humaid bin Dimas, a spokesman for Dubai’s Labor Ministry, said he would not confirm or deny it and refused to comment further. Some say the true figure is much higher.

It's beginning to look like Dubai's little microcosm is also going to serve as a small-scale simulation of events that will play out if we don't get a viable handle on the current runaway economy.

This is an Open Thread.

For more information about past ePluribus Media stories, check out these taxonomy / "tag" / terms:

recession : financial crisis : economy

Note: there is a little overlap. 

Mesmerized by Melodic Rhetoric: Guns vs. Hope

Mesmerized by Melodic Rhetoric: Guns Versus Hope

Joel S. Hirschhorn

"I've been through Y2K and I've been through 9/11. I have never seen people so afraid as what we are seeing right now,” said gun shop owner Scott Moss recently. With more guns per capita – easily 250 million privately owned ones – and certainly more people in prisons than any other democracy, the intriguing question in this still worsening economic calamity is: If Americans found the courage for political rebellion now, would it preempt massive criminal violence, social havoc and armed rebellion later?

Why Don't We Know A Bubble When We See One?

N'en déplaise à ces fous nommés sages de Grèce, En ce monde il n'est point de parfaite sagesse; Tous les hommes sont fous, et malgré tous leurs soîns Ne diffèrent entre eux que du plus ou du moins. - BOILEAU

Whatever these crazy appointed sages of Greece, In this world there is no perfect wisdom; All men are mad, and despite all their care Differ among themselves as more or less.

Economic Disaster: Are You Next?

The human costs of the U. S. financial crisis are coming into clear focus.  Family members lose their jobs, then their homes, and the cascade of ruin begins in earnest.  Health problems are ignored, anxiety and depression increase, and domestic violence is more common.  Many are on the edge, anticipating their worst fears:  losing their home or apartment then struggling to find the next meal.  The biggest issues right now are about basic needs -- food and shelter.

There's a rational, reasonably immediate solution to a good part of the economic disaster.  The banks won't like it but you will.   But first the sad facts.

There were 2.3 million default notices to homeowners in 2008, up 80% over 2007.  It will be worse in 2009 with Option ARMs coming due (those favorites of Alan Greenspan).

Typically the nation's economic leader, California, saw foreclosures increase by 160% in 2008.  As a result three percent of California homes, 240,000 in all, became bank properties.  These are the same banks that slithered up to the bar and demanded a double shot of the new elixir for failed financial institutions, federal bailouts.  Put it on the tab.

Al Qaeda Leadership Gather For Secret Meeting. "EFCA is The Great Satan!"

Promoted. -- GH

Osamas press conference in Muscat.

"The only good union is a dead union!" Osama bin Laden stated in prepared remarks today.

DATELINE MUSCAT, OMAN: Another shocking revelation of anti-Union plotting and scheming today, but this time it was not CEO's of TARP Bailout recipient banks
The attendees?  Senior Al Qaeda management, including Osama bin Laden,
Ayman al-Zawahiri and over two dozen more senior managers.  It marked a
historic first time for so many senior managers from Al Qaeda to be in
one place at the same time. Under normal circumstances and for security
reasons, Al Qaeda leaders are not allowed within 50 miles of each other
but desperate times call for desperate measures.

Set in the sleepy seaside town of Old Muscat, a city that has seen
better days.  Over the centuries, Muscat has served as a seat of
government and a door way to trade between Asia, Africa and Eastern
Europe.  The walls of the old city look out over the bay like bleached
bones, preserved in the salt and dry air.  The people that remain here,
do so stubbornly, like the wild trees and bushes that eke out their
existence along the rocky shoreline, sandwiched between ocean and
desert, buffeted by wind and heat.  The old market is still here, but
only locals trade there.  Dubai, with its glimmering towers and huge,
modern port facilities has rendered Muscat into merely a side trip for
the curious.  The Al Qaeda leadership meeting here, would very much
like to avoid becoming another Muscat.

Open Thread -- Layoffs And Losses Edition -- Update

Huffington Post has a biggie. Seems like our Bailout money is going to fund an anti-union campaign. See comment below.  IMO this is BIG. Bumped by carol, originally posted . 2009-01-27 10:38:19 -0500.


For some people, it helps to think of how bad things are somewhere else in order to put the little quirks and irksome things of one's own life into perspective. With that in mind:

Layoffs are rising and job losses frightening
Parachutes glitter while our belts are tightening
Recovery packages all tied up in strings
These are a few more political dings

Vanishing ice caps and deadly food sources,
Poisoning air, the land and resources,
Energy woes with alternative rings
These are few more emergency things.

Men in HAZMAT gear and mountaintop mining
Weather and climate change talks are declining
Healthcare for all so long as you're rich
These are the things for which Republicans bitch

When the dog bites
When the bee stings
When I'm feeling sad
I simply remember a few of these things
And then I don't feel so bad

Adapted from Maria's Song from The Sound of Music.

The economy isn't doing so hot. What's worse, of course, is that it likely won't get better before it gets worse, and the growing number of job losses indicate that it's on the way to getting much worse.  The breakdown of good and bad news over the fold.

An Economically Created Health Care Disaster

And your state is sure to be suffering:

Medicaid rolls are surging, by unprecedented rates in some states, as the recession tightens its grip on the economy and Americans lose their employer-sponsored health coverage along with their jobs.” In many states, Medicaid rolls grew by 5 to 10 percent in the last year, often double the growth the previous year. Congress is likely to extend Medicaid aid to states in the upcoming stimulus package.

And, as early as March, Obama will be moving forward on health care reform, according to the Politico:

The move signals Obama’s intent to keep one of the most ambitious and politically crucial campaign promises at the top of his agenda. On the campaign trail, Obama pledged to provide universal health care by the end of his first term, but the severity of the economic downturn has raised doubts about how quickly he can deliver on that promise. Obama and his point person on health care, former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, have staffed up like they plan to push forward with it, lining up a roster of communications and policy strategists to assist in the effort.

I wrote last week on a Tom Daschle statement that could be taken as a signal of which way Obama wants him to go: