Wall Street Royal Jamie Dimon deigned to appear before a Senate Committee yesterday, and the Senators mostly sucked up to him. I’m surprised they didn’t ask if he needed a pillow for his chair. MSNBC: Senate treats JPMorgan CEO Dimon with kid gloves
Dimon was expected to receive a frosty reception in his first congressional appearance since he announced the bank sustained a trading loss some analysts now estimate is at least $3 billion. It was a massive loss for the nation’s biggest financial institution.
Instead, Dimon, who has won praise for bringing JPMorgan (JPM) through the financial crisis relatively unscathed, was treated cordially by most of members of the Senate Banking Committee. They peppered him with questions about regulation and risky practices at the bank, but did not press him to give an update on the losses resulting from the trade. JPMorgan is expected to give an update to shareholders when it reports its second-quarter earnings July 13.
“I think it was a pretty favorable day,” David Konrad, a Keefe, Bruyette & Woods banking analyst, told CNBC. Konrad said he was surprised that the questioning of Dimon by lawmakers was so “professional.”
Excuse me, “professional” for a Senator would have been sending this man to the woodshed. NPR’s Marketplace called the treatment of Dimon “a wake for Dodd-Frank.”
Yahoo has named the winner of the “Most Tepid Endorsement of Mitt Romney” contest: it’s a bumper sticker that reads “At least he’s not a communist.”
Until recently, it appeared that no one could unseat Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels as the champion of the tepid Romney endorsement. Since Yahoo News started conducting reader polls on the politicians who supported Mitt Romney in the least enthusiastic terms, Daniels has defeated original champ George Pataki and defended the crown against Newt Gingrich, Rick Santorum and George W. Bush. (The former president came the closest to unseating Daniels.)
We thought the book was closed on the tepid endorsement bracket until Yahoo News reporter Chris Moody spotted a bumper sticker at last weekend’s regional CPAC conference in Chicago bearing these words of praise: “At least he’s not a communist.”
You can read the other tepid endorsements at the link.
First Romney made fun of Obama for wanting to help cities and states pay for cops, teachers, and firefighters. Then he went on Fox News and said it was a “strange accusation” for anyone to say he didn’t want to hire teachers and first responders.
After an extended skewering of President Obama for a gaffe about the private sector last week, ending with the charge that it was proof the president was “out of touch” Romney was asked by Fox and Friends’ Brian Kilmeade for his response to Obama saying it was Romney who was clueless (Romney’s comment comes at about the 1:40 mark) :
[BRIAN] KILMEADE: He says that you’re out of touch. He says you want to cut firefighters and teachers, that you don’t understand what’s going on in these communities. What do you say to that, Governor?
ROMNEY: Well, that’s a very strange accusation. Of course, teachers and firemen and policemen are hired at the local level and also by states. The federal government doesn’t pay for teachers, firefighters or policemen. So, obviously that’s completely absurd.
But of course the federal government does subsidize states and they often use the money to pay for these public employees. In fact, the reason so many teachers, firefighters and cops are getting laid off now is because stimulus money has run out.
Yesterday Greg Sargent pointed out that Romney’s plan would indeed cut billions from cops, firefighters and teachers
Yesterday Mitt Romney claimed that it was “ completely absurd” of the Obama campaign to argue that he favors cutbacks in cops, firefighters and teachers. “The federal government doesn’t pay for teachers, firefighters or policemen,” Romney said, adding that they were paid by states and localities.
What’s getting lost in the back and forth here is that Romney’s actual economic plan would, in fact, cut billions of dollars in federal money that goes to cops, firefighters, and teachers — perhaps more than $10 billion a year, in fact.
This is the conclusion of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, which analyzed Romney’s plan through the prism of the debate over public workers at my request.
As Michael McAuliff reported yesterday, despite Romney’s claim, the federal government does give billions of dollars to states and localities through programs like Title 1, the COPS program, FEMA and others — which pay for first responders and teachers.
This is amazing. Romney finally broke down and decided to talk to a media source that isn’t Fox News! He will be on Face The Nation on Sunday morning.
A full year into his presidential campaign, presumptive Republican nominee Mitt Romney will venture out of his Fox comfort zone this Sunday to make his first appearance on a rival network’s political talk show.
Romney has been interviewed several times on ”Fox News Sunday” this campaign cycle, but has declined repeated invitations to appear on any of the other Sunday shows, occasionally drawing scorn from veteran anchors accustomed to interviewing presidential candidates.
Let’s hope Shieffer asks a few tough questions. One thing Shieffer will probably ask about is Romney’s choice of Vice President. One of the leading contenders, Marco Rubio, announced yesterday that he supports the illegal Florida voter purge.
“How can you argue against a state identifying people who are not rightfully on the voter rolls?” he said at a Bloomberg event, according to the Tampa Bay Times.
Rubio’s comments put him in line with Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R) who on Tuesday declared the debate on the merits of the purge “over,” because the probe had supposedly turned up more than 50 non-citizen voters who had cast ballots.
The Department of Justice didn’t agree. Later Tuesday, it announced it was launching a federal lawsuit against Florida over complaints that the purge was taking place within 90 days of its August 14 primary election, as well as over its alleged violation of a voting rights law meant to prevent states from suppressing voters.
That might not help Romney win over Latino voters.
John Avlon has a piece at CNN on Jeb Bush and other “moderate” Republicans who are starting to fight back against Grover Norquist:
This is what happens when politics starts looking like a cult: Jeb Bush gets attacked for being a traitor to the conservative cause.
The former Florida governor has been speaking with the freedom of someone not running for office, saying that both his father and Ronald Reagan would have had a hard time in today’s hard-right GOP and questioning the wisdom of Grover Norquist’s absolutist anti-tax pledge.
That set off a fascinating public fight between Bush and Norquist, two faces of competing factions within Republican Party. It is the latest evidence of a growing GOP backlash against the ideological straitjacket Norquist has attempted to impose on governing in the United States.
And Jeb is not alone.
As it turns out, Norquist has reason to be concerned. It’s not just Jeb Bush. A growing number of Republicans are rejecting his pledge. Oklahoma conservative Sen. Tom Coburn called the pledge’s effective veto of deficit reduction plans “ridiculous” when talking with Erin Burnett on “OutFront.”
Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina on Tuesday declared his independence from the pledge, saying, “We’re so far in debt, that if you don’t give up some ideological ground, the country sinks.”
Add to those voices seven other Republican U.S. senators — from Maine’s Susan Collins to Iowa’s Chuck Grassley to Wyoming’s John Barrasso — and 11 Republican House members, ranging from centrist New Yorker Richard Hanna to tea party Floridian Allen West.
In pedophile news, Jerry Sandusky had another bad day in court yesterday with three victims testifying that he manipulated and threatened them into putting up with his sick sexual behavior.
The trio of young men who testified against Jerry Sandusky on the third day of his sexual-abuse trial couldn’t have been more different in personality and temperament. Yet each of their testimonies was sexually graphic and disturbing—and midway through the prosecution’s fast-tracked arguments, a clear pattern has emerged in their allegations.
I’m not going to quote all of the sordid details–there are too many of them anyway. You can read it all at the link. I’ll just give you one excerpt that shows what Sandusky is all about:
Then, the witness told the jury of a time he visited the Sandusky home.
“We were in the basement. We were wrestling,” he said in a monotone frequently heard from abuse victims who have had to tell their stories multiple times. “The defendant pinned me to the floor, pulled down my gym shorts, and started to perform oral sex on me.” Asked by prosecutor Joe McGettigan what his reaction was at the time, the witness said, “I freaked out.”
“Did he ever say anything to you about it?” McGettigan asked.
“He told me if I ever told anyone I’d never see my family again,” the young man replied. “Later he apologized and said he didn’t mean it, that he loved me.”
I hope Sandusky goes to prison for life, and I want to see prosecutions of his enablers at Penn State. It’s an outrage that he was allowed to go on abusing children for years after many at the school knew about his behavior.
And then there’s the Catholic Church: U.S. Catholics still suspect priests sexually abuse children: Report
The National Review Board said that, a decade after the US Conference of Catholic Bishops issued a child protection charter, there has been a “striking improvement” in the way the Church deals with the abuse of minors by clergy.
“Children are safer now because of the creation of safe environments, and action has been taken to permanently remove offenders from ministry,” said the report, released as the Conference began its annual spring meeting in Atlanta.
But it acknowledged: “Despite solid evidence (to the contrary), many of the faithful believe that sexual abuse by clergy is occurring at high levels and is still being covered up by bishops.”
Well, what did they expect? I’m certainly not surprised. In fact I’d be surprised if there aren’t still pedophile priests abusing children.
I’ll end with the strange story of “Forest Boy.”
Berlin police on Wednesday released photos an English-speaking teenage boy who wandered into the city nine months ago saying he had been living for the last five years in the forest with his father.
Police spokesman Thomas Neuendorf said all attempts to identify the boy since he emerged in the German capital on Sept. 5 have been unsuccessful, and they are now hoping the release of his photo may produce some leads.
“We have checked his DNA against all missing person reports, sent the data to Interpol so that they could check it internationally, but unfortunately without any success,” Neuendorf said.
The boy has told authorities his father called him “Ray” and that he was born June 20, 1994, but claims not to know his last name or where he’s from.
He said his mother, Doreen, died in a car accident when he was 12 and after that he and his father, Ryan, took to the forest. He said they wandered using maps and a compass, staying in tents or caves overnight.
He told authorities that after his father died in August, 2011, he buried him in the forest and then walked five days north before ending up in Berlin, and showed up at city hall.
As of last night, the identity of the boy was still a mystery even after release of the photos.
What’s on your reading and blogging list today?
Frankly, I’ll be very glad when this holiday season is over. It goes on way too long. This year I saw Christmas stuff at Halloween! At least I don’t get depressed at this time of year anymore, and I’m very happy for people who enjoy the celebration. I’ll probably have a nice time at Christmas dinner, but why do we need a two month build-up? Please forgive my grumbling…. I’ll get to the news, such as it is.
MSNBC’s First Read reports that Boehner and his merry men in the House “punted” on the payroll tax cut bill last night; supposedly they’ll vote on it today.
House Republican leaders emerged following a meeting with rank-and-file members to say that the House would take up their votes on Tuesday. Lawmakers had planned to vote around 6:30 p.m. ET on Monday evening, but the 6 p.m. meeting of GOP lawmakers lasted longer than expected, over two hours.
Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) said that the House Rules Committee, which sets the parameters for votes in the House, would meet tonight to set the stage for tomorrow’s series of votes. Those Tuesday votes would include a measure to reject the Senate’s two month extension, and instead instruct lawmakers to meet in a conference — the formal process of resolving differences with legislation in the Senate.
“Our members do not want to just punt and do a two-month, short-term fix where we have to come back and do this again,” House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) told reporters at the Capitol.
House Republicans prefer legislation to extend the expiring tax cut by a whole year, and produced legislation to that effect. But Democrats in the Senate rejected that proposal because of some of the cuts used to offset the cost of the bill, which also includes an extension of unemployment insurance.
Meanwhile, Jake Tapper is reporting that the two month extension passed by the Senate and backed by President Obama cannot be implemented in it’s current form.
Officials from the policy-neutral National Payroll Reporting Consortium, Inc. have expressed concern to members of Congress that the two-month payroll tax holiday passed by the Senate and supported by President Obama cannot be implemented properly.
Pete Isberg, president of the NPRC today wrote to the key leaders of the relevant committees of the House and Senate, telling them that “insufficient lead time” to implement the complicated change mandated by the legislation means the two-month payroll tax holiday “could create substantial problems, confusion and costs affecting a significant percentage of U.S. employers and employees.”
ABC News obtained a copy of the letter, which can be read HERE. Isberg agreed that it would be fair to characterize his letter as saying that the two-month payroll tax holiday cannot be implemented properly.
Why on earth can’t those morons on Capital Hill just extend the unemployment insurance for Pete’s sake? The Congressional Republicans make Scrooge look like a piker when it comes to mean-spiritedness. Aren’t most of them supposed to be “Christians?” Good grief!
Please, can’t someone force Boehner and Cantor to visit some homeless shelters and perhaps some parks and street corners in Washington D.C., where no doubt some of the 1.6 million homeless children in the U.S. reside? One out of every 45 kids in this country were homeless last year! And these evil bastards are trying to make this horrendous situation worse!
A huge winter storm was pounding the Southwest and the lower Great Plains States last night.
Interstates and highways were shut down Monday night as a large winter weather system brought heavy snow, fierce winds and ice to at least five states in the West and Midwest.
There were blizzard conditions in parts of western Kansas and southeast Colorado, with visibility of less than a quarter-mile, said Ariel Cohen, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service’s Storm Prediction Center in Norman, Oklahoma.
A blizzard warning was in effect for those areas along with northeastern New Mexico, the northwest Texas panhandle and the Oklahoma panhandle, he said. The severe weather was starting to affect Missouri late Monday, with a winter weather advisory in effect for the northwest corner of the state.
Roads were closed in Texas and New Mexico because of blizzard conditions. Wow, some of those people rarely see snow. If you live in the storm area, please stay inside and don’t drive!
The New York Times calls handling of Kim Jong Il’s death “an extensive intelligence failure.”
Kim Jong-il, the enigmatic North Korean leader, died on a train at 8:30 a.m. Saturday in his country. Forty-eight hours later, officials in South Korea still did not know anything about it — to say nothing of Washington, where the State Department acknowledged “press reporting” of Mr. Kim’s death well after North Korean state media had already announced it.
For South Korean and American intelligence services to have failed to pick up any clues to this momentous development — panicked phone calls between government officials, say, or soldiers massing around Mr. Kim’s train — attests to the secretive nature of North Korea, a country not only at odds with most of the world but also sealed off from it in a way that defies spies or satellites.
Asian and American intelligence services have failed before to pick up significant developments in North Korea. Pyongyang built a sprawling plant to enrich uranium that went undetected for about a year and a half until North Korean officials showed it off in late 2010 to an American nuclear scientist. The North also helped build a complete nuclear reactor in Syria without tipping off Western intelligence.
As the United States and its allies confront a perilous leadership transition in North Korea — a failed state with nuclear weapons — the closed nature of the country will greatly complicate their calculations. With little information about Mr. Kim’s son and successor, Kim Jong-un, and even less insight into the palace intrigue in Pyongyang, the North’s capital, much of their response will necessarily be guesswork.
Not good. Maybe the CIA and NSA should concentrate on actual intelligence gathering rather than bugging Americans phone calls and reading their e-mails and tweets and Facebook postings.
Did you notice that Jeb Bush had an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal yesterday? With Gingrich tanking and Ron Paul rising in Iowa, are the Republicans getting ready to push another Bush for president? Charlie Pierce of Esquire thinks it looks that way:
He was supposed to be the savvy one, the presidential one, not that dolt of a brother who ducked his National Guard duty, ran several businesses into the dust of west Texas, got drunk and challenged the Auld Fella to a fistfight, and kept driving his car into the bushes. But the dolt got Daddy’s money and Daddy’s lawyers behind him and got installed as president, where he did his utmost to lodge the family brand somewhere between those enjoyed by Corvair and leprosy. Meanwhile, the golden child got to be governor of Florida for a while longer.
And now, in the widening gyre, slouching toward Manchester to be born, our moment of… Jeb (!)
Make no mistake. You don’t write an op-ed for the Wall Street Journal at this point in the Republican primary process unless somebody, somewhere wants to make people think you’re an legitimate option. You certainly don’t write one as stuffed full of free-market banana-oil as this one unless somebody, somewhere wants to raise enough money to make the world think you’re a legitimate option. There was enough Jeb (!) buzz over the weekend that it’s becoming plain that some very important someone’s have looked over the current Republican field and decided that, by god, it’s just bad enough that there’s room in there to bring back the most discredited surname in American politics. The slogan writes itself:
“Jeb! This time, let’s try the smart one.”
I don’t know. I don’t think any of the Bushes are all that bright. They’re way too inbred. Maybe another Bush presidency is what the Mayans predicted as the world-ending event?
I’ll end with an upbeat story. Remember Jessica Lynch? She just graduated from college.
I don’t really like to talk about what it took to get here. I don’t want anyone to feel sorry for me, or to think I don’t know how fortunate I am. Everyone else in my vehicle in Iraq was killed. My best friend, Lori Piestewa, died as a prisoner of war. I’m still here.
I’m also incredibly proud of this moment. I always dreamed of becoming a teacher, ever since my own kindergarten teacher took me under her wing when I was frightened on the first day of school. We are still in touch today. That’s the kind of teacher I want to be.
In the eight years since my captivity, I’ve had 21 surgeries. I have metal parts in my spine, a rod in my right arm, and metal in my left femur and fibula. My right foot is held together by screws, plates, rods, and pins. I have no feeling in my left leg from the knee down, and I wear a brace every day. Sometimes I’ll get a flash of pain, or feel upset because I can’t run, and then I’ll remind myself: I’m alive. I’m here. Take some ibuprofen.
Go read the whole thing. It’s not very long, and it’s a nice, inspirational story.
Now what are you reading and blogging about today?
Lots of Republicans are urging Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels to run for the Republican presidential nomination in 2012. Will he do it? Can he win?
Who’s touting Daniels? New Jersey Governor Chris Christie loves the guy.
Chris Christie, the governor of New Jersey, said Wednesday that his counterpart in Indiana, Mitch Daniels, is the only prospective Republican presidential candidate who is honestly talking about how to confront the nation’s biggest fiscal challenges.
Jeb Bush thinks Daniels is “the best Republican candidate.”
Jacksonville’s Florida Times-Union reports that former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush favors Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels for president in 2012.
Bush reportedly told a private reception for business leaders, “Mitch is the only one who sees the stark perils and will offer real detailed proposals.”
Daniels’ speech at CPAC 2011 was very well received, and get this–George Will introduced Daniels to the CPAC audience as “the thinking man’s Marlon Brando,” apparently because Daniels likes to right around the Indiana countryside on a Harley Davidson chopper. Judge for yourself.
Daniels has some other problems too. For one thing he thinks Republicans should forget about social issues and focus on economic ones (cutting deficits, natch). Conservatives are not at all happy with Daniels for asking Indiana Republican legislators to withdraw their proposed “right to work” bill. In addition, he reportedly is a pretty serious policy wonk who likes to talk to his fellow wingnuts as if they were adults.
By far, the most important speech at CPAC was delivered by two-term Gov. Mitch Daniels of Indiana at Friday night’s banquet. It was an eloquently crafted, intellectually compelling call to arms against the red-ink forces of the national debt. Daniels, who was George W. Bush’s budget director, proposed dramatically revamping Social Security and Medicare as he called for “an affectionate thank you to the major social welfare programs of the last century.”
What was most striking about Daniels’ speech, which inspired careful listening rather than pep-rally applause, was that it treated his CPAC audience as adults rather than as just another constituency group demanding pandering. Whether it was dismissing the easy-answer attacks on earmarks (“in the cause of national solvency, they are a trifle”) or suggesting that most voters do not appreciate the sharp-edged rhetoric of the Republican right (“it would help if they liked us, just a bit”), Daniels’ speech was an exercise in speaking truth to conservatives who have the power to derail a presidential candidacy.
Come on, that’s never going to work with Republican primary voters!
On top of that, several media outlets reported today that Daniels was busted for drugs when he was in 1970 when he was a junior at Princeton. And it wasn’t for possession of just a little pot, either.
Read the rest of this entry »
Any number of us that closely followed the trumped-up case for the Iraq invasion figured that most of the evidence was shoddy if not based on out-and-out lies. I seriously wanted to throw up every time I heard some Bush official equivocate smoking guns and smoking mushroom clouds. The most disheartening thing was the number of people that believed them. The entire Iraq Invasion run-up just showed how vulnerable the American public is to propaganda and jingoism. You could hardly hold a civil conversation with so much hysteria-based flag waving going on.
So, it’s another one of those moments where you learn exactly how duped the entire country was by a set of people just itching to scratch that NeoCon rash. The UK Guardian reports that the “man codenamed Curveball ‘invented’ tales of bioweapons”. Colin Powell’s judgment looked bad then, it looks nonexistent now. Remember, he was considered the moderate voice of reason. You can watch the video and hear the words of Rafid Ahmed Alwan al-Janabi: ‘I had the chance to fabricate something …’ I’m sure they begged him to do it.
Rafid Ahmed Alwan al-Janabi, codenamed Curveball by German and American intelligence officials who dealt with his claims, has told the Guardian that he fabricated tales of mobile bioweapons trucks and clandestine factories in an attempt to bring down the Saddam Hussein regime, from which he had fled in 1995.
“Maybe I was right, maybe I was not right,” he said. “They gave me this chance. I had the chance to fabricate something to topple the regime. I and my sons are proud of that and we are proud that we were the reason to give Iraq the margin of democracy.”
The admission comes just after the eighth anniversary of Colin Powell’s speech to the United Nations in which the then-US secretary of state relied heavily on lies that Janabi had told the German secret service, the BND. It also follows the release of former defence secretary Donald Rumsfeld’s memoirs, in which he admitted Iraq had no weapons of mass destruction programme.
The careers of both men were seriously damaged by their use of Janabi’s claims, which he now says could have been – and were – discredited well before Powell’s landmark speech to the UN on 5 February 2003.
The former CIA chief in Europe Tyler Drumheller describes Janabi’s admission as “fascinating”, and said the emergence of the truth “makes me feel better”. “I think there are still a number of people who still thought there was something in that. Even now,” said Drumheller.
It was no secret that most of the advisers surrounding Dubya Bush were the same ones disappointed in Poppy’s decision to stop the first Gulf War with Saddam still in power. There were many good reasons to leave Saddam in power including the geopolitical stalemate created by tensions between the Sunni Saddam and the Shia Clerics in Iran that frequently burst into horrible wars. We shifted the balance of power in the area to Iran and have undoubtedly created a long term mess in Iraq itself. It’s cost us lives and money. It’s cost the Iraqis untold horrors. We continue to learn it was based on nothing but a pack of lies. This mea culpa is just the latest.