We are the Liberal Blog From Hollywood
L.A.'s Premier Post Facility

L.A.'s Premier Post Facility

Photographer in L.A.

Hot Pics & Gossip.

Archive for January 22nd, 2010

Obama Talks Tough on Banking Reform

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on January 22nd, 2010 5:47 am by HL

Obama Talks Tough on Banking Reform
In case you hadn’t noticed, not a heck of a lot has changed on Wall Street in the last year, despite various banking behemoths’ successful pleas for federal aid to float them out of the recession they were instrumental in creating. Well, that’s about to change—or so President Barack Obama says, at least. The president sent a message to the financial industry Thursday, talking reform in sweeping strokes and claiming that he’s ready to do battle—tough talk from a president who might just need to prove his mettle after suffering some sizable political setbacks of late.  —KA BBC: “While the financial system is far stronger today than it was one year ago, it is still operating under the exact same rules that led to its near collapse,” Mr Obama said. His proposals also include a ban on retail banks from using their own money in investments – known as proprietary trading. Instead, banks would be limited to investing their customers’ funds. “Banking reforms do not come bigger than those proposed by President Obama,” the BBC’s business editor Robert Peston said. This may mean that some of the US’ biggest banks, such as Bank of America and JP Morgan, whose shares were badly hit, may have to be broken up. Read more

Obama

In case you hadn’t noticed, not a heck of a lot has changed on Wall Street in the last year, despite various banking behemoths’ successful pleas for federal aid to float them out of the recession they were instrumental in creating. Well, that’s about to change—or so President Barack Obama says, at least.

The president sent a message to the financial industry Thursday, talking reform in sweeping strokes and claiming that he’s ready to do battle—tough talk from a president who might just need to prove his mettle after suffering some sizable political setbacks of late.? —KA

BBC:

“While the financial system is far stronger today than it was one year ago, it is still operating under the exact same rules that led to its near collapse,” Mr Obama said.

His proposals also include a ban on retail banks from using their own money in investments – known as proprietary trading. Instead, banks would be limited to investing their customers’ funds.

“Banking reforms do not come bigger than those proposed by President Obama,” the BBC’s business editor Robert Peston said.

This may mean that some of the US’ biggest banks, such as Bank of America and JP Morgan, whose shares were badly hit, may have to be broken up.

Read more

Related Entries


Will Obama Fight for Health Care Reform?
If President Obama has decided to give up on health care reform, he should just come out and say so. Then we could all get on with our lives—those of us with health insurance, that is.

By Eugene Robinson

If President Obama has decided to give up on health care reform, he should just come out and say so. Then we could all get on with our lives—those of us with health insurance, that is.


Related Entries



Michael Rowe: Cindy McCain Comes a Little Late to “NoH8”

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on January 22nd, 2010 5:46 am by HL

Michael Rowe: Cindy McCain Comes a Little Late to “NoH8”
The news Wednesday that Cindy McCain, wife of Arizona senator and Republican presidential candidate John McCain, is endorsing NoH8, the California-based equal marriage organization that…

Simon Johnson: Questions That Ben Bernanke Must Answer
Ben Bernanke’s reconfirmation as chair of the Federal Reserve is in disarray. With President Obama having launched, on Thursday morning, a major new initiative to…

Lesleyann Coker: John Edwards, I Want My Money Back
Dear John, I feel compelled to write you again. You still owe me that $258. I admit, the letter I sent to your home address…

Sherry Bebitch Jeffe: Biting the Fed’s Hand Won’t Bring Money to California
When releasing his 2010-11 budget, Schwarzenegger claimed that Washington was ‘unfair’ in returning to California less money than it sent to the Treasury while ‘subsidizing’ other states.

Elizabeth Warren: Obama Is Pushing Back Against Wall Street (VIDEO)
Financial reform advocate Elizabeth Warren appeared on The Rachel Maddow Show Thurday to discuss President Obama’s new proposals to rein in banks. Warren, a Harvard…


Right-wing media distort Blair testimony to claim treatment of Abdulmutallab made America less safe

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on January 22nd, 2010 5:45 am by HL

Right-wing media distort Blair testimony to claim treatment of Abdulmutallab made America less safe

Rightwing media outlets have distorted testimony by Director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair to buttress their false claims that the decision to process alleged Christmas Day bomber Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab through the civilian criminal justice system prevented his interrogation and has made the United States less safe. In fact, in remarks Blair later stated were “misconstrued,” he stated that an interrogation team that is not actually operational “should have” been “invoke[d]” with regard to Abdulmutallab, and in a subsequent statement, Blair said that the FBI interrogated Abdulmutallab and “received important intelligence.”

Right-wing media suggest U.S. less safe, distort Blair’s testimony

Ace of Spades on Abdulmutallab interrogation: “Exactly how many people are going to have to die to satisfy the moral posturing of this administration and its supporters?” After quoting from a Los Angeles Times report that falsely claimed that during Blair’s January 20 testimony before the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, he “told senators … that it was a mistake for authorities to give the accused bomber in the attempted Christmas Day attack on a U.S.-bound airliner a reading of his Miranda right to an attorney,” Ace of Spades blogger Drew M. wrote:

The Obama administration to the cheers of their supporters on the left have made it perfectly clear that they view these kinds of attacks as nothing more than another law enforcement issues, you know kind of like a 911 call for some drunken college kids pissing behind a bar…they both get the same rights and protections.

Exactly how many people are going to have to die to satisfy the moral posturing of this administration and its supporters? [1/20/10]

Citing Blair testimony, pundit K.T. McFarland falsely claims Abdulmutallab not interrogated; agrees that it’s “just a matter of time” before another attack. Appearing on the January 21 edition of Fox News’ Your World with Neil Cavuto, pundit and columnist K.T. McFarland claimed of Blair’s testimony:

McFARLAND: I mean, if you listen to what he [Blair] said just prior to that, he and the other three homeland security chiefs — Janet Napolitano, the head of the counterterrorism unit, the head of the FBI — they all — they were all asked point-blank, when that Christmas Day bomber got off that plane, did you know that he was going to be read the right to remain silent and you weren’t going to be able to interrogate him? And they all said, “No, that was a Justice Department decision. That wasn’t us.” Whoa. What’s going on here? These people are supposed to protect us, and they have just let that guy get — not be interrogated. When he got off that plane, Neil, he was babbling like a brook, according to the former attorney general, and you know what happened? He got read Miranda rights, he got lawyered up, and clammed up.

CAVUTO: He clammed up and —

McFARLAND: Clammed up.

CAVUTO: So you think that obviously was a mistake, and you think that if they continue to do that sort of thing, it’s just a matter of time.

McFARLAND: Sure. And the other thing that they’re doing that’s a huge mistake that we’ve got to change is they’re treating everybody the same. Political correctness, we’re not profiling anybody. We don’t need to racially profile, but we should profile for certain behavioral traits.

NRO’s Burck: “[P]ossibility of interrogating Abdulmutallab to learn whether he had information that could help prevent another attack was seen as, at best, a secondary consideration.” From a post by Bill Burck on National Review Online’s blog The Corner on the topic of Blair’s testimony:

The Justice Department, with the White House’s explicit or tacit blessing, has won a major turf battle with the intelligence services. The Obama White House is so committed to the law-enforcement approach to combating terrorism — the very approach that the bipartisan 9/11 Commission said was a major reason the 9/11 plot went undetected until it was too late — that the possibility of interrogating Abdulmutallab to learn whether he had information that could help prevent another attack was seen as, at best, a secondary consideration and, at worst, wholly irrelevant. [1/20/10]

Weekly Standard falsely claimed “Blair admitted that Abdulmutallab was not interrogated for intelligence purposes.” In a blog post, The Weekly Standard‘s Stephen F. Hayes asserted: “Blair admitted that Abdulmutallab was not interrogated for intelligence purposes because the Obama administration had not considered using the newly-created elite interrogation unit on terrorist in the United States.” [1/21/10]

Fox Nation falsely claims Blair said “Undie-bomber should’ve been interrogated as a terrorist.” Linking to a Canadian Press article on Blair’s testimony, Fox News’ website, the Fox Nation asserted in a headline: “U.S. Intel Chief: Undie-Bomber Should’ve Been Interrogated as Terrorist.” [1/20/10]

NRO’s Sales falsely claims Blair said “it was a mistake to read the underwear bomber his Miranda rights.” From a blog post on The Corner by former Bush administration homeland security official Nathan Sales:

The Obama administration is taking heat for treating Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab — the al-Qaeda operative who tried to blow Northwest Flight 253 out of the sky on Christmas day — like a common criminal. On Tuesday, Republican Scott Brown won Ted Kennedy’s old Senate seat partly because his call for Abdulmutallab to be held in military custody resonated with Bay State voters. The next day, Director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair told Congress it was a mistake to read the underwear bomber his Miranda rights before letting intelligence officials interrogate him about other threats to the homeland. [1/21/10]

Las Vegas Review-Journal falsely claims Blair testified that “the Christmas underwear bomber should have been treated as a terrorist, rather than a criminal defendant.” In a January 21 editorial headlined “Over its Head,” the Las Vegas Review-Journal claimed:

On Wednesday, Dennis Blair, the nation’s director of national intelligence, testified in the Senate that the Christmas underwear bomber should have been treated as a terrorist, rather than a criminal defendant.

Mr. Blair went on to say that he was never consulted as to whether Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the Nigerian who tried to blow up a home-made bomb as a Northwest Airlines flight descended toward Detroit, should have been questioned by a recently created interrogation unit designed to get information out of terror suspects.

“That unit was created exactly for this purpose,” Mr. Blair said. “We did not invoke (it) in this case. We should have.”

[…]

So three of the country’s top anti-terror officials were left out of the loop on the underwear bomber. Meantime, instead of letting a special interrogation group take a crack at the terror suspect, the administration allows him to lawyer-up while he sits in a Michigan jail cell awaiting a criminal trial.

Mr. Blair’s comments should give pause even to Mr. Obama’s most passionate defenders because they reveal an administration that increasingly– and distressingly — appears over its head on a number of vital fronts.

Group that Blair said should have been invoked is not actually operational

Blair said that he believed High-Value Detainee Interrogation Group (HIG) “should have” been “invoke[d].” From Blair’s January 20 Senate testimony (via Nexis) during questioning by Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME):

BLAIR: Senator Collins, I’d been a part of the deliberations which have established this high-value interrogation unit, which we started as part of the executive order as part of the decision to close Guantanamo. That unit was created exactly for this purpose — to make a decision on whether a certain person who’s detained should be treated as a case for federal prosecution or for some of the other means.

We did not invoke the HIG in this case; we should have. Frankly, we were thinking more of overseas people and, duh, you know, we didn’t put it then. That’s what we will do now, and so we need to make those decisions more carefully. I was not consulted. The decision was made on the scene, seemed logical to the people there, but it should have been taken, using this HIG format, at a higher level.

HIG not operational. As Blair acknowledged in a subsequent statement, the HIG — a proposed “specialized interrogation group” designed to “bring together the most effective and experienced interrogators and support personnel from across the Intelligence Community, the Department of Defense and law enforcement” to “interrogate the most dangerous terrorists” — is not “fully operational.” Indeed, Newsweek’s Michael Isikoff reported: “Abdulmutallab couldn’t possibly have been questioned by the HIG because the unit doesn’t exist yet. The task force had recommended it be created to handle the questioning of “high value” Qaeda leaders who might be captured overseas — a criterion that clearly doesn’t apply in Abdulmutallab’s case. But the proposal is still being reviewed by the National Security Council, and the actual unit has not yet been created.” [Newsweek, 1/20/10]

HIG reportedly not designed to have jurisdiction over suspects on U.S. soil. In a November 20, 2009, blog post on Fort Hood shooting suspect Army Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan, The Washington Independent’s Spencer Ackerman wrote: “it is unlikely that the HIG would interview Hasan. Dean Boyd, a spokesman for the Justice Department’s national security division, clarified that the new group is mandated to operate ‘overseas only.’ ” Similarly, Isikoff wrote: “The task force had recommended it be created to handle the questioning of ‘high value’ Qaeda leaders who might be captured overseas — a criterion that clearly doesn’t apply in Abdulmutallab’s case.” Isikoff later added: “[S]ince Abdulmutallab was not a Qaeda leader, and was captured in Detroit, not overseas, the HIG wouldn’t apply in any case, said the source, who worked closely on the proposal.”

As Blair subsequently indicated, Abdulmutallab was interrogated by the FBI

Blair said testimony “misconstrued,” acknowledged that FBI obtained valuable intelligence. Following his Senate testimony, Blair released the following statement: “My remarks today before the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs have been misconstrued. The FBI interrogated Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab when they took him into custody. They received important intelligence at that time, drawing on the FBI’s expertise in interrogation that will be available in the HIG once it is fully operational.”

FBI Director Mueller testified to suspect’s interrogation. FBI Director Robert Mueller testified that interrogators interviewed Abdulmutallab “to gain intelligence, intelligence about whether there’s another bomb, whether other coconspirators, where’d he get the bomb, all of that information without the benefit of — or within the Miranda warnings.” From Mueller’s testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee (via Nexis):

SEN. RUSS FEINGOLD (D-WI): Director Mueller, we’ve heard criticism this morning for the decision to try Abdulmutallab in federal court. And I’m, of course, a little mystified by this reaction, given the similarity of this case to the attempt by Richard Reid, who was prosecuted in federal court by the prior administration, now serving a life sentence. Some have argued the decision has compromised our ability to obtain useful intelligence.

But as I understand it and as Senator Feinstein touched on, there are quite a few examples of people who have been charged with terrorism-related crimes in federal court and cooperated with the U.S. government. Do you see any reason to treat this case differently from the Richard Reid case? And has it been your experience that alleged terrorists charged with crimes in federal court often cooperate with the government and provide useful intelligence?

MUELLER: Well, in direct answer to the question, we’ve had a number of cases in which through the process — the criminal justice process of the United States, individuals have decided to cooperate and provided tremendous intelligence. That is not to say that there may not be other ways of obtaining that intelligence. But, yes, in answer to your question, the criminal justice system has been a — a fountain of intelligence in the years since September 11th.

[…]

SEN. SHELDON WHITEHOUSE (D-RI): Do you not react differently to cases that have a national security and terrorism overtone than to you regular book of criminal business, in terms of making early decisions as to what type of interrogation is appropriate?

MUELLER: Certainly we do. And that’s what the agents did in this particular case. There were no Miranda warnings given. They immediately went in, when they had the opportunity to interview him to determine whether — to gain intelligence, intelligence about whether there’s another bomb, whether other coconspirators, where’d he get the bomb, all of that information without the benefit of — or within the Miranda warnings.

It had to be done very quickly because of the fact that he had been injured, was in a hospital, and the window of opportunity to do this had to be undertaken very quickly.

But the fact remains, as well, later that evening, he was Mirandized and — and went into the judicial system. I’m not going to opine one way or the other, because I don’t think it’s my role to — to necessarily adopt the policy as to where the person goes. It’s to other persons at the Department of Justice and elsewhere.

Blair did not say Abdulmutallab should not have been processed through the civilian criminal justice system

Blair did not say that Abdulmutallab should not have been Mirandized or that he should have been held by the military. At no point in his unclassified testimony did Blair state that Abdulmutallab should not have been read Miranda rights or that he should have been transferred from civilian to military custody. When asked directly by Sen. John McCain if Abdulmutallab should be “tried in civilian court or should it be under military tribunal,” Blair stated: “I’m not ready to offer an opinion on that in open session. We can talk about it in closed session, Senator McCain.”

Abdulmutallab handling mirrors that of shoe bomber Reid

During Bush administration, shoe bomber Richard Reid handled through civilian justice system. Shoe bomber Richard Reid — who reportedly claimed he was a member of Al Qaeda — is serving a life sentence in a Colorado prison for “trying to blow up a trans-Atlantic flight with explosives concealed in his shoes” after being charged in civilian court and pleading guilty.” According to news reports, Reid was read his rights and the investigation into Reid’s crimes was handled by the FBI and federal prosecutors.


Trijicon: We’ll Stop Putting Bible Inscriptions On Military Rifle Scopes

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on January 22nd, 2010 5:44 am by HL

Trijicon: We’ll Stop Putting Bible Inscriptions On Military Rifle Scopes
Trijicon, the company that produces U.S. military rifle scopes with Biblical inscriptions, will end the decades-old practice and provide the military with modification kits to remove the markings.

McCain Gets Schooled On Bogus Abdulmutallab ‘One-Way Ticket’ Meme (VIDEO)
Watch an Obama Admin official correct John McCain on his assertion that accused Christmas bomber flew to Detroit on a one-way ticket — among other points.



Shocked By Brown’s Election, DC Dems Will Go the Wrong Way

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on January 22nd, 2010 5:41 am by HL

Shocked By Brown’s Election, DC Dems Will Go the Wrong Way


Sarah Palin’s Avatar

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on January 22nd, 2010 5:39 am by HL

Sarah Palin’s Avatar
Sarah Palin apparently will not be one of the thousands attending today’s National March for Life in Washington, DC — which takes place annually on the anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision — but David Brody notes her “avatar” will be there.

The groups has an online campaign that allows people to create an avatar of themselves and “march” online.


Hightower: Bernanke Wants Even More God-Like Powers for the Federal Reserve

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on January 22nd, 2010 5:38 am by HL

Hightower: Bernanke Wants Even More God-Like Powers for the Federal Reserve
Our financial rulers were so intoxicated with the fumes of their own omnipotence that they failed abjectly as regulators, as public servants and, most certainly, as gods.

Our financial rulers were so intoxicated with the fumes of their own omnipotence that they failed abjectly as regulators, as public servants and, most certainly, as gods.

Fox News Resorts to Homophobic Bathroom Jokes in Retaliation For Media Matters’ Report on Fox Haiti Coverage
When Media Matters issued a report detailing the scant coverage Fox News programs gave the Haiti earthquake, Fox host Greg Gutfeld went homophobic on the watchdog group.

When Media Matters issued a report detailing the scant coverage Fox News programs gave the Haiti earthquake, Fox host Greg Gutfeld went homophobic on the watchdog group.

Bitch Magazine Founder’s ‘Cook Food’: A Manualfesto for Everything You Need to Know About Healthy Eating
If you know someone who cares about the environment, their body, animals, and taste, yet nobody has ever taught them to cook, give them this book.

If you know someone who cares about the environment, their body, animals, and taste, yet nobody has ever taught them to cook, give them this book.


Who’s To Blame?–The Sequel

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on January 22nd, 2010 5:37 am by HL

Who’s To Blame?–The Sequel
The little fire-storm set off by my post of a couple of days ago produced a great many angry rebuttals, some of them curiously personal; but most were written with seriousness and, like my post, occasion diagnosis, not catharsis. They…


White HouseWall StreetMassachusettsObamaCongress

What Massachusetts Showed
Last night in Massachusetts, America didn’t get what it needs. But Democrats got what they deserved. Republicans lost in 2008 because they’d spent many years implementing clear, extreme economic and foreign policies thoroughly enough for real life to prove them…



United StatesMassachusettsDemocraticRepublicanPolitics


GOP Is Overjoyed At The Unprecedented Influence Corporations Will Now Have In Federal Campaigns

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on January 22nd, 2010 5:36 am by HL

GOP Is Overjoyed At The Unprecedented Influence Corporations Will Now Have In Federal Campaigns
During the 2008 presidential campaign, the conservative group Citizens United made a movie critical of Hillary Clinton but was barred from distributing it on local cable systems because federal courts said it “looked and sounded like a long campaign ad, and therefore should be regulated like one.” The Supreme Court then took up the […]

mike-pence2 During the 2008 presidential campaign, the conservative group Citizens United made a movie critical of Hillary Clinton but was barred from distributing it on local cable systems because federal courts said it “looked and sounded like a long campaign ad, and therefore should be regulated like one.” The Supreme Court then took up the case and in its much-anticipated decision, today ruled 5-4 to allow corporations and unions to spend unlimited funds in support for, or opposition of, federal candidates. The monumental ruling throws out a “a 63-year-old law designed to restrain the influence of big business and unions on elections.

One Republican attorney said that the new ruling basically turns the political landscape into the “Wild Wild West.” Another GOP election lawyer said that the ruling represents “a huge sea-change in campaign finance law. The Court went all the way. It really relieves any restrictions on corporate spending on independent advertising.”

As Common Cause noted, the ruling “will enhance the ability of the deepest-pocketed special interests to influence elections and the U.S. Congress.” U.S. PIRG called it a “shocking burst of judicial activism” that treats corporations “in the same manner as ordinary citizens.” Fred Wertheimer of Democracy 21 said the ruling will “create unprecedented opportunities for corporate ‘influence-buying‘ corruption.”

The ruling is a giant win for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the big corporations, which tend to donate heavily to Republicans. Many Republicans have therefore come out and praised today’s decision:

Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX): “It is about a nonprofit group’s ability to speak about the public issue. I can’t think of a more fundamental First Amendment issue. … [The ruling could] open up resources that have not previously been available [for Republicans].” [NYT]

Rep. Steve King (R-IA): “The Constitution protects the rights of citizens and employers to express their viewpoints on political issues. Today’s Supreme Court decision affirms the Bill of Rights and is a victory for liberty and free speech.” [Statement]

Rep. Mike Pence (R-IN): “If the freedom of speech means anything, it means protecting the right of private citizens to voice opposition or support for their elected representatives. The fact that the Court overturned a 20-year precedent speaks volumes about the importance of this issue.” [Statement]

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY): The court took a step toward “restoring the First Amendment rights [of corporations and unions]. … By previously denying this right, the government was picking winners and losers.” [AP]

RNC Chairman Michael Steele: “Today’s decision by the Supreme Court in Citizens United v. FEC, serves as an affirmation of the constitutional rights provided to Americans under the first amendment. Free speech strengthens our democracy.” [Statement]

Senate Candidate Marco Rubio: “Today’s SCOTUS decision on McCain-Feingold is a victory for free speech.” [Statement]

The Court’s ruling also struck down part of the McCain-Feingold campaign finance reform legislation “that barred union– and corporate-paid issue ads in the closing days of election campaigns.” Sen. Russ Feingold called the Court’s ruling a “terrible mistake,” but pointed out that it “does not affect McCain-Feingold’s soft money ban, which will continue to prevent corporate contributions to the political parties from corrupting the political process.” “The Supreme Court chose to roll back laws that have limited the role of corporate money in federal elections since Teddy Roosevelt was president,” he said. Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) reacted similarly, saying he was “disappointed” in the decision.

Citizens United Decision: ‘A Rejection Of The Common Sense Of The American People’
In what could prove to be the most consequential Supreme Court decision in decades, all five of the Court’s conservatives joined together today to invalidate a sixty-three year-old ban on corporate money in federal elections. In the process, the Court overruled a twenty year-old precedent permitting such bans on corporate electioneering; and it ignored […]

saleIn what could prove to be the most consequential Supreme Court decision in decades, all five of the Court’s conservatives joined together today to invalidate a sixty-three year-old ban on corporate money in federal elections. In the process, the Court overruled a twenty year-old precedent permitting such bans on corporate electioneering; and it ignored the protests of the four more moderate justices in dissent. As Justice John Paul Stevens wrote for the dissenters:

Today’s decision is backwards in many senses. It elevates the majority’s agenda over the litigants’ submissions, facial attacks over as-applied claims, broad constitutional theories over narrow statutory grounds, individual dissenting opinions over precedential holdings, assertion over tradition, absolutism over empiricism, rhetoric over reality. Our colleagues have arrived at the conclusion that Austin must be overruled and that §203 is facially unconstitutional only after mischaracterizing both the reach and rationale of those authorities, and after bypassing or ignoring rules of judicial restraint used to cabin the Court’s lawmaking power. … At bottom, the Court’s opinion is thus a rejection of the common sense of the American people, who have recognized a need to prevent corporations from undermining self government since the founding, and who have fought against the distinctive corrupting potential of corporate electioneering since the days of Theodore Roosevelt. It is a strange time to repudiate that common sense. While American democracy is imperfect, few outside the majority of this Court would have thought its flaws included a dearth of corporate money in politics.

The majority, for its part, claimed that corporate political spending must be protected to prevent “taking the right to speak from some and giving it to others,” but they are simply wrong to claim that this is a case about free speech. Prior to Citizens United, no law prohibited anyone from saying anything they wanted. Corporate CEOs and other wealthy individuals could spend their own massive salaries to run political ads on TV. People who are less rich than corporate CEOs could pool their money together via organizations. The only thing that wasn’t permitted before Citizens United is that the CEO of Bank of America could not tap into Bank of America’s massive, multi-billion dollar treasury to defeat any lawmaker who thinks that TARP banks should pay back the federal government after it took expensive and unprecedented steps to prevent a total collapse of the U.S. banking system.

Ultimately, however, today’s decision does far more than simply provide Fortune 500 companies with a massive megaphone to blast their political views to the masses; it also empowers them to drown out any voices that disagree with them. In 2008, the Obama and McCain campaigns combined spent just over $1.1 billion, an enormous, record-breaking sum at the time. $1.1 billion is nothing, however, compared to the billions of dollars in tax subsidies given to the oil industry every year, or the $117 billion fee President Obama wants to impose on the Wall Street bankers who created the Great Recession. Indeed, with hundreds of billions of dollars of corporate profits at stake every time Congress begins a session, wealthy corporations would be foolish not to spend tens of billions of dollars every election cycle to make sure that their interests are protected. No one, including the candidates themselves, have the ability to compete with such giant expenditures.

The good news is that lawmakers are already considering ways to mitigate the damage caused by Citizens United, and a number of options exist, such as requiring additional disclosures by corporations engaged in electioneering, empowering shareholders to demand that their investment not be spent to advance candidates they disapprove of, or possibly even requiring shareholders to approve a corporation’s decision to influence an election before the company may do so. At the end of the day, however, many extremely well-moneyed corporations will still succeed in unleashing their treasuries on the electorate, and drowning out opposing voices.


Senators try to thwart EPA efforts to curb emissions

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on January 22nd, 2010 5:35 am by HL

Senators try to thwart EPA efforts to curb emissions
A bipartisan group of senators introduced legislation Thursday to block the Environmental Protection Agency from regulating greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act, a move that could undercut one of the Obama administration’s top domestic priorities.

GOP picks Virginia governor to answer State of the Union
RICHMOND — National Republicans searching for a way to maintain their recent winning streak have tapped Virginia Gov. Robert F. McDonnell to deliver his party’s high-profile response to President Obama’s State of the Union address Wednesday.


Obama proposes tough limits on largest banks
President Obama expanded his new offensive on Wall Street on Thursday, proposing rules that would impede the growth of the largest banks and bar them from making what he called “reckless” investments.