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Conflucians Say: Before and After

Well, the basement is finished.  Yeah.  I’m worn out.   Actually, all of the construction, priming, painting, flooring is done.  I still have some shelving to put in as well as figuring out what the heck I’m supposed to sit on down there.  I should have some decisions made this weekend.  Stimulating the economy is both fun and nervewracking.

Basement Before:

img_0359Basement After:


And join me tonight at 10PM EST for Conflucians Say to talk about your House remodeling plans.  That’s on Puma United Radio (PURrrr)


Hypocrite Watch: NOW’s Kim Gandy Opines about Misogyny

Kim Gandy

Kim Gandy

Of course it has nothing to do with Obama, Favreau, or the shocking media misogyny that went on during the 2008 election season, but still…it’s something. MTV asked the President of NOW, Kim Gandy to explain why so many people–even women–are blaming pop singer Rihanna for getting beaten up by her boyfriend, R&B star Chris Brown.

The New York Daily News reports that Rihanna told police that the recent incident was not the first time Brown had physically abused her. Some background:

…the shocking fight that landed Rihanna in the hospital ignited when Brown got a suggestive text message from another young woman following a pre-Grammy party Saturday night.

“He got a booty call. He got a text. Rihanna saw it and she got upset. They started to argue. She got out of the car. He wanted her to get back in, so he grabbed her,” the well-placed music industry source said.

“She pulled away. That’s when she’s told people he hit her,” the source said.

Rihanna, 20, had “visible injuries” when cops arrived, and she’s been cooperating with the investigation while freezing out Brown, the source said.

When Rihanna gave him the cold shoulder, Brown’s friends passed along signs of remorse, saying the 19-year-old R&B sensation “feels very bad.”

Brown, meanwhile, is due for another interview with investigators building a case against her boyfriend. He was booked on suspicion of making criminal threats Sunday night and released on $50,000 bail.

According to TMZ’s review of the police report, Rihanna took the keys out of the ignition of the couple’s rented Lamborghini and enraged Brown when she “faked a call” to someone during the fight, saying something like “he’s dropping me off,” and “make sure the cops are there.”

That’s when Brown spat out, “I’m going to kill you,” TMZ reports, citing the police report.

Continue reading

Dissension Over Revised Stimulus Bill

According to The Boston Globe:

While President Obama and the Senate are fine with the stimulus deal that appears headed for final votes in Congress on Friday and Obama’s signature on Monday, the House is another matter….And it’s not just Republicans….Some House Democrats are upset with some of the changes made to preserve the support of three Republicans in the Senate, who wield virtual veto-power.

And there are reports that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was ticked off that Harry Reid, the top Senate Democrat, announced the compromise Wednesday afternoon before her rank-and-file had signed off. She is expected to say more at a 3 p.m. news conference.

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Just a nice story about some people who aren’t corrupt politicians or greedy bankers

I read this story in The Boston Globe this morning, and it renewed my faith in humanity. I couldn’t resist sharing it with my fellow Conflucians.

The firefighter crawled on his stomach through the pitch-black apartment, the smoke so thick he couldn’t see his hand in front of his face. Somewhere inside was a baby and he had to find her.

A window broke, light filled the room, and he saw her lying in her crib, dressed only in a diaper, unconscious. Soot covered her tiny nose. She wasn’t breathing and had no pulse.

He grabbed her and breathed life into her as he ran from the apartment.

A newspaper photograph captured their image – a white firefighter from South Boston with his lips pressed to the mouth of a black baby from the Roxbury public housing development – at a time when riots sparked by racial tensions were burning down American cities.

Continue reading

Robber Barons


Robber baron is a term that revived in the 19th century in the United States as a reference to businessmen and bankers who dominated their respective industries and amassed huge personal fortunes, typically as a direct result of pursuing various anti-competitive or unfair business practices. The term may now be used in relation to any businessman or banker who is perceived to have used questionable business practices or scams in order to become powerful or wealthy (placing them in power of everything having controlled most business affairs.)

The term derives from the medieval German lords who illegally charged exorbitant tolls against ships traversing the Rhine river (see robber baron). There has been some dispute over the term’s origin and use. It was popularized by U.S. political and economic commentator Matthew Josephson during The Great Depression in a 1934 book. He attributed its first use to an 1880 anti-monopoly pamphlet in which Kansas farmers applied the term to railroad magnates. The informal term captains of industry may sometimes be used to avoid the negative connotations of “robber baron”. Recently the term “Robber ‘Boomer’ Baron” has been used to describe the undisciplined greed of financial ‘robbers’ during the financial meltdown in 2008 and 2009.[citation needed]

Nearly 700 at Merrill in Million-Dollar Club

For nearly 700 lucky Merrill Lynch employees, 2008 was a million-dollar year, even though the brokerage firm lost $27 billion.
On a day the chief executives of eight large banks were questioned about their industry’s excesses on Capitol Hill, Andrew M. Cuomo, the attorney general of New York State, raised hackles by disclosing how Merrill Lynch distributed its 2008 bonus pool. The payments, made just before Merrill Lynch was sold to Bank of America in December, have already stirred anger for being paid earlier than usual. And Mr. Cuomo made it clear that the bulk of the bonuses were paid to a small portion of Merrill Lynch’s 39,000 employees.

“Merrill chose to make millionaires out of a select group of 700 employees,” Mr. Cuomo wrote in the letter, which was sent to the House Financial Services Committee on Tuesday night.

The disclosure again puts Wall Street’s compensation system, which has long rewarded select individuals with handsome bonuses, under the microscope.

Many of the questions at Wednesday’s hearing in Washington centered on whether banking chiefs would take bonuses, and Mr. Cuomo has homed in on the payments made to executives by banks that have received more than $350 billion from the federal government. That banks have collectively lost hundreds of billions of dollars has only fueled public scorn.

According to the Financial Times, this is how the Bonuses broke down:

Nearly 700 Merrill Lynch executives had cash bonuses of more than $1m each for last year, New York’s top law enforcement official disclosed on Wednesday.

$121m paid to the top four

next 10 recipients took home $128m

top 149 bonus recipients got a total of $858m

In all, Mr Cuomo determined that 696 employees of Merrill Lynch received a bonus of at least $1m (each) for the year.

Nuff said, these greedy creeps are living high off the hog of the American taxpayer. We do not want outrage, We want ANSWERS!!!!!

What Conflucians want:




















Thursday: What the bankers bought with $600 million.

No seppuku for them.

Last week, we briefly discussed Japan’s lost decade.  In short, it goes like this: Japan’s bubble burst back in 1990-91 with the collapse of their real estate market.  The Japanese government took a mostly hands off approach to the recovery and even imposed some austerity measures, like tax increases.  That made their recession worse.  It wasn’t until 2001 when a new prime minister appointed a whiz of a finance guy that the Japanese economy started to come out of it’s big, black hole.  The remedy that worked was- ta-da-da!- getting tough with the banks.  Yes, the banks were mainlining borrowed money and using it to create even more ingenious ways of making up their lost cash.  Adam Posen called it “gambling with resurrection”.  The Japanese finally realized that being co-dependent to an industry with a gambling addiction was not in anyone’s best interest so they forced the banks into sobriety and voile!, the Japanese economy started to recover.  (I am beginning to see why the banking industry might not have wanted Hillary Clinton.)

Unfortunately, that’s not the approach we in the US are going to take.  No, we are not going to force the banks and bankers to have a day of reckoning.  We are going to postpone the intervention so we can draaaaaggg this recession out.  Why?  Well, to my untrained, non-econ eye, it appears that bankers and their shareholders are more equal than the rest of us wretched refuse.  The recession is going to be hard but not as hard on the bankers as it could be and, really, isn’t that what we all live for?  To make sure that the people who aspired to those positions can live in the style to which they have become accustomed?  YOU may get laid off and have to suffer, but why should they?  If they are living well, they serve as shining beacons on a hill, examples to us all.   We can all look up and say, “My tax dollars paid for that”.  It’s something to be proud of.

OK, some people in Connecticut clearly haven’t gotten the memo that we are to leave the poor bankers and their government welfare bonuses alone.  They are littering the poor, hapless bankers’ yards with furniture, simulating foreclosure.  That just pisses bankers off.  First they have to get Manuel to clean it all up and then they have to fly off to Aspen *weeks* earlier than they intended to.  What do these people want from them??  Isn’t it enough that they may be forced to survive on a measley $500K?

For those of you who want to know what Geithner’s plan means and how it will keep bankers safe, check out the two most recent podcasts from Planet Money:

Get Tougher, Please – Guest Adam Posen describes what needs to be done to banks to shorten the recession sensibly.

How to Save a Bank – A critique of the Geithner’s plan.  It falls short of what needs to be done to banks to shorten the recession sensibly.

At the end of yesterday’s podcast, I got a distinct impression that Adam Davidson and Alex Blumberg felt betrayed and depressed by the whole proposal.  You can hear it in their voices.  Jeez, I hope they weren’t Obamaphiles because that kind of rude awakening sucks, er, is of low quality. But what did we expect from Obama who got nearly a billion in campaign contributions from the Wall Street gang?  They need to keep shooting up and hoping that their brilliant schemes will pay off like one of Ralph Cramden’s “Get-Rich-Quick” ideas.

Oh, and one other thing.  I have read rumors that someone is floating the idea to tap into the Social Security trust fund for cash to get the economy rolling again.  Just a short term loan or something.  Yeah, Yeah, it’s just a parody but let’s just take the idea out of circulation right now.  Some of us who diligently stashed away money in our 401K’s are now looking at pretty fricking bleak retirements.  We may not have time to recover our losses before we’re given our gold watches.  Social Security had better be there for us, especially those of us who have been paying the surplus funds since we started working.  I’ll start my own March on Washington if anyone even *thinks* about tapping into it.

That’s a promise.

Why the Seventies Really Sucked Reason #2912

Bay City Rollers

My (no longer) secret shame: I owned this on 45 rpm

This is an open whatever.