Feed on

Good news?

Or Christmas hiring? I guess we’ll know next month.

Meanwhile, some graphs to keep it all in perspective.

Mitt doubles down

Mitt Romney does an interesting little tap dance here when confronted by an Occupy New Hampshire protester about corporate personhood:

AMY GOODMAN: And in a moment, we’re going to have a very interesting discussion about what’s going on in Indiana around worker rights. But I wanted to turn to one last clip. A day after narrowly winning the Iowa caucus, Mitt Romney came under intense questioning in New Hampshire Wednesday by a member of Occupy Boston and Occupy New Hampshire over his past comment that corporations are people. The exchange took place at a televised town hall during which Senator John McCain endorsed Romney.

MARK PROVOST: You’ve said that corporations are people. But in the last two years, corporate profits have surged to record highs, directly at the expense of wages. That’s in a JPMorgan report. Now, it seems that the U.S., it’s a great place to be a corporation then, but increasingly a desperate place to live and work. So would you refine your earlier statement from “corporations are people” to “corporations are abusive people”? And would you be willing to reverse the policies of both the Obama administration and his predecessors around corporate-centric economic policies that only see wealth and income, you know, just go to the top, at record highs seemingly, every—faster every year? And the people in this country are in a permanent economic stagnation. So, I just want to see some color on that.

MITT ROMNEY: Where do you think corporations’ profit goes? When you hear that a corporation has profit, where does it go?

MARK PROVOST: [inaudible] profit, I mean, it depends—

MITT ROMNEY: Yeah, but where does it go?

MARK PROVOST: Well, it depends. If they retain it, there’s retained earnings, that means that they’re not spending it on—they’re not distributing it as dividends, and that means they’re not using it for capex, capital expenditure. You know, so they could just hoard it. That’s retained earnings. Right? But as profits, it goes to shareholders. So it goes to the 1 percent of Americans that own 90 percent of the stocks.
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End of an era

I couldn’t begin to count how many Catholic schools have already closed in Philadelphia over the last 20 years, and now the relative few that are left are on the chopping block.

I’m not fond of the Catholic church, to say the least, and they’ve lost a lot of local support since the sex scandals. One could well argue that the church is abandoning its core mission of educating the inner cities in order to pay their legal bills, but what’s the point? They’re leaving.

I feel bad for the elementary school teachers (one of my relatives teaches in Catholic school). They don’t get paid much and they have almost no job protections (in sharp contrast to the public school teachers I know, who frequently have graduate degrees and decent salaries). I suppose the teachers thought loyalty would be protection enough, but the Church’s loyalty has always been to its own interests, and not of its members.

That’s why, no matter how many statements the Church released on the right of workers to unionize and to get a living wage, it rang so hollow. They treated the people who worked for them like peons.

The ring around Scott Walker

I wonder if anyone’s going to make a deal and spill the beans on Walker:

Three individuals – including a former top aide to Gov. Scott Walker – were charged Thursday with felonies as part of the ongoing John Doe investigation into Walker staffers.

Tim Russell, a longtime Walker campaign and county staffer, was charged with two felonies and one misdemeanor count of embezzlement. One source said the charges are tied to Operation Freedom, an annual military appreciation day held at the zoo.

In 2010, Walker’s county administration had asked prosecutors to investigate what had happened to $11,000 raised in 2007 for the event.

Russell’s attorney, Michael Maistelman, could not be immediately reached for comment.

Also charged Thursday was Brian Pierick, Russell’s longtime partner and a staffer at the state Department of Public Instruction, and Kevin Kavanaugh, Walker’s appointee to the Milwaukee County Veteran Service Commission.

Kavanaugh is charged with five felonies for theft and fraudulent writings by a corporate officer. He was the treasurer of the Milwaukee Purple Heart chapter at the time of the dispute over the $11,000 for Operation Freedom.

Pierick, 48, was charged with two felony counts for child enticement. He is an office operations assistant at DPI dealing with education for homeless children and youth, according to the agency’s website.

Walker spokesman Chris Schrimpf had no immediate comment on the news but said the office would provide one later in the day.

“We’re still looking at it,” he said.

Russell, who was housing director for Walker at the county, is facing Class G and Class I felonies. A class G felony carries a fine of up to $25,000 and up to 10 years in prison or both. A class I felony carries a fine of up to $10,000 and up to three and a half years in prison or both.

In August 2010, authorities seized Russell’s county computer just weeks before the gubernatorial primary.

Told ya

Louis Freeh is a bagman for the establishment. He was hired to cover up, not investigate.

The last hurrah

If I still lived there, I would have gone to his wake – just to make sure he was dead. This GOP boss successfully kept democracy out of the county, and corruption in the drivers seat for a very long time.

“He was for people, not against people, and that is a model for all of us to live by,” O’Brien said. “We need leaders today who stand up for the little guy.”

Oh, the lies people tell about dead people…


Journalists have finally figured out what it would mean for internet privacy, and are speaking out.

We bring good things to life

Don’t be silly, everyone knows the housing crash was caused by brown people getting mortgages from Fannie and Freddie! Why would they try to pin blame on a nice multinational corp like GE?

For General Electric Co., hawking subprime mortgages was a long way from making light bulbs and jet engines.

That didn’t stop the industrial giant from jumping into the subprime business in 2004, lending blue-chip respectability to the market for risky home loans by paying roughly half a billion dollars to buy California-based WMC Mortgage Corp.

What GE got in the bargain, former WMC employees say, was a place where erstwhile shoe salesmen, ex-strippers and even a former porn actress could sign on as sales reps and make big money pushing home loans. WMC’s top salespeople earned a million dollars a year or more and lived fast, swigging $1,000 bottles of Cristal and wheeling around in $100,000 Ferraris and Bentleys.

In pursuit of these riches and perks, several ex-employees claim, many WMC sales staffers embraced fraud as a tool for pushing through loans that borrowers couldn’t afford.

Dave Riedel, a former compliance manager at WMC, says sales reps intent on putting up big numbers used falsified paperwork, bogus income documentation and other tricks to get loans approved and sold off to Wall Street investors.

One WMC official, Riedel claims, went so far as to declare: “Fraud pays.”

How well did GE address WMC’s fraud problems?

GE says it did plenty to deal with the issue. Some ex-employees counter that GE officials didn’t do enough to rein in illicit practices, despite warnings from Riedel and other whistleblowers inside the lender. GE dispatched emissaries to look into the problem, the ex-employees say, but their efforts were too little, too late.

“They sent in people we thought were going to bring us back in the right direction,” Victor Argueta, a former risk analyst at WMC, says. “But it just never happened.”

Everytime you go away

It was a snowy night and I sat in my car, listening to this. Back in 1985, I thought this song was the essence of heartbreak. Programmed drums, cheesy syn – how crappy could you get? Yet the timeless lyrics, written by Mr. Daryl Hall, have lingered on lo, these many years. Paul Young:

Death and Costco

From the Reformed Broker.

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