A few weeks ago, a Philly-based nonprofit (and my sometimes employer), The Reinvestment Fund launched one of the cooler internet tools in recent memory: PolicyMap. Those interested in public policy, in mapping, or just procrastinating with a cool diversion are going to have to check this out.
Basically, what Policy Map does is bring data and mapping to the masses. Given its place as a lender and public policy research center, TRF has always accumulated all kinds of data. About a year or so ago, they decided that they were going to try and put that data online, in a way that the general public could see it. And from that, and many (many) hours of development, PolicyMap was born. They mapped something like 4000 pieces of data, and then put it online in a format where anyone can map it. And if they got the data free (ie, Census, etc), they give it away for free too.
For policy nerds, this is about as cool as it gets. Check out what you can do in about one minute:
Yesterday, on the recommended list was a diary talking about Obama's refusal to pay out street money to the Philly machine for GOTV operations. Obama's decision to not pay was certainly understandable. The Philly ward machine is not only ineffective, but rife with problems.
But, as someone who has seen who generally gets money on e-day in Philly, the tone of the diaries- basically accusing people of vote buying and worse- was ridiculous and embarrassing. It left me really worried that the progressive blogosphere- a group that is whiter and richer than the Country as a whole- doesn't have any idea about our level of privilege.
I supported John Edwards earlier in this campaign. When he dropped out, I became a probable Obama supporter. I liked him enough, I was excited about the... excitement, and I think Hillary Clinton, who would make a decent President, is sort of a war monger.
So, I had this whole post written in my head, where I was going to go through the thought process whereby I was picking Obama. There were his positives, his negatives; Clinton’s positives, Clinton’s negatives. It felt a lot like how I came to weigh all my choices and vote for Philly Mayor Mike Nutter last year. Obama would have my vote and I would root hard for him in the primary, but there was not a whole lot of investment from my perspective.
I supported John Edwards for President. Like many Edwards people, I now am planing on voting for Barack Obama in the potentially important state of Pennsylvania. I think he will be a good president, with a far better foreign policy than HRC. He is inspiring my generation like nothing I have ever seen. I am dreaming of him absolutely crushing John McCain.
But man, I sure am glad Hillary Clinton is slamming Obama on healthcare. Because he deserves it, and none of you appear to be willing to do it. In fact, Obama fans, this post is less directed at Barack Obama than at you. Because the precedent this is setting... ain't good.
Last year, my consumer advocate father - Irv Ackelsberg- ran for Philadelphia City Council. His two sentence background is that he is a nationally known consumer advocate, who ten years ago was warning about Wall Street's involvement in predatory lending, and the effect on our cities. He is a community leader who founded a synagogue for social justice, and spent his entire career in North Philly, running an office of what is generally considered the best legal services organization in the world. In other words, he is a pretty OK guy.
Yet, despite being the widely acknowledged best candidate, in a City desperately needing new leadership, he was pointedly not endorsed by Philly's Inquirer or Daily News. I was time warped back to that this morning when I read about the Des Moines Register's endorsement of Hilary Clinton, and their non-endorsement of John Edwards.
A couple weeks ago I wrote about Barney Frank, and his shafting of homeowners on behalf of Wall Street. (Only at DKos could I be accused of doing so because he had just endorsed Hillary.) Frank took a great anti-predatory lending bill from Brad Miller (D-NC), and turned it into a joke.
However, on the Senate side, Chris Dodd just introduced a very, very good bill, that is eons better than the bill that Frank passed in the house. Obviously, he only just introduced it, so a lot could be changed. But it is clear that Dodd is signaling he is coming out against the predators.
Kagro X wrote today about the Barney Frank Predatory Lending Bill. Great news. In his post, he mainly focused on Yield Spread Premiums, the gross practice where a mortgage broker and a bank split the profit of selling you a higher-cost loan than the one you should have been given.
YSP’s are terrible, and recipes for abuse, and Mortgage brokers have played a big role in the foreclosure crisis. That said, a focus only on brokers, and YSP’s is not wise. It is not a battle that, even if won, will stop the foreclosure crisis.
Below, I try to explain why Barney Frank’s bill is so bad and why a focus solely on brokers is misguided. If you really want to stop the foreclosure crisis in our Country, you are going to have to look behind the curtain and find out who benefits from this bill.
Around the blogosphere the last couple of days, there has been talk of Barney Frank’s predatory lending bill that is supposed to come up for a vote on Thursday. The thought is that this is one of those below-the-radar, complicated things that we should get behind and cheer.
True, what is going on is below the radar. But, unfortunately, that is because the sainted Barney Frank- along with the Dem controlled Congress- is on his way to selling out distressed homeowners, all on behalf of immunizing the biggest culprit in the foreclosure crisis: Wall Street.
A while back, I randomly was watching ABC News, and came across an amazing hour-long story about the lives of a group of poor kids in Camden. It really was a wonderful job of showing just how desperate the lives of so many Americans are. And, I wasn’t alone in being affected by the story, because the show took on a life of its own. Governor’s Corzine’s staffers apparently made him watch a tape of it, charity poured in, etc.
Now, one of the families featured on the show- the Marrero’s- is back in the news again. In fact, they had a brand new house for them built over the course of a week (in Pennsauken, not Camden) by the show Extreme Makeover: Home Edition. First, let me state that it is wonderful that the family got a new home. Absolutely wonderful. But, there is something about all of this follow-up to the ABC piece that is so problematic, and echoes all-too familiar story lines about the deserving poor.
Ay yi yi. Pass the damn asprin, because the chaos in Pennsylvania continues.
As many know, Dems in PA acheived a one vote victory in the State House. But, just as we thought we had it all wrapped up, a dumbass, selfish State Rep from Reading, PA, said that he was going to vote for the Republican, John Perzel.
But, now in a twist, the Dems won the House!
Who the hell is Thomas Caltagirone? He is the jackass who is on the verge of handing the Pennsylvania House to... the GOP, and John Fucking Perzel. (You know, the worst person ever). Yeah, you heard me right. Caltagirone, a Democrat from Reading, is about to vote for the GOP's Perzel as Speaker of the Pennsylvania House:
First, winning feels great. I was 11 years old when Clinton won in 1992. And then we started losing. A lot. Hell, even when Clinton won the second time it was not like he did it with a progressive mandate. So, yeah, this feels weird, but pretty damn awesome.
In any case, as most know, Speaker Pelosi and Majority Leader Reid will likely introduce a minimum wage increase within the first 3 or 4 days of the Democratic takeover.
In all likelihood, the minimum wage will pass. But, rather than fight this battle again in 4, 8 or 12 years, why don't we do something to make it a little more effective?