Archive for August 9th, 2008

The Lowest Of The Low, Preying On The Poorest Of The Poor

This is absolutely disgusting:

Last night’s Bill Moyers’ Journal had heart-wrenching coverage of the growing industry that preys on the 25% of U.S. citizens who are living in poverty. The article concentrated on the angle of inveigling people into debt they can’t afford by getting them to fill out forms that detail their financial circumstances, then matching what they can eke out with the price of what they’re buying.

A major example was given, of a lady needing a car to perform the job she was paid for. After she told the salespeople all of her expenses and income, she was sold a car that cost more than what was left over after all her other bills were paid. Eventually, she had to return the car. In the Journal report, it was explained that most cars sold under this arrangement are returned, but the costs are covered by the amount of interest that the buyers have been socked with. It is this kind of tactic that has seen subprime lending burgeoning in many industries.

MATT FELLOWES:I’ve estimated in my research that among the bottom 25 percent of households, they’re collectively bringing in about 650 billion dollars every year.

So you can imagine why an amount of money that large is attractive to a great variety of businesses, from large financial services companies to new, uh, to entrepreneurs looking for innovations to serve this market.

SILVIA CHASE:That the poor can be lucrative to big business was intriguing enough to the reporter. But Matt Fellowes’ evidence for that case was even more so. The Fellowes report noted that wages have been stagnant for years; to compensate the working poor are buying items small and large by taking out loans from companies all too happy to lend them the money at a very high rate.

MATT FELLOWES:Lower income families tend to pay higher prices for nearly every basic necessity from groceries to the price of a car to the price of a mortgage.

MATT FELLOWES:Between 1989 and 2004, they borrowed about 240 percent more debt than they did in1989. So there is this enormous increase in the amount of debt held by low and moderate level income houses.

But wait, it gets better…

[T]he report from Bill Moyers touched on an investigation that is now going on at MotherJones. If you’ve noticed, there are reports there of people associated with the very organizations that have grown up to defend the needy, that have begun taking a role in selling them new and abusive credit services.

BILL MOYERS: CFSA has been especially active in urban, African American communities — that’s a primary target for predatory lenders. On our website at, you can link to a startling investigation in the current online issue of MOTHER JONES.

The magazine reports that the CFSA and the subprime credit card company CompuCredit, have co-opted several prominent civil rights organizations to bolster their efforts to fend off stricter regulation. Seals of approval for payday lending have come from CORE — that’s the Congress of Racial Equality, the National Conference of Black Mayors and local chapters of the National Urban League.

Even the WASHINGTON POST was caught off guard.

Charles Steele Jr., president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, invoked Martin Luther King Jr. as he argued against the proposed Credit Cardholders’ Bill of Rights Act. He defended subprime credit card lending.

The POST later had to issue a clarification that the Southern Christian Leadership Conference has a partnership with CompuCredit that includes plans to market “SCLC-branded” credit cards. Shameful.

“Shameful” is too mild.  The predatory lenders are evil enough, but the enablers who abuse their positions of trust are beyond despicable.

2 comments August 9th, 2008 at 08:21pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Corruption/Cronyism,Economy

I Love Weekends.

Now that’s what I’m talkin’ about.

That’s pretty much my whole weekend.  But without the dog.  Or the bone – that would just be weird.

1 comment August 9th, 2008 at 06:18pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Comics

The Unreported McCain

I just finished reading this amazing story by Amy Silverman in the Phoenix New Times, all about the ugly side of John McCain that the supposedly pro-Obama media never ever talks about.  Some highlights (or lowlights):

Even now that McCain’s the one whining that Obama’s getting all the good press in this presidential race, you still don’t see a lot in the national media really damning the guy….


No one seems to remember Keating much, anymore. Amazing. McCain and his fellow Arizonan, Democrat Dennis DeConcini, were hauled before the Senate Ethics Committee along with three other senators to explain their actions on behalf of Keating’s Lincoln Savings and Loan.

Keating gave the senators hefty campaign contributions, then called on them to meet with bank regulators to pressure them to go soft on an investigation of Lincoln. There were two infamous meetings. McCain attended both.


[W]hat often gets lost in the retelling is McCain’s close personal relationship with Keating. McCain took trips with Keating, including to his retreat in the Bahamas, and reimbursed him only after the fact was made public.


You may be surprised to know that in 1987 and 1988, McCain voted against federal legislation reforming the campaign finance system. It was only in 1990, in the aftermath of Keating and the shadow of an upcoming re-election campaign, that he started supporting reform. Ditto for his efforts to cut government spending.

And I’ve got to pause to say something about both of those efforts. In a word, they’re a farce. McCain famously sponsored a law designed to control special interests’ grip on Washington, but at the same time, he took money from those interests. Years ago, I analyzed McCain’s contributions, compared with the favors he dealt as chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee (“An Endowed Chair,” November 25, 1999).


I learned the [media] love lesson firsthand during the 2000 election, when — cajoled into doing an interview about McCain for a piece by TV newsmagazine 20/20 — I flew back and forth to Washington in a single day to be interviewed by Sam Donaldson, only to learn later from his producers that, whoops, Donaldson had decided he really liked McCain and didn’t want to include anything negative in his profile.


“During lunch, McCain said, almost with mischievous glee, that he had slipped some highly technical questions to [James McClure] to ask [new Democratic governor due to impeachment, Rose] Mofford — questions she wouldn’t be prepared to answer or expected to answer.

“Flabbergasted, I asked McCain why would he want to sabotage Mofford’s testimony, when in fact the [Central Arizona Project] was the nonpartisan pet of Republicans and Democrats — such as far-left Udall and far-right Goldwater — since its inception.

“His reply, as near as I remember, was, ‘I’ll embarrass a Democrat any time I get the chance.'”


[Bob] Neuman, who worked for Udall for many years in the 1970s and again in the ’80s, says McCain “clung to Mo,” that he dropped by the office unannounced all the time. This became awkward during the 1986 Senate race, Neuman says, when Arizona Democratic Party operatives worried that McCain was using Udall as a campaign tool. They asked Neuman to put some distance between the two.

Udall’s aide tried to be subtle, but McCain got the message. And Neuman felt his wrath. He refuses to repeat the expletives the then-congressman used when he called to bawl him out, but recalls thinking there was something really wrong with the guy.


[Barry Goldwater Jr’s book Pure Goldwater] reports that for a while after the 1986 senate race, the men got along, but that Goldwater’s feelings toward McCain started to “cool” after the Keating scandal, and he “soon found he had to stop McCain from using his good name.”

Things really got ugly, according to the book — and accompanying letters — when McCain decided to throw an event honoring Goldwater that was really meant as a fundraiser for McCain. Goldwater wrote to McCain, chastising him and telling him that he didn’t wish to be honored. He also instructed McCain to donate half the proceeds to the Arizona Republican Party. The event wound up as a tribute to Ronald Reagan, instead. Goldwater did speak there, but was unhappy afterward, as he wrote to McCain:

“You will recall during my speech at the dinner for the president in Phoenix, I announced that you were going to give half of the funds you raised to the State Republican Party. I am told by the Party, that you still owe them $35,000, and unless you pay all of it, or most of it, they cannot meet their payroll next Wednesday.


Watching him up on the stage, struggling with the teleprompter, Cindy looking miserable next to him, I almost pitied the GOP’s presumptive nominee. No more nasty jokes, no public outbursts. He’s reduced to talking about climate change and accusing Obama of being the media’s flavor of the day.

“Don’t feel sorry for him,” a friend said. “The guy might wind up president.”

Do read the whole thing.  It’s very long, but absolutely fascinating and utterly unlike the sanitized Straight-Talking Maverick image (or at worst, rough-around-the-edges hot-tempered scamp) that most of the media are still treating as gospel truth.

August 9th, 2008 at 03:52pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: McCain,Media,Politics

Two Pounds

In case anyone was wondering, I weighed myself immediately before and after, and apparently…



About two pounds.

Assuming that there’s nothing hinky about my scale, or that my metabolism isn’t operating several thousand times faster than what is supported by the physical evidence.

3 comments August 9th, 2008 at 02:15pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Weirdness

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