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Archive for April 22nd, 2010

Independent’s Day?

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on April 22nd, 2010 4:51 am by HL

Independent’s Day?
Remember all the media talk of Democratic Civil Wars in Connecticut in 2006? Well, guess where such things wont’ be said about Republicans in 2010 as it actually happens?

Cock-a-doodle-Duds

Well, many folks have been saying this for sometime, the Great Orange Satan from his great orange lair comes to mind, but it is being reported Charlie Christ is about to go all ‘independent’ down in Florida.

Reliable sources informed me today that embattled Florida Gov. Charlie Crist, whose early lead in his US Senate Republican primary race against former Florida House Speaker Marco Rubio has essentially reversed itself in the polls, is preparing to announce sooner rather than later that he will leave the GOP and continue his run for Senate as an independent.

Leaving Marco Rubio to surround himself with a crazier GOP base (and a few Internal Revenue agents). With his Party credit card being put on hold, I understand that Rubio is attempting to buy Crist off the new/old fangled, Republican-way — and that’s going to take a KFC-sized load of chickens (maybe a few of those new non-sandwiches too).

Maybe Kendrick Meek will toss in a few to help Charlie fly the coop?

(pic from here)

Early Morning Swim: Chris Hayes Explains Why the GOP Folded on FinReg
Is our Democrats learning?

Is our Democrats learning?

Within 48 hours, the Republican line on financial regulatory reform went from “filibuster” to “we’re very close to a deal.” Why the shift? Republicans and Democrats will offer up spin all day, chalking up the progress to their own doggedness, but in the end it comes down to a simple reality. Key Republicans, sincere about passing new rules for Wall Street, but intimidated by the notion of blocking financial regulatory reform, let it be known to their leadership that, at some point, they would side with Democrats to break a filibuster. Maybe not on round one, or even round two. But eventually.

Funny what happens when you don’t make tons of concessions in advance.

Late Late Night FDL: Piss off Osama, Legalize Marijuana
Featuring the latest from Angus and Julia Stone and Sharon Jones and The Dap-Kings.

Featuring the latest from Angus and Julia Stone and Sharon Jones and The Dap-Kings.

What’s on your mind tonight?


Why Financial Reform Will Be Easier Than Health Care

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on April 22nd, 2010 4:50 am by HL

Why Financial Reform Will Be Easier Than Health Care
For the first time in Obama’s presidency, Republicans are uncertain as to whether resolute opposition to a Democratic idea is in their political interest. By E.J. Dionne

For the first time in Obama’s presidency, Republicans are uncertain as to whether resolute opposition to a Democratic idea is in their political interest.


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Stewart Acuff: Celebrate Earth Day, New Book “Getting America Back to Work” Connects Good Environmental Policy to Good Economic Policy on Eve of Climate Change Legislation Introduction in U.S. Senate

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on April 22nd, 2010 4:49 am by HL

Stewart Acuff: Celebrate Earth Day, New Book “Getting America Back to Work” Connects Good Environmental Policy to Good Economic Policy on Eve of Climate Change Legislation Introduction in U.S. Senate
Next week we expect Climate Change legislation to be introduced in the U.S. Senate. The legislation will move our country to significant investment in green…

William Bradley: California Story: Brown, Boxer, and (Un)convention(al) Politics
Big developments in the past few days make it clear why California has the biggest races in the country this year, with President Barack Obama…

Chris Weigant: Where Tea Partiers Live
PBS’s NewsHour and the Christian Science Monitor have created an interactive map showing the geographic distribution of self-identified Tea Partiers. It reveals some interesting truths about the movement — and the GOP’s future.

HuffPost TV: Roy Sekoff: ‘Diversity’ Would Be Supreme Court Justice Who’s For The Powerless (VIDEO)
HuffPost editor Roy Sekoff appeared on “The Ed Show” Wednesday to talk about Obama’s next nominee for the U.S. Supreme Court. “Too many times,” Sekoff…


Right-wing media criticize financial reform with regurgitated myth that affordable housing caused financial crisis

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on April 22nd, 2010 4:48 am by HL

Right-wing media criticize financial reform with regurgitated myth that affordable housing caused financial crisis

Criticizing Democratic efforts to reform regulation of the financial industry, right-wing media figures have begun repeating the myth that affordable housing initiatives are to blame for the 2008 financial crisis, pointing to the 1977 Community Reinvestment Act and Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Economists — including Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke — have strongly rejected this notion.

Conservative media figures again heap blame on affordable-housing initiatives

Hannity: “The problem came from … the Community Reinvestment Act.” On the April 20 edition of his Fox News show, Sean Hannity discussed the financial crisis and stated, “We’re going to repeat the problem we don’t understand.” He further claimed, “The problem came from this notion that everybody in America had a right to a house whether they could ever afford to pay their loan back. That’s what the Community Reinvestment Act was all about.”

Limbaugh: Wall Street not to blame for “financial meltdown,” affordable housing is. On the April 20 edition of his radio program, Rush Limbaugh said that “the premise of this whole financial-regulatory reform bill” was that “Wall Street’s to blame for the financial meltdown, and it’s not.” He continued:

Let’s go back to the premise of this whole financial-regulatory reform bill. The whole premise of this is that — is based on the fact that Wall Street’s to blame for the financial meltdown, and it’s not. Government is to blame for the meltdown. … It was these subprime mortgages that were required by the government to be lent — Community Redevelopment [sic] Act, or what have you. … So here, once again, we have people on Capitol Hill — Chris Dodd, who’s being shamefully retired from his seat in the Senate, Barney Frank over in the House, and any number of other people — Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac — who are the literal and real architects of the financial meltdown of last year.

Perino: Fannie and Freddie “led to this crisis in the first place.” On the April 20 edition of Fox News’ Hannity, Fox News contributor Dana Perino claimed that financial reform would be a long-term problem for the administration, stating :

If you look at the poll yesterday from Pew Research Center, 80 percent of the American people don’t trust the government, nor do they trust the other big institutions that are in their lives, including the banks. And at the end of the day, when they step back and you start peeling back the layers, anybody paying attention, they might watch President Obama’s speech on Thursday and be impressed, but then also they might realize that he was the one who was defending Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac that led to this crisis in the first place.

WSJ‘s Fund: Fannie and Freddie “got us into this housing mortgage mess.” On the April 19 edition of Fox News’ Happening Now, co-host Bill Hemmer asked whether “Republicans take a risk in opposing” financial regulatory reform. Wall Street Journal columnist John Fund responded:

Sure. With 60 percent supporting more financial regulation, it is a risk. But I think if they say a few things that’ll — people might look a different way. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, which are the two federal entities that got us into this housing mortgage mess and led the other banks into making stupid mistakes, they’re not reformed by this bill. They get off scot-free.

Experts reject claims that affordable housing initiatives caused the financial crisis

Bernanke: Experience “runs counter to the charge that CRA was at the root of, or otherwise contributed in any substantive way to, the current mortgage difficulties.” In a November 25, 2008, letter, Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke stated: “Our own experience with CRA over more than 30 years and recent analysis of available data, including data on subprime loan performance, runs counter to the charge that CRA was at the root of, or otherwise contributed in any substantive way to, the current mortgage difficulties.” Bernanke further wrote:

Further, a recent Board staff analysis of the Home Mortgage Disclosure Act and other data sources does not find evidence that CRA caused high default levels in the subprime market.

[…]

As the financial crisis has unfolded, many factors have been suggested as contributing to the current mortgage market difficulties. Among these are declining home values, incentives for originators to place loan quantity over quality, and inadequate risk management of complex financial instruments. The available evidence to date, however, does not lend support to the argument that CRA is to blame for causing the subprime mortgage crisis.

SF Reserve Bank’s Yellen: “[S]tudies have shown that the CRA has increased the volume of responsible lending to low- and moderate-income households.” Janet Yellen, president and CEO of the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, in a March 2008 speech criticized efforts to blame CRA lending for weaknesses in the mortgage market, stating:

There has been a tendency to conflate the current problems in the subprime market with CRA-motivated lending, or with lending to low-income families in general. I believe it is very important to make a distinction between the two. Most of the loans made by depository institutions examined under the CRA have not been higher-priced loans, and studies have shown that the CRA has increased the volume of responsible lending to low- and moderate-income households. We should not view the current foreclosure trends as justification to abandon the goal of expanding access to credit among low-income households, since access to credit, and the subsequent ability to buy a home, remains one of the most important mechanisms we have to help low-income families build wealth over the long term.

Slate’s Gross: “[t]he notion that the Community Reinvestment Act is somehow responsible for poor lending decisions is absurd.” In an October 7, 2008, Slate.com article, Daniel Gross, a business columnist for Newsweek and author of Dumb Money: How Our Greatest Financial Minds Bankrupted the Nation, criticized the notion that affordable housing initiatives caused the financial crisis, writing that “the notion that the Community Reinvestment Act is somehow responsible for poor lending decisions is absurd” and that “lending money to poor people and minorities isn’t inherently risky. There’s plenty of evidence that in fact it’s not that risky at all.” Gross further explained, “On the other hand, lending money recklessly to obscenely rich white guys … can be really risky. In fact, it’s even more risky, since they have a lot more borrowing capacity.”

Economist Dean Baker: Claim that Fannie and Freddie “responsible for the financial disaster is absurd on its face.” Economist Dean Baker reported in September 2008 that the accusation that “the financial crisis is attributable to the close government relationship with Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac” is “obviously not true.” He further wrote:

Fannie and Freddie got into subprime junk and helped fuel the housing bubble, but they were trailing the irrational exuberance of the private sector. They lost market share in the years 2002-2007, as the volume of private issue mortgage backed securities exploded. In short, while Fannie and Freddie were completely irresponsible in their lending practices, the claim that they were responsible for the financial disaster is absurd on its face — kind of like the claim that the earth is flat.

Gross: Investment banks to blame for subprime loans. In an October 2008 Newsweek article, Daniel Gross wrote:

There was a culture of stupid, reckless lending, of which Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and the subprime lenders were an integral part. But the dumb lending virus originated in Greenwich, Ct., midtown Manhattan, and Southern California, not Eastchester, Brownsville, and Washington. Investment banks created a demand for subprime loans because they saw it as a new asset class that they could dominate. They made subprime loans for the same reason they made other loans: They could get paid for making the loans, for turning them into securities, and for trading them — frequently using borrowed capital.

Former Lehman Brothers CEO Richard Fuld: Fannie and Freddie played “de minimis” role. Gross further reported that the following happened during testimony by Former Lehman Brothers CEO Richard Fuld before the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform:

At Monday’s hearing, Rep. John Mica, R-Fla., gamely tried to pin Lehman’s demise on Fannie and Freddie. After comparing Lehman’s small political contributions with Fannie and Freddie’s much larger ones, Mica asked Fuld what role Fannie and Freddie’s failure played in Lehman’s demise. Fuld’s response: “De minimis.”

From Fuld’s testimony:

MICA: And one of your big com — well, one of the big packagers, or the competitor, so to speak, was Fannie Mae, which was deep into this. And you were — you were dealing in some of the paper, I think, for secondary markets and other securitized mortgage paper, to basically package it and make money off it. Is that right?

FULD: Yes, sir.

MICA: What was Lehman Brothers’ exposure to the debt of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and what role did their collapse play in precipitating some of your financial troubles?

FULD: Our —

MICA: It didn’t matter or you —

FULD: Our exposure to both Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac was de minimis, sir.


Report: Feds Open Corruption Probe Of Massa

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on April 22nd, 2010 4:46 am by HL

Report: Feds Open Corruption Probe Of Massa
Fresh off the announcement that the House ethics panel is looking into ex-Rep. Eric Massa (D-NY), the Washington Post drops a bombshell: the FBI is now investigating the disgraced former congressman as part of a corruption inquiry.

GOPers Now Slam Mine Safety Agency — But Skipped Recent Mine Safety Hearing
Republicans on a House committee are slamming the federal mine safety agency in the wake of that deadly explosion at a mine earlier this month. But when the panel held a hearing on mine safety in February, only one GOPer bothered to show up.

Ensign Campaign’s Haul Last Quarter: 50 Bucks
Sen. John Ensign’s re-election campaign took in just $50 in contributions, from one contributor, during the first quarter of 2010, according to FEC reports. The paltry take comes as more bad news for the scandal-tarred Nevada Republican.



Nevada’s Sue Lowden: Another Palin?

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on April 22nd, 2010 4:42 am by HL

Nevada’s Sue Lowden: Another Palin?
Dem Sen. Harry Reid’s no prize package, but can you believe he’s losing to this babbling dimwit? See the video here. Las Vegas Sun article here.


Obama Has Played More Golf Than Bush

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on April 22nd, 2010 4:41 am by HL

Obama Has Played More Golf Than Bush
President Obama “has played golf 32 times since he took office, eight more than his predecessor George W. Bush — who was mocked by the Left for his fondness for the game — did in his entire presidency,” the Daily Telegraph reports.

Golf magazine: “The real story, is how golf seems to be used (by both sides of the political spectrum…or at least which ever side is out of power) as a sort of symbol for elitism and how out of touch the president is with the American public. The National Golf Foundation estimates that there are about 26.2 million Americans who like to unwind with a round of golf, and I think it’s safe to assume that very few of those people have as much on their minds as the POTUS.”

Internal Probe Finds RNC Financial Controls in Disarray
“Barely 6 1/2 months before the midterm elections, an internal investigation by the Republican National Committee has revealed that the organization is beset with questionable financial management and oversight and is spending more money courting top-dollar donors than it raises,” the Washington Times reports.

“The investigation found that the Republican Party’s national governing body is losing money on its major-donors’ fundraising program — spending $1.09 for each $1.00 raised, according to RNC members privy to the investigation’s findings. It typically costs about 40 cents for every dollar raised from donors who give more than $1,000.”


Elie Wiesel’s Jerusalem

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on April 22nd, 2010 4:40 am by HL

Elie Wiesel’s Jerusalem
Friday’s International Herald Tribune brought us two statements, the first, a full page ad by Elie Wiesel, explaining his (and presumably every Jew’s) attachment to Jerusalem, and second, a column by the Times’ Roger Cohen, explaining his (and presumably every…


JerusalemIsraelElie WieselMiddle EastInternational Herald Tribune

Annotating the Congressional Letter Affirming US-Israel Relations
I received a note today reacting to a set of Congressional letters reaffirming US-Israel relations from Sama Adnan, executive director of the new political action committee advocating for Palestinian interests, NewPolicy.org. He notes that 24 US Senators and 102 House…


Middle EastUnited StatesState of IsraelWarfare and ConflictIsrael-Palestine


DeMint: The tea party movement is a ‘spiritual revival.’

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on April 22nd, 2010 4:39 am by HL

DeMint: The tea party movement is a ‘spiritual revival.’
Tea party favorite Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC) said he sees a “spiritual” motivation behind the tea party movement. Telling the Christian Broadcasting Network’s David Brody today that “the bigger the government gets, the smaller God gets,” DeMint said there will be a growing “parallel spiritual revival” with the anti-tax movement, comparing it to the Great […]

Tea party favorite Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC) said he sees a “spiritual” motivation behind the tea party movement. Telling the Christian Broadcasting Network’s David Brody today that “the bigger the government gets, the smaller God gets,” DeMint said there will be a growing “parallel spiritual revival” with the anti-tax movement, comparing it to the Great Awakening religious movement that proceeded the American Revolution:

DEMINT: I really think a lot of the motivation behind these Tea Party crowds is a spiritual component. I think it’s very akin to the Great Awakening before the American Revolution. A lot of our founders believed the American Revolution was won before we ever got into a fight with the British. It was a spiritual renewal. […]

Well, I think people are seeing this massive government growing and they’re realizing that it’s the government that’s hurting us and I think they’re turning back to God in effect is our salvation and government is not our salvation and in fact more and more people see government as the problem and so I think some have been drawn in over the years to a dependency relationship with government and as the Bible says you can’t have two masters and I think as people pull back from that they look more to God. It’s no coincidence that socialist Europe is post-Christian because the bigger the government gets the smaller God gets and vice-versa. The bigger God gets the smaller people want their government because they’re yearning for freedom.

Watch it:

Indeed, a recent New York Times/CBS News poll of tea party supporters found they are more religious than most Americans, with 38 percent saying they attend religious services every week, compared to 27 percent of all people polled. However, they were overwhelmingly concerned with economic issues, not social ones, with only three percent saying “religious values,” and only two percent saying “moral values,” were the “most important problem facing the country today.”


The Fix: Dem committees hold big cash lead over GOP

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on April 22nd, 2010 4:38 am by HL

The Fix: Dem committees hold big cash lead over GOP
1. The three Democratic campaign committees ended March with approximately $22 million more in the bank than their Republican counterparts, a financial edge that party strategists hope will insulate them from considerable losses in the coming midterm elections.

Obama to meet with top lawmakers to discuss Supreme Court selection
Can Congress convince President Obama to pick a non-judge for the Supreme Court?