Five Letters: B.L.A.C.K.

While writing today about what conservatives are saying, I came across this little gem — The mortgage crisis is because we allowed black people to get mortgages. Subprime Mortgage Market In Perspective,

Scarcely a soul will recall that political pressure over red-lining was partially responsible for the subprime failures in the first place.

And while on this subject, in my earlier post about conservative philosophy, I chose not to comment on the blatant racism of the conservative Townhall post but I will point it out now. That post wrote about the “shiftless people” of New Orleans and makes a point of calling the mayor, “Mr. “Chocolate City.” And the readers “got it.”
I don’t usually fault bloggers for the comments they elicit, but this post was very clear in its point, and the number of readers leaving racist comments demonstrated that they got that point. Comment examples,

Yes, Katrina was different. It was different because of the huge fat women sitting on the kerb surrounded by their 12 year old daughters with their babies, chanting WE WANTS HEP! instad of getting up off their fat behinds and looking after themselves.
Two weeks after 9/11 the news cameras had packed up and refused to show us any more video or film; months later in New Orleans we were still being treated to shots of wailing Black women and their fatherless babies sitting on their backsides and screaming for cash.
The difference between Katrina and New York City on 9/11 is five letters long. B L A C K

Other comment examples:

You’re very lucky you don’t own a business because a Mr. Jackson and a Mr. Sharpton would be on your doorstep shaking you down for reparations payments.
…Presidents from now on will have to tell all the citizens down there, sitting on their fat, welfare fed butts, that we’ll never forget and the checks are coming.

In a nation where many people think that they are entitled to reparations for slavery, it is unlikely we will get over Katrina anytime soon.

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A Propagandized Military Is A Danger to Democracy

There is an important story out today, Lawmakers Describe ‘Being Slimed in the Green Zone’, about how troops in Iraq are provided with propaganda denouncing Democratic lawmakers who visit Iraq.
Talking Points Memo Disgusted but really only gets part of what it means

.It’s all par for the course for this administration, how they’ve politicized every branch of the government and every agency, eroding democratic institutions in American while they pretended to build them in Iraq. In fact, from the start the White House tried to stock the Green Zone and the US occupation authority with GOP operatives.

Here is why this is important. Combine this propaganda effort with past practices like Armed Forces Radio pushing Rush Limbaugh while refusing to offer other points of view (this has changed due to pressure from Democratic lawmakers) and the history of government-paid propaganda promoting the Republican Party viewpoint, and this represents a danger to democracy. It is a very bad idea to have a propagandized military supporting one party.
Demonstrating The Party’s politicization-of-troops efforts, Bushist Don Surber writes,

Moran and Tauscher are part of a clique of Democratic politicians who want us to lose in Iraq so they can gain on Republicans.

Is this what the troops are being told? Bushist-blog Wizbang shows what the propaganda is intended to make the troops think,

Do these antiwar Congressmen think the troops don’t know who supports them and who does not?

To really get the feel of what the right is advocating, read the comments at these sites.
UpdateThink Progress is now censored – troops can not visit their website since they allowed Ret. Maj. Gen. John Batiste to guest-blog in opposition to Bush’s policies.

The Difference Between Conservatives and Progressives

Progressives believe we are a community, all in it together, taking care of each other, helping each other. Conservatives believe we should each be on our own, and responsible only for ourselves (“personal responsibility”).
There is a good articulation of conservative philosophy today at the conservative movement’s It’s Time To Get Over Katrina Already. Some excerpts:

Two years after Katrina, everywhere you turn, there are people carping, whining, and kvetching. Just why hasn’t the pity party for the citizens of New Orleans run out of booze and chips yet?
… we’re all supposed to eternally sit around and weep tiny little tears of sadness for the people who really took it on the chin in a hurricane because they chose to live in a city shaped like a soup bowl on the coast. Let me tell all the citizens of New Orleans something that should have been told to them 18 months ago: it’s time to stop playing the sympathy card and get over it.
Nobody is owed a living for the rest of his life because he had a bad break two years ago…. How sad and pathetic is it that these shiftless people are still leaching off their fellow citizens?
… Guess what, buddy? You’re right; nobody does “give a s*** about New Orleans” any more other than a few saints and a lot of manipulative Democrats looking for a political issue they can exploit. That’s the nature of life. [emphasis added]

This pretty clearly shows how conservatives think about the idea that people should take care of each other – no?

Today’s Housing Bubble Post – Bailout With Taxpayer Dollars

Have you been responsibly managing your debt? Have you been sacrificing so you don’t get in over your head? Saving instead of borrowing? Accepting lower returns on your money rather than getting greedy and taking on high risk for higher yields?
Bush announced “home loan relief” today. What does this mean?
In short, a huge taxpayer transfer to the rich. Partly by moving more mortgages to federal insurance – meaning the government pays the investors when the mortgage fails. Also getting the housing agencies to raise the limits on “conforming” loans, in other words,a higher threshold before a loan becomes a “jumbo.” Which means taxpayer involvement in the higher-priced housing, too.
Bush said the government will work toward, “lowering down payment requirements, by increasing loan limits, and providing more flexibility in pricing.” Also to, “change its federal mortgage insurance program in a way that would let an additional 80,000 homeowners with spotty credit records sign up.” In other words, MORE bad mortgages.
Jill at Brilliant at Breakfast on the housing bailout,

Don’t kid yourself for one minute that this is about helping low-income Americans stay in their homes. If helping low-income Americans stay in their homes were the goal, the 9th Ward of New Orleans wouldn’t still be in ruins two years after Hurricane Katrina, its citizens dispersed elsewhere, the better to turn Louisiana into a Republican state and a cash cow for Bush’s corporate cronies. This Administration has dragged its heels on helping the most high-profile poor people in the country, but when the wealthy start to feel the effects, suddenly this president rushes into action.

Will The Fed Bail Out The Fat Cats Yet Again?

As I observe the professional reaction to the “mortgage crisis” and the credit crunch – coming from the bursting housing bubble – I am struck by the degree to which everyone is looking entirely to the Fed to bail out the big players. It is an expectation. It is the understanding of the financial class that they will be bailed out by the government – at the expense of the taxpayers. Again.
The stock market swings violently up or down depending on what they think the Fed might do. Everything depends entirely, entirely, entirely on the Fed — and not on the supposedly “free market.” Everyone is so used to the government stepping in and bailing out the fat cats. It happened after the S&L crisis. (In fact, it was a feast for the Republican-connected.) It happened when the Long Term Capital Management hedge fund got into trouble. So they are sure it will always happen. And they continue the financialization and securitization foolishness.
For decades massive debt has been building up – both on the government and the consumers’ books. In fact, Democrats keep reducing the borrowing when they are in office — Johnson balanced the budget, Carter submitted balanced budgets and Clinton was actually paying down the debt. But then Republicans get in and cut taxes on the rich, and the borrowing just SOARS! No one denies that we are in an unsustainable situation that has to lead to crisis eventually. But every time a reckoning comes near the Fed bails out the fat cats, and a new and bigger wave of financial foolishness commences.
Imagine if you were sitting at a blackjack table, and every time you ran out of money the manager of the casino said, “It’s OK, we’ll cover it for you.” What kind of blackjack player would you be? Would you be a careful player, managing your money, ready to step away from the table when you lost your limit? Or would you just bet more and more and more, until the casino manager came over against to tell you not to worry, he’ll cover it for you? You wold act exactly like the financial professionals are acting.
The Fed will bail out the fat cats again, which means that when the reckoning finally does come it will be a tsunami that realigns the entire world order.

The War On Terror – Perspective

As the country debates the “War on Terror” let me add some perspective and balance.
Tobacco companies kill approx. 400,000 Americans every single year. So far over 100 MILLION people have been killed worldwide by tobacco companies.
I’m not going to list here all the others killed by – and all the societal problems brought by – corporate malfeasance. Global warming and other environmental destruction, lack of health care coverage, stolen pensions, the list would go on for pages.
Therefore, I propose that any effort, any spending, any mobilization that we put out to fight the “War on Terror” — we do that tenfold working to bring corporations back under the control of the people.

Don’t Be Fooled

A Republican front-group called Freedoms Watch is saturating the TV with ads saying Iraq attacked the United States on 9/11.
Please watch the following response, and send it to friends and others. Take action – start your own”viral e-mail.”

The Republican ads repeat the phrase “we’re seeing results” and :things are getting better” and ask people to hold out for “victory.” This is obvious focus-group-tested wording. The phrases have no meaning, but they sound good. It sounds reasonable to “hold out” when “things are getting better.”
But it’s just a lie.
What does “victory” mean? Who are we supposed to be fighting? How do we “win”?

Single-Payer vs Medicare For All

I’m hearing proposals for “Single-payer healthcare” again.
Please, please, please don’t call it “Single-payer healthcare.” Please call it “Medicare for all“.
Everyone knows and likes and understands Medicare. It has been around for a while. It has the word “care” in it. Everyone knows it works and helps people.
NO ONE understands what “single-payer” means. It is a complicated word-construct. It contains the word “payer” which works against acceptance. It requires you to start from scratch to sell the idea, and from a marketing background I can tell you that all the money in the world isn’t going to sell “single-payer healthcare” to the public.
If you call it Medicare for all, people immediately understand, accept and like the idea.
Please, please banish “single-payer healthcare” from your vocabulary. Please.

Today’s Housing Bubble Post – The Tip – JUST the Tip of the Iceberg

An “ARM Reset” occurs when an adjustable loan (ARM) changes (resets) from its initial “qualifying” rate, and goes up to its real interest rate. This reset can cause the monthly payments on the mortgage to as much as double.
Much of the trouble we are seeing now in the mortgage markets now is coming from people not being able to meet their payments. But the problem of this rise in payments has only just barely started! Many, many more mortgages reset through the rest of this year — and then the number really takes off next year.
How many more mortgages reset next year than this year? Go look at the chart of upcoming ARM resets: Calculated Risk: ARM Reset Charts. This is huge. We have only seen the smallest beginning of the problem. This is going to be really, really big next year. A really bad problem.
And the reason there was a “qualifying” rate? The buyer couldn’t afford to buy the house and needed something to get around this limit. So they used a “qualifying rate” to accomplish this – to make it look like the buyer could afford the payments. In other words, after an ARM reset, people can’t afford to make their monthly payments. Se can talk about the reasons loans were given to people who can’t afford to make the payment in another post.
Update – Bonddad shows the same graph with some explanation, in this post.