Thursday Reads

Good Morning!

It’s amazing what kind of nonsense the right wing can come up with when their interests and myths are threatened.  Here’s the latest Faux News canard about Occupy.  It’s an ACORN plot!  If any one believes that, I have a few bridges across the Mississippi I’d like to sell them.  The Crescent City Connection even comes with tolls!!

How can a group that folded 19 months ago secretly conspire to bolster Occupy protests? Apparently, “sources tell” Fox News that people who used to work for ACORN have now taken on roles helping organize Occupy protests. In fact, Fox News reports that the former director of New York ACORN and his aides are now working for New York Communities for Change (NYCC), which is turn supporting demonstrations.

I’m not sure why this would be especially interesting if true — if folks who used to be involved with one group then started playing a role with another, who cares? — but as it turns out, a spokesperson for Occupy Wall Street said the NYCC isn’t playing a role in the protests anyway. But don’t worry, Fox News’ unnamed “source” said the group really is up to secret misdeeds, adding, “And yes, we’re still ACORN, there is a still a national ACORN.”

It’s safe to assume that Fox News has reliable contacts among progressive activist organizations, right? There’s bound to be plenty of former ACORN staffers and Occupy activists eager to dish to the Republicans’ cable news outlet, right?

Please. It’s really no wonder at all why Fox News’ audience ends up believing so much nonsense.

They do believe the nonsense, which makes Fox News watchers very dangerous in the voting booth.

Dems on the Super Committee are offering up Medicaid and other ‘entitlements’ in order to get tax increases from Republicans.  It didn’t work, but you have to wonder exactly what all they’re willing to put on the table.

Republicans have pressured supercommittee members to reject any deficit-reduction deal that raises taxes — including stimulus spending for the economy would almost certainly be a non-starter for most in the party.

Democrats have said from the beginning that the supercommittee should produce a “jobs plan” that includes “investments” to help the economy.

The supercommittee is charged with devising a plan that will cut at least $1.2 trillion over 10 years from annual deficits, but deep divisions exist on the panel over whether to raise taxes and cut entitlements to meet that goal.

The members met again Wednesday afternoon and Democrats were looking to see if the GOP would present an alternative path to the grand bargain.

You may recall that the grand bargain was the giveaway President Obama offered to Boehner last summer during the debt ceiling talks.  More details are available at this WAPO link.

The panel has floundered since meetings began in September. If the supercommittee fails to reach agreement to trim borrowing by at least $1.2 trillion through 2021, automatic spending cuts of an equal amount would be triggered in January 2013. These cuts would strike especially hard at the Pentagon, an outcome that Republicans are eager to avoid.

Ralph B posted this tidbit downthread last night.  Chelsea Clinton is said to be considering a congressional run.

Clinton has been approached by “the right people” in the New York Democratic Party, according to one source in Albany. While no decision has been made, Clinton is said to be “actively considering” a Congressional run from New York State in 2012.

Chelsea Clinton, 31, is the only child of former U.S. President Bill Clinton and U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton.

The discussions of running Chelsea Clinton for a house seat grew out of the redistricting plans currently underway in the New York State legislature in Albany.

The plan is to identify an open seat for Clinton in or around New York City where she currently resides with her husband, Marc Mezvinsky. While no specific district has been determined, New York City and Westchester are said to be the focus with New York’s 18th District considered a strong possibility. The 18th encompasses much of Westchester County, just south of where her parents have maintained a home for the past 12 years.

The Daily Beast reports that Herman Cain was delinquent in paying taxes in 2006.  Additionally, he fought paying the bill.

According to court documents obtained by The Beast, Cain and his wife, Gloria, were served in February 2008 with a tax lien totaling $8,558.46 for unpaid income taxes and penalty due for the 2006 calendar year.

Gordon said Cain had filed with the IRS and won a six-month reprieve in paying his 2006 federal taxes as he was undergoing his treatment for stage four lymphoma and believed that filing should also have bought him time with the state of Georgia. “In Georgia, a taxpayer can submit a copy of his federal extension to request an extension of state income taxes,” Gordon said.

But instead, the state sent a notice of overdue taxes in October 2007, and then proceeded with the tax lien four months later, he said.

Cain’s accountant fought the Georgia Department of Revenue on behalf of his client well into 2008 and the two sides finally settled the matter in November 2008. A court formally withdrew the state tax lien on Dec. 8, 2008, court records show.

Gordon said the campaign was researching the exact date on which Cain made the payment to extinguish the lien

Robert Reich thinks that Wall Street is still out of control.

Dodd-Frank is rife with so many loopholes and exemptions that the largest Wall Street banks – larger by far then they were before the bailout – are back to many of their old tricks.

It’s impossible to know, for example, the exposure of the Street to European banks in danger of going under. To stay afloat, Europe’s banks will be forced to sell mountains of assets – among them, derivatives originating on the Street – and may have to reneg on or delay some repayments on loans from Wall Street banks.

The Street says it’s not worried because these assets are insured. But remember AIG? The fact Morgan Stanley and other big U.S. banks are taking a beating in the market suggests investors don’t believe the Street. This itself proves financial reform hasn’t gone far enough.

If you want more evidence, consider the fancy footwork by Bank of America in recent days. Hit by a credit downgrade last month, BofA just moved its riskiest derivatives from its Merrill Lynch unit to a retail subsidiary flush with insured deposits. That unit has a higher credit rating because the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (that is, you and me and other taxpayers) are backing the deposits. Result: BofA improves its bottom line at the expense of American taxpayers.

Wasn’t this supposed to be illegal? Keeping risky assets away from insured deposits had been a key principle of U.S. regulation for decades before the repeal of Glass-Steagall.

The so-called “Volcker rule” was supposed to remedy that. But under pressure of Wall Street’s lobbyists, the rule – as officially proposed last week – has morphed into almost 300 pages of regulatory mumbo-jumbo, riddled with exemptions and loopholes.

It would have been far simpler simply to ban proprietary trading from the jump. Why should banks ever be permitted to use peoples’ bank deposits – insured by the federal government – to place risky bets on the banks’ own behalf? Bring back Glass-Steagall.

The EU announced a Debt Accord late last night which caused a rally in both Asian stocks and the Euro.

The MSCI Asia Pacific Index gained 0.9 percent to 120.25 as of 11 a.m. in Tokyo, set for the highest close since Sept. 9. Standard & Poor’s 500 Index futures added 0.8 percent. The 17- nation euro climbed 0.5 percent to $1.3979 and rose 0.3 percent to 106.26 yen. Treasury 10-year notes erased earlier gains. Copper, zinc and lead jumped more than 1.4 percent in London and crude climbed 1.9 percent in New York.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy said the euro region’s bailout fund will be leveraged by four to five times, and investors have agreed to a voluntary writedown of 50 percent on Greek debt. Sarkozy plans to call Chinese leader Hu Jintao today to discuss contributions from the Asian nation to a fund European leaders may set up to fight the crisis, a person familiar with the matter said.

The news of a deal is “certainly mildly positive news for markets,” Adarsh Sinha, head of strategy for Group of 10 foreign exchange at Bank of America, said in a Bloomberg Television interview in Hong Kong. “We have got a plan out but a lot of the details aren’t in place.”

CNN announced the details late last night.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy said Greek bondholders voluntarily agreed to write down the value of Greek bonds by 50%, which translates to €100 billion and will reduce the nation’s debt load to 120% from 150%.

Sarkozy said the leaders agreed to boost the firepower of the EU bailout fund, known as the European Financial Stability Facility, “by four or five fold.” He added that officials have negotiated additional funding from the International Monetary Fund.

The writedowns were one of three inter-related problems political leaders must solve to devise a comprehensive solution to Europe’s debt crisis. They must also determine how to leverage a government-backed bailout fund and stabilize the banking sector.

EU leaders had pledged to resolve these issues Wednesday at their summit in Brussels. But given the bondholders’ resistance, it was unclear until the early hours of Thursday if the leaders would be able to follow through.

Earlier, the European Council issued a statement saying heads of state had agreed to raise capital requirements for banks vulnerable to losses on euro-area government bonds.

Under the terms outlined by EU officials, banks would be required to sharply increase core capital levels to 9% to create a buffer against potential losses. The amount to be raised would be determined after accounting for declines in the value of euro-area government bonds, including debt issued by Greece.

Based on market rates in September, banks will need to raise a total of €106 billion to meet the new targets, according to the European Banking Authority.

So, that’s the headlines that have grabbed my attention today.  What’s on your blogging and reading list today?

27 Comments on “Thursday Reads”

  1. dm says:

    Well, if Turbo Tax Timmy can run the Treasury I don’t have any problem with a presidential candidate who has a history of disputing and fighting his tax bill.

    • dakinikat says:

      I think the problem was that he didn’t file in Georgia not that he disputed and fought his tax bill. He may have mistakenly thought his filing of a federal extension granted him an automatic state extension but it’s not that he disputed his taxes, it’s that he didn’t file.

  2. Peggy Sue says:

    Good update, Dak. I read of the BOA shift of risk to the taxpayer right before I left and thought: here we go, again. I think Naked Capitalism had an article indicating that several ‘big’ BOA clients threatened to move their business elsewhere [because of the European exposure] and so BOA just dumped that risk on the the backs of taxpaying Americans. I think Reich is absolutely correct–there is no transparency, just same old, same old: privitized gains, socialized risk. And the Fed and Treasury just sit on their thumbs! I’m no finance expert but even I can see that this stinks.

    The Acorn canard is ludicrous. But you know what? I’m reading stories from right-wing sources fanning the flames of this Fox-produced Boogie Man. What’s sickening is so much of this is based on fear and appeals to the most base instincts in people, white people: the poor, the parasites, the blacks, the browns, the immigrant, the hordes, the whatever–they want to take what we have and we must fight back. That’s why you get this ‘victimized’ whine coming out of the Right. And it’s all based on lie and half-truths, cooked up in the minds of the twisted and power hungry and served up as God’s truth.

    Fox News? Fair and balanced? Oh, what a sick, sick joke!

    • Pat Johnson says:

      I think Rick Perry encapsulates the lack of empathy of a lot of people when he answers a question with “I don’t care”. He doesn’t but then so many others do not as well. Particularly those sent to DC to handle the business of the nation.

      Cuitting healthcare funds? I don’t care.
      Eliminating choice and birth control? I don’t care.
      Cutting out fuel assistance from the poor? I don’t care.
      Deregulating industries? I don’t care.
      Depleting the Dept of Education? I don’t care.
      Allowing the infrastructure to collapse? I don’t care.
      Obliterating collective bargaining? I don’t care.
      Reducing the minimum wage? I don’t care.
      Laying off fire fighters, police and nursing personnel? I don’t care.

      Sums it up.

      • Peggy Sue says:

        Rick Perry deserves a place in Rodeo Clown Heaven. This is a man who’s been doing the Texas two-step for the highest bidder from the very start. I don’t think he cares about much beyond winning the Big Payday in the Sky. And that’s the problem with all of this. These aren’t public servants who are running for office; they’re self-serving entreprenuers–whatever is good for Me is good. For Thee, not so much.

        Perry and all these candidates are running with dollar signs in their eyes and are basically corporate stooges. Obama is up to his eyeballs in Wall St. money. So is Mitt Romney. Cain is owned by the Koch crew. Perry’s Sugar Daddies have turned him into a millionaire. And it wasn’t on his intellectual talent. There’s no ‘vision’ here, no relief. Just more self-interest.

        And what continues to burn my ass is people, ordinary citizens applauding this selfish, greedy, absolutely immoral approach to life: I’ve got mine, I feel fine and the Hell with you.

        And this is what they call Liberty, all wrapped up in the American flag, with God smiling.

        It sums it up all right. And if it wasn’t so sick, we’d be laughing.

      • Gregory says:

        Peggy Sue that is one heck of a righteous rant. Agree with everything you said there.

      • ralphb says:

        What she said!

  3. Peggy Sue says:

    Here’s something I wanted to run by you, Dak. This mortgage relief that Obama is pumping his chest over–I understand [like the student loan relief] it will only service ‘certain’ loans but . . . it will provide a waiver to the banks of any fraud claims against the original mortgage.

    I’m all for providing relief to homeowners but as they say ‘the devil is in the details.’ This appears to be another case where the Administration is willing to ignore the criminal element involved in this mess, another round of looking forward and not back. I wonder if this sudden appeal to provide middle-class relief is more about bending over to Wall St. demands, particularly with Schneiderman [NY AG] and Bo Biden investigating fraudulant mortgage practices that led to the meltdown and still has the country on its knees.

    Schneiferman was on the Maddow show a couple nights ago and I think what the man said is absolutely true: unless we reestablish the Rule of Law in this country, we’ll lose everything. And that means investigating and prosecuting, not only companies but individuals. William Black’s forensic audits on the S&L scandal led to many, many arrests. According to the Financial Times:

    “According to some of its records, between 1990 and 1995 no less than 1,852 S&L officials were prosecuted, and 1,072 placed behind bars. Another 2,558 bankers were also jailed, often for offenses which were S&L-linked too.”

    And for this current crisis, the one that’s broken our backs and put the entire world in peril? Basically, nada. And Obama is willing, yet again, to sweep everything under the rug, while claiming he’s ‘fighting for ordinary Americans?’

    Methinks I smell a rat. Or am I being Debbie Downer this morning?


    • Gregory says:

      Well, hard to prosecute people for breaking the law when those laws were rescinded so that people could behave in exactly the way they behaved. Really, what we need is Congressmen who aren’t being influenced by external $$$$ forces and who actually work for us. The first question these folks should ask about any legislation or removal of legislation is why? Why do we need this action? Who is going to benefit? Who is going to get hurt? What are the ramifications? What are the loopholes? etc. To say these guys are uninformed and stupid would be insulting to the uninformed and stupid. We need a better class of person in our leadership roles. How about us electing some real leaders?

      • Peggy Sue says:

        I don’t disagree with that, Gregory. The problem is flushing the money out of the electoral process. Our legislators are bought and sold before they even start. And once they’re in position, the auction begins. There was a startling article [can’t remember where I saw it] that clearly indicated that chairmanships, getting on the ‘right’ committee, etc. is all about how much money a legislator can bellyup. Where do they get that money? From lobbyists, the special interests, the corporate bigwigs that they’re beholden to.

        I rub your back, you rub mine–whatever the cost.

        In addition to many things, we need election finance reform. But, of course, that’s depending on the very compromised legislators to do the right thing. Like asking the Fox to go Vegan.

        It just goes round and round and round. Enough to make your head hurt.

        Btw, I’ve listened and read William Black many times. He’s absolutely convinced that there is clear evidence of fraud, enough for a gazillion indictments against Wall St. financiers. But the ‘will’ to begin the process has to be there. I think Black is a stand up and stand out professional. If he says forensic audits are absolutely possible, I believe him. He and his team did the job for Pappy Bush during the S&L scandal. They could do it again if given the ‘go’ sign.

      • ralphb says:

        I don’t disagree either, as far as it goes. But William Black says there was massive criminal fraud involved and he should know.

        • dakinikat says:

          I can’t believe the loans they made were legal. They should be made to eat all those NINJA loans too even if they aren’t legal, they were incredibly bad business decisions that should not be bailed out. The fact they don’t even have the proper paperwork to foreclose is telling.

    • dakinikat says:

      I’ll have to look into that. I still haven’t done the detail work on either plan. I’ve got tons of loose ends to tie up on a bunch of things right now. I’m trying to get jobs packages out this week because it’s the key season to get appointments for next year.

      • Peggy Sue says:

        I’m not trying to squeeze you, Dak. You just happen to be my go-to financial expert :0).

        Good luck with those job packages! Fingers crossed.

        • dakinikat says:

          I’m so exhausted at the moment that I’m having a hard time keeping up with Looney Tunes. I’m trying to get back up to speed but for some reason I can’t get out of about second gear.

  4. Gregory says:

    The Fox news “crowd” is very disturbing and frankly, I think they are much more dangerous than just at the voting booth. These people really do believe the garbage they espouse even if it is a direct assault on their person and their way of life. What can you say about people who are so racist or anti-liberal that they believe the worst about everyone who doesn’t have an R by their name but only believe in sunshine and daffodils when it comes to those in their party.

    I find it perplexing that retirees living off of social security and medicare while working part time as a door greeter (I know these people personally) want to eliminate medicare and social security based off of the rhetoric coming from their party. Completely insane. Completely disturbed. Completely scary that these people can live their whole lives benefiting from the liberal agenda and then just as they are about to kick the bucket strive to pull the ladder up behind them so that today’s young people have nothing and our country withers into a third world country.

    • dakinikat says:

      For some reason, Fox plays that fear of ‘other’ card really well and that gets people to vote against their own security. There must be something extremely primal about it that it actually works in the face of overwhelming evidence and facts.

      • Gregory says:

        I think they’ve definitely tapped into fear, hate and resentment. That is what they do, I guess. Play to negative emotions to promote their agenda. Of course this is nothing new and has been done over and over and usually with disastrous consequences.

  5. Pat Johnson says:

    Fox News is GOP propaganda. It always has and always will be.

    The “appeal” is based on fear. Add to the roster some of the dumbest people to ever be featured as both hosts and commentators and you have raised the level of uninformed to a new high.

    They lie with impunity, distort, falsify, embellish, and twist the facts while an audience of “hungry birds” sits there enraptured by the ‘fair and balanced reporting”. Incredible.

    Any network that considers Sarah Palin as an “‘analyst”, or features Karl Rove as an “expert” ,and is now hiring Mark “I was walking the Appalachian Trail” as a commentor, should not be taken seriously.

    Alas, many do.

  6. Woman Voter says:

    People can donate to Scott Olsen (injured in #OccupyOakland by police under orders by Mayor Jean Quan ) via IVAW here:

  7. Beata says:

    Interview with protestors who are fellow veterans and friends of Scott Olsen, who was critically injured at Occupy Oakland. Long video but well worth watching.

    Occupy Oakland is calling for a general strike on Nov. 2nd.

  8. dakinikat says:

    Pennsylvania TRAP Law Will Close Down Most, If Not All, Clinics

    SB 732 requires that clinics renovate their buildings to adhere to the architectural codes and staffing requirements of ambulatory surgical facilities (ASF).

    These guidelines include renovations that are prohibitively expensive and/or logistically impossible, such as: doubling the square footage of procedure rooms and upgrading to hospital-style elevators.

    In addition, new staffing requirements would require an RN in the room any time a patient is present. Most abortion clinics perform abortions one day a week; under new guidelines, clinics would need to pay an RN to be present for family planning services and routine gynecological care.

    Pennsylvanians for Choice—a statewide nonprofit coalition of reproductive rights advocates—has concluded that if SB 732 passes, “most, if not all, of the 20 nonhospital-based clinics in Pennsylvania would either have to move or discontinue offering surgical abortion services altogether.”

    Tellingly, SB 732 at one point included an amendment that called for a fiscal impact study to determine if it would indeed close clinics in Pennsylvania; the study was hacked out of the bill.

    our home grown religious terrorists are at it again