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Banker Halloween costume scarier than any monster outfit

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When you’re in a room full of lawyers, as I was this week, you learn a couple of things. One, not all lawyers are bad or are up to no good. Two, this is a time where it’s better to be a lawyer than a banker.

Seriously, could you come up with a scarier costume for Halloween this year? The costume wouldn’t need much makeup or special clothing. Bankers these days are scary.

Now we aren’t talking the tellers that give you money, often for a fee. The tellers are the pawns in this twisted chess game. And we really aren’t talking about the people in the bank who help you with larger problems, telling us that the best savings rate requires a minimum deposit of $10,000 and we still might not get 1%.

Bankers. The ones who try and repossess our homes, even if we didn’t take out a loan with them. Bankers. Those who took the bailout money to fix their mistakes, and turned around and shafted us.

RELATED COVERAGE: Scotiabank offers money back on debit card, unlike Bank of America, but monthly fee is too steep for most consumers

Full disclosure: I dressed as a wolf/mortgage banker last year. The premise was that the wolf was complaining that its type of work was been farmed out to humans, and the cold, calculated approach of fear and terror was best left to a wolf. The basket (think Little Red Riding Hood) was filled with mortgages and foreclosure notices. While the costume was good enough to win an award, the premise might have been a little ahead of the curve.

Oh, being a mortgage banker was very hip in 2010. People were genuinely scared about the prospect of running into a mortgage banker.

For all the lawyer jokes, and there are many good ones, they don’t feel as sharp as they used to be. Comparing lawyers to sharks feels passé. Comparing bankers to sharks feels like an insult … to the sharks.

Between mortgages, student loan debt, credit card debt, bailout money, anemic savings rates, charging us $5 to use the same debit cards they pushed us to use in the first place — being a banker will be a scary costume for years to come.

This year, I’m not going to be a mortgage banker or any other kind of banker for Halloween. I don’t feel like I can crawl into a role so devious. I’m going to go with something less controversial … like a priest.

Olbermann announcement

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Written by democracysoup

April 26, 2011 at 10:01 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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Written by democracysoup

April 26, 2011 at 9:50 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

News, comedy people surprised by union busting in WI, even if they belong to unions

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When The Daily Show, Colbert Report, and the other late-night shows are covering the story in Wisconsin, they have an obvious conflict of interest. After all, their writers belong to the Writers Guild of America (WGA). And we became so aware of this when Jon Stewart, Stephen Colbert, Conan O’Brien, Jimmy Kimmel, and Jay Leno were forced back to work in the middle of the strike. (David Letterman and Craig Ferguson worked out their own individual deals with the WGA, and went back with writers.)

The primary concerns of the striking writers was to be compensated for material on digital technology, and how the union covered reality show writers.

But these union employees had the right to negotiate those contracts. (Full disclosure: I know Michael Winship, then presidents of the WGA East.)

Those who are on and off the air at CNN, MSNBC, even Fox “News” Channel also belong to unions, and they all have benefits negotiated by their union representatives.

But the majority of the news people seem confused by what is going on in Wisconsin as well as Indiana, Ohio, and Michigan. Maybe they can ask their union rep to explain to them what is going on.

These people also know the difference between negotiating specific compensation issues, as union workers in WI have been very clear that they are willing to negotiate on pay and health benefits, and losing the right to negotiate.

Anderson Cooper was on Jon Stewart on Tuesday, and talked about how he was attacked for telling the truth about outgoing Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak. Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker hasn’t been telling the truth about what is going on in Wisconsin, and suddenly most of the MSM is mute.

Scott Walker says WI has a $2.2 billion budget deficit.

This is actually next year’s budget deficit, not this year’s. This year’s budget deficit = $137 million. This year’s tax breaks for businesses is more than the budget deficit.

Scott Walker feels that this is a broader issue and all public employees should consent to this.

However, Walker specifically is targeting groups that did not support him in the 2010 elections. Groups that did support Walker get to keep their bargaining rights.

Scott Walker is a liar.

And if you still aren’t convinced that Walker is a liar, consider that he has done this before, also lying about the circumstances as to why it was “necessary.”

This doesn’t mean that there aren’t problems. Even in the settlement of the 2007-2008 WGA strike, the writers didn’t get everything they wanted. The producers gave up some. Negotiation. Compromise. People went back to work.

Both sides of the political process talk about the middle class. Let’s save the middle class. The middle class has been shrinking in the last 30 years. Though the GOP is largely responsible for the ideas and implementation, the Democratic Party has done its small share.

This is why public unionized employees shine so brightly. Okay, their salaries aren’t that much better than comparable private-sector salaries. But they usually have better benefits and reassurance that they can’t get let go on a whim, something that over 80% of private-sector employees do not have.

The enemy is not the public unionized employees. The enemy is those that ship jobs overseas, that try and underpay workers, those that reward companies for selling those jobs overseas.

Can unions be overwrought? Sure. Are they? A little. Is this the worst reason why our economy is suffering? Not even close.

We’re not saying that the news and comedy shows will turn into labor TV – would look like “Morning in America” in a parallel universe. But a lot of the outlets – news and comedy – seem confused about the union busting elements from the GOP governors. And because they belong to an union, they shouldn’t be this confused.

Also, those in these news and comedy shows make way more money than the police officers, teachers, and firemen potentially affected by these actions.

Saying Walker is doing this for the budget is a news element. Letting Walker get away with the lie – well, that is uninformed, lazy journalism. And the sources to straighten you out are closer than you think.

Past coverage:

The ban on content from the writers strike has been lifted

Taking a stand and not posting anything from a TV show affected by the writers strike

Democracy needs the voices of Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert (and their talented writers)

Sudan split of North-South should inspire similar split in United States

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Congratulations to the Sudan on what is expected to be a splitting of the country. The votes are in on the referendum, but a considerable amount of time is needed to count the votes.  But the prediction is pretty clear that soon, the South and the North will be two different countries.

The Sudan was one of many colonies/countries that the British formed into what it needed to be, regardless of the concerns of the population at hand. So there have been a number of problems between the North and the South.

So even though the countries will be smaller than the original Sudan, there will likely be much more peace in this area of the world. Yes, there will be a number of elements to negotiate, but once the vote is count, that process can begin.

The United States has been held up as an example of many different areas coming together as one, being an example to places around the world that have been thrown together or having a poor time mixing people of another country to that country.

Western Europe countries are having trouble with immigrants that don’t have the same color and background. Former colonies having different cultures thrust together.

But the perception of the United States by the rest of the world is just that — a perception. Within the United States, this feels a lot like how the Sudan is.

Each country has a Christian South that feels oppressed by the North. Both sides feel like different countries within the same borders.

And the United States might have the same kind of high turnout that the Sudan had for its referendum if Americans were asked the same question: “Do you want to split into two countries?”

Texas Gov. Rick Perry joked about secession, and many Southerners didn’t disagree with the idea. Northerners might think they are too PC to say it out loud, but if they could be free of the South, they might be up for doing so.

The conventional truth is that the differences were settled in the Civil War, which ended in 1865. The reality is that the South was able to keep black people separate for the next 100 years, and have worked hard to set a different way of life than their neighbors to the North.

The main reason why this won’t happen is that the perception of an united country is “more important” than having two separate countries that would be better off “doing their own thing.”

Southerners can keep education spending and have their “states rights” concepts. Northerners can take their money and spend it on infrastructure and public transportation.

And everyone would be happier about government and politics than they are right now.

Of course, the question of where the borders would lie, along with currency, defense spending, trade, immigration, and more would have to be decided. But with both sides eager for a separation, something will get done.

So which states would form the Blue America vs. the Red America?

Blue America — The New England and Midwestern states would definitely fall into Blue America (ME, VT, NH, MA, CT, RI, NY, NJ, PA, OH, IN, IL, MI, WI, MN, IA). Logically, Blue America should include the West Coast (WA, OR, CA).

Even though they were border states, MD and DE should logically go in the Blue Column.

Red America — The Red America would get all of the original Confederate states (VA, NC, SC, GA, FL, AL, MS, TN, AR, LA, and TX). Since Virginia will be in, its textbooks can say there were 12 Confederate states, even though there were only 11.

KY, a border state in the Civil War, and OK are obvious choices to go red.

So 34 of the 50 states have obvious homes. And Blue America will have more states since some of the small ones will stay blue.

Continuity is an issue in the South as well as the North. You could easily put AZ in the South, but NM belongs in the Blue column. ID would seem to go Red, but that would cut off the West Coast Blue from the other Blue states.

Perhaps there would be a trade where Idaho gives up enough land so that WA can join MT, ND, SD.

CO is a logical Blue, yet is surrounded by Red (WY, KS, UT, AZ).

Despite what Gov. Palin thinks, AK makes more sense in Blue as does HI.

WV is another borderline situation, seemingly Blue but given its border scenario, could go Red.

NM might have to go Red for continuity, but giving CO for Blue might be a good trade. But for CO to fit in with the Blue map, NE might have to go Blue.

MO is another state that could go either way, but that might depend on which part of the state you reside.

So a preliminary Blue America could include Alaska, California, Connecticut, Colorado, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa,  Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri,  Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Vermont, Wisconsin, and Washington. (29)

And a preliminary Red America would include Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Nevada, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee,  Texas, Utah, Virginia, West Virginia, Wyoming. (21)

There are a number of imperfections. Idaho would have to give up a strip of land, though it might be relieved to no longer get Canadian cooties. New Mexico might prefer to go back to Mexico than go Red.

Nebraska would want to be Red, and West Virginia might not want to be Red. And you could argue the merits of Missouri and Alaska being Blue and Nevada being Red.

The GOP House leader would be in the Blue and the Democratic Senate leader would be in the Red.

None of the Red would touch Canada, and the only Blue state to touch Mexico is California.

Better to have two happy societies than one miserable country where nobody is happy.

Written by democracysoup

January 21, 2011 at 8:10 am

Politics is more than just ‘vote for me because I’m not the incumbent’

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“A Fresh Start”

“A New Beginning Starts Now”

There are two candidates running for public office that has smothered the neighborhood with signs. The person running for Congress has “A Fresh Start” on the signs. The other slogan is someone running for the state senate.

Who are they? Have no idea. What party do they belong to? Not on the signs. What else are they offering? Does it matter?

These candidates are running on one major platform: “we aren’t the people in office.”

“We’re different” is an exciting slogan to be sure, but it only tells us to vote against someone else, but says nothing about why we should vote for that person.

Not that long ago, politicians made promises and you had to decide whether that politician would keep that promise or not. In 2010, we don’t need no stinking promises or platform or ideas. All we need is “hey, we aren’t them.”

Whether these new people will be better than the old people doesn’t seem to be relevant. Maybe the new people will be better. But we would feel better about them if we knew more about them.

Yes, the signs are there to let us know they exist, and we can use the Google to find out more. Hopefully.

But they haven’t given us much credit. The signs are everywhere for both candidates in a rather obnoxious fashion. And even if I have the time to do the research, most people don’t.

Again, they haven’t reached out with the best foot forward, so being anxious to find out more isn’t on the radar.

They could have kick-butt proposals, extensive and well-considered, that we might be missing.

But let’s consider a candidate running for governor within the same state as these people: Bill Brady.

Brady is a state senator who is the Republican nominee for governor of Illinois. Brady is running against Pat Quinn, who took over when some guy named Blagojevich was impeached.

Brady is trying to run as an outsider, even though he has been in government. And Brady says he has a plan to deal with the extensive budget deficit, but he won’t tell us what that plan is.

Brady has much more name recognition than the other two candidates mentioned earlier. And he is in a higher profiled race. But Brady feels, because he is not the incumbent, that he doesn’t have to tell us his plan.

Quinn has a plan, and you are entitled to like or dislike his plan. I basically like the general idea of his plan, but would modify it a bit. In the Democratic primary, the two major candidates had a discussion of their plans, and I would have picked the plan of the one who didn’t win.

At least Quinn has a plan that we can like or dislike. As you might imagine, Brady doesn’t like Quinn’s plan, but against the suggestion of just about any grandmother, Brady won’t come up with a plan of his own.

Oh, Brady says he has a plan. But since he won’t tell us, there is no way to know.

The two unknown candidates might be playing a smart political strategy: reveal as little as possible and hope that on Election Day, people will go blindly into the booth and say, “I don’t know that name, that person will do a better job at representing me.”

But that smart political strategy relies on a cynical public and a clueless voting pool. Not every incumbent is bad. Not every challenger is awesome. It’s lazy politics, and some will use it because, sadly, sometimes it works.

Running for political office isn’t easy. Making it easier by not running on anything doesn’t make for better politics or better politicians.

Written by democracysoup

October 22, 2010 at 7:07 am

Defending the Constitution requires us to stand up to those opposing Muslim cultural center

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It’s great when political figures stand up for the Constitution that they swear to uphold. Let’s preface that statement: It’s great when political figures stand up for the Constitution that they swear to uphold — even when the 2nd Amendment isn’t involved.

This also goes for political figures who at one time swore to uphold the Constitution, but are no longer in office.

Having that political figure also be the president of the United States — well that is beyond a beautiful thing. Then, President Barack Obama had to backtrack, thanks to the mealy-mouths of the right wing along with the MSM.

The president stood up for freedom of religion, and he wasn’t talking about Christians. And of course, those who claim to love freedom attacked the president for upholding the same Constitution they claim to hold dear.

August — the season of mosquitos and hypocrisy.

Those on the right are freaking out about mosques and Muslims because of a proposed cultural center built in Lower Manhattan, somewhere near Ground Zero. As The Daily Show with Jon Stewart has pointed out, there is a mosque 4 blocks from Ground Zero; the proposed Muslim cultural center is 2 blocks. (MSM, the proposed cultural center is not a mosque, stop reporting that it is a mosque.)

But as the comedy show has also noted, some on the right want to block mosques hundreds of miles away: California, Wisconsin, Tennessee.

This mentality goes back to September 11, 2001 when the United States was attacked. But even in the face of an attack, America should have stepped up and said, “You did attack us, but we will be stronger than ever. That is the American spirit.”

Well, that didn’t happen.

How did the “greatest country in the world” — as Sean Hannity would say — become so fearful so quickly? After all, 99% of this country wasn’t directly attacked. No red state area was even threatened, yet the red state mentality feels most vulnerable and more eager to give away the liberties in our Constitution as if they were candy on Halloween.

Countless liberties were thrown out based on fear and uncertainty. And almost 9 years later, they still haven’t come back.

The principles and liberties that we hold dear are supposed to be what America is all about. If you aren’t consistent in upholding those principles and liberties, if you are willing to let those go like dandelions in the wind, then you might not be patriotic.

Yes, it is that clear. America didn’t get whatever success it has had from fear; bravery saved the day. The Louisiana Purchase, buying Alaska from Russia — they were not cowardly moves.

The America I thought I knew would look at a Muslim cultural center 2 blocks away from Ground Zero and say, “Let’s make sure our friends and neighbors understand the significance of where they have placed their cultural center. Some of us may not like where you are putting your cultural center, but we will defend to the death your right to put a cultural center on private property.”

Use it as a teaching moment, as our president has done in other cases. If tests of patriotism were easy, well, they wouldn’t be worthwhile. Tests are hard for a reason — they’re tests.

And we have miserably flunked. Not just in this case, but in the last 9 years. We let the “president” launch two questionable wars, one more questionable than the other. We refused to push to raise taxes to pay for those wars. We turned our backs on our principles, liberties, and yes, our fellow Americans who might have “funny” names.

We are still miserably flunking this test. As Howard Kurtz reported, the right-wing mentality wasn’t so upset about the proposed cultural center back in December. Now they are livid.

But we expect that from the right wing: Talk then think. What is sad is watching what that thought process is doing to Democratic politicians. Obama’s modification was overplayed by the MSM, but Obama didn’t help things by modifying a statement that should have stood on its own.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid should be deeply ashamed of himself. Yes, Reid is running for re-election in Nevada against a teabagger, but the Constitution he swore to defend doesn’t include exceptions for political expediency in running for re-election.

We don’t require that citizens have a clue about the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, the Declaration of Independence, or even how our government works, but it would be nice if they took a refresher course. And no, classes at Glenn Beck University don’t count.

Consider the following statement and ask yourself how this would go over in this environment:

“There are those who threaten our principles, liberties, and our Constitution over irrational fears and concerns. They aren’t Muslims or extreme Islamists. They are Americans who say “no” out of ignorance. And as someone who has sworn to uphold and defend the Constitution, I will not let someone tinker with over 200 years of freedom over a misunderstanding.”

Who said this? No one. No person has said this.

The first politician who says something similar to this will get accolades from DemocracySoup and a lot of criticism elsewhere. But that politician will get our undying respect. Something that has been lacking lately when it comes to defending the Constitution.

Written by democracysoup

August 20, 2010 at 7:48 am

Posted in Uncategorized