Watercooler – What Book Would You Like To Write?

Last night, we shared what books we are currently reading. Tonight, I’d like to hear what you’d write about if someone gave you a fat check and said, "Write about whatever you want."

I’d do a lot of research and then write a political history of the United States – with a focus on new ideas and movements, how they were generated, what made them succeed, and how the establishment fought to destroy them.

What would you like to write about?

Late Night: Pouting Baby Asks Why Mrs. Ginni T Makes Mean Phone Calls

Pouting Baby asks why Mrs. Ginni T makes mean phone calls. (photo courtesy of Jim White)

Pouting Baby is talking to us again.   -JW

When I read the newspaper on Tuesday, I learned that Mrs. Ginni T left a really funny message on the answering machine of Professor Hill.  The message didn’t make any sense to me.  Here’s what the paper said:

“Good morning Anita Hill, it’s Ginni Thomas,” it said. “I just wanted to reach across the airwaves and the years and ask you to consider something. I would love you to consider an apology sometime and some full explanation of why you did what you did with my husband.”

Ms. Thomas went on: “So give it some thought. And certainly pray about this and hope that one day you will help us understand why you did what you did. O.K., have a good day.”

I talked to some old people who remember what happened back when Creepy Clarence was talking about being an important judge. The people talking to Creepy Clarence brought in Professor Hill and asked her about when she and Creepy Clarence worked together. He sure did some creepy things, so I don’t see why Mrs. Ginni T thinks it is Professor Hill who should say she’s sorry.

I noticed that Mrs. Ginni T made her telephone call really early on October 9. That’s a Saturday. That’s a funny day and time to call a Professor in her office. But Mrs. Ginni T had had a very bad day the day before. Here’s what was in the newspaper on October 8:

For three decades, Mrs. Thomas has been a familiar figure among conservative activists in Washington — since before she met her husband of 23 years, Justice Clarence Thomas of the Supreme Court. But this year she has emerged in her most politically prominent role yet: Mrs. Thomas is the founder and head of a new nonprofit group, Liberty Central, dedicated to opposing what she characterizes as the leftist “tyranny” of President Obama and Democrats in Congress and to “protecting the core founding principles” of the nation.

/snip/

But to some people who study judicial ethics, Mrs. Thomas’s activism is raising knotty questions, in particular about her acceptance of large, unidentified contributions for Liberty Central. She began the group in late 2009 with two gifts of $500,000 and $50,000, and because it is a 501(c)(4) nonprofit group, named for the applicable section of the federal tax code, she does not have to publicly disclose any contributors. Such tax-exempt groups are supposed to make sure that less than half of their activities are political.

Maybe on October 8, Mrs. Ginni T turned into Mrs. Gin and T because she didn’t like what the newspaper said about her. It’s too bad her telephone wasn’t from Horizon:

Video: LGBT leaders set aside differences to rally around Rep. Patrick Murphy

I enjoyed doing this video, though of course when you’re doing your part, you have no way of knowing how the finished product will turn out. Dan Manatt produced it and Joe Sudbay of Americablog and Adam Bink of Open Left corralled this motley crew together in support of Patrick Murphy. Here’s Kerry Eleveld’s take:

Progressive LGBT advocates locked in perpetual finger-pointing over the ailing equality agenda disagree on almost everything right now – except for the exigency of saving one of the community’s strongest allies in Congress, Rep. Patrick Murphy of Pennsylvania, who led the charge on passing “don’t ask, don’t tell” repeal in the House.

A new video, expected to be released Thursday and produced by Dan Manatt, underscores the two-term congressman’s tough reelection bid with narration from queer bloggers, grassroots activists, and organizational leaders, who are usually all over the map on how to best achieve equality.

And here’s the video, featuring Robin McGehee, John Aravosis, Alex Nicholson, Rick Jacobs, David Hall, Joe Solmonese and your blogmistress urging you to support Rep. Murphy.

Divisions in the LGBT movement are all over the headlines. What missing is that we know how to come together around a common purpose. That purpose is to re-elect our ally and leader who kept his promise to pass repeal of DADT in the House: Rep. Patrick Murphy.

While we all sing in our own unique way, when push comes to shove, we are always singing the same song. That song is that we support those who support us, and that’s why the LGBT community and leaders are coming together to support Patrick Murphy’s re-election. Contribute to Rep. Patrick Murphy’s campaign to push him over the top at www.actblue.com/page/LGBTforMurphy.

You can catch today’s live chat with Rep. Murphy at: http://tinyurl.com/phb-murphy (more…)

Slap My Invisible Hand, Black Soul Man

I was going to get around to this, well, “thing” from McMegan but, as per usual, Roy got around to it faster and mo’ better than I could ever hope or dream.

The gist of the latest edition of The World Is Constantly Evolving and How It Affects Me, Princess  Megan McArdle Business and Economics Editor for The Atlantic, is that McMegan and hubby McSuederman have now (thankfully, finally) moved into their new house and, hey, whoa, there goes the neighborhood. Blazing a trail into deepest darkest EthnoUrbanHood, McMegan laments the fact that more of their kind (highly  compensated public intellectual hacks)  are sure to follow meaning that the original settlers, invariably of the dusky hue, will soon be forced out to make room for designer Himalayan Pink Salt boutiques and microbreweries and other emporiums of the ephemeral designed to make life (by which we mean the next six months) bearable. This makes McMegan sad but she bravely soldier on possibly by donning a dashiki in solidarity. No bodega! No peace!

As I said, Roy chops and minces McMegan (with a Henckel Miyabi 7000MC 9 inch Gyutoh – Chef’s Knife purchased for $229 at upscale knife boutique A Slice of Heaven) so I only have this to offer.

Quoth the McMegan:

Oh, I’m quite sure that there are white people who are impatiently waiting for all the black residents to be forced out (except for the affluent ones), just as a few neighborhood old timers have been known to throw bottles at hipsters.

And for good reason I might add.

Get’em before they hit the coffeehouse. That’s when they’re at their most lethargic…

Foreclosures Pay – How to Reverse the Incentives

Reversing the incentives. (photo: The Doctr on Flickr)

Simply put, the problem with the housing market right now, not the problem for investors or banks but the problem for the people living in the homes, is that it has become more lucrative for many servicers to foreclose on the property than to work out a modification. That changes all of the incentives around housing, and makes fraud attractive. That the system was swamped with calls for modifications after pushing people into loans that they couldn’t afford when they recast makes fraud all the more attractive. Foreclosure pays in particular for servicers who don’t also own the loan: for them, they’d rather pay a foreclosure mill a flat rate to process the homes rather than pay more staff to do person-to-person modifications and all the things that go with that: verification of income, negotiation, etc. This happens to be, in most cases, the mega-servicers who are owned by the big banks.

And foreclosure not only pays for servicers, it really pays off for the foreclosure mill law firms, who can process this stuff at a rapid pace and, until the revelations, get judgments with virtually no opposition. And lo and behold, Wall Street private equity firms are behind the foreclosure mills in some cases. The lawsuit on behalf of homeowners claims that Great Hill Partners, a private equity firm, has benefited from what the lawsuit calls an illegal fee-splitting arrangement between Prommis Solutions and several of the busiest foreclosure law firms it controls. Great Hills is the biggest stakeholder in Prommis, a company that acts as a middleman between mortgage servicers and law firms. A lawyer for Prommis rejected that claim, and officials of Great Hill Partners did not respond to inquiries. But a review of public filings, company news releases and other public statements shows that several private equity firms or entities they control have stakes in the business operations of some of the busiest foreclosure law firms in New York, California, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia and Texas. Cue the line about Wall Street sticking its blood funnel into anything that makes money. Prommis Solutions adds nothing of value but is just a go-between for the servicers and the foreclosure mills. They just skim off the top. And their profit margins are likely pretty low, and so they encourage cost-cutting measures: (more…)

Country Rocks, but Bluegrass Rules

Just wanted to have some fun and take a break from the monotony (and stupidity) of US politics. I’m sick of hearing my own vitriol.

So…I know there are some bluegrass fans out there. Hey, left wingers love country music, too. Therefore, I’d like to throw it out there and ask–who is your favorite bluegrass performer?

Here’s mine (need I say more?). Oh yeah, one more thing—country rocks, but bluegrass rules!

CA Initiatives: Prop 19 Now Trailing, Anti-Climate Reform Prop 23 Down Big, Majority Rule Prop 25 Leading

image: lillieinthecity (flickr)

In addition to highly contested gubernatorial and senate contests, the voters of California will be deciding several of the most important ballot initiatives in the country. From PPIC (PDF):

Proposition 19
?16. Proposition 19 is called the “Legalizes Marijuana Under California but Not Federal Law. Permits Local Governments to Regulate and Tax Commercial Production, Distribution, and Sale of Marijuana. Initiative Statute.” It allows people 21 years old or older to possess, cultivate, or transport marijuana for personal use. Depending on federal, state, and local government actions, fiscal impact is potential increased tax and fee revenues in the hundreds of millions of dollars annually and potential correctional savings of several tens of millions of dollars annually. If the election were held today, would you vote yes or no on Proposition 19?
yes 44
no 49
don’t know 7

The previous PPIC poll, from September, was the best poll to date for Prop 19, reporting it ahead 52-41, yet this most recent poll is one of the worst. Given how little change there has been in SurveyUSA polling, I find it hard to believe there really was a 16-point change in only a few weeks. Much of the decline in support found by the poll was among independents (from 65 percent  to 40 percent) and Hispanics (from 63 percent to 40 percent).


Proposition 23

Proposition 23 is called the “Suspends Implementation of Air Pollution Control Law AB 32 Requiring Major Sources of Emissions to Report and Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions That Cause Global Warming, Until Unemployment Drops to 5.5 Percent or Less for Full Year. Initiative Statute.” Fiscal impact is a likely modest net increase in overall economic activity in the state from suspension of greenhouse gases regulatory activity, resulting in a potentially significant net increase in state and local revenues. If the election were held today, would you vote yes or no on Proposition 23?
yes 37
no 48
don’t know 15

Proposition 23 is a multimillion dollar project funded almost exclusively by the oil industry to cripple California’s climate change legislation. A Prop 23 win in California could  have made politicians across the country terrified to address climate change. The measure, however, appears headed for a big defeat, and many of the state’s biggest politicians from both parties have come out against it. This will be a noteworthy victory for the environmentalist movement and strong rebuke of corporate attempts to buy democracy.  [cont’d.] (more…)

Right-Wing Voter Guide Revolution: What Can Progressives Learn?

By Van Jones and Billy Wimsatt

We’ll give you the punch line first:

Voter guides are cheap and easy and they help win elections. The right-wing uses them better than we do. Luckily, there’s a new tool that compiles local progressive voter guides: www.TheBallot.org. Everyone should go to www.TheBallot.org right now. Find one, create one, then Facebook it, Blog it, and Tweet it like mad!

Please take two minutes right now and help us reach millions of 2008 Obama voters and inspire them to vote again in the next few days.

We feel real urgency because we’ve seen what the other side is producing.

It looks innocent enough at first.

A plain-looking one-page sheet entitled: Nevada Voter Guide For Christians (PDF).

So far, so good. . . . (more…)

Brother Love’s Traveling Dumb Nation Show

This a true story.

On Monday one of my clients stopped by to personally extend an invitation to me to attend the Tea Party Express rally that oozed into San Diego today. It is understandable that he thought I might somehow be interested since, in my public life, I keep my political opinions to myself and I just happen to fit the Teabagger demographic of being a white, middle-aged man who is prone to fits of uncontrollable rage at a world I no longer understand and also that damn hippity-hoppity music and the pants hanging halfway down their asses and Mexicans all over San Diego. How the hell did that happen?

Needless to say he misread me and I politely demurred  even though he dangled some tantalizing moose jerkey in my direction (“Now we can’t promise Sarah Palin…hahahahahaha”) Ha Ha Ha. Fuck no. Nobody can promise Sarah Palin, so I didn’t go.

This is not to say that I didn’t consider going but, you know, it’s been raining here and the mere thought of the smell of damp old people on scooters pretty much stomped  my incipient citizen journalist investigative boner flat dead.

So how did it go?

Local media reports are tricking in with reader commentary:

I am sad at the lack of sads…

(Added) One report I read was 300 showed, which in teatard math is like a bazillion times infinity. Plus 1.

Bad News for Democrats: Pew Poll Shows Party Down 10 on Generic Ballot, Incumbents Unpopular

The latest Pew Research poll of the midterm election is essentially all bad news for Democrats less than two weeks before the election. According to the poll, for the first time all year, Democrats now trail in the generic ballot question among registered voters, losing 42 percent  to 46 percent. Among “likely” voters, the GOP has a ten point lead, 50 to 40, which is a three-point improvement for Republicans since September. If on election day Republicans actually end up winning the popular vote by 10 percent, that could easily translate to a net gain in excess of 50 seats in the House.

In addition, Democrats are still significantly less engaged in this election–although, on a positive note, there are signs that they are getting slightly more engaged. From Pew:

Compared with 2006, more Republican voters report giving a lot of thought to the election (64% now vs. 50% then). The reverse is true among Democrats: 49% now say they are giving a lot of thought to the election, compared with 59% at about this point in the 2006 campaign. At the high end of the engagement spectrum are those who agree with the Tea Party movement, 80% of whom have given a lot of thought to the coming election.

Pew also found that the anti-incumbent sentiment in the country to be at some of its highest levels since 1994. Only 47 percent of voters want to see their own representative re-elected.

The Democratic base is less engaged, the party is losing the generic ballot by 10 points, and voters have a strong urge to vote against incumbents. Taken together, this is bad news for incumbent Democrats hoping to maintain their seats–and retain control of the House.