The Morning Grumpy – August 5th

5 Aug

I read things, lots of things. I keep a list of the best things and post them here for you. Enjoy the news and views that make your morning constitution a little less grumpy.

1. Let’s start the Friday grumpy with this awesome story of petit City Hall corruption and incompetence. You might remember the saga of former City of Buffalo Human Resources Commissioner Karla Thomas, fired by Mayor Byron Brown after the City Comptroller’s office found the HR department paid out over $800,000 in health insurance premiums to dead people. The process of firing her was a political circus and exposed fissures in the foundation of the Grassroots political organization and humiliated the Mayor for months.

The city spent more than $200,000 and invested dozens of hours in hearings to prove that Thomas, its human resources commissioner, should be fired for failing to do her job

The investigation leading to a report which justified the Mayor’s firing of Thomas was pretty pricey as well.

The mayor removed Thomas from her $91,734-a-year job in January, shortly after Michael Battle, a former U.S. attorney, conducted a hearing and concluded that Brown was justified in firing in his onetime political ally.

Battle’s 23-page report criticized Thomas for ignoring Brown’s order, issued a year earlier, to correct deficiencies in her department. They included an embarrassing discovery unearthed by the City Comptroller’s Office: The city had been paying health insurance premiums for 170 dead retirees.

According to figures released Wednesday by the Comptroller’s Office, the city paid Battle $134,600 — or $425 an hour.

The best part? After all the hundreds of thousands of dollars, and hundreds of hours spent in hearings and testimony, Compensation and Benefits Director Antoinette Palmer failed to deny Thomas’s claim for unemployment benefits. Thomas has been receiving those benefits for seven months.

The Mayor took action and suspended Palmer from her position. Amazing how the rank incompetence of this administration never seems to get laid at Brown’s footsteps. Ignorance of the law, corruption, and unethical behavior is always the fault of some underling, never Byron Brown.

Not only is he a do-nothing caretaker mayor who lacks a vision for the city, he clearly doesn’t believe that the buck stops with him. 2013 can’t come soon enough…

2. Thanks to the Citizens United decision—which allows for corporations to contribute unlimited amounts of money to political campaigns, we get awesome stories like this,

A mystery company that pumped $1 million into a political committee backing Mitt Romney has been dissolved just months after it was formed, leaving few clues as to who was behind one of the biggest contributions yet of the 2012 presidential campaign.

Essentially, an LLC was formed by a lawyer who works for a law firm that has been a long term business partner with Romney’s former company (Bain Capital). The offices of the mystery corporation were listed in corporate filings as being at a building in Manhattan which also happens to house offices for Bain Capital. The mystery company than made a $1MM donation to Romney’s campaign and then promptly dissolved itself. Welcome to the 2012 Presidential elections, banana republic style.

3. Kevin Drum breaks down the current economic situation thusly.

2001-2008: Republicans run economy into ditch.

2008: Obama elected.

2009-2011: Republicans respond by doing everything possible to prevent him from fixing things.

2012: Republicans use lousy economy as campaign cudgel against Obama.

2012: Republican candidate wins presidency (maybe).

Yup, pretty much sums it up.

4. The jobs report that will be issued today will be a collective kick to the nuts for the American economy and will send the markets further into panic mode. But, a report issued yesterday by the IRS is even more alarming.

The data showed an alarming drop in the number of taxpayers reporting any earnings from a job — down by nearly 4.2 million from 2007 — meaning every 33rd household that had work in 2007 had no work in 2009.

Average income in 2009 fell to $54,283, down $3,516, or 6.1 percent in real terms compared with 2008, the first Internal Revenue Service analysis of 2009 tax returns showed. Compared with 2007, average income was down $8,588 or 13.7 percent.

Looking for a silver lining? Here ya go.

No income tax was paid by 1,470 of the 235,413 taxpayers earning $1 million or more in 2009, compared with the 959 taxpayers with million-dollar-plus incomes who paid no income taxes in 2007.

Phew! I’m glad those millionaires, I mean “job creators” are keeping it together!

5. A clever website as we gear up for the 2012 election, Multiple Choice Mitt, exposing the litany of positions Mitt Romney has taken on a multitude of issues as he panders to whatever base stares him in the face.

Here’s a fun example on the issue of gun control.

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And, then there’s this:

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Heh.

6. How are foreign powers responding to the debt ceiling debate and the resulting political chaos? It smells something like schadenfreude.

As the largest foreign holder of U.S. debt, China’s interest in the debt ceiling debate was hardly academic. State wire service Xinhua expressed its dismay at the potential of a default in the run-up to the final debt decisions, calling the political brinkmanship in Washington “dangerously irresponsible” in an editorial last week.

The Chinese state-sponsored paper Global Times takes a bigger picture view, editorializing on how the -debate has already negatively affected U.S. standing in the world. “The US is well-known for promoting rules and regulations to other countries, but now countries are increasingly realizing Washington can stamp all over its own rules and regulations,” the editors write.

The Hindustan Times editorializes that “If routine has become Armageddon, the US cannot be counted on when the tough decisions are being made.”

7. From the seminal work, “What’s The Matter With Kansas“, a quote to help make sense of the last few years of Tea Party politics…

8. I’ll leave you with this, Christopher Walken reading “The Three Little Pigs”

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Have a day!

7 Responses to “The Morning Grumpy – August 5th”

  1. Bbill August 5, 2011 at 7:59 am #

    Maybe I’m missing something, but it would appear that with the Citizens United assault, the Roberts Court has basically legalized money laundering.

    • Alan Bedenko August 5, 2011 at 8:52 am #

      The Supreme Court is of the mind that money = political speech and can therefore not be restricted much, if at all. Regrettably, the only sure way to change this is through constitutional amendment.

  2. Mike In WNY August 5, 2011 at 12:33 pm #

    The size and source of contributions are not the problem, merely a symptom. The problem is the size and scope of government. Power corrupts!

  3. Brian Wood August 5, 2011 at 1:17 pm #

    Money prolly comes from Pakistani billionaires, whose asses Mitt would kiss in a second–they’re rich.

  4. Foreigner Five (the sequel) August 6, 2011 at 7:37 am #

    How do we know it’s not foreign money pouring in? Is Mitt the Manchurian candidate?

  5. Bbill August 6, 2011 at 11:51 am #

    Haven’t seen much coverage in the liberalcommunistofascist media about the sudden high demand for divorce lawyers — in the wake of legalization of gay marriage, it appears that the sanctity of marriage has been undermined and formerly happy couples see no reason to continue their charade. Looks like the wingers were right after all, how about that. Not.

    Speaking of wingers, thanks a bunch to them for the S&P downgrade. S&P made it crystal clear that the teabagger trash is entirely culpable, not that we needed anyone to point that out! News flash: if you vote for lunatics and they govern like lunatics upon getting power, it’s YOUR fault.

  6. Mike In WNY August 8, 2011 at 12:18 am #

    Bbill, what you call “crystal clear” is based on the writer’s unsubstantiated statement.

    To avoid a downgrade, S&P said the United States needed to not only raise the debt ceiling, but also develop a “credible” plan to tackle the nation’s long-term debt.

    S&P gave two primary reasons for downgrading U.S. debt: The nation’s fiscal path and its broken political system.

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