Friday, April 15, 2011
Thursday, April 14, 2011
Goldman Sachs misled clients and Congress about the firm’s bets on securities tied to the housing market, the chairman of the U.S. Senate panel that investigated the causes of the financial crisis said...
The Michigan Democrat also said federal prosecutors should review whether to bring perjury charges against Goldman Sachs Chief Executive Officer Lloyd Blankfein and other current and former employees who testified in Congress last year. Levin said they denied under oath that Goldman Sachs took a financial position against the mortgage market solely for its own profit, statements the senator said were untrue.
“In my judgment, Goldman clearly misled their clients and they misled the Congress,” Levin said at a press briefing yesterday where he and Senator Tom Coburn, an Oklahoma Republican, discussed the 640-page report from the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations.
It does puzzle me, and Obama ought to be called to account for this, why no one has gone to jail over the wild speculation and gambling that created the economic collapse of 2008. Even the junk bond fiasco of the 80s and the S&L bailout of the 90s saw SOMEone suffer consequences.
This time around, the only acknowledgement that there was any wrongdoing was in the breach. Jamie Dimon is hailed as a genius for steering JPMorgan Chase clear of the trouble...yet the only SEC investigation out of the debacle will focus on two low-level JPMorgan Chase executives!
I'm not sure why there's no anger in the Federal government over this. I can understand Republicans kowtowing to their corporate masters, and even to some degree why Democrats would genuflect to the banksters, but really? 9% unemployment and millions of foreclosures later and no one is saying, "Maybe we ought to get tougher with the folks who marketed these loans and then bet against the American family?"
Well, except Carl Levin, and maybe Chuck Schumer when he lifts his head out of the Citicorp troughs.
Wednesday, April 13, 2011
- Create and/or wildly exaggerate an enemy of the people. (Islamists: check)
- Set up a secret extra judicial justice system. (sort of, with the military tribunals and the FISA court)
- Set up a paramilitary force, armed thugs if you will. (Blackwater/Xe, which not only "assists" the US Army in Iraq and Afghanistan, but also was involved in bringing "security" to New Orleans after Katrina, so: check)
- A surveillance apparatus set up to watch the people. (The Patriot Act: check)
- Harass citizens groups. (sort of, but this has been going on for a while now)
- Arbitrary detention and release. (Gitmo: check)
- Target key individuals. (sort of, again)
- Control the press. (Only five corporations own the media: check)
- Dissent = Treason. ("Why do you hate America so?" under Bush: semi-check)
- Martial law. (not yet...maybe)
Tuesday, April 12, 2011
A former Huffington Post blogger has filed a $105-million class-action lawsuit against AOL and the Huffington Post media Web site on behalf of fellow unpaid bloggers whom he characterized as "modern-day slaves on Arianna Huffington's plantation."
Jonathon Tasini filed the suit Tuesday on behalf of more than 9,000 bloggers in a New York federal court. Tasini blogged for the Huffington Post from late 2005 to Feb. 10 of this year, just a few days after AOL announced it was acquiring the Web site for $315 million.
Effectively, Tasini's claim is that he provided Huffington Post with articles for free, with no promise of royalties or payment as far as I know.
Tasini was part of a successful lawsuit against the New York Times, which was, and still is, a profitable operation and should have been paying from day one.
While I understand and appreciate Tasini's sentiment and the correctness of his point that the unpaid bloggers at Huffington did significantly contribute to the success of the site such that Huffington was able to sell the site to AOL for some $315 million, Tasini's suit gets bogged down in a detail: no written contract promised him or anyone else royalties should the site become successful.
The interest I have in this is not that I blogged at HuffPo. I was never invited, even tho I'm smarter and funnier than many of the writers there. No, it's that I get approached fairly regularly by large commercial, for-profit sites to submit articles to them.
I just turned down one very attractive offer this week, in fact. I was asked by a certain Internet service to join their staff, in exchange for a share of whatever ad revenues my blog would earn. This is a site that has thousands of bloggers writing for them, each with their own advertising account, each a ready-made source of revenue for both.
In exchange, my audience would have been bigger there than here.
Here's the thing, tho: when I logged in, I was confronted with a confounding interface, the need to do all my own coding in addition to my own writing, I had to promise "first run" articles (meaning I couldn't simply copy my stuff from here and drop it there), and create my own links to advertising!
All this, and do my own editing and provide images to go along with every piece I wrote, which had to be hosted on their servers. I couldn't even post a link to a photo (meaning my own photos would be making someone else money, despite the fact that I was using them over my own words).
In short, I'd be a little fish in a big sea, only slightly less big than the one I post here in. My chances of making any money there were only slightly higher than making any more here, plus I'd have to give them a cut off the top.
Tasini, likewise, probably had no reason to expect HuffPo to pay him anything, and in exchange he got the chance of exposure to thousands of people hourly. Now, it may be that HuffPo has to pony up some money, but I really doubt this lawsuit stands a chance in hell of succeeding.
CBS News Congressional correspondent Nancy Cordes reports that legislation that reflects the deal made between Republicans and Democrats was posted online at 1:30 this morning.
Members of Congress are going to be getting their first real look of the deal Tuesday, and Republicans in particular are sure to express frustration that so many of the cuts in the deal aren't exactly cuts at all.
In other words, rather than face the music over the weekend from the Teabaggers, Boener decided that he would slink off into this week and marshall some sort of defensible position, spinning over the 72 hours or so what the GOP got out of the deal.
Among the cuts:
- $700 million from clean and safe drinking water programs;
- $390 million from heating subsidies;
- $276 million from pandemic flu prevention programs; and
- $1.5 billion from the president's new $8 billion initiative to spur high-speed rail development.
Many of the cuts appear to have been cuts in name only, because they came from programs that had unspent funds.
Now, admittedly, it's a continuing resolution and the first place you're going to look for immediate cuts is in money that hasn't been spent. By definition, since the resolution is not binding, you can't cut money already spent (say by pushing the cuts into the following year, thus advancing that budget to this year).
On the whole, the cuts seem to hurt both sides, which is the very definition of a consensus compromise. And yet, ol' Boener has said that he is married to the Teabaggers.
He couldn't be that cynical....could he?
Monday, April 11, 2011
The numbers generally cited in support of this argument do not actually tell us much about what has happened to the incomes of wealthy households over time. That’s because the people who are in the top bracket today are not the people who were in the top bracket last year. There’s a good deal of socioeconomic mobility in the United States — more than you’d think. Our dear, dear friends at the IRS keep track of actual households (boy, do they ever!), and sometimes the Treasury publishes data about what has happened to them. For instance, among those who in 1996 were in the very highest income group isolated for study — the top 0.01 percent — 75 percent were in a lower income group by 2005. The median real income of super-rich households went down, not up. The rich got poorer. Among actual households, income grew proportionally more for those who started off in the low-income groups than those that began in high-income groups.
"More power to him." Those were the words of Sarah Palin on Saturday during an appearance on Fox News, saying that she "appreciated" Donal Trump's efforts to look into the authenticity of President Obama being born in Hawaii. "He's not just throwing stones from the sidelines, he's digging in, he's paying for researchers to find out why President Obama would have spent $2 million to not show his birth certificate," Palin continued.
Effectively, Palin has now put herself squarely in the birther camp with her own words.
In fact, this is working out so well that this statement by David Plouffe lends credence to my still-forming belief that perhaps Obama put Trump up to this. This statement can only egg Trump on to double down on this trope. That ties Palin even tighter to the radical nutwing of the nation.
Perfect! Especially since to release the birth certificate would break the law!
Paul Ryan, the Republican Party’s latest entrant in the seemingly endless series of young, prickish, over-coiffed, anal-retentive deficit Robespierres they’ve sent to the political center stage in the last decade or so, has come out with his new budget plan. All of these smug little jerks look alike to me – from Ralph Reed to Eric Cantor to Jeb Hensarling to Rand Paul and now to Ryan, they all look like overgrown kids who got nipple-twisted in the halls in high school, worked as Applebee’s shift managers in college, and are now taking revenge on the world as grownups by defunding hospice care and student loans and Sesame Street. They all look like they sleep with their ties on, and keep their feet in dress socks when doing their bi-monthly duty with their wives.
"Obviously, we need to look at all corners of government," said Obama senior adviser David Plouffe in announcing the speech on NBC's Meet The Press. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., on Fox News Sunday, said, "we've had to bring this president kicking and screaming to the table to cut spending."
Obama's forthcoming plan to reduce the government's red ink will also re-frame a variety of budget-related political battles.
Cantor's comment is particularly irritating, since Obama's original budget proposal cut $33 billion dollars, which is eerily close to what Boener caved in on for the continuing budget resolution.
But I digress...
What this week's battle will really be about is the debt ceiling. Approve it, and the nation can go on and try to get a handle on the bills. Turn it down, and the nation will instantaneously lose any and all credibility in the world, becoming no better than Uganda or Zimbabwe or Myanmar or Greece or Portugal, or any number of nations who have repudiated or otherwise abrogated their responsibilities to the world.
Like those other nations, we will have sold out to tyrannical dictators, only ours won't be in office, only the men behind the curtains.
The Republicans have already signaled they will agree to the raise, but in exchange they want spending cuts.
Um, duh. Then ur doin et rong, if you're going to play brinksmanship without the very real threat you'll go over the edge. After all, what's the thrill in seeing someone swim in the Niagara River if he's tied by a rope to the mainland? It just amounts to an exercise in exhaustion.
What this really amounts to is the Bush tax cuts, which will expire next year after an extension...again...in 2010. Allowing these to expire would of course immediately cut the deficit and the growth of the debt, but it would also inflict pain on the uberrich and the corporatocracy.
Pain, in this case, being defined as the bite of the mite that sits on the gnat that's piggybacking on the mosquito on the collective butt.
The rest of the debate is really just smoke and noise and amounts to next to nothing in terms of cuts...no one seriously thinks Paul Ryan's plan is worth the paper it's printed on...and really is just the GOP saving face from the charge of being the Party of No.
Which they are. You really ought to embrace your inner hater, boys.