Tuesday, January 17, 2012

We Knew Ward Connerly was a Liar; He is also a Thief

Affirmative-Action Foe Is Facing Allegations of Financial Misdeeds

WASHINGTON — Ward Connerly, the black businessman who has been the face of the movement to end affirmative action for nearly two decades, is facing accusations from a prominent former ally that he has mismanaged — and exploited for his own benefit — donations to that cause made by fellow conservatives.
Jim Wilson/The New York Times
Ward Connerly


Fabrizio Costantini for The New York Times
Jennifer Gratz
Moreover, a group Mr. Connerly founded to advance government policies that are race and gender neutral, the Sacramento-basedAmerican Civil Rights Institute, is under investigation by the Internal Revenue Service and by the attorney general of California, according to documents and interviews.
Mr. Connerly has faced accusations of profiteering before, as supporters of affirmative action highlighted his salary in an effort to discredit his cause. But this time, the allegations are more detailed and come from another significant movement figure: Jennifer Gratz, the named plaintiff in a landmark 2003 Supreme Court case that struck down a race-based admissions policy at the University of Michigan.
After she won that case, Mr. Connerly hired Ms. Gratz to conduct research and run campaigns supporting anti-affirmative action ballot initiatives. She resigned last September and, through her lawyer, sent the group’s board a five-page letter, a copy of which was obtained by The New York Times.
“For years, Ms. Gratz was aware of the allegations that Mr. Connerly received excessive compensation,” it said. “She presumed that the issue was politically motivated and raised solely by opponents of the organization’s mission. It has come to her attention, however, that there may be some merit to the allegations of financial impropriety.”
Interviewed by phone and e-mail, Mr. Connerly, 72, acknowledged that his group had had financial difficulties, but said its board had not responded to the letter because “90 percent” of it was false. He portrayed Ms. Gratz as a “disgruntled former employee” trying to “besmirch me personally” because she wanted to replace him.
The letter was written by Ms. Gratz’s lawyer, Robert N. Driscoll, a former deputy assistant attorney general for civil rights in the administration of George W. Bush. In a statement, through him, she said: “I thought it was important to make sure all board members were aware of what was going on even if doing so was unfortunate, sad and uncomfortable and even though it meant that I had to resign from a position within a cause that I will always hold near and dear.”
The dispute is alarming allies.
“I’m sorry to hear this because I’m a great admirer of both of them,” said Roger Clegg, the president of the Center for Equal Opportunity, which also opposes affirmative action. “She is a courageous, smart person — and Ward is also a courageous, smart person.”
A businessman and a former University of California regent, Mr. Connerly rose to fame in 1996 as the backer of a successful ballot initiative barring public institutions in California from taking race or gender into account. He later founded the institute and a related advocacy group and continued to call for “colorblind government” in matters like contracting and college admissions.
Ms. Gratz’s letter alleges a series of financial irregularities, starting with Mr. Connerly’s pay.
Late last summer, the institute belatedly filed disclosure forms for tax years ending in June20082009, and 2010. (The I.R.S. that summer had revoked the tax-exempt status of its related advocacy group for failing to file such forms.) They showed that his annual pay was between $1.2 million and $1.5 million each year — more than half its revenue.
Because charitable donations are tax deductible, according to I.R.S. rules no employee may get excessive compensation. Two other nonprofit groups opposing affirmative action, the Center for Equal Opportunity and the Center for Individual Rights, pay their leaders about $144,000 and $250,000, respectively.
Mr. Connerly said that “every penny which I receive is directly related to our mission,” and that he used some of his salary to pay others for research and legal work. He also said the group had reduced his pay to $850,000.
One reason Mr. Connerly has been a particularly effective advocate is that he is black. Mr. Clegg said there were “few people who can do or would do what he does,” adding that it is hard to set a salary on a job that requires enduring racially charged name-calling from fellow blacks.
A major financial supporter is the Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation. Its president, Michael W. Grebe, said he was “very comfortable” that its donations to Mr. Connerly’s group were “being spent for public education programs.”
“He’s very effective,” Mr. Grebe said.
Ms. Gratz’s letter contends that the group has been “in financial crisis since March 2010” in part because of Mr. Connerly’s salary and legal fees related to the tax investigations, and has “ceased almost entirely” doing projects furthering its mission since June 2011.
Her letter also says the group has had trouble making payroll and “knowingly” under-reported what it paid employees on payroll tax forms — “irregularities” that “partly result from disruptions in revenue” but that “also appear to be designed to facilitate Mr. Connerly’s high salary.”
Mr. Connerly denied such allegations as “speculation and conjecture,” saying Ms. Gratz was not privy to administrative details. He also said educational activities by him and his group were “instrumental” in passing an anti-affirmative action initiative in Arizona in November 2010, and in laying the groundwork for a vote on a similar measure in Oklahoma set for fall 2012.
Ms. Gratz’s letter said five of the group’s eight employees “are family members” or have “personal or nonprofessional relationships with Mr. Connerly,” and raised questions about its “contracts for services and leases.”
For example, the letter said, the group contracted with a former longtime employee of Mr. Connerly’s profit-making firm to create a report on Oklahoma, for up to 120 hours at $60 an hour; it “consisted mainly of printouts from Wikipedia.”
While the letter did not explain its reference to “leases,” the group’s recent tax filings show that its rent tripled, to just under $70,000, after it moved to a different building about four years ago. Records show a group employee purchased the building in February 2008 for about $444,000.
Mr. Connerly said hiring people he knew was appropriate, given his group’s “controversial” mission. He also said he had instructed the employee to find new offices because they needed more room, and he approved the arrangement she had made.
Despite his salary, Mr. Connerly acknowledged that he had had financial difficulties; public records show that in 2010 and 2011, several hundred thousand dollars in liens for unpaid taxes were leveled against him. He said he was working on paying what he owed. In addition, a disclosure form filed with the IRS says the institute discovered last year that Mr. Connerly had submitted “unsubstantiated” business expenses from his credit card and cellphone bills. He had paid back $10,000 as of September, but still owed about $24,000.
Ms. Gratz was once Mr. Connerly’s defender. In 2008, when anti-affirmative action initiatives were on the ballot in Colorado and Nebraska, a liberal group ran ads portraying him as supporting such measures so he could pocket “nonprofit slush funds.”
Ms. Gratz made a video denouncing the ads as character assassination. But, her letter said, she subsequently realized that Mr. Connerly’s group had “not been adequate stewards of the resources the donors entrusted to the organization,” adding that she “will cooperate with any government investigation.”
Kitty Bennett contributed research.

Monday, January 16, 2012

The eurozone’s three deadly sins: by Stephen King...not THAT Stephen King! Silly!

High quality global journalism requires investment. Please share this article with others using the link below, do not cut & paste the article. See our Ts&Cs and Copyright Policy for more detail. Email ftsales.support@ft.com to buy additional rights. http://blogs.ft.com/the-a-list/2012/01/16/the-eurozones-three-deadly-sins/#ixzz1jc7UxtTv

so, please read this article at the link above!

This comment by Killerfish tickled me:

Stephen King is correct that QE by the ECB would help but he is also correct that it won't solve the crisis. He simply highlights how far the EU is from a solution to this problem and by 'solution' I mean something that puts the EU back on a sustainable growth path. The main concern should be that the only solution is either a period of hyper inflation to wipe out nominal debts or huge losses for investors as asset prices are allowed to fall naturally. 

Also, don't forget that once the EU has got back on track there is always the question of how the US gets its debts under control before treasury investors revolt.

OMG these freaking cords Chapter One

by Olivia LaRosa 1/31/2012

I am a cyborg. OMG these freaking cords!
I have to charge my goldarn cellphone every night. Nevertheless, it will fail halfway through the next day, round about 1PM.
This cellphone is a state-of-the-art Samsung Galaxy Captivate Android touchpad, an alleged geek-a-rama.
Only two weeks after delivery of my baby android, ATT sent me a message with a nine-page instruction sheet attached. I was ordered to upgrade my baby phone without delay.
Well, I had other priorities at the time. I had not allocated the time to engage in extensive maintenance of my brand-new phone.
Last month, I had put out the fires in my life, and attempted to upgrade from Android 2.1 to Android 2.2.
Let me tell you, honey…
I went to the ATT website and learned that I should visit the local ATT store. They would take care of me.
So, I took the phone to an ATT store. After I waited for 45 minutes, the kid told me I had to go to the warranty store in Walnut Creek.
I waited another hour at the ATT warranty store. The kid told me I had to upgrade to Android 2.1 to Android 2.2 before they would service my state-of-the-art phone. I said, “I just bought this phone. I don’t want to spend five hours performing an upgrade that you should have done.”
He shrugged.
The links at ATT website are devilishly hard to find. Then after you find them, the “upgrade” and “download” links lead to 404Land.
I next wasted an hour at the Samsung site. Resorting to search engines was useless.
In the meanwhile, my phone:
  • hangs me up right after I dial a call
  • goes black in the middle of every act I perform on it
  • never alerts me when I receive calls or messages
  • dies halfway through the day
  • I am just getting started…
I am considering my next move.
Suggestions are welcome.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Another "Capitalism in Crisis" article

Capitalism in Crisis: The Code That Forms a Bar to Harmony

Financial Times

My comment:

I see nothing here that convinces me that anyone is willing to halt the corporate takeover of civil society. If it were true that cutting taxes created jobs, we should be rolling in them by now.

In the USA, marginal rates have come down from their 91% high during the Eisenhower administration to 35% now for earned income. For capital gains the rates are even lower.

An efficient market can never exist. Government policies inevitably and always redistribute income.  Those of us in the 99% see clearly that incomes have redistributed upward to ridiculous levels. No one can justify paying CEOs millions of dollars a year for eliminating jobs and concocting nefarious schemes for avoiding their obligation to society. Privatization is nothing more or less than the systematic looting of the public goods our parents and grandparents paid for with their tax dollars.

We are mad as hell and we aren't going to take it any more.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

America’s Unlevel Field-Krugman

My comments on:

America’s Unlevel Field

Paul Krugman

Mitt is just regurgitating right-wing mythology that was discredited decades ago. The Right does not believe that it does anything to create a level playing field. That rhetoric is just pablum for the true-believers. 

You will notice that most Right-wingers cannot have a rational discussion of the issues because everything they say is nothing more than a parroting of talking points. You can never have a conversation with them. 

There seems to be a mistaken notion that memorizing some batty phrases is the same as thoughtful discourse.

There seems to be another mistaken notion that you have to have some kind of blind allegiance to your political party. This blind allegiance means that you are moral because you don't need any proof of their true intent. 

Religious people claim not to require proof for their faith. Fine.

But politics is not religion. You can change your opinions based on facts and logic and still not condemn yourself to eternal damnation. I did. You can do it too.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Bailouts will always be needed to fix capitalism's flaws

Romney is wrong to oppose auto bailout

Really? Steven Rattner, Obama's "car czar" administered the auto firm bailouts. Rattner is telling the truth.

See the comments! Holy cow!
This is one of the most appaling (sic) pieces I've ever read.
Bail-outs will always be needed to fix capitalism’s flaws

Lest we needed another reminder, Thursday’s announcement that the Italian automaker Fiat had achieved the final performance target in its alliance with Chrysler underscored once more the remarkable success of the rescue of the American automobile industry.

No capitalist (and I consider myself to be a full-throated one) likes the notion of government intervening in the private sector. But we must recognise the rare moments when deviations from this principle are not only to be tolerated, but welcomed.

As the events of the past three years demonstrate, General Motors and Chrysler were such an undeniable exception. At the end of 2008, the entire auto sector was on the brink of total collapse, a near casualty of the financial crisis, oscillating oil prices, uneconomic labour agreements and poor management. General Motors alone lost $30bn in that single year.

Due to courageous decisions by both former President George W. Bush and President Barack Obama, the industry is now thriving. US sales of autos and light trucks rose last year by 10.3 per cent to 12.8m, compared to 10.4m in 2009.

Read the original entire article here: 
Romney is wrong to oppose auto bailout

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Republican Attacks Have Racist Undertones - NYTimes.com

Republican Attacks Have Racist Undertones - NYTimes.com:

'via Blog this'

Many commenters are working really hard to deny the hard evidence of race-hate in the Republican Party. My right-wing relatives send me malicious mendacious racist smears all the time.
The most recent was a rant based on a fictional incident claiming Obama had done something that did not "support the troops." It was headed:

What do we have to do to get this n***** out of office?

In case you don't yet get it, people find this term derogatory dehumanizing racism.