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Archive for October 7th, 2011

“Help, help I’m being repressed”

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on October 7th, 2011 4:45 am by HL

“Help, help I’m being repressed”
Yes, pity the poor “Southern White Guy”, who has been more set upon in history, amongst at least white men of the South, than the Southern White Male? Just ask them.

Just look at that black guy bothering Bull Connor and his dog. The world of Lindsey Graham via kschlot1 at flickr.com

And not in the way you typically think when it comes to Lindsey Graham:

“Rick Perry is not a racist,” Graham said, saying the Texas governor is the victim of an “intimidation” campaign. “You know if you’re a southern white guy, it is part of your life,” Graham complained.

Yes, pity the poor “Southern White Guy”, who has been more set upon in history, amongst at least white men of the South, than the Southern White Male? Just ask them.


How (and Why) to Co-opt Those Cops on Wall Street

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on October 7th, 2011 4:44 am by HL

How (and Why) to Co-opt Those Cops on Wall Street
If teachers, bus drivers, firefighters, nurses and, yes, police officers show up to demand change—then this could be the beginning of something very, very big.

By Joe Conason

If teachers, bus drivers, firefighters, nurses and, yes, police officers show up to demand change—then this could be the beginning of something very, very big.


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Jimmy Carter Still Has Hope
One day before this year’s Nobel Peace Prize winner is to be announced, President and Nobel laureate Jimmy Carter said he still hopes President Obama will make good on the promises he made that ultimately won him the prize two years ago. Obama was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2009 even though, by then, he had been in office for less than a year and his contributions toward peace hadn’t yet gone beyond promises to measurable action. “It was given [to Obama] primarily because of some of the commitments he had made verbally, his speeches and so forth about taking the leadership role and dealing with global warming and dealing with the immigration problem, enhancing human rights, promoting peace in the Middle East,” Carter, who won the prize in 2002, told Reuters. But to date, Obama still has a lot of ground to cover if he intends to make good on those prize-winning promises. —BF Reuters: Carter, 86, who has worked to resolve conflicts and promote democracy since losing office 30 years ago, has been critical of U.S.—and Israeli—positions on Middle East peace and called Obama’s likely veto of giving U.N. membership to a Palestinian state a “mistake” at a time when, he believed, the Arab Spring had opened new possibilities for settling the region’s disputes. Obama, who acknowledged that his award was controversial in 2009 when “at the beginning and not at the end” of his presidency, has been accused of failing to deliver on promises made in a speech to the Muslim world in Cairo that year. Read more

One day before this year’s Nobel Peace Prize winner is to be announced, President and Nobel laureate Jimmy Carter said he still hopes President Obama will make good on the promises he made that ultimately won him the prize two years ago.

Obama was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2009 even though, by then, he had been in office for less than a year and his contributions toward peace hadn’t yet gone beyond promises to measurable action.

“It was given [to Obama] primarily because of some of the commitments he had made verbally, his speeches and so forth about taking the leadership role and dealing with global warming and dealing with the immigration problem, enhancing human rights, promoting peace in the Middle East,” Carter, who won the prize in 2002, told Reuters.

But to date, Obama still has a lot of ground to cover if he intends to make good on those prize-winning promises. —BF

Reuters:

Carter, 86, who has worked to resolve conflicts and promote democracy since losing office 30 years ago, has been critical of U.S.—and Israeli—positions on Middle East peace and called Obama’s likely veto of giving U.N. membership to a Palestinian state a “mistake” at a time when, he believed, the Arab Spring had opened new possibilities for settling the region’s disputes.

Obama, who acknowledged that his award was controversial in 2009 when “at the beginning and not at the end” of his presidency, has been accused of failing to deliver on promises made in a speech to the Muslim world in Cairo that year.

Read more

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The Chase Is On For Heartbroken Holdouts

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on October 7th, 2011 4:43 am by HL

The Chase Is On For Heartbroken Holdouts
WASHINGTON — Rivals Rick Perry and Mitt Romney are furiously scurrying to recruit heartbroken holdouts who had hoped GOP celebrities Chris Christie or Sarah Palin…

Protesters Cutting Obama Little Slack
NEW YORK — Their chief target is Wall Street, but many of the demonstrators in New York and across the U.S. also are thoroughly disgusted…

Jeff Bocan: The Hidden Cost of “Made in China”: Tomorrow’s American Jobs
Even though many free-marketers are loathe to admit it, when competing with the Chinese, American success is very likely only to come if business and government can work together.


Fox Falsely Claims Reid, Democrats The “Only Thing Stopping” Obama’s Jobs Bill

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on October 7th, 2011 4:42 am by HL

Fox Falsely Claims Reid, Democrats The “Only Thing Stopping” Obama’s Jobs Bill

Fox has repeatedly suggested that Senate Democrats, led by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), are opposing President Obama’s jobs bill because Reid “is the one who is keeping it off the floor in the Senate.” But House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) has said the bill is “dead” on arrival in the Republican-controlled House, while Senate Democrats reportedly support the bill, but want the chance to amend some provisions before it comes to a full floor vote.

Fox Claims Reid, Democrats Are “The Only Thing Stopping This Bill From Coming To A Vote”

Doocy: “Democratic Leader Harry Reid Is The One Who Is Keeping [The Jobs Bill] Off The Floor In The Senate. Is This Political Hypocrisy?” On the October 6 edition of Fox News’ Fox & Friends, co-host Steve Doocy teased an upcoming segment about the status of President Obama’s American Jobs Act in Congress by saying:

DOOCY: And the president is blaming Republicans for holding up his jobs bill, but Democratic leader Harry Reid is the one who is keeping it off the floor in the Senate. Is this political hypocrisy? Or was this bill never meant to be passed? A debate straight ahead. [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 10/6/11]

Tantaros: “The Only Thing Stopping This Bill From Coming To A Vote Are The Democrats.” Later on the October 6 show, Doocy interviewed Fox News contributors Andrea Tantaros and Juan Williams about the jobs bill. Tantaros claimed, “The only thing stopping this bill from coming to a vote are the Democrats.” From the broadcast:

DOOCY: OK, Andrea, let’s start with you. There you saw the president, and he said why aren’t they voting on this? Well, he was talking — Mitch McConnell, on the floor of the Senate, said, you know what? The president is right. Let’s go ahead and give him a vote. And so he said let’s vote on it, Harry Reid. And Harry Reid goes “(unclear), this is a stunt! We’re going to do it later.” And then he tacked on a 5 percent surtax on millionaires. Democrats didn’t have the votes for this.

TANTAROS: No, they didn’t, and that’s why Harry Reid had to add some liberal sweeteners like the millionaire’s tax. Look, Mitch McConnell completely called the president’s bluff. The only thing stopping this bill from coming to a vote are the Democrats. It’s Obama’s own party. They’re running away from this bill, just like they’ve run away from the stimulus, just like they’ve run away from Obamacare, just like they’ve run away from Dodd-Frank. You notice that, Steve? No one ever talks about any of those wonderful Democratic accomplishments. So, look, I just, I want to know what the message is, though, coming from the White House. Is it punish the rich? And reward these Wall Street protesters? I think that’s what they’re saying. Let’s coddle the jobless and punish the rich.

Williams later called Tantaros’ claim “such a distortion” and noted that Democrats want a “change in the funding mechanism” before supporting the bill. [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 10/06/11, emphasis added, via Media Matters]

But Cantor Said Jobs Bill Is “Dead” In The House

Wash. Post Blog: Asked If “Jobs Bill As A Package” Is “Dead,” Cantor Replied, “Yes.” From an October 4 post on The Washington Post‘s Wonkblog:

It’s not much of a surprise, I guess. The American Jobs Act never had a particularly good chance of passing the House. But as of yesterday, it’s officially dead. Majority Leader Eric Cantor isn’t even pretending the two sides will work something out. “The $447 billion jobs package as a package: dead?” A reporter asked him. “Yes,” Cantor replied. [The Washington Post, Wonkblog, 10/4/11]

National Journal: Cantor “Said Definitively Monday That President Obama’s $447 Billion Jobs Will Not Be Brought To The Floor As a Package.” From an October 3 article from the National Journal, titled, “Cantor: Obama’s Jobs Bill Is Dead:”

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., said definitively on Monday that President Obama’s $447 billion jobs bill will not be brought to the floor as a package, despite repeated calls from the White House to move on his legislation.

“The president continues to say, ‘Pass my bill in its entirety,’ and as I’ve said from the outset, the all-or-nothing approach is just unacceptable, and I think from a purely practical standpoint, the president’s got some whipping to do on his own side of the aisle,” Cantor told reporters.

Instead, Cantor said the House will move forward on legislative initiatives in October in which there is some agreement between the two ends of Pennsylvania Avenue: making permanent the 3 percent withholding provision for government contractors included in Obama’s jobs bill; passage of three long-stalled trade pacts with Colombia, Panama, and South Korea; further repeal of regulations restricting business; and a bill coming out of the Financial Services Committee that will increase small business owners’ access to capital. [National Journal, 10/3/11, emphasis original]

And Reid Does Not Oppose Bill, But Opposed McConnell Forcing A Vote On It Without Amendments

L.A. Times: “McConnell Tries To Force Reid’s Hand On Obama Jobs Bill.” An October 4 Los Angeles Times article titled, “McConnell tries to force Reid’s hand on Obama jobs bill” stated:

As the president in Texas urged Congress to vote on his jobs bill, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell threw the Senate a curveball on Tuesday by trying to do just that.

“I agree with the president, I think he’s entitled to a vote on his jobs bill,” the Republican leader said on the Senate floor as he tried to force an immediate vote on the American Jobs Act by attaching it to unrelated legislation.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid refused.

McConnell’s move was a bit of Senate theater intended to draw attention to Democrats’ division over President Obama’s bill and Reid’s refusal to take it up “right away,” as the president has urged at rally after rally for weeks.

Democratic leaders have acknowledged they don’t yet have the votes to pass the bill, and Reid said Tuesday that he expected the Senate to amend it in order to win Democratic support.  Some Senate Democrats have concerns with the way the president proposed to pay for his package, Reid acknowledged Tuesday, adding that his caucus was working on a new set of funding proposals. Reid promised a vote before the Senate recess at the end of the month. [Los Angeles Times, 10/4/11]

Politico: Reid Said “The Only Objection That Senate Democrats Have Are The Various Proposals To Pay For Provisions” In The Bill. An October 4 Politico article said that McConnell “went for a little procedural trickery” by “proposing the bill as an amendment to the China currency bill that the Senate is considering.” The article went on to say, “The only objection that Senate Democrats have are the various proposals to pay for provisions in Obama’s jobs package, Reid said.” From the article:

President Barack Obama has traveled the country to rally support for his jobs legislation and prodded Congress to take up the bill immediately.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s response? Sure.

The Kentucky Republican — obviously opposed to the measure — went for a little procedural trickery Tuesday, pushing for an immediate vote on Obama’s $447 billion jobs package, insisting that every senator should go on the record on whether they support the president’s bill.

“What the president has asked for is not parts of it, but the whole thing,” McConnell told reporters Tuesday. “He’s been critical of Congress for not giving him a vote. I think we should. I think he’s entitled to know where the Senate stands on his proposal in its entirety.”

McConnell tried to do just that later Tuesday afternoon by proposing the bill as an amendment to the China currency bill that the Senate is considering.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid — who sets the floor schedule — quickly objected. And then Reid tried to put the jobs legislation in the queue after the China bill on the Senate floor gets a vote. Then McConnell objected.

Reid criticized McConnell’s move as political gamesmanship and renewed his vow to bring up Obama’s jobs bill in the Senate later in October, as he did earlier this week.

The only objection that Senate Democrats have are the various proposals to pay for provisions in Obama’s jobs package, Reid said. Though he didn’t elaborate on those objections Tuesday, one example is repealing the oil and gas subsidies, which Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.) opposes. [Politico, 10/4/11]


Boehner Triples Possible DOMA Legal Tab To $1.5 Million

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on October 7th, 2011 4:41 am by HL

Boehner Triples Possible DOMA Legal Tab To $1.5 Million
House Republican leaders have tripled the contracted amount allocated for a legal team arguing in support of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) from $500,000 to $1.5 million of taxpayer money.

Wall Street To Occupy Wall Street: We’re Just As Frustrated As You! (VIDEO)
Wall Street traders have a message for the “Occupy Wall Street” movement: they get it!


Wall Street Protests: The Turning of the Screwed

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on October 7th, 2011 4:39 am by HL

Wall Street Protests: The Turning of the Screwed


Declaring with a Pen

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on October 7th, 2011 4:38 am by HL

Declaring with a Pen
A Smart Politics review of paperwork “filed with the Federal Election Commission finds that Rick Perry is the only major presidential candidate who chose to fill out his Statement of Candidacy by hand, instead of taking the time to cleanly type it.”

“Even cash-strapped candidates who are running their campaigns on shoestring budgets like Gary Johnson and Buddy Roemer (and former candidate Thaddeus McCotter) all managed to break out the typewriter or boot up the computer when filling in this short FEC form.”

Has Obama’s Election Reduced Crime?
James Verini looks at the growing number of criminologists who believe that the election of President Obama, as the country’s first black president, has led to a continued reduction in the crime rate.

“Until recently, almost all criminologists could agree on one factor: the good economy… The higher are employment and wages, the thinking goes, the less crime people commit — and vice versa. But then, unexpectedly, the crime decline of the last two decades did not end with the economic collapse of 2008… One unlikely explanation that is gaining credence among experts, including some of the biggest names in the field, is a phenomenon tentatively dubbed ‘the Obama Effect.’ Simply put, it holds that the election of the first black president has provided such collective inspiration that it has changed the thinking or behavior of would-be or one-time criminals… Generally referred to as the ‘legitimacy’ theory, it posits that the greater people’s belief in the legitimacy of social institutions and government, the greater their inclination to obey laws.”

Manchin Looks Good for Re-Election
A new Public Policy Polling survey in West Virginia finds Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) leading two possible rivals for his re-election next year.

Machin tops Rep.Shelley Moore-Capito (R), 49% to 38%, and crushes Bill Maloney (R), 60% to 29%.

One thing that may keep Capito out of the race this year: She leads Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) in a possible 2014 match up, 48% to 44%.


Reading the Tea Leaves on Wall Street

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on October 7th, 2011 4:37 am by HL

Reading the Tea Leaves on Wall Street
For a group initially dismissed as fair-weather warriors, the September 17 “occupiers” of Wall Street are now set to spend a sixth soggy night in the Financial District’s Zuccotti Park. And while this particular action is riddled with flaws –…


About that Speech
A month ago, many in the Washington commentariat belittled Drew Westen’s warning to Barack Obama to become a better – or even a Great – communicator and an action-oriented leader in this economic and political crisis if he means to…


Israel’s Friends Abandon It
This is beginning to look like one of the worst periods in Israel’s history. (Read this great piece from the Israeli blog 972). The Turkish government has essentially broken relations with Israel over the Netanyahu government’s refusal to apologize for…


Big Banks Own California, Too: How Bank Lobbyists In Sacramento Killed Foreclosure Mitigation

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on October 7th, 2011 4:36 am by HL

Big Banks Own California, Too: How Bank Lobbyists In Sacramento Killed Foreclosure Mitigation
As the 99 Percent Movement takes shape across the country, citizens are demanding that Congress represent the public interest instead of the whims of bankers and big corporations. For instance, after demanding and receiving massive bailouts, Wall Street banks successfully lobbied Congress to crush any serious effort to mitigate the foreclosure crisis. The spectacular bank […]

State Senator Juan Vargas (D) killed the foreclosure mitigation bill; later went to dinner with Bank of America lobbyists

As the 99 Percent Movement takes shape across the country, citizens are demanding that Congress represent the public interest instead of the whims of bankers and big corporations. For instance, after demanding and receiving massive bailouts, Wall Street banks successfully lobbied Congress to crush any serious effort to mitigate the foreclosure crisis. The spectacular bank lobbying coup in Washington prompted Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) to remark that the banks “frankly, own the place.”

And this dynamic is not only at play in Washington: Banks have a disproportionate amount of power in California as well.

As one of the epicenters of the foreclosure crisis, Californians by the tens of thousands have lost their homes. In most cases, banks have repossessed houses without bothering to re-negotiate interest payments to find foreclosure alternatives. And in a growing number of cases, “robo-signers” have allegedly forged documents and illegally foreclosed on borrowers. Since the foreclosure crisis is leading towards a spiraling decrease in home property values across the state, nearly everyone is affected.

A common sense idea to add transparency and accountability to the mortgage market died a quick death earlier this year. State Sen. Mark Leno (D-San Francisco) and State Sen. Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento) proposed SB729, a measure “to require banks to give people a definitive answer on loan modification, identify who owns the loan, and give borrowers legal recourse if banks don’t take these steps.”

The idea, embraced by consumer advocates and many foreclosure experts, did not even make it out of committee. State Sen. Juan Vargas (D-San Diego), the chairman of the banking committee, joined two Republican state senators in snuffing the bill. State Sen. Alex Padilla (D-Los Angeles) abstained from the vote, ensuring a 3-3 split (a tied vote does not allow the bill to proceed). Despite moving testimony from victims of foreclosure fraud and persuasive academic opinion, the bill died. To understand why, simply follow the money:

Bank of America, a leading mortgage-lender in California, spent $173,703 lobbying this year in Sacramento. Disclosure reports show Bank of America hired lobbying firms like Nielsen Merksamer and Government Relations Counsel to kill SB729. Reports also show that Bank of America treated Vargas to dinner at the Ella Dining Room and Bar about a month after he voted to kill the foreclosure mitigation bill. Bank of America has contributed $5,500 in campaign contributions to Vargas and nearly $2,000 to Padilla.

– The California Mortgage Bankers Association, a lobbying group representing a number of mortgage lenders in the state, spent $55,711 lobbying in Sacramento this year. The bankers hired KP Public Affairs, a firm that doubles as the general counsel for the association, to help kill SB729. The group donated $4,000 to Vargas and $1,000 to Padilla recently.

Wells Fargo spent $84,027 lobbying in Sacramento, and hired a firmed called Knudsen & Associates to help kill SB729. Wells Fargo has contributed $2,800 to Padilla and $2,000 to Vargas. Disclosure reports show agents for Wells Fargo took a state senator out to lunch shortly after the SB729 vote, but the disclosure forms appear to be incomplete because the name of the senator is not filled in.

JP Morgan Chase, the California Chamber of Commerce, Fidelity National Financial, the Securities Industry And Financial Markets Association (a trade association representing investment banks like Goldman Sachs and Barclays Capital), and other bank-related organizations spent tens of thousands to lobby against SB729.

In an article last month in the San Diego Union Tribune, Vargas pled ignorance while explaining his role in killing the mitigation and transparency measure:

“If a homeowner is doing everything the bank asked him or her to do and the bank forecloses, I think that’s very inappropriate and should be a violation of the law. But I don’t remember hearing any testimony about that kind of thing while we were discussing this bill.”

According to sources contacted by ThinkProgress, Vargas was in the hearing room with witnesses who testified about a host of unfair and rushed bank foreclosures. Perhaps the dinner Bank of America bought Vargas after the vote had some memory-wiping ingredients.


Rick Perry says rock with racial epithet was painted over in 1984

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on October 7th, 2011 4:35 am by HL

Rick Perry says rock with racial epithet was painted over in 1984

Texas Gov. Rick Perry denied Thursday that a racial epithet was visible on a rock outside the hunting camp his family once leased in his first on-camera television interview since The Washington Post reported its existence over the weekend.

“I think there were very much some strong inconsistencies and just misinformation in that story,” the Republican presidential candidate told Fox News. “I know for a fact that in 1984, that rock was painted over. It was painted over very soon, my family did that.

Read full article >>

Obama challenges Republicans to explain opposition to jobs bill

After crisscrossing the country for weeks pushing his jobs plan directly to the American people, President Obama turned his attention to congressional Republicans on Thursday, promising to target them in 2012 if they stand in the way of his economic agenda.

“If Congress does something, then I can’t run against a do-nothing Congress,” Obama said in response to a question at a morning news conference. “If Congress does nothing, then it’s not a matter of me running against them. I think the American people will run them out of town, because they are frustrated, and they know we need to do something big and something bold.”

Read full article >>

Afternoon Fix: Scott Brown takes heat for clothing comment

Scott Brown says “Thank God” Elizabeth Warren kept her clothes on in college, Herman Cain says he wouldn’t be Perry’s VP, and Joe Biden says he sympathizes with the occupiers.

Make sure to sign up to get “Afternoon Fix” in your e-mail inbox every day by 5 (ish) p.m.!

EARLIER ON THE FIX:

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China currency sanctions bill moves toward vote in Senate

A measure designed to punish China for undervaluing its currency cleared a key procedural hurdle in the Senate on Thursday morning as a bipartisan majority embraced the populist effort intended to boost the country’s trading position with Beijing.

The measure’s progress came despite concerns from President Obama that it could result in retaliatory sanctions against U.S. companies. A final vote is scheduled for Tuesday.

Read full article >>