Saturday, April 26, 2008

Abyss of US instituational racisim

Robert Lavato, writing at the Black Commentator comments succinctly on the gross injustice of the Sean Bell verdict. FIFTY BULLETS.

... all of us need to raise our voices and point at the abyss of our country’s institutional racism as was painfully and transparently reflected in the Sean Bell verdict. We might want to start by pushing Obama, Clinton and McCain-and the mainstream media- to speak honestly and continually about what the 50 bullets in Sean Bell say about justice in the 50 states of our tattered and bloodied union.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Subprime mortgage failures - how we got there

Calculated Risk looks at a NYT Magazine article and concisely summarizes the roles of various participants to the disaster:

Homebuyer's were speculating with no money down. Mortgage brokers didn't care because they would sell the loans immediately and collect their fees. Wall Street didn't care because they could package the loans and sell them to investors. Investors would have cared, except they trusted the rating agencies. And as this article describes, the rating agencies weren't evaluating the underlying loans - they were performing statistical analysis using models based on lenders that cared if the borrower would repay the loan.

At the same time, regulators - despite numerous warnings - mostly ignored the problem, apparently for ideological reasons

Well, ONE politician, Elliot Spitzer, viewed the situation from a different perspective. He concluded his 02-14-08 Washington Post Op-Ed thusly:

But the unanimous opposition of the 50 states [to the predatory lending practices] did not deter, or even slow, the Bush administration in its goal of protecting the banks. In fact, when my office opened an investigation of possible discrimination in mortgage lending by a number of banks, the OCC [Office of the Comptroller of the Currency] filed a federal lawsuit to stop the investigation.

Throughout our battles with the OCC and the banks, the mantra of the banks and their defenders was that efforts to curb predatory lending would deny access to credit to the very consumers the states were trying to protect. But the curbs we sought on predatory and unfair lending would have in no way jeopardized access to the legitimate credit market for appropriately priced loans. Instead, they would have stopped the scourge of predatory lending practices that have resulted in countless thousands of consumers losing their homes and put our economy in a precarious position.

When history tells the story of the subprime lending crisis and recounts its devastating effects on the lives of so many innocent homeowners, the Bush administration will not be judged favorably. The tale is still unfolding, but when the dust settles, it will be judged as a willing accomplice to the lenders who went to any lengths in their quest for profits. So willing, in fact, that it used the power of the federal government in an unprecedented assault on state legislatures, as well as on state attorneys general and anyone else on the side of consumers.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Veterans having hard time finding jobs

The Southtown Star reports:

War veterans face many obstacles. Discrimination. A lack of helpful job-finding resources. Skill sets viewed as insufficient in the civilian workforce. And fears about post-traumatic stress disorder. ...

[After] PTSD discrimination ... employers who don't hire veterans because they remain eligible for service is the other most common complaint of war veteran job seekers ...

specialist[s] in the Army National Guard ... [devote] one weekend a month to the Guard. If more troops are needed for the war zone, it's possible [to] be sent back.

That scares away employers.

It's a "detriment to getting your foot in the door" ...

When Iraq comes up during a job interview ... there's a "change in (the hirer's) voice and demeanor."

Torture is always immoral

Posting at Hullaballoo today, tristero deconstructs all rationals for approving torture concluding:

"The ethics of torture" is a topic that no one in a healthy democracy should have to spend too much time discussing because its immorality should be self-evident to its citizens. But we don’t live in a healthy democracy - and, after Bush, it is at least arguable the extent to which we actually live in a democracy. ... So now, to quickly conclude a tedious subject, please remember this if nothing else:

Torture is always immoral. End of discussion.