Serendipity SOUL | Sunday Open Thread

Enjoy your Sunday and great gospel music, Everyone. Give thanks and gratitude for all God’s Blessings.

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34 Responses to Serendipity SOUL | Sunday Open Thread

  1. rikyrah says:

    Epic Side Eye from Serena…..for the 3CHICS gif collection:

    serena side eye

  2. rikyrah says:

    White Privilege…straight up…no chaser.

    ………………………….

    Edward Snowden’s Father Will Travel to Russia, Rejects Idea of Plea Deal For Son

    By Imtiyaz Delawala
    Aug 11, 2013 12:44pm

    In an exclusive interview on ABC’s “This Week,” Lon Snowden – father of NSA leaker Edward Snowden – said he has received a visa to travel to Russia to visit his son, while rejecting the notion of a plea deal for his son to return to the United States.

    Lon Snowden and his lawyer, Bruce Fein, said they plan to make the trip to visit Snowden in Russia “very soon.”

    “We have visas, we have a date, which we won’t disclose right now because of the frenzy,” Fein said on “This Week.” “We intend to visit with Edward and suggest criminal defense attorneys who have experience in criminal espionage act prosecutions.”

    Fein added that Edward Snowden’s Russian attorney said “he’s safe” and “obviously is exhausted. But he’s now needing a period of time where he can recoup his energy level and reflect on what he wishes to do going forward.”

    On “This Week” Sunday, Lon Snowden told ABC’s George Stephanopoulos that he would not be open to a plea deal with U.S. authorities for his son to return to the U.S., saying Edward Snowden should instead fight espionage charges in court.

    http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/politics/2013/08/edward-snowdens-father-will-travel-to-russia-rejects-idea-of-plea-deal/

  3. rikyrah says:

    Nerdy Wonka @NerdyWonka

    Most Vacation Days Of Any Modern President: George W. Bush. He took 77 trips and spent all/part of 490 days at his Crawford, Texas ranch.
    2:03 PM – 11 Aug 2013

    Nerdy Wonka @NerdyWonka

    When the GOP complains about Pres. Obama on vacation, remember GWB took 367 days off at this point in his presidency. Pres. Obama? Just 92.
    2:01 PM – 11 Aug 2013

  4. rikyrah says:

    Changing political demographics bode well for Florida Democrats
    by Joy Ann Reid

    Marco Rubio raised some eyebrows last week when he said immigration really isn’t all that important an issue, at least as compared to the GOP’s impossible dream of repealing or defunding Obamacare.

    Rubio said it on Fox News, where to his point, immigration is of interest mainly when framed as scary hoards of Mexicans kicking down sections of the border fence and charging in screaming and waving pitchforks and blank welfare sign-up forms.

    The Florida senator may seem to be abandoning his prime directive, which was supposed to be broadening the appeal of the GOP among Latino voters by showing off the party’s new solution and compassion-driven approach. But what Rubio is actually doing is getting real. His party’s base doesn’t want immigration reform. A recent National Journal poll found that 54 percent of Republicans want their party to be more, not less, right wing. And as unrealistic as it is, they really, really want to undo Obamacare.

    If Rubio wants a shot at being part of a presidential ticket in 2016, he’s going to have to do something to regain momentum against the showboating Canadian (who’s also totally fine with the birthers?.?.?.?) Ted Cruz And if he doesn’t go for the top job, Rubio’s still looking at a re-election campaign with Florida having gone blue two presidential cycles in a row.

    According to a blog post by Steve Schale, who crunches numbers on the Florida electorate better than anyone, of the more than 1.5 million new voters added to the rolls since November 2006, 61 percent “are either black (African-American or Caribbean) and/or Hispanic.” And two-thirds of those new black and brown voters, 600,000, registered as Democrats, while only 56,000, or just 6 percent, signed up for the GOP. Black voter registration actually accounted for the biggest chunk of new Democratic registrants from 2006 through 2012.

    At the same time, Florida is becoming more politically and regionally segregated, with Democrats increasingly confined to the ethnically diverse south and central parts of the state, and Republicans locking down the whiter north and Panhandle. Schale writes that at the same time black and brown voters surged post-2006, the number of white registered Democrats dropped by 100,000, indicating many Northern Florida “Dixie Dems” are aligning their party affiliation with their Republican voting habits. It’s a trend that’s taking place across the South.

    In Florida, Republicans may be making zero inroads with minority voters, but their red counties are still eating up the most vote share. So a Republican candidate who wants to win, not just look good in the op-ed pages, needs big turnout in the northern, rural and red counties. That doesn’t require votes from Hispanic or black voters, who don’t live there in large enough numbers.

    http://www.miamiherald.com/2013/08/07/3548954/changing-political-demographics.html

  5. rikyrah says:

    Walmart vs Grocery Stores: Where Is The Best Place to Shop?
    on 10.17.2011 at 8:10am

    One of the first things we need to figure out in saving money is what store in the best store to be shopping in. Sadly many of us have grown up thinking that this is a big box supercenter. It’s been a while since I did a comparison for you so I thought it about time to show the breakdown again.

    I’m pretty sure the numbers will speak for themselves on the savings that you get shopping in a grocery store. I walked Walmart the other day and compared their “always low prices” with Publix and Bi-Lo Buy One Get One sale prices.

    If you are new to this, start at the learn to coupon page to learn all about using coupons.

    With Coupons
    Bi-Lo – B1G1 sale items & coupons: $65.09
    Walmart – Same items with same coupons: $107.05
    (you save $41.96 in Bi-Lo!)

    Publix – B1G1 sale items & coupons: $44.12
    Walmart – Same items with same coupons: $69.93
    (you save $25.81 in Publix!)

    …………………………………………………………………..

    For many of you that are just starting you still wonder is it better to shop at Walmart if I don’t have any coupons? The answer is yes and no. For most deals without coupons your Walmart will price match other stores sales. So I could get almost every deal at Walmart for the same price as the grocery store. Remember that they will not price match any B1G1 deal that doesn’t have a price listed.

    It is eye opening to see that even if you don’t use coupons, the grocery store sale price already beats the Walmart price!!

    http://www.southernsavers.com/2011/10/walmart-vs-grocery-stores-where-is-the-best-place-to-shop/

  6. rikyrah says:

    President Obama on surveillance programs: Let’s look at the whole elephant
    Not many people noted that in his press conference on Friday, President Obama admitted to where he thinks he’s been wrong about the NSA surveillance programs.

    …and probably what’s a fair criticism is my assumption that if we had checks and balances from the courts and Congress, that that traditional system of checks and balances would be enough to give people assurance that these programs were run properly — that assumption I think proved to be undermined by what happened after the leaks. I think people have questions about this program. And so, as a consequence, I think it is important for us to go ahead and answer these questions.

    In other words, his assumption prior to the leaks was that checks and balances from the courts and Congress would be enough oversight for a surveillance program. He didn’t think transparency to the American public was necessary. But the leaks have created questions that need to be answered.

    And while he admits that his assumption about that is a “fair criticism,” the truth is that it is a historical position when it comes to the foreign intelligence community. What administration has ever proactively disclosed their programs/activities? None. Rightly or wrongly, this kind of information has always been left to Congressional and court oversight. That’s why the “secret” FISA court was established in the first place back in 1978 as a result of the Church Committee.

    And so I find President Obama’s response to this new challenge to be fascinating – while totally typical of his approach.

    http://immasmartypants.blogspot.com/2013/08/president-obama-on-surveillance.html

  7. rikyrah says:

    Photos: America in Color from 1939-1943

    Posted Jul 26, 2010

    These images, by photographers of the Farm Security Administration/Office of War Information, are some of the only color photographs taken of the effects of the Depression on America’s rural and small town populations. The photographs and captions are the property of the Library of Congress and were included in a 2006 exhibit Bound for Glory: America in Color.

    http://blogs.denverpost.com/captured/2010/07/26/captured-america-in-color-from-1939-1943/

  8. rikyrah says:

    marthas vineyard 2013-3

  9. rikyrah says:

    Gabe Ortíz @TUSK81

    Fun fact: President Obama would have to take off the next 2.5 years in order to catch up with President Bush’s vacation record. #tcot
    10:26 PM – 10 Aug 2013

  10. rikyrah says:

    LOLGOP @LOLGOP

    At this point in his presidency George W. had taken 399 days off compared to Obama’s 87 and he still had time to invade the wrong country.
    1:31 PM – 9 Aug 2013

  11. rikyrah says:

    August 11, 2013 11:09 AM
    What people don’t know about health insurance: the answers will surprise you

    By Kathleen Geier

    This week at Wonkblog, Sarah Kliff reported on an interesting study that shows that Americans are surprisingly ignorant about health insurance basics. The study, conducted by a Carnegie Mellon University economist, gave subjects a multiple choice quiz that asked them to define four basic health insurance terms: deductible, co-pay, out-of-pocket maximum, and coinsurance. All the subjects had employer-sponsored health insurance.

    You want to know how many people got all four questions right? Fifty percent, maybe? A third? A quarter?

    Try 14 percent.

    Another question gave the respondents a simple insurance plan and asked them to calculate the cost of a 4-day hospital visit. Just 11 percent of them got that question right; only 14 percent more of them came within $1,000 of the answer.

    These results shouldn’t be as surprising as they are. Every time I’ve enrolled in employer-sponsored health plans, all human resources did was provide some forms and a thick booklet describing benefits, which I was left to figure out for myself. I imagine that most people have had similar experiences. And if no one ever bothers to define basic insurance terms for you, it’s not surprising that you’d end up confused. Even study author George Loewenstein admits, “I have a PhD in economics and I’ve spent a bunch of time giving insurance companies feedback about policies, and I still find them difficult to understand.”

    Loewenstein’s proposed solution to the problem, though, is not so awesome. Ideally, he would want insurance companies to charge only co-payments and “eliminate deductibles, co-insurance and every other form of cost sharing.” But that would incentivize many people to make bad health care decisions and avoid necessary treatments.

    A better solution would be to require insurers to: a) simplify the structure of their insurance plans and then: b) present information about the plans in the clearest way possible. Additionally, employers should be required to provide information sessions for new employees that explain their health plans — and that don’t skimp the basic definitions that clearly are a source of confusion, but that many people may be too embarrassed to ask questions about.

    http://www.washingtonmonthly.com/political-animal-a/2013_08/what_people_dont_know_about_he046325.php

  12. rikyrah says:

    August 10, 2013 10:03 AM
    The right’s latest candidate for history’s greatest monster: Jeff Spicoli

    By Kathleen Geier

    To the surprise of no one, Fox News has been a gleeful participant in the latest demented wingnut crusade: eviscerating food stamps. Only Fox isn’t merely broadcasting endlessly repeating rounds of right-wing talking points. This time, it’s also treating us all to an hour-long “special report” on the subject. Oh goody!

    Tragically, I missed last night’s airing of the report. But Media Matters has previewed the special. Some of what’s in it is exactly what you’d expect: there is the de rigueur social worker bashing, as well as the all-but-mandatory immigrant baiting. Of course, undocumented immigrants are prohibited from receiving food stamps or other welfare benefits, but don’t let that cloud your beautiful mind. No doubt viewers will also be regaled with tales of strapping young bucks using food stamps to gorge on lobster, caviar, and filet mignon.

    Somewhat surprisingly, however, the special apparently does breaks some new ground, at least where right-wing mythology is concerned. Included in its rogue’s gallery of food stamp recipients is the latest right-wing hate object: the young, white hipster. Media Matters reports that one of the food stamps beneficiaries Fox interviews, which it has labeled “the new face of food stamps,” is a young doofus named Jason Greenslate, an aspiring musician and “blissfully jobless California surfer.” We’re talking Jeff Spicoli, basically. Media Matters earnestly notes that Greenslate “bears no resemblance to the overwhelming majority of SNAP recipients, many of whom are elderly, children, or rely on the program for a short time while looking for work.”

    But reality-based perspectives like the one from Media Matters almost never make a dent in the conservative imagination, and it’s unlikely to do so here — especially when someone like Greenslate make such a convenient hate object for them. The contemporary uses of hipster-bashing and young people-bashing is related to, though somewhat different from, the function that has long been served by the venerable right-wing sport of hippie-punching. Like hippie punching, hating on the hipsters enables puritanical conservatives to feel morally superior to young people who reject certain bourgeois norms and who seem to be having some fun in their lives.

    But the hipster bashing is a little different as well. In the context of food stamps, for example, it enables the right to drink the haterade about the “undeserving poor” and congratulate themselves that their hatred of poor people is untainted by racism. (“See, we hate poor white people, too!”) It also allows them to pretend that young peoples’ economic woes can be blamed on their own alleged laziness and narcissism — rather than on a depressed economy that the right, along with their neoliberal frenemies, created. This is an economy that not only has left near-record numbers of young people without jobs, but has also indentured them with crippling, undischargeable student loans.

    The war against hipsters is also an effective propaganda tool for the right because, as two Jacobin writers, Peter Frase and Anthony Galluzzo, have observed, hipster hatred is hardly limited to conservatives. As Frase points out:

    http://www.washingtonmonthly.com/political-animal-a/2013_08/the_rights_latest_candidate_fo046317.php

  13. rikyrah says:

    Eric Cantor Signals To GOP Colleagues That They Should STFU About Government Shutdown

    Posted: 08/09/2013 6:38 pm EDT | Updated: 08/09/2013 6:42 pm EDT

    Based upon what Robert Costa is reporting today, it would seem that the GOP’s “Defund Obamacare Or We’ll Shut Down The Government” caucus is all but dunzo in the eyes of party leadership. Costa talks to GOP Majority Leader Eric Cantor, and it seems that the Virginia Republican representative is fully aware of the impracticalities of such imprecations, telling him, “No one is advocating a government shutdown.”

    Per Costa:

    He also threw a little cold water on the “defund or shutdown” rallying cry. “In order to avoid a government shutdown, we need 60 votes in the Senate and 218 votes in the House to pass a continuing resolution,” he explained. “To get 60 votes in the Senate, you need at least 14 Democrats to join Republicans and pass a CR that defunds Obamacare. Right now, I am not aware of a single Democrat in the Senate who would join us. If and when defunding has 60 votes in the Senate, we will absolutely deliver more than 218 votes in the House.”

    Of course, many of the people who have been advocating a government shutdown over Obamacare have tried to dodge the responsibility for advocating such with a rhetorical trick that they think sounds clever but doesn’t really fool anyone. Here’s Marco Rubio, giving it a try: “The president and his allies — and even some Republicans — will accuse us of threatening to shut down the government. In fact, it is President Obama who insists on shutting down the government unless it funds his failed ObamaCare experiment.”

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/08/09/eric-cantor-gop-government-shutdown_n_3734298.html?ref=topbar

  14. rikyrah says:

    Dana Rohrabacher ‘Would Defund White Trash’

    The Huffington Post | By Ryan Rainey Posted: 08/09/2013 3:33 pm EDT

    Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.) said on Twitter this week that he would like to “defund white trash” who take advantage of federal social programs.

    Rohrabacher made the remark in a reply to a Twitter user who was complaining about immigration policy.

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/08/09/rohrabacher-white-trash_n_3733333.html?ncid=fcbklnkushpmg00000010

  15. rikyrah says:

    adept2u ‏@adept2u50m
    So rather than blaming the stupid racist clerk #nerdland spends a segment shaming Oprah, who has given out millions to charity

  16. rikyrah says:

    Eyewitness News ‏@eyewitnessnyc6m
    BREAKING NEWS: Two postal inspectors at JFK Airport sickened by nerve gas after opening package

  17. rikyrah says:

    GRYKING ‏@GRYKING51m
    I don’t think so. “@GOPBlackChick: Maybe if I just wore a hoodie, I would be accepted as authentically black.” pic.twitter.com/YAnOaH6qlA https://pbs.twimg.com/media/BR

  18. Racism: A power relationship between two groups & one group use their wealth & power to deprive,hurt & injure another group.

    Racism

  19. Yahtc says:

    http://www.theblaze.com/stories/2013/08/10/mural-of-george-zimmerman-shooting-trayvon-martin-unveiled-in-florida-state-capitol/

    MURAL OF GEORGE ZIMMERMAN SHOOTING TRAYVON MARTIN UNVEILED IN FLORIDA STATE CAPITOL
    Aug. 10, 2013 3:39pm Madeleine Morgenstern

    A Miami artist has unveiled a painting of George Zimmerman shooting Trayvon Martin in the Florida State Capitol, WFTS-TV reported.

    Titled, “We Are All Trayvon Martin,” the painting shows Zimmerman firing a gun at a hoodie-wearing figure. The painting features a mirror to signify that the shooting could have happened to anyone. There is also an image of Martin Luther King Jr. with blood trickling down his head.

    Artist Huong unveiled the creation during a sit-in to protest Florida’s so-called “stand your ground” law.

    According to WFTS, Huong hopes the painting can be displayed in Washington, D.C.

    A Florida jury last month acquitted Zimmerman of criminal charges in Martin’s 2012 death.

    You can see a video when you click the link.

  20. rikyrah says:

    Here’s another article about the NYScam

    Who Set the NY Cut Scores—and What We Still Need to Know
    By dianerav

    At the end of the day, Commissioner King could say that educators informed the process but in reality they made recommendations to him, which he was free to accept, modify, or ignore.

    As many teachers have pointed out, in blogs and comments, no responsible teacher would create a test with the expectation that 70% of students are sure to fail. It would not be hard to do. You might, for example, give students in fifth grade a test designed for eighth graders. Repeat in every grade and the failure rate will be high. Or you might test students on materials they never studied. Some will get it, because of their background knowledge, but most will fail.

    Why would you want most students to fail?

    Commissioner King has repeatedly warned superintendents, principals, and everyone else that they should expect the proficiency rates to drop by 30-35-37% and they did.

    This is a manufactured crisis. We know who should be held accountable.

    It is Commissioner John King and Regents Chancellor Merryl Tisch. They wanted a high failure rate. They got what they wanted.

    http://dianeravitch.net/2013/08/09/who-set-the-ny-cut-scores-and-what-we-still-need-to-know/

  21. rikyrah says:

    Here’s article one about the scam:

    Ask the question: WHO DECIDES ABOUT THE SCORE LEVELS AFTER THE TEST IS TAKEN?

    AFTER?

    Doesn’t that scream SETUP/SCAM?

    ……………………………………………………………………..

    New York State Cut Scores: From the Inside
    August 8, 2013 by Dina

    Below, I present, quite unintentionally with great serendipity, the first-hand account of New York State cut score-setting from my gracious guest blogger Dr. Maria Baldassarre-Hopkins, Assistant Professor of Language, Literacy and Technology at my alma mater, Nazareth College in Rochester New York.

    If you have ever wondered…

    ~ Where the hell do those cut scores come from, anyway?

    ~ How does the state actually set a cut score?

    ~ How political is this process?

    ~ Are there any teachers involved at all?

    …then this is the article for you.

    Maria spoke to me often during the writing of this piece of having to navigate legalese, non-disclosure agreements and so on, so you will not find a tell-all blow-up here. However, you may certainly find a window into the process that you may not have had before. The fight begins, as it always should begin, with good intelligence.

    Take it and use it well. ~ Dina

    UPDATE: This post has been picked up by Diane Ravich, who has a testing expert respond– also a whole new set of comments. Go check it out.

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    The Mission

    If you are a teacher who has ever yearned to be sent on a secret mission (really, who hasn’t?), complete with coded documents, non-disclosure agreements, men in dark suits watching you, advance e-mails to dress in layers, unanswered questions and enormous breakfast buffets with zero protein, you must spend a week of your life working for Pearson. My mission: Make cut score recommendations to the commissioner for the maiden voyage of the Common Core ELA assessments.

    The most thought-provoking question asked of me during my five days in Albany was by a no-nonsense, b.s.-calling principal from the Bronx whose intensity scared me a little: “So, what do you hope to get out of this?” I said something about using my new knowledge of the standards, the tests and how they are constructed and evaluated to help my students think about using sound literacy instruction to prepare their students for them. That was Day 2.

    A Word About Cut Scores

    Cut scores were to be decided upon after NYS students in grades 3-8 took the tests. By looking alternately at test questions, Common Core State Standards, Performance Level Descriptors, and other data-which-shall-not-be-named (thank you non-disclosure agreement!), 100 educators sat in four meeting rooms at the Hilton using a method known as “bookmarking” to decide what score a student needed to earn in order to be labeled as a particular “level” (i.e., 1-4). How many questions does a student need to answer correctly in order to be considered a 3? How about a 4? 2? 1?

    ……………………………….

    And Now, a Gentle Plea to the Reader:

    I received word on the day I write this that the commissioner has made a final decision on the cut scores. I am not at liberty say whether the recommendation we made was the last word, but once the cut scores are announced I would like for you, with kindness in your heart, to hold the same image I cling to a month later – and it is this image that will have the most profound impact on how I channel this experience in my own teaching:

    In the room where I sat for five days, I was among some of the most critical, thoughtful and intelligent teachers, administrators and college faculty I’ve ever met, all of whom were fiercely loyal to the students in their classrooms and communities. Despite the rigidly scaffolded and tightly constrained process of recommending cut scores, the educators in our room fought tirelessly for high standards and, at the same time, fairness to teachers and students.

    Through gentle inquisition, they took the commissioner to task when he gave us our charge.
    They challenged any and every part of the methodology that seemed problematic.
    They thought about how these decisions would impact teacher and principal evaluations.
    They pushed back hard at the reality that the cut score decisions could actually diminish the quality of education students—especially non-white students, ELLs and SWDs—would experience on a daily basis.
    They realized that at the end of the day many questions would remain unanswered or unaddressed. Though our facilitator was lovely – a psychometrician from Pearson who was as intelligent and kind as she was passionate about the work she was doing, she was not a policy-maker.
    They drank beer.

    http://theline.edublogs.org/2013/08/08/new-york-state-cut-scores-from-the-inside/

  22. rikyrah says:

    Balloon Juice did a post that referenced several posts about the SCAM that is the new test system for the NEW YORK PUBLIC SCHOOLS.

    Article one – the reference point. As you read this, remember, IT’S ALL A SETUP/SCAM:

    Test Scores Sink as New York Adopts Tougher Benchmarks

    By JAVIER C. HERNÁNDEZ and ROBERT GEBELOFF
    Published: August 7, 2013

    The number of New York students passing state reading and math exams dropped drastically this year, education officials reported on Wednesday, unsettling parents, principals and teachers and posing new challenges to a national effort to toughen academic standards.

    In New York City, 26 percent of students in third through eighth grade passed the tests in English, and 30 percent passed in math, according to the New York State Education Department.

    The exams were some of the first in the nation to be aligned with a more rigorous set of standards known as the Common Core, which emphasize deep analysis and creative problem-solving over short answers and memorization. Last year, under an easier test, 47 percent of city students passed in English, and 60 percent in math.

    City and state officials spent months trying to steel the public for the grim figures.

    But when the results were released, many educators responded with shock that their students measured up so poorly against the new yardsticks of achievement.

    Chrystina Russell, principal of Global Technology Preparatory in East Harlem, said she did not know what she would tell parents, who will receive scores for their children in late August. At her middle school, which serves a large population of students from poor families, 7 percent of students were rated proficient in English, and 10 percent in math. Last year, those numbers were 33 percent and 46 percent, respectively.

    “Now we’re going to come out and tell everybody that they’ve accomplished nothing this year and we’ve been pedaling backward?” Ms. Russell said. “It’s depressing.”

    Across the state, the downward shift was similar: 31 percent of students passed the exams in reading and math, compared with 55 percent in reading and 65 percent in math last year.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2013/08/08/nyregion/under-new-standards-students-see-sharp-decline-in-test-scores.html?pagewanted=all&_r=1&

  23. rikyrah says:

    August 09, 2013 2:32 PM
    Why President Obama’s Plan to Replace Fannie and Freddie Will Fail

    By Ryan Cooper

    After President Obama’s big housing policy speech, folks have been taking a hard look at the proposal to end Fannie and Freddie. This All In segment captured the basics fairly well, I thought:

    In case you can’t watch, here’s the basic story. So Fannie and Freddie buy mortgages and package them into government-guaranteed bundles (mortgage backed securities – MBS), thereby freeing up additional capital for more mortgage lending, the idea being we’ll thereby promote homeownership. President Obama’s proposal is to replace Fannie and Freddie with a new agency that will insure private MBS for everything past a 10% loss, thereby spurring the creation of private MBS to replace what F&F are doing. We don’t have private MBS because (as you probably already know) those were ground zero for the housing crisis that blew up the economy in 2008. (This is basically a cosmetic change, but set that aside for now.)

    Over at TNR David Dayen laid out the fundamental reality that the banks which would be creating these private MBS are probably about as corrupt now as they were when they were frantically blowing up the housing bubble in the mid-2000s. He says there’s little reason to expect private capital to jump into a market that is rottener than the one for stolen Ukrainian kidneys, at least without some more explicit subsidies.

    His point is well-taken, but I think it’s missing one key part of the equation: price. Investors will buy anything if the rate of return is good enough—if nothing else, you can always just play asset hot potato and try to pass things on to the next sucker before they implode. But the return of MBS is determined by the going interest rate on mortgages, which is quite low (~4%) due to the aforementioned housing crisis and the weak economy. That is way too low to jump into a market that is still smoking from the last time it blew up and nearly took every bank on Wall Street with it. Or, in other words, 4% return is not enough compensation for a very serious risk of a 10% loss.

    So to make this work we’d have to increase the subsidy, or increase the interest rate. The first is out of the question because the whole point of this scheme is to put a free-market gloss on housing finance—if you’re just going to subsidize the market to that extent, why bother dismantling F&F in the first place? The second is out of the question because it would strangle the incipient housing recovery. The housing market depends on a constant stream of new buyers, and putting mortgage interest rates anywhere close to their actual risk would upend all kinds of fundamental sociopolitical arrangements.

    http://www.washingtonmonthly.com/political-animal-a/2013_08/why_president_obamas_plan_to_r046308.php

  24. rikyrah says:

    August 10, 2013 3:38 PM
    No, Walmart doesn’t create jobs

    By Kathleen Geier

    Because it’s a such a slow news day, and because the DC big box living wage bill is still in the news, I thought I’d write about the Walmart piece I published in Salon.com earlier this week. First, an update on that living wage fight, which I’ve written about before on this site. The bill, which would require Walmart and other big box retailers to pay a minimum wage of $12.50 an hour, passed the DC City Council. It needs the signature of DC Mayor Vincent Gray to become law, but Gray hasn’t received it yet. There have been suggestions that he’s leaning toward a veto and that Council Chairman Phil Mendelson has delayed sending the bill to Gray’s desk because he’s working to shore up support for a veto-proof majority. Walmart has threatened to cancel plans to open new stores in DC if the bill is enacted.

    One of the most compelling-seeming arguments that the pro-Walmart forces have been making is that DC should reject the bill and welcome Walmart into the community, because Walmart would create much-needed jobs. So I decided to look at what the research says about Walmart’s impact on employment. Guess what? Contrary to the happy talk, Walmart does not create jobs. Actually, it kills them.

    Here’s why: first, at the local level, all Walmart does is put mom-and-pop stores out of business. The overwhelming body of evidence, including the most rigorous peer-reviewed studies, suggests that when Walmart enters a community, the most likely result is a net loss of jobs; at best, it’s a wash. In fact, the biggest, best scholarly study about the impact of Walmart on local employment was done by an economist at University of California at Irvine named David Neumark, who is not exactly a wild-eyed liberal. He’s the kind of economist, actually, who writes anti-minimum wage op-eds for the Wall Street Journal.

    The devastating impact Walmart has had on jobs becomes most clear when you go macro, and look at its impact not just locally, but on the national economy. In its relentless quest for low prices, Walmart strong-arms its suppliers to cut labor costs to the bone. What this has meant in practice is that many suppliers have been forced to lay off workers and ship jobs to low-wage countries overseas. Because of Walmart, countless jobs in the U.S. have been lost, mostly in manufacturing.

    ……………………………………

    Back to the DC controversy: neoliberal pundits and politicians hate the DC living wage bill, because they don’t want to drive Walmart away. The politicians want the photo ops at Walmart openings, where they can boast about bringing “good jobs” — um, well, okay, “jobs,” anyway — into the community.

    http://www.washingtonmonthly.com/political-animal-a/2013_08/no_walmart_doesnt_create_jobs046321.php#more

  25. rikyrah says:

    Infinite Schadenfreude

    by BooMan
    Sat Aug 10th, 2013 at 07:01:57 PM EST
    As you may know, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie has been having an ongoing feud with Kentucky Senator Rand Paul over whether or not libertarianism is consistent with keeping the country safe from 9/11-type attacks. But Gov. Christie is only the latest Republican to complain about Rand Paul. Back in March, when Sen. Paul conducted his melodramatic filibuster on drones, Sens. John McCain and Linsey Graham blasted him on the Senate floor.

    Whatever you think of the merits of these arguments, the following approaches infinite schadenfreude:

    “I’m on team Rand. Rand Paul understands. He gets the whole notion of don’t tread on me government. Whereas Chris Christie is for big government and trying to go-along-to-get along in so many respects,” [Sarah] Palin said.

    Of course, almost no one would know who Sarah Palin is if John McCain hadn’t decided to listen to Bill Kristol’s advice and make her his running mate.

    How’s that working out for them?

    http://www.boomantribune.com/story/2013/8/10/19157/4849

  26. rikyrah says:

    The Corruption is Institutionalized

    by BooMan
    Sun Aug 11th, 2013 at 10:13:12 AM EST

    Kudos to Eric Lipton of the New York Times for reporting on the scam that is the House Financial Services Committee. I remember Barney Frank’s incessant complaining about how large the committee had grown when he was chairing it during the Great Recession. It has become ridiculous:

    Political action committees — set up by lobbying firms, unions, corporations and other groups trying to push their agenda in Congress — have donated more money to Financial Services Committee members in the first six months of this year than to members of any other committee. The $9.4 million total is nearly $2 million more than the total for the Armed Services Committee, the only House panel with more members.

    With so many lawmakers clamoring to be on the Financial Services Committee, it has grown to 61 members from 44 since 1980, forcing the installation of four tiered rows of seats in the Rayburn House Office Building — with the first row of lawmakers on the floor, just in front of the tables used for witnesses.

    Can you imagine tying to do two rounds of witness questioning when your committee has 61 members? And they want to be on the committee not so much to impact legislation but simply to reduce the amount of time they have to spend on the phone cold calling people and asking for cash.

    http://www.boomantribune.com/story/2013/8/11/101312/633

  27. Ametia says:

    Sam Jackson: ‘Open Season’ on Black Men

    In his tweet, the actor blasted New York’s refusal to pursue charges in the killing of Ramarley Graham.

    The Root) — On the heels of yesterday’s ruling that charges will not be brought against a New York police officer accused of shooting an unarmed black teen, actor Samuel L. Jackson took to Twitter to voice his opinion.

    “Young brothers Beware!!” he tweeted. “It’s Open Season!”

    Eighteen-year-old Ramarley Graham was shot and killed in the bathroom of the apartment he shared with his grandmother last year by a police officer pursuing him on suspicion of drug activity. The officer, 31-year-old Richard Haste, claimed that he fired because he believed Graham had a gun. In fact, he was unarmed.

    With the conclusion of the Trayvon Martin case and the release of Fruitvale Station, a movie based on the story of Oscar Grant, many are hyperfocused on what they see as the devaluation of black lives in the eyes of the law. Jackson’s tweet captures the sentiment of countless others.

    http://www.theroot.com/blogs/grapevine/samuel-l-jackson-open-season-black-men

  28. Ametia says:

    Samuel L. Jackson ✔ @SamuelLJackson

    NYC cop walks because he “thought” he had a gun?! In the bathroom, of his house, shot dead!! Young brothers Beware!! It’s Open Season!
    7:12 PM – 8 Aug 2013

  29. Ametia says:

    Good Morning, Everyone! :-)

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