Saturday, December 3, 2011

Bank Bailout Total: A Whooping $7.7 Trillion Dollars

You want to know why there is an Occupy Wall Street movement that has expanded to many local cities?

You want to know why folks are hopping mad at our too big to fail Financial Institutions?

If So:

Then read this mind numbing revelation reported by Bloomberg News - allow me to add, Bloomberg's parent company Bloomberg LP had to fight all the way up to the US Supreme Court for the right to publicize what the banks and the Fed, lead by Benjamin Bernanke, wanted to keep secret.

It's worse than you could ever imagine...

The Federal Reserve and the big banks fought for more than two years to keep details of the largest bailout in U.S. history a secret. Now, the rest of the world can see what it was missing.

Saved by the bailout, bankers lobbied against government regulations, a job made easier by the Fed, which never disclosed the details of the rescue to lawmakers even as Congress doled out more money and debated new rules aimed at preventing the next collapse.

$7.77 Trillion

The amount of money the central bank parceled out was surprising even to Gary H. Stern, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis from 1985 to 2009, who says he “wasn’t aware of the magnitude.” It dwarfed the Treasury Department’s better-known $700 billion Troubled Asset Relief Program, or TARP. Add up guarantees and lending limits, and the Fed had committed $7.77 trillion as of March 2009 to rescuing the financial system, more than half the value of everything produced in the U.S. that year. source

WTF, are you kidding me? Seven point what... You mean this do nothing GOP lead congress can continue to dole out this type of dough to these FAT CAT Barons and yet they refuse to pass a comprehensive Job Act bill to put America back to work.

These are the same folks that cry socialism when the President tries to help the average Joe/Jane residing on Main Street, but Wall Street gets a blank check - a blank check that the American taxpayers have to make good on.

And it gets worse...

The Fed didn’t tell anyone which banks were in trouble so deep they required a combined $1.2 trillion on Dec. 5, 2008, their single neediest day. Bankers didn’t mention that they took tens of billions of dollars in emergency loans at the same time they were assuring investors their firms were healthy. And no one calculated until now that banks reaped an estimated $13 billion of income by taking advantage of the Fed’s below-market rates, Bloomberg Markets magazine reports in its January issue.

They don't need to close Guantanamo Bay. They need to charge a different profile of criminals with crimes against the State.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Cheap Cleanup: Washing the Stove & Tiles With Vinegar by Frugal Duchess

You don't have to spend a lot for eco-friendly household and personal care products. I use vinegar and water to sanitize my home without the expense or waste of harsher chemicals. Beyond toss salads, I usewhite vinegar for the following cleaning duties:

Kitchen surfaces: With two capfuls of vinegar and a half cup of water, I have cleaned and polished a white enamel stovetop. The homemade solution cut through a mixture of cooking oil and splattered tomato sauce. The same solution works on kitchen countertops and stainless steel sinks. White vinegar also effectively cleans cookware, coffeemakers and carpet stains, according to How to Clean Practically Anything, a reference guide published by Consumer Reports.
Tile floors and walls: We have cleaned our white tile floors with a bucket of vinegar and water. We mixed one cup of vinegar per half-gallon of hot water, with a few drops of essential lemon oil. That mixture cleaned the floor and left a fresh lemon scent. I have applied a similar mixture to the bathroom tiles and countertops.

All-purpose cleaning spray: recommends filling a spray bottle with equal parts of water and white vinegar. Use this solution to clean appliances, countertops and other surfaces. Some restaurants and daycare centers use vinegar and water to clean tables and chairs.
Hair conditioner: Organic apple cider vinegar (ACV) provides a great hair tonic. Mixed with water, ACV conditions the hair and combats dandruff. As a hair rinse, ACV has left my hair cleaner and softer. The acid in the vinegar removes the buildup left from commercial hair care products and kills bacteria, according to, which recommends mixing one-third cup of apple cider vinegar with a quart of distilled water

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Plight of the Black Middle-Class

There is a common theme that runs through the following stories:

The New York Times lays out the disproportionate impact that public sector layoffs have had on African-Americans. Historically, the federal government discriminated less than other sources of middle-class jobs, making public sector work the backbone of the black middle class for generations. Now, that backbone is taking hit after hit. Even before this wave of government layoffs, the African-American middle class was struggling to stay middle class:

A study by the Brookings Institution in 2007 found that fewer than one-third of blacks born to middle-class parents went on to earn incomes greater than their parents, compared with more than two-thirds of whites from the same income bracket. The foreclosure crisis also wiped out a large part of a generation of black homeowners.

The second article was written by Al Sharpton:

In June of 2009, the economic recession was officially declared over. Despite the fact that millions remained unemployed, families were still foreclosed upon in record numbers and more children went hungry than most of us could have ever imagined, many had us buy into the notion that the worst was behind us and things were on an upward trajectory. Well, for the African American community, nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, Black layoffs have only skyrocketed since that time as the public sector - heavily comprised of a Black workforce - continues to slash jobs. And as a result, not only has Black wealth diminished, but so too has the existence of much of this nation's Black middle class itself. Black, White or Brown - that is a startling reality that should have all of us deeply concerned.

According to a study released earlier this year by the Center for Labor Research and Education at the University of California, Blacks were 30% more likely than other workers to be employed in the public sector. And while the private sector has added 1.6 million jobs as reported in a recent New York Times piece, public employment has seen massive layoffs across the board. Whether it's teachers, firefighters, police officers, or any other form of municipal work, the public sector has been under attack from Wisconsin to NJ and everywhere in between. From losing their bargaining rights to bearing the brunt of city and state budget cuts, public service employees are watching their entire life savings disappear. And because about 1 in 5 Blacks work in civil service, we are disproportionately suffering yet again during these tough times.

In the U.S. postal service alone, about 25% of employees are Black. It is precisely because of work in this industry and in other government entities that we were finally able to climb the economic and societal ladder, and eventually begin to achieve the proverbial American dream of home ownership. An entire Black middle class emerged via civil service jobs, and we are now tragically close to witnessing the greatest stumbling block to progress that will literally set us back decades. But we can - and we must - do something to halt this injustice that so clearly threatens our immediate future.

On December 9th, my organization, National Action Network, will do its part to address this issue and more as we mobilize a 25-city simultaneous day-of-action around Jobs and Justice. A follow-up to our October 15th rally in Washington, D.C., the December 9th march will continue to focus on growing economic disparity, lack of employment, and equality issues surrounding our current economic state. We will call attention to disproportionate layoffs of Blacks, Latinos and other oppressed groups, attacks on the public sector and the ever-growing wealth gap. We will push for economic growth, job creation and concrete, substantive ideas that truly begin to get people back to work. And we will call out all those who stand in the way. source

The common theme is that - bottom line - African Americans do not create enough jobs for other African Americans; therefore, we overly depend on government and the public sector for employment (on this point I agree with my GOP black conservatives friends).

And placed in the position of economic dependency, we remain far too vulnerable to forces outside of our control. As a case in point, whenever America suffers an economic trauma, the black community is disproportionately affected - as the time-tested and proven saying goes:

When white America catches a cold, black America gets pneumonia.

African Americans have reached the buying power of one trillion dollars. This vividly illustrates that the problem is not money or income - the problem is lack of a comprehensive wealth building strategy. The problem is - in the year 2011 - we still do use our dollars and resources to nurse our community to fiscal health.

And with all do respect to Rev. Sharpton, we do not need another march begging for jobs. In fact,many of the jobs being erased are gone forever. For example, Rev. Al takes issue with Postal Service layoffs.

However, with more people texting and sending e-mails as opposed to writing letters, the Postal Service will continue to trim more jobs. These jobs are Gone With the Wind.

In lieu of marching/begging, we would be better served to host self-empowerment symposiums or educational conferences in city after city, region after region (starting with February- black history month) on the following topics:

  1. Research data on goods & services blacks purchase on a daily basis
  2. How can we develop alternate sources of capital, e.g. asset holding companies to finance business growth in our community
  3. Value and power of the black dollar
  4. How to mainstream financial literacy
  5. The value of good credit and how to maintain good credit
  6. How to create a job
  7. How to build wealth
No Argument From Me

Corporate America and Wall Street are running roughshod on Main Street America. Agreed.
Corporate America could do more to alleviate the economic hardship of the average family. Agreed.
Government needs to intervene to protect the average American taxpayer from Wall Street's criminal behavior. Agreed
Government with the private sector should create more jobs by investing in the Greening of American and improving our infrastructure. Once again, agreed

By agreeing to the validity of the above statements does not mean we should just wait on sound government to do its job. No, quite the contrary, we should not relinquish the power we have in our own hands to transform our present and future.

At the end of the day we have to live with the results of our action or inaction.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Greg Gee: Wide-receiver Steve Johnson Shoots Team In The Foot With Over-the-Top Celebration

How many times have we watched a blowout game and a player on the losing team scores, then celebrates like they just won the super bowl?

Excuse me, like he just won the super bowl.

And how about this...a player celebrating after making a hard hit even though the offense still gets the first down—celebrate what? Wasn't it his job to stop the first down?

The Cult of Personality - Hey, Look At Me

Most celebrations in NFL, unfortunately, celebrate individual accomplishments and for doing often a half a$$ job. Initially, the spirit of end zone celebrations was to entertain and share the team’s success with fans by having the scorer expressing that success with, i.e., a “dance”.

But now, it appears that the emphasis is on “let me get to the end zone so you can look at me entertain you, regardless of the score or if my celebration acceptable.” This “look me, look at me”, mentally is damaging the game and hurting teams.

Shut Down Corner: (click link)

After scoring a second quarter touchdown to give the Buffalo Bills a 14-7 lead, Stevie Johnson danced in the end zone then mocked shooting himself in the thigh, a move clearly targeting the arrest of Jets wide receiver Plaxico Burress. Three years ago outside a New York City nightclub, Burress accidentally shot himself in the leg, was hospitalized and served two years in prison for the incident. As if that wasn’t enough, Johnson then flew around like a jet and mimicked a crash landing, drawing a penalty. The 15 yard call helped give the Jets good field position and they tied the game up four plays later, ironically via a Burress touchdown.

In all fairness to Johnson, he did not lose the game but his penalty was a huge contributor to the lost. And in his comments, he did acknowledge his error in judgement:

"Most definitely, it hurt our team. It was very stupid of me going through that and I feel like I cost our team the win by doing that. It was a bad decision," Johnson said. "It's irrelevant whether or not I rehearsed it or not. At the end of the day, it cost our team seven points. I have to apologize to everyone and talk to coach. I can't be doing that; I need to be more mature about the situation." source

There are others like Johnson such as Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver DeSean Jackson who caught a 52 yard pass to move his team from the one yard line two weeks ago against the New York Giants. The play was nullified because Jackson had to do a “look at me” move and get a 15 yard taunting penalty.

What’s up with these guys?

One explanation for Johnson’s generation self absorption is the ESPN highlights, especially their “love affair” with Deion Sanders highlights. Prime Time’s famous (infamous?) end zone celebrations are the blue print for this generation's self indulgent celebrations.

A celebration that places emphasis on “how I look”, over playing the game with passion. We can find someone every Sunday paying Deion homage with a Prime Time like dance to the end zone. These kids grew with ESPN bombarding them with the spectacular plays and celebrations. There was even a commercial called my ESPN moment where players dreamed of scoring and it being shown all over ESPN. The 30 seconds or less scoring sound bites became more important than the outcome of the game. A whole generation was raised on this misconception of what a celebration is supposed to be and devoid of the emotional aspect of the game.

I applaud the NFL for getting tough on celebrations. Football is an emotional sport and your celebrations should be spontaneous celebrations, not contrived. When you score that touchdown in a blowout, show that anger by spiking the ball because you’re losing! You give up the first down but get the big hit: spew some choice words at your teammates or yourself for the let down.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

President Obama as Piñata


Published: November 26, 2011 New York Times

A YEAR before President Obama faces re-election, take a look at what has happened to other Western leaders confronting voters in this economic vortex

Spain’s Socialist government was defeated in a crushing landslide vote a week ago, leaving the party with its fewest members of Parliament since democratic elections were introduced in 1977. That’s the pattern for incumbents from Ireland to Finland, Portugal to Denmark: Spain’s was the eighth government to topple in Europe in two years.

In this economic crisis, Obama will face the same headwinds. That should provide a bracing warning to grumbling Democrats: If you don’t like the way things are going right now, just wait.

President Obama came into office with expectations that Superman couldn’t have met. Many on the left believed what the right feared: that Obama was an old-fashioned liberal. But the president’s cautious centrism soured the left without reassuring the right.

Like many, I have disappointments with Obama. He badly underestimated the length of this economic crisis, and for a man with a spectacular gift at public speaking, he has been surprisingly inept at communicating.

But as we approach an election year, it is important to acknowledge the larger context: Obama has done better than many critics on the left or the right give him credit for. read more