Thursday, May 31, 2012

Ex-Justice Stevens Blasts Citizens United & Bush v. Gore


Yesterday, President Obama gave Retired Justice Stevens the Medal of Freedom Award in a group that included singer Bob Dylan, author Toni Morrison, astronaut John Glenn, Tennessee basketball coach Pat Summit, and the first woman Secretary of State, Madeleine Albright.

Then last night, Stevens rose to greatness again when he made a speech in Little Rock, Arkansas, pointing to "cracks" in the 2010 Supreme Court Ruling known as Citizens United, which gives corporations the same rights as individuals and has led to secret Super Pac money used in elections. Stevens was a dissenter in the decision, and said that when President Obama criticized the ruling during a State of the Union Address, he was right on. In fact, President Obama's quote was the first line of Steven's speech! PDF Here

President Obama said in 2010:
With all due deference to separation of powers, last week the Supreme Court reversed a century of law that I believe will open the floodgates for special interests "“- including foreign corporations "“- to spend without limit in our elections. (Applause.) I don’t think American elections should be bankrolled by America’s most powerful interests, or worse, by foreign entities. (Applause.) They should be decided by the American people. And I’d urge Democrats and Republicans to pass a bill that helps to correct some of these problems.’”
When the cameras panned over the Supreme Court Justices that night, Samuel Alito shook his head and mouthed the words "Not true." And Stevens made reference to that in his comments last night.

From American Bar Association Blog:
The majority opinion stated that the government may not restrict political speech simply because some speakers are disfavored. But “somewhat inconsistently,” Stevens said, the majority also said it was not reaching the question of whether foreign individuals or associations could be prevented from influencing the political process.

...“Justice Alito's reaction does persuade me that in due course it will be necessary for the court to issue an opinion explicitly crafting an exception that will create a crack in the foundation of the Citizens United majority opinion,” Stevens said. “For his statement that it is ‘not true’ that foreign entities will be among the beneficiaries of Citizens United offers good reason to predict there will not be five votes for such a result when a case arises. ...

“It will be necessary to' explain why the First Amendment provides greater protection to the campaign speech of some non-voters than to that of other non-voters.”
Story from USA Today:
Speaking to hundreds of people at a Wednesday night event in Little Rock, the retired justice said President Obama accurately criticized the ruling for reversing a century of law and allowing special interest groups to pump money into elections. He cited Justice Samuel Alito's reaction to Obama's criticism . . .

. . . He also pointed to televised debates when moderators try to allow candidates equal time to express their views. He said candidates and viewers wouldn't like it if there were an auction giving the most time to the highest bidder.

"Yet that is essentially what happens during actual campaigns in which rules equalizing campaign expenditures are forbidden," he said.
In answer to an audience question, Stevens also mentioned the Court's tainted legacy over the Bush v. Gore decision that essentially stopped vote recounts in Florida after the ill-fated 2000 presidential election and handed the victory to George W. Bush.
"I think you have to have confidence that the justices will do their best to not make that same mistake again," he said to laughter and applause.
Let's hope not, but thanks to Judge Stevens for reminding us that even the Surpreme Court isn't infallible and for giving us hope that some of these bad decisions might be overturned someday. Of course the only way to actually change the Supreme Court for the better is to keep Obama in the White House for four more years. We have no choice.

Jenna Bush Snarks About Father's White House Portrait


Today the Obamas are hosting a private lunch and portrait unveiling ceremoney for George and Laura Bush at the White House. All will be well, but Bush's daughter Jenna snarked off a little about her father's legacy - the Bush girls were always a little cheeky.

Fox & Friends via AP story via Huffington Post

Jenna Bush Hager, one of the George W. Bush's daughters, told "Fox & Friends" the day will be a chance to "celebrate his work, `cause he worked pretty hard, so I think he deserves at least a painting."

As to where it will go, she said: "Probably in the very back somewhere. I'm just kidding."

Actually, the painting will hang prominently in the formal entrance hall to the White House, the Grand Foyer.

Prediction: Rubio Probably Out of Veepstakes


I'm going to go out on a limb and predict that as of this week, Marco Rubio is out of the running to be the Republican Vice Presidential candidate. Why? Because in the past few days some have labeled him "too young" and inexperienced to serve. I think this is rightwing code for "too bad, kid" - we've got someone else in the wings.

Super-Surrogate and Romney's Homey Donald Trump nixed Rubio last week before holding himself forth as the better choice:
On a younger side, you could look at Sen. Rubio, who I think could help with Hispanics. But he is young, and I think he sort of doesn’t want to go through it and doesn’t want to do it. Probably the best choice of all would be Donald Trump.

That alone wouldn't mean much, although it's clear that Trump has sway over the Romney campaign right now with the Birther honeymoon of their dreams in Vegas and all. But now Roberto Gonzales, ex-Attorney General from the George W. administration is echoing the Donald and speaking out against his fellow Latino and - *ouch* - saying he "lacks wisdom":

From CNN's Political Ticker "Gut Check" May 30, 2012
GONZALES: If I were the nominee the person I would look to put on the ticket would be the person I know - they want - could be as president. As I look at the slate of candidates, there are a number of good people from the Republican Party who have more experience (than Marco Rubio) and would be better suited on day one and if you combine that with the principle that I don’t think Hispanics are going to vote for a nominee based upon who is number two on the ticket. I think it behooves Governor Romney to look at other candidates....

KING: But what you’ve said in the past, you’ve just hinted at it in more diplomatic language right now is you don’t think he meets the number one test to be ready to be president, why?

GONZALES: Again he’s extremely talented and I honor his service. But I think the job of president, and I’ve seen it first hand – how hard it can be. And how important it is to have someone with wisdom. Wisdom comes from experience. It comes from living, comes from success, comes from failure. And I think the country needs to have people in positions of leadership who have that level of experience that’s important to serve effectively as president and as vice president.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Senate Bill to Make Bison the National Mammal


Sounds like a great idea to me! :)

From the Billings Montana Gazette:
The National Bison Legacy Act introduced in the Senate is backed by lawmakers from Wyoming, Colorado, Nebraska, Kansas, New Mexico, North Dakota, South Dakota and Rhode Island.

The largely symbolic measure would provide no added protections for the estimated 20,000 wild bison in North America. And the bald eagle would still hold a somewhat loftier role as the national emblem, as declared by the Second Continental Congress in 1782.

And it's not just the lawmakers - Wildlife folks and Native Americans back the legislation:
John Calvelli with the Wildlife Conservation Society, one of the "vote bison" campaign sponsors, said the effort is meant to transcend political concerns and instead mark the animal's place in American cultural history.

"This isn't about getting into the middle of these issues of bison and property rights," he said. "No matter what political stripe you come from, we can all agree on the important role that bison have played."

Other sponsors of the campaign are the Intertribal Buffalo Council, which includes 57 tribes, and the National Bison Association.

Colbert Snarks Trump


Colbert's take on Trump's Birtherism, LOL:

According to RealClearPolitics Average of Polls, Obama leads Romney by 45.6 percent to Romney's 43.6%. How is Mitt going to get to that 50.1% up here? He's already got the fiscal conservatives and the social conservatives mixed in - that's not enough!

Now Trump gets him the Birthers, but now he's got to reach out to the 9-11 Truthers, the Alien Abductees, the Doomsday Preppers, the Sasquatch Hunters, the Sasquatches, or "Sasqueetch."

Sh** - that's only 50%!
How does he get that tiny sliver? That's going to be tough. Who represents such a miniscule portion of Americans? Wait! I've got it - all Mitt needs are the blacks who like Donald Trump. (Shows Video of Trump saying "The winner is Arsenio Hall" on The Apprentice.)

50.1! 50.1! Mitt, you're hired!

RIP Doc Watson

It makes me so sad - first Earl Scruggs and now Doc Watson! :(

Obituary from CBS News

He sang one of my favorite bluegrass songs - Shady Grove - in my opinion, the best version ever recorded. The second video below features some gorgeous fancy pickin' with his son Merle Watson, who died an untimely death in 1985. RIP.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Trump Trumps Himself on CNN - Goes All Kooky Birther


Today Mitt Romney became the Heir Apparent to the Republican Throne by delegate count. He is in Las Vegas with Donald Trump on a fund-raising mission. So what does The Donald do to help his man? He goes on CNN, gets in a fight with Wolf Blitzer, and goes completely crazy-ass over the Birther Issue.
You have to watch it and listen to Trump to believe it. He says Obama was born in Kenya and nothing will change his mind, not even the state of Hawaii issuing a valid birth certificate. Is this helping Mitt Romney?

The other day George Will called Trump a "bloviating ignoramus," and leave it to Trump to prove him right again just two days later. Trump responded that Will was "the dumbest political commentator of all time," but I would say no - that would be Trump as well, and this piece of videotape proves it.

Politics makes strange bedfellows, indeed. For Romney to be legitimate (poor choice of words, I know) he needs to get the big bloviated bedbug out of his campaign.

Facebook Falls Again - Updated

Facebook Stock is selling for $28 a share this afternoon. I will update the final price when the markets close at 4:30 EST.

Some predict it will bottom out at $25, but I think that might be optimistic. Of course it might bottom out today at $25, but what about the rest of the week? Just kidding - I really have no idea how this will end. I'm watching it fall for the entertainment value only. :)

Reuters reports:

As Facebook shares dipped below $30 in afternoon trade, buying picked up in the August $29 strike puts.
Put options, generally considered bearish bets, give the holder the right to sell shares at a specific price by a certain date, while calls, generally considered bullish bets, give the holder the right to buy shares at a specific price.

 Update: Yep - ended the day at $28.84 per share.

How Bad a Day Did Facebook Have? 
 So bad that a short-sale circuit breaker was tripped because the stock price kept falling. Circuit breakers kick in when a stock drops more than 10 percent from the previous session's closing price. On the day, Facebook fell 9.6 percent to $28.84, and since the company went public earlier this month, the stock has plunged more than 24 percent.

Mitt Romney Needs Crabbe and Goyle (Newt and Trump)

Chi va dormir con i cani, si leua con i pulici
He that goeth to bedde wyth Dogges, aryseth with fleas
1573 J. Sanforde 

Mitt Romney is in Las Vegas today with Donald Trump and Newt Gingrich.
No, it's true - Via Politico!

One person on Twitter called them the "Triplets of Evil." Others wondered why Romney feels the need to hang around with Gingrich, who did nothing but insult him during the primary, and the other guy who is famous for saying "You're Fired!" and is a self-proclaimed Birther who thinks Obama is Kenyan. Of course, it's clear that hanging around with Romney is about the closest either Trump or Newt are going to get to the White House - and I personally don't think Romney will get there either.

They remind me of wealthy pureblood, Draco Malfoy and his thuggish Slytherin sidekicks, Crabbe and Goyle, from the Harry Potter books.

Read More Twitters About Trump/Romney at Snark Amendment

You would think by now that Romney would be distancing himself from the Republican Clown Posse, but au contraire - he is inviting voters to have dinner with them!

This is a REAL poster - You cannot make this stuff up!

So has Mitt lost his mind? No, there be method in his madness, as he told reporters today:
You know, I don't agree with all the people who support me and my guess is they don't all agree with everything I believe in. But I need to get 50.1 percent or more and I'm appreciative to have the help of a lot of good people.

Aha! He needs friends that will send his campaign "to eleven," as in the Spinal Tap movie! The ends justify the means, and Romney will cozy up with anyone whom he thinks can get those Tea Party members or other goons to go out to vote for him. Always the businessman, eh? Always the bottom line ahead of ethics or common sense.

Here are a few quotes that I think Mr. Romney must have missed during his classical Ivy League education. He was too busy attacking the other lads with scissors, I guess. So, for your inspection, Mr. Romney, think about these quotes while sitting squeezed in between Crabbe and Goyle Newt and Trump:

To take refuge with an inferior is to betray one's self. ~ Publilius Syrus

A King's son is no nobler than his company. ~ Gaelic Proverb

A rusty nail placed near a faithful compass, will sway it from the truth, and wreck the argosy.
~Sir Walter Scott

Associate yourself with men of good quality if you esteem your own reputation. It is better be alone than in bad company.
~ George Washington

I won't belong to any organization that would have me as a member.
~ Groucho Marx


Monday, May 28, 2012

Pundits Slam Greece as Euro Exit Looms


Considering some of the Greek-bashing going on in Europe, you wouldn't know that other countries such as France, Spain, Portugal, Italy, and Ireland might have lots of trouble if Greece makes a disorderly exit from the Euro. Who will the pundits blame when Greece is no longer the scapegoat?

Last week Christine Lagarde, the International Monetary Fund chief, insulted the Greeks by implying they were all tax dodgers. She told Guardian UK:
"Do you know what? As far as Athens is concerned, I also think about all those people who are trying to escape tax all the time. All these people in Greece who are trying to escape tax."
Even more than she thinks about all those now struggling to survive without jobs or public services?
"I think of them equally. And I think they should also help themselves collectively."
"By all paying their tax. Yeah."
It sounds as if she's essentially saying to the Greeks and others in Europe, you've had a nice time and now it's payback time.
"That's right." She nods calmly. "Yeah."

That statement brought an onslaught of criticism to Lagarde's Facebook Page where she later posted an apology:

As I have said many times before, I am very sympathetic to the Greek people and the challenges they are facing. . . . An important part of this effort is that everyone should carry their fair share of the burden, especially the most privileged and especially in terms of paying their taxes. . . .

Bill Mitchell, an Australian economist saw Lagarde's statement as more European bullying towards the Greek people, especially from the IMF. He wrote in his blog:
. . . the European banking system interacted with the bailout funds to benefit the German banks. The benefits dwarf the amount of funds Greece has received.
So when Lagarde talks about payback time it is clear that she is continuing the IMF tradition of bullying the weak and vulnerable to benefit the rich and strong.
. . . Remember, that Greece was not in crisis before the Euro was imposed. Its crisis is the result of lax regulation by EU officials interacting with a flawed monetary system design.

Unfortunately, other Europeans continue to enjoy some Greek bashing, like this so-called "Wealth Manager" Nick Dewhirst from Integral Asset Management who echoed Lagarde's condescending judgment when interviewed by CNBC today (my transcript):
Dewhirst: I think the easiest way to understand it is at the ordinary human level. Nations are just very large numbers of human beings. And it's like a club, so I was down at my Sailing Club . . . talking to a few friendly Greeks among others and the attitude is very simple. As a club member you have to obey by certain rules. Lots of people cheat a little bit. They get away with it. Some people cheat a helluva lot. They get away with it until everybody notices. And that's the key difference between now and a couple of years ago.
Every German voter, every Slovak, Finn, and every other savings nation voter now knows that cheating is not just the occasional email joke he's got about Greece, but a way of life.

Question: What's the real impact of Greece leaving the eurozone as you say on June 18th?

Dewhirst: Probably like Y2K. A lot less than everybody thinks.

Question: But there are so many unknown unknown-unknowns...

Dewhirst: Um, I don't think so. I wrote a piece in December 2010 predicting this would happen and predicting how it would happen. We would have a bank holiday . . . and during that period they would have to pass a simple law amending one clause of the European treaties they signed. And then your accounts would be frozen. And everyone would come in on Monday and say 'they've stolen my money - they can't do that!' But they can! They've just done it and it's been done before. It was done in Argentina in 2001.

Question: But isn't the concern here the knock on impact through the banking system, because there would be quite significant implications for the Greek banks? The European financial system is very interconnected . . . Banks are holding some debt as well....
Question: Because if the new currency in Greece devalues 50-70% and they've lost that amoung of their wealth, why wouldn't every person in Spain, in Italy, or anywhere else that this could potentially happen and put it into a safer currency, thus perpetuating the bank runs?

Dewhirst: Um, that's very sensible, and indeed, I think about 30% of the Greek bank deposits have all ready disappeared that way. And 8% of those in other countries have done the same sort of thing. That's true.

Dewhirst was also quoted by CNBC as saying:

“The euro zone is a club but you get cheaters who get away with it until everyone finds out and at that point you need to remove them otherwise everyone will cheat. It’s better for Greece to leave," . . .
“The basic question is that a German has to increase working from 65 to 67 and that is to pay for Greeks retiring at 50. The 17th of June is the perfect opportunity to say either 'we’ll behave' or 'we’ll carry on cheating.

And Dewhirst continues his undiplomatic rant with a flippant joke:
“Greeks would no longer be able to afford German cars and Germans would be able to buy Greek villas and the young unemployed in Greece would have jobs as tourism booms. The best thing would be that they [Greeks] could blame the foreigners."

Unbelievable, and it's no wonder they left that last bit out of the video below. Let's hope Mr. Dewhirst never makes a bad investment or loses his wealth (*cough* JP Morgan *cough*). Woe betide him if he's ever part of the 99% in any country. He might be hungry enough to eat his words.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Excellent Anti-Bain Ad


Made by Crashing Vor on Daily Kos.

I'll let him do the talking . . .

Joe Biden's Moving Speech to Military Families

The picture above is from Chattanooga National Cemetery, where my father and mother are buried. My father was a WWII disabled veteran who served in France, Italy, Germany and Austria. He had shrapnel in his leg for which he received a purple heart, but he also contracted multiple sclerosis while training for Pacific duty at Fort Lewis. None of that made life easy for him, but if not for the military my parents would never have met.

Daddy was from Tennessee, Mama was from Kansas. They met when my father was stationed at Fort Dix and ended up on a weekend pass in Abilene. My mother, who had just graduated from high school, worked for the telephone company and it just happened to be their turn to serve coffee and doughnuts for the USO. She was a shy introvert and unsure what to do, so someone pointed to my father who was sitting looking very homesick, sunburned and sad. To her surprise, when she offered him some coffee, he looked up and gave her a dazzling smile and started talking like the extrovert he was. My mother told me she had never met anyone like him. When they got married, the Abilene newspaper called him a "hometown boy" - that's how my father could win people over. After the War, they made a life together in Tennessee, with six children and many grandchildren and great-grandchildren. I miss them both every day, but especially on Memorial Day.

My father was a lifelong Roosevelt Democrat, and so was my mother. I once asked my mother if she voted for Eisenhower in the 50s since he was from the same hometown, and she shook her head adamently - "No," she said, "We voted for Adelaide Stevenson, who was a great man." My father never thought Eisenhower did enough for the military veterans who fought under him, and knew it wasn't an accident that suddenly his military medical pension went through as soon as Kennedy was elected into office. Both my parents despised Nixon and Reagan and saw them as power-hungry because they ran for office so many times. I can only imagine what they would say about Mitt Romney! I think they would be amazed that Obama ever got elected, and I know they would be ready to vote for him again in November.

Their influence on my life is immeasurable. They were survivors of the Great Depression, World War II, and years of raising a large family on the shoestring of Veteran's benefits. But they knew what really mattered, and I like to think they would approve of this blog and the message I'm trying to send to the world. Like them, I don't intend to give up on anything I believe in to please anyone else.

This weekend we have an incredible gift - the speech of Vice President Joe Biden to the 18th Annual TAPPS National Military Survivor Seminar. I think this speech is one of the most moving testaments to the American people and to the American military we will ever have, because he made his own grief personal and shared it with the country. God Bless Him! Did I mention that my father's name was also Joe?

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Happy Place Diversion - Elders React

Nyan Cat :B Pictures, Images and Photos

The ever-entertaining Fine Brothers, who brought us Kids React, have now come up with Elders React. And the results are hilarious!

In fact, these videos show how little we change internally from youth to old age - if you watch both versions of this, the elders are just counterparts of the kids in the original video.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Birther's Remorse: Coffman Warns Others to Drop It

It's really quite funny when Republicans try to shift so far to the right extreme that they fall off a limb. That recently happened to Rep. Mike Coffman (R-Colorado). He said he didn't believe President Obama was really born in the United States, and now he is eating crow for breakfast. You have to laugh - it's beyond overdue for this to happen. The press should have called out every one of these birthers long ago, and I guess they tried. But now we've got Republicans themselves waking up like a drunk with a hangover saying "I said what? Oh, I didn't mean it . . . let's just move along . . ."

TPM: Coffman on his Birther Rant

“If I had to do it over again I think I would have said, ‘Let’s move from this birther question, the president was born in the United States, period,’” Coffman said in an interview with local station K-HOW. “‘Let’s just move on and let’s focus on the issues that are going to win this election. And secondly, let’s not ascribe this to those who oppose us that they’re any less Americans than we are.’”
A week earlier, Coffman had said at a fundraiser: “I don’t know whether Barack Obama was born in the United States of America. I don’t know that. But I do know this, that in his heart, he’s not an American. He’s just not an American.” He quickly issued a press release walking it back, but shunned follow-up questions on the incident. On Tuesday, he repeated the same statement, “I misspoke and I apologize,” five times to a television crew that approached him after an event, offering no further explanation.

Coffman told K-HOW on Thursday that he regretted suggesting the president was anything other than American, and repeatedly emphasized that suggesting as much was also bad optics. The host asked Coffman whether he was “speaking from the heart” when he made his initial incendiary remarks and simply recanted “for political reasons.”

It was only a few days ago that Arizona Secretary of State Ken Bennett had to take to the airwaves to apologize for embarrassing his state after he harrassed the State by threatening to drop Obama from the November ballot - can you imagine? A sitting President not allowed on a state ballot just because some jerks (or racists) feel he is illegitimate? Luckily someone had a little talk with this nutcase.

From Huff Post:
"If I embarrassed the state, I apologize, but that certainly wasn't my intent," Bennett said Tuesday during an interview with radio station KTAR, adding that he was just trying to "help as many Arizonians as I can" by looking into their concerns over the document.

Bennett also walked back his threat to keep Obama off Arizona's ballot this fall.
"He’ll be on the ballot as long as he fills out the same paperwork and does the same things that everybody else has," Bennett said.
However, when pressed by the radio hosts on whether he was pandering to birther conspiracy theorists who believe the president was born outside the United States, Bennett pushed back.

"What is so sacred or untouchable about this question that you can't even ask the question?" he said, after insisting that he himself does not subscribe to the fraudulent birth certificate theories.

In the radio interview he says he wasn't trying to draw attention, and was just doing his "quiet little job." Yeah - how about doing it with some common sense? Do these people just not understand that Obama's mother was an American? And that Hawaii is a state of the union? Hello?

The birther movement is all about making President Obama seem alien, foreign, exotic, and just plain "un-American." They say "African" and "Kenyan" with comtempt, possibly forgetting that there are plenty of white Africans and Kenyans, and even some with American parents. Are they making outrageous statements just to get votes from Tea Partiers, or so some of them really believe this nonsense?
Sheriff Joe Arpaio of Arizona is the Energizer Bunny of Birthers. No amount of verification from Hawaii will ever be enough for him to believe that President Obama was born there. He recently dispatched a "cold case" officer to go to Hawaii seeking more evidence, using taxpayer money to continue his own version of Captain Ahab and the Great Whale: Arpaio Not Giving Up on Birther Investigation
Sheriff Joe Arpaio said it will take more than a letter verifying the President's birth certificate for him to call off his criminal investigation. “I'm trying to determine if any fraud occurred and who’s responsible,” said the Sheriff. The Sheriff's cold case posse has been investigating the President's birth certificate since August and is currently following up on leads in Hawaii. The Sheriff said the verification that the secretary of state received from the Hawaii registrar does nothing to change that.
That's right - logic and reason are not going to stop Sheriff Joe! He keeps on going and going and going . . .

Help Wisconsin Defeat Scott Walker


At nearly the eleventh hour, just days before the Wisconsin Governor's Recall Election on June 5th, the Democratic National Committee is finally drumming up some major funds and support on the ground to help Democrat Tom Barrett defeat the despicable union-hater Scott Walker.

Elect Tom Barrett and Recall Scott Walker 

Tonight on MSNBC, Rachel Maddow had a great overview about Walker's union busting and why it puts the future of the Democratic Party in Wisconsin in jeopardy.

... Republican Legislators all over the country have all gotten religion all at the same time about the importance of killing off public sector unions. The most high profile among them is, of course, is Republican Governor Scott Walker of Wisconsin, who with the stroke of a pen wiped out 50 years of union rights in the State of Wisconsin...

Scott Walker did not campaign on getting rid of those rights, but once he got elected he said he had to, he said he had to kill union rights in Wisconsin to 'save the state's budget.' When the unions said 'yes' to all of the financial concessions he asked for, and he still wanted to kill them off, it became clear that it wasn't about money, it was not about the budget. He wanted to get rid of union rights in order to get rid of unions altogether.

"If you get rid of unions altogether, then there is no one funding the other side. There will be no one funding the Democrats when business funds the Republicans. You get rid of union rights, you thereby get rid of unions, you thereby game the whole state so Democrats cannot compete in the big money part of elections ever again. Pull that off and Wisconsin didn't just go all red in 2010 - Wisconsin will be all Republican, all Red from here on out permanently. Democrats will never recover.

But there is help on the way for Badgers who have been on the ground trying to throw Walker out of office for months: the Democratic National Committee is finally stepping up to provide fundraising for Walker's opponent, Tom Barrett.

From the Milwaukee Journal Sentinal

“The DNC is fully committed to helping Mayor Barrett win next month’s recall election in Wisconsin,” said Melanie Roussell, DNC Spokeswoman. “DNC Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz has spoken to Mayor Barrett and has pledged the DNC’s support for his successful election next month. She will host a fundraiser for Mayor Barrett, and the DNC will utilize both its substantial network of activists, volunteers and supporters and extensive online resources to assist in building the ground game that will win on Election Day.”

In the fundraising e-mail, Wasserman Schultz says:

“Of all the elections we are preparing for in 2012, one of the most important ones isn't happening in November.
On June 5th, the people of Wisconsin will have their chance to recall Governor Scott Walker, whose attacks on workers' and women's rights are the definition of a fireable offense. Democrats are rallying around our nominee, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, and with just 14 days to go before the election, we're organizing one of the largest get-out-the-vote efforts in state history.
Will you donate today to help Wisconsin Democrats build the grassroots organization it's going to take to beat Scott Walker and win in 2012?
It's up to Democrats across the country to help win this thing.”

Huffington Post Story 

"Choices don't get clearer than this," read the email sent Wednesday evening by the DNC chair, Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.). "Winning in Wisconsin sends a powerful message to the far-right extremists, and it starts to roll back their worst offenses. To build our organization and make it happen, Democrats need to come together to turn out hundreds of thousands of voters -- and we all have a part to play."

What's notable about this fundraising appeal is that the money will go directly to Wisconsin Democrats, rather than to the DNC. Other national organizations -- including the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee -- have sent out solicitations related to the recall, but the money has not directly gone to Wisconsin entities.

A Democratic party official told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that Wednesday's fundraising email was being sent to "millions" of people.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Missouri Rush Bust Under 24-Hour Surveillance


Ugh, Rush Limbaugh's statue was unveiled this week in the Missouri State House. Dark Days there. Just keep in mind that if MO ever gets a more enlightened House Speaker, they can roll that big old bronze head right on out of there.

Via the Kansas City Star
Democrats were hopeful the bust would never be displayed alongside other inductees, such as Harry Truman, Mark Twain and Walt Disney. They argued that Limbaugh's history of controversial statements -- most recently when he called 30-year-old law student Sandra Fluke a "slut" and "prostitute" -- should have prevented him from being included in the hall . . .
The 2012 legislative session adjourned Friday. The bust was placed just outside the entrance to the Missouri House on the third floor of the Capitol on Monday. Inductees are selected solely by the House speaker.

But get this ~ The statue was installed in a "secret ceremony" and includes it's own Surveillance Camera! Do you think they are expecting that some visitors to the State Capitol might want to leave some type of offering to the Great Stone Head? Maybe a box of birth control pills? How about a picture of Sandra Fluke?

From ABC News:
“Instead of being open to the public, as is tradition, the ceremony was conducted in secret in a locked House chamber with only Republican officials and other select people allowed in,” Talboy said in the statement, according to KPLR-TV in St. Louis. “The secrecy and exclusion of the public demonstrates that even Republicans are embarrassed at honoring someone who recently called a female college student with whom he disagreed a ‘slut’ and a ‘prostitute.’”

The ceremony was closed to the public and Highway Patrol officers stood guard outside the House chamber, the Post-Dispatch reported. The event was announced to the media 26 minutes before the it began, KPLR reported.

A security camera, which was installed specifically for Limbaugh’s bust, will provide 24-hour surveillance of the statue, said Trevor Fox, the House’s director of communications. Limbaugh’s statue, which stands between those of 19th century painter George Bingham and former Missouri Gov. Warren Hearnes, is the only statue in the Missouri House’s Hall of Fame that has its own security camera.

Facebook Sued - Morgan Gives Refunds - Refunds?!


Wow - things are getting more "Zucked Up" all the time!

From CNN
Facebook shareholders have filed a lawsuit against the social network, CEO Mark Zuckerberg and a number of banks, alleging that crucial information was concealed ahead of Facebook's IPO. The lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court in Manhattan on Wednesday morning, charges the defendants with failing to disclose in the critical days leading up to Friday's initial public offering "a severe and pronounced reduction."

Facebook defended themselves on Wednesday saying they "believe the lawsuit is without merit and will defend ourselves vigorously."

The report, and now the lawsuit, raises questions about whether Morgan Stanley, one of the underwriter companies that handled Facebook's IPO, or other banks knowingly offered certain investors privileged information that should have been made public. Other underwriters targeted by the lawsuit include Barclays Capital, Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan Chase and Merrill Lynch, a unit of Bank of America.

And Morgan Stanley Bank is adjusting prices for some investors in case they paid too much for Facebook stock! As the used-car-salesman father exclaimed in the movie Breaking Away: Refunds?!!! OMG.

WSJ Marketwatch has the story:
In a memo sent Wednesday to the nearly 17,200 financial advisers of its Morgan Stanley Smith Barney retail brokerage joint venture, the firm says "in order to ensure best execution, we expect there will be a number of price adjustments." The securities firm said, "the largest adjustments will be processed over the next several days and the remaining adjustments will be completed as quickly and as thoroughly as possible."

In the memo Wednesday, Morgan Stanley said "many of the remaining executions have been processed and are now appearing in clients' accounts," though the firm said a "very limited number of orders are pending" and it's still reviewing the appropriate action with its trading partners. Morgan Stanley didn't specify how many orders haven't been executed or how many are still pending.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Facebook Faceplant Causes Facepalm


I hate to say "I told you so," but the other day I wrote that I was underwhelmed by the Facebook IPO and thought it might fall apart quickly in spite of all the media hype and high-profile buyers such as Bono of U2.

And looks like I was right - headline after headline. I don't pretend to be an economist and have no money in the stock market and probably never will, but I think I can spot a trend. Facebook is not an up-and-coming commodity anymore. It's been around too long to have an IPO, and not everyone is as thrilled about Facebook as they were about Google.

Of course, no one out here in the 99% real world should feel sorry for these new billionaires. But there are problems with the fact that Facebook employees are stuck with the stock for many months and are barred from selling quickly while the price is still decent. And what about investment portfolios that included Facebook as a sure thing? We probably won't know until the bottom drops out.

WSJ: Facebook Slides Again
Facebook's stock was recently trading down 4.5%. The stock lost 11% on Monday as more investors and analysts began to question the size of the company's public debut, which initially valued the company at $104 billion. The company is now worth about $90 billion, based on Tuesday's stock price.

"Dreams of Riches"

Facebook Provides Cautionary Tale
"It was the casino effect a little bit here," said Steve Cordasco, a registered investment adviser with Philadelphia-based Cordasco Financial Network, which oversees about $700 million in assets. "It's good for the average investor to realize that you just don't know, that the experts just don't know."
Mr. Cordasco, who referred to Facebook's debut as a "face-plant," had advised one qualified investor who wanted to put a large amount in the stock not to buy on the first day of trading. The investor took his advice and bought Mr. Cordasco a beer on Friday as they watched Facebook lumber to its close.
 Bloomberg: Analysts Who Shunned Facebook Are Heroes
Analysts who broke away from the herd and told investors to avoid Facebook Inc. (FB), the biggest initial public offering ever by a technology company, are looking like heroes after the stock plunged.
While bulls forecast benefits as companies shift advertising to the Internet, Wieser said Facebook’s price is too high and the path to growth unclear. “There’s always a risk of buying into excessive hype, using rules of thumb for valuation that are divorced from fundamentals,” Wieser, a New York-based analyst at Pivotal, said in a telephone interview yesterday. “There are many things that really speak to the uncertainty investors should be incorporating when they’re thinking about Facebook.”

SFGATE: Facebook Hedge Funder Furious
We just got off the phone with a hedge fund manager who says his fund owns Facebook stock "in excess of a $100 million.
. . . His allegations/claims/opinions:
---->NASDAQ knew it systems were broken before the Facebook IPO, and instead of aborting the offering and facing huge embarrassment, it went ahead. Traders then lost hundreds of millions of dollars as they tried to buy and sell Facebook stock without getting confirmation that their trades had been executed.
---->NASDAQ made the problem worse on Monday. NASDAQ told traders who thought they had sold their Facebook stock on Friday – but had actually not – to fill out a form by noon. This form asked traders to list the price at which they thought they had sold their stock and they price at which they actually had. Problem was: Many of these traders had not yet actually sold their stock. Because the form required an actual selling price, many did, dumping tens of millions of shares of Facebook stock on the market, and sending the stock price plummeting.

Cory Booker ~ Democratic Concern Troll


Obama surrogate Cory Booker went on NBC's Meet the Press on Sunday and did his best impression of Reince Priebus from the conservative side, insisting that Romney's company Bain Capital existed help the common people and even unions, if you can believe that. And it just went downhill from there, as he stated that Obama shouldn't "indict private equity," and then took false equivalency to new heights when he compared Obama's repudiation of Bain with the dredging up of Reverend Jeremiah Wright by the Republicans.
Mayor Booker: . . . I have to say from a very personal level I'm not about to sit here and indict private equity. To me, it's just, we're getting to a ridiculous point in America. Especially, I know, I live in a state where pension funds, unions and other people are investing in companies like Bain Capital. If you look at the totality of Bain Capital's record, they've done a lot to support businesses, to grow businesses, and this to me, I'm very uncomfortable with.
. . . This kind of stuff is nauseating to me on both sides. It's nauseating to the American public. Enough is enough! Stop attacking private equity. Stop attacking Jeremiah Wright. This stuff has got to stop because what it does is it undermines to me what this country should be focused on. It's a distraction from the real issues. It's either going to be a small campaign about this crap, or it's going to be a big campaign in my opinion about the issues the public cares about.

Twitter and Other Reactions at Snark Amendment
After attacks on his Facebook and in the Media, Booker made it worse by trying to apologize on YouTube with a true Etch-A-Sketch moment:

Seriously? And this guy is supposed to be a Democrat? Oh wait - maybe he really isn't one. To me, Booker sounds like a guy on the fence, who might rather be a Republican if he didn't have to play up to his own constituency of Democrats back in Newark, NJ. Otherwise, why would he be spouting Republican Talking Points when he was the only Democrat on Meet the Press that day?

Anyone who reads a lot of politics on the Interwebs has seen this type of behavior before. It's usually done by vastly irritating people known as "Concern Trolls" who penetrate a discussion just so they can pretend to be the voice of reason, when really they seek to overturn one side or another. Such a person might be pretending to be on one side when really they are on the other, or worse, on the fence and loving it there with a board up their rear end. It never seems to occur to such people that they sound like a scolding nanny, or worse, they seem to lack any convictions of their own beyond steering the discussion or kissing up to one side or another.

From Wisegeek: What is Concern Trolling?

Concern trolling is a form of Internet trolling in which someone enters a discussion with claims that he or she supports the view of the discussion, but has concerns. In fact, the concern troll is opposed to the view of the discussion, and he or she uses concern trolling to sow doubt and dissent in the community of commenters or posters. Although this practice originated on the Internet, it has since spread to the real world as well, with concern trolls popping up in a variety of places from network television to op-ed columns.
. . . When a concern troll has done the job correctly, the discussion will split, factions will emerge, and support for the cause will have eroded. Concern trolling can also be highly distracting, as people band together to oppose the concern troll, rather than discussing serious issues, including valid concerns which should be addressed.
. . . When these cases are exposed, it can be quite embarrassing, as trolling is generally viewed as an underhanded and often questionable tactic.

Exactly - we should question Booker's motives. To me what Booker did is no better than Romney's etch-a-sketch weaseling. The only result has been a "with me or against me" discussion about Booker himself, and while he tries to sound so reasonable, he also doesn't sound like much of a Democrat. This year of all years, with so much at stake, Democrats cannot afford to be on the fence. Certainly no Concern Troll should ever be the spokesperson for a Presidential campaign - it's like having a fox in the hen house, and the end result is a bunch of squawking and feathers flying and nothing good at all. Which is why Mr. Booker needs to go back to New Jersey, where he can be Chris Christie's lapdog, and shut up until November is over.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Vanderbilt Poll - Tennessee Could Be a Toss-Up

 Be still my heart ~ a new Vanderbilt University Poll has Obama tied with Romney in a virtual dead heat within my home state of Tennessee!

Nashville Tennessean: Vandy Poll says Gap Closing

“Tennessee is clearly a red state,” said John Geer, a professor of political science at Vanderbilt. “But these data show that the public is much more moderate than our state legislature.”
The poll of 1,002 Tennessee residents who are 18 and older found 42 percent would vote for Romney and 41 percent for Obama if the election were held now. The survey, conducted May 2-9 by Princeton Survey Research Associates International for Vanderbilt, had a margin of error of 4 percentage points.
. . .
Bill Freeman, a top fundraiser for Obama in Tennessee, said the overall poll result reflects a “tightening” the president’s campaign had already noticed.
“We’ve been tracking it for some time,” Freeman said Thursday. “We’ve watched it go from a solid-Republican (state) to a leaning-Republican to, we believe, a toss-up state now. We think we’re just a point or two behind and that winning Tennessee is in our grasp.
“And we’re especially excited about what that’ll mean to the down-ticket races across the state.”

And here's a part I love - proof that folks are fed up with our stupid Legislature:

Some of the General Assembly’s forays into issues such as “gateway sexual activity,” debating evolution in classrooms and permitting the carrying of guns into business parking lots have given Tennessee “a black eye nationally,” Geer said.
Just 22 percent of the people surveyed said it was more important to protect the rights of handgun owners to carry their weapons into any commercial establishment than it was to protect the rights of business owners to set their own rules. More than 7 in 10 said the opposite.
“The public is not wild about this stuff,” said Geer, co-director of the poll, which was sponsored by Vanderbilt’s Center for the Study of Democratic Institutions. “When you aggregate opinion in the state, it’s more moderate than the aggregate behavior of state legislators. On certain issues, like guns in parking lots, they were way out of step.”

This is factual evidence for what my gut feeling tells me all the time - Tennesseans are not as conservative as our reputation as a Red State seems to imply. There are plenty of Democrats and Independents here, and our state usually runs about 50/50 in major elections. But there's still so much work to be done to drag us back into blue or even toss-up status. It broke my heart in the last election that the local Democratic Party spent more time campaigning in North Carolina than here, although that was certainly worthwhile for Obama. And while NC has had their problems with the recent Gay Marriage Amendment Debacle, the educated large urban areas of NC will still go for Obama, you can bet on that. And if NC can be a swing state, so can TN! So let's take this Vanderbilt poll as a glimmer of hope that our Democratic votes may not be wasted or cancelled out this time around, at least in the down-ticket races.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

The Facebook IPO ~ Boom or Bust?


Label me underwhelmed by all the hype surrounding the Facebook IPO which started trading Friday on the Nasdaq. Built up into the Holy Grail of IPOs by the media analyists, they had to back-peddle by Friday afternoon when the stock didn't live to expectations. Duh - even a lay-person like me could have predicted that. Sure, investors still made billions, but as we see with Morgan Stanley, wax on, wax off - they can turn around and lose billions, too. And the only reason the price stayed above $38 a share was that the "underwriters" (banks) propped them up by buying their own product. So the whole thing feels rather shaky, and I wonder how strong the selling will be on Monday?
From Wall Street Journal:
The stock had been widely predicted to soar on its first day. Instead, up until the closing moments of the trading session, Facebook's underwriters battled to keep the stock from slipping below its offering price of $38 a share. Such a stumble would have been a significant embarrassment, particularly for a prominent new issue like Facebook, the most heavily traded IPO of all time.
In the end, the bankers succeeded. When trading on Nasdaq ended at 4 p.m., the social network's stock was up just a hair, 0.6%, at $38.23. . . .
Facebook's price began falling almost immediately after shares began trading. It is unclear exactly when Morgan Stanley stepped in, but traders said that the price movements throughout the day, with the shares occasionally touching the IPO price but never crossing below it, suggested the firm was active throughout much of the session.

David Callahan of Demos points out in the following video that while Facebook is generating lots of money, it is not generating lots of jobs. The wealth from the FB IPO is going to be held by the 1% and not spread around to the 99%. Yes, the Henry Ford assembly-line days are gone, as Maria Bartiromo squeaks with mock-outrage, but that doesn't change the fact that billionaires could find ways to spread the wealth around more effectively (if they cared, and there's no evidence that Zuckerberg cares about society at all).

I guess I'm cynical, but I see the IPO moment as the beginning of the end for FB. Rumor is that eventually Zuckerberg wants to charge people for business related pages and "extra security" that is sadly lacking now. As Netflix ticked off loyal users, so does Facebook, which touts security then nags people in a creepy way to share everything from phone numbers to geographical location. Zuckerberg apparently just wants to data-mine the world and then sell the details of our lives to the highest bidder. Plus, everyone knows that employers, schools, and even the police are using FB as a way to spy on people or play gotcha, so people constantly try to decide whether to keep pages open or close them down, and it's really not worth it.

In my opinion, and I'm not an economist but just an observer of human nature, this IPO may be happening just a little too late. Yes, there will be billionaires who build fortunes by selling out quickly, but some people - probably the small investors again, *sigh* - are going to lose a mint.

Talking Points Memo caught the Roller Coaster Feeling on Friday

Rise in Minority Birth Rate Rattles Republicans


For the first time in U.S. history, the minority birth rate exceeds that of Caucasion Americans. As the LA Times reports:
The United States has reached a historic tipping point -- with Latino, Asian, mixed race and African American births constituting a majority of births for the first time, theU.S. Census Bureau reported Thursday.
...Latino’s were 16.7% of the U.S. population in 2011, up from 16.3% in 2010.
...African Americans were the second-largest minority group in the United States, at 43.9 million in 2011, up 1.6% from 2010.
...Asians, who numbered 18.2 million nationally in 2011, were the second fastest-growing minority group, up by 3% since 2010.

Of course, these statistics scare the majority base of the Republican Party, who are lily-white in the main and not "into" inclusion anymore. Not to mention that it's the trend right now during a mean election year to slam immigrants, even those here legally, as somehow "Un-American" as if the phrase "melting pot" only applies to those of Irish, German and Italian descent. But this way of thinking is a logical dead-end, and can only signal the further marginal status of the right-wing.

Think Progress: quotes Phyllis Schlafly's Eagle Forum
It is not a good thing. The immigrants do not share American values, so it is a good bet that they will not be voting Republican when they start voting in large numbers.
Instead, the USA is being transformed by immigrants who do not share those values, and who have high rates of illiteracy, illegitimacy, and gang crime, and they will vote Democrat when the Democrats promise them more food stamps.

What Ms. Schlafly and her group forget is that these children are American citizens by birth, and therefore equal to everyone else. And she is confusing "minority" with the word "immigrant." Some and probably most of the minority children counted by the Census come from families whose ancestors have been in the country for well over 100 years.

Yes, they might grow up and vote Democratic someday, perhaps because the Democrats never questioned their legitimacy as citizens or their equal right to have a good life in the United States. Or they might grow up to vote Democratic because they remember which party helped their families to cope with the Great Recession when they needed help from the government. I'm sure their families will remember who did NOT want to help them, who wanted to cut off their health care and education, not to mention the food stamps - which are mostly given to WHITE needy families anyway. They will remember who didn't want them around, so just go ahead, Republicans - make yourselves obsolete by rejecting these innocent children who will grow up to be the MAJORITY. See how that works for you.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Snark in Pictures






Arizona's Birther Bennett Wants Obama Off Ballot


Arizona Secretary of State Ken Bennett says he just isn't sure that Barack Obama should be on the presidential ballot this fall. Say WHAT???

This buffoon takes being a "birther" to a whole new level. The sane and rational people of Arizona need to take back their state, pronto, and quit looking to bogus "leaders" like Crazy Sheriff Joe Arpaio.

The Low-Low-Down from Talking Points Memo
Bennett, the state’s No. 2 elected official just below Gov. Jan Brewer (R), said his investigation isn’t personal. He said the reason he started looking into it is because he got more than 1,200 emails asking him to do so after Arpaio’s investigation came out.
“I’m not a birther. I believe the president was born in Hawaii — or at least I hope he was,” Bennett said on the show. “But my responsibility as secretary of state is to make sure the ballots in Arizona are correct and that those people whose names are on the ballot have met the qualifications for the office they are seeking.”
. . . On Thursday, Bennett said he sent his request to Hawaii officials eight weeks ago but has yet to get the proof he was hoping for. He said he didn’t want another copy of the birth certificate. He wants Hawaii to give him what he described as “a verification in lieu of a certified copy of a birth certificate.”
In the weeks since then, Bennett said, Hawaii officials have forced him to provide proof that he is who he says he is. They asked him to send them copies of the Arizona laws that prove the secretary of state really is the person in charge of handling the ballots. Admittedly, Bennett said they told him they were “tired of all the requests.” But he is continuing anyway.


Oops - Someone Stole Our 800-Year-Old Tree


The Lorax would be infuriated! I know I am! How the heck did someone manage to "steal" a giant red cedar tree from a Canadian Provincial Park on Vancouver Island? It was easy, say both environmental groups as well as park rangers - someone just drove into a parking lot, chopped it down partially, let the rangers finish it, then came back and dragged the rest of it away. The B.C. government should look into these lame excuses, which just don't "cut it" for me. According to the video below, the old-growth forest in Carmanah-Walbran Provincial Park has been protected since 1988. So someone is obviously looking the other way while loggers ravage these giant trees, and there's absolutely no excuse that can justify this .

Story from Huff Post

Torrance Coste of the Wilderness Committee said consistent budget cuts over the last decade mean park rangers rarely monitor remote sites such as the Carmanah-Walbran Provincial Park, from where the cedar was chopped.

"Whoever's doing this knows that no one's going to have eyes on this park for months at a time so it's exceptionally easy to do what they've done," Coste said Thursday.

Don Closson, who supervises the Cowichan area for B.C. Parks, said Parks officials at the site a year ago noticed that about 80 per cent of the tree had been cut through and that a professional faller was hired to bring it down because it posed a safety hazard.

"On our return this year we noticed that somebody had gone in and cut up a large portion of the butt and dragged portions of it into the parking lot," he said.

Blocks of red cedar are valuable as a roofing product, Closson said, adding officials have little information in the case. "We have no eyewitnesses or licence plates at this time."

JP Morgan Fall-Out Continues


WSJ: Inside JP Morgan's Blunder
On April 30, associates who were gathered in a conference room handed Mr. Dimon summaries and analyses of the losses. But there were no details about the trades themselves. "I want to see the positions!" he barked, throwing down the papers, according to attendees. "Now! I want to see everything!"
When Mr. Dimon saw the numbers, these people say, he couldn't breathe.
. . .Mr. Dimon publicly disclosed the losses in a conference call on May 10. Afterward, he told Mr. Lee: "Maybe I can sleep tonight," according to a person familiar with the conversation.
At home with his wife that evening, he confided to her: "I missed something bad."

Reuters: FBI to Probe Morgan Scandal
A separate source familiar with the FBI probe, opened by the agency's New York office, described it as preliminary. The probe was seen in some quarters as a necessary public step, given the ongoing debate in Washington about bank regulation, and one expert said it raised the level of concern around what happened.
"The FBI looks for evidence of crimes and goes after people who it alleges are criminals. They want to send people to jail. The SEC pursues all sorts of wrongdoing, imposes fines and is half as scary as the FBI," said Erik Gordon, a professor in the law and business schools at the University of Michigan.
The bank's trading losses have also drawn the attention of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission and the Federal Reserve, both of which have opened inquiries.
Bloomberg: Republican Lawmakers Off-Balance over Morgan
Some are seeking investigations, with Senator Mike Crapo of Wyoming among those calling on JP Morgan Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Jamie Dimon to testify, which he has agreed to do. Senator Richard Shelby, the Banking Committee’s top Republican, said the loss emphasizes the need for capital standards for banks tougher than what the overhaul requires. Senator Lamar Alexander of Tennessee says Congress has no business getting involved.
...As Republican lawmakers split over their response to the JPMorgan loss, Democrats are unified on their message: that the trading loss underscores the need for tougher regulation of banks.
“It’s one of those things that’s clear that they were betting like you would do at the crap table in Las Vegas and they bet the wrong way,” Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, a Nevada Democrat, said of the company’s loss this week. “That’s fine if they did it with their own money, but the problem is, the way Wall Street’s been working, is that heads they win, tails we lose.”

CNN: Dimon Will Testify to Senate
The Senate Banking Committee on Monday announced hearings to look into the trading losses from a regulatory angle. At the time, lawmakers said they planned to question regulators, not JPMorgan officials.
But on Thursday, Johnson announced he intended to invite Dimon to speak some time after the two hearings with regulators, which are scheduled for May 22 and June 6. A Banking Committee spokesman said the hearing at which Dimon will testify has not yet been scheduled.
"I encourage all of my colleagues on the Banking Committee to participate in these three critically important and timely hearings, so we can all better understand the facts," Johnson said.
CNBC: Size Matters in a Low Rate World
...there is one aspect which does not surprise rivals, instead generating a weary sigh of recognition: The investment dilemma JPMorgan found itself in in recent years. Notably, it seems one key reason why the CIO office was engaging in funky derivatives trades was that the wider climate made it so difficult for any firm to produce safe returns without taking outlandish bets. And doing this in a “hedged” way has become doubly difficult if you are a behemoth with $360 billion of cash.
Part of the problem lies with the ultra-low interest rate climate. This week the 10-year Treasury yield fell yet again, as the euro zone’s woes intensified.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Happy Place Diversion: Romney Auto-Tune

The Gregory Brothers are geniuses, LOL.

Via Huffington Post

Romney Camp Tries to Block Mitt from the Pain of Bain


Chris Matthews on Hardball made the point today that Romney's company "Bain," rhymes with "Pain."

Perhaps that explains somewhat why the Romney Campaign tried to block reporters from access to the candidate today in Florida.


Reporters were told before the event that Romney wouldn't be taking questions. Regardless, after a speech today in St. Petersburg, Fla., a group of reporters and network embeds set off to the rope line.
First, a volunteer tried to block the path from the press area to where the crowd was assembled. Then a campaign staffer tasked with press relations stood arms spread trying to block reporters, informing them they couldn't walk into the general crowd area.
When reporters ignored her and kept going, she continued to argue that they wouldn't be allowed to shout questions. Her orders went unheeded and the press eventually made it to the line.
Reporters shouted, but over the crowd and the sound system with Romney flanked by Secret Service agents, it wasn't even clear that he could hear them.

A Romney spokesperson tried some damage control about the reporter block:
"This was an error on the part of the campaign staff and volunteers," Romney spokeswoman Andrea Saul told POLITICO's Dylan Byers. "We have reminded them that press is allowed on the rope line to record the governor’s interactions with voters."

Yeah, that's good - a Free Press, and all that. Oy vey! Not good PR for Romney!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Santorum and George W. Endorse Romney with Faint Praise

Via The Oklahoma Observer

Romney received two important endorsements from members of the Republican Party this week but they were nothing to write home about, and they were just barely public.

Ex-President George W. Bush endorsed the candidate over his shoulder as he jumped into an elevator. (No joke!)

From ABC News
“I’m for Mitt Romney,” Bush told ABC News this morning as the doors of an elevator closed on him, after he gave a speech on human rights a block from his old home — the White House.
Bush’s endorsement isn’t a surprise, given that Romney is virtually the Republican Party’s nominee. But the 43rd president has been absent from the 2012 campaign and hasn’t made any public comments showing his support for Romney.
And Rick Santorum finally endorsed Romney last week, but from afar. He sent out an email to his supporters and threw in the lukewarm endorsement in the 13th paragraph. This is hilarious anyway because Santorum did the Obama Administration's work in advance by slamming Romney's record again and again.

From the Daily Caller
In the 16-paragraph letter, the phrase “he has my endorsement” appeared in paragraph 13.
“The primary campaign certainly made it clear that Governor Romney and I have some differences,” Santorum wrote, “But there are many significant areas in which we agree.”
“I am also comfortable with Governor Romney on foreign policy matters,” the hawkish Republican added.
“And while I had concerns about Governor Romney making a case as a candidate about fighting against Obamacare, I have no doubt if elected he will work with a Republican Congress to repeal it and replace it with a bottom up, patient, not government, driven system.”
Like former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich before him, Santorum’s endorsement of Romney appeared to hinge not on the former Massachusetts governor’s strengths, but on the belief that the he will be a better president than Obama has already been.

Jimmy Kimmel had some fun with Santorum's endorsement in particular: