Friday Reads

Good Morning!

I admit to being completely exhausted.  So, let’s see what I can dig up while I’m half asleep.

Josh Holland at AltNet thinks right wingers shouldn’t get too excited about Scott Walker’s win in Wisconsin on Tuesday.

An honest reading of the published exit poll leads to an important conclusion about Walker’s victory that has little to do with unions, Walker’s policies, the economy or any of the other factors that have pundits’ tongues wagging.

Fully 70 percent of those voters polled believed that recall elections are either never appropriate (10 percent) or are only appropriate in the case of official misconduct (60 percent).

The governor won 72 percent of this group. And it’s worth noting that a third of those voters who said “official misconduct” is a good reason to recall a governor voted to oust Walker, who has seen six of his staffers charged with 15 felonies in the “John Doe” probe.

While Walker himself has not yet been charged, reports suggest that the investigation is circling closer to him. Over the past seven weeks, he transferred $160,000 from his campaign funds to a legal defense fund, according to the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel.

Mohamed A. El-Erian –CEO and co-Chief Investment Officer of the global investment company PIMCO speculates on US economic growth at Project Syndicate. He wonders “Is American Healing Fast Enough?”

Six internal factors suggest that the United States’ economy is slowly healing. For some observers, these factors were deemed sufficient to form the critical mass needed to propel the economy into escape velocity.

While I hoped that they might be proven right, the recent stream of weak economic data, including May’s timid net job creation of only 69,000, confirmed my doubts. With this and other elements of a disheartening employment report now suddenly raising widespread worries about the underlying health and durability of America’s recovery, it is important to understand the positive factors and why they are not enough as yet.

For starters, large US multinational companies are as healthy as I have ever seen them. Their cash balances are extremely high, interest payments on debt are low, and principal obligations have been termed out. Many of them are successfully tapping into buoyant demand in emerging economies, generating significant free cash flow.

Company cash is not the only source of considerable spending power waiting on the sidelines. Rich households also hold significant resources that could be deployed in support of both consumption and investment.

The third and fourth positive factors relate to housing and the labor market. These two long-standing areas of persistent weakness have constituted a major drag on the type of cyclical dynamics that traditionally thrust the US out of its periodic economic slowdowns. But recent data support the view that the housing sector could be in the process of establishing a bottom, albeit an elongated one. Meanwhile, job growth, while anemic, has nonetheless been consistently positive since September 2010.

Great!  The richer are richer and big corporations are making it big abroad.  What about the poor American worker? Evidently the Fed must think things are shaping up because Bernanke and Yellen are both hinting that the days of historically low interest rates might be nearing the end.

In spite of May’s weak jobs report, Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke still sees no reason for the central bank to expand its efforts to boost the American economy. The Fed is assessing whether the economy would continue to grow fast enough to reduce the unemployment rate without further intervention, he said.

This is an interesting youtube by Mauro Martino at Northeastern University. It’s aninfographic of fundraising by the presidential candidates from March 2011 to Feburary 2012.

David a Graham of The Atlantic gives us some analysis.

There’s a lot going on here, but the animated graphic shows how much each of the candidates raised each week and what states it came from, based on the amount of contribution per capita. The top half lists the states on a spectrum from most liberal to most conservative.

What’s great about the graphic is it shows just how drastically Mitt Romney and Barack Obama are in a different monetary league than the other Republican candidates who battled Romney for the nomination. That’s most obvious in the spikes — Ron Paul, Newt Gingrich, and Rick Santorum seldom did better than Romney even on their best days, but Romney’s highest peaks are exponentially larger than theirs.

The disparity becomes clear in the geographic breakdown, too. Romney and Obama tend to raise the most money in the same set of states: D.C., Massachusetts, California, New York, Florida, Texas, Connecticut, and Colorado. Of those states, five are solid Democratic, one is solid Republican, and two are swing. But they’re also the states with the highest concentrations of wealthy people. Meanwhile, the circles for Santorum, Gingrich, and Paul are fairly consistent across the map. At a time when the role of money and politics is fiercely debated, this visualization shows just how far out of proportion the relation between money and votes is. Obama has no chance of winning Texas, but it’s a cash cow for him; the same goes for Romney and California. It’s not hard to imagine how that distorts incentives for candidates. It’s not just that Romney and Obama are playing in a different league. Until August or so, they might as well be playing in a different nation, one comprised of 10 states or so.

Alec MacGillis asks: “Why we are listening to Bill Clinton on Wall Street?” over at TNR in an interesting article called “Let Us Bow Down before the Big Dog”.

Left largely unsaid, though, is that it is also hardly unsurprising for Clinton to be speaking up in defense of high finance. Remember: this is the man who as president presided over the alliance of Wall Street and the Democratic Party, embodied in his treasury secretary, Goldman Sachs veteran (and future Citigroup executive) Robert Rubin. It was Clinton who signed the repeal of Glass-Steagall, the 1933 law breaking up securities firms and commercial banks; it was Clinton whose advisers, notably Rubin and Larry Summers, blocked Brooksley Born’s push for tighter regulation of derivatives; it was Clinton who lowered the capital gains tax in 1997, vastly boosting the bottom line of private equity managers like Mitt Romney who, via the carried interest loophole, had their compensation treated as capital gains rather than ordinary income.

Surely it is no accident that Clinton’s other recent remark undermining Obama was also related to Obama’s allegedly over-populist stance toward high finance and the very wealthy. In an interview last fall with Newsmax — yes, Newsmax — Clinton critiqued Obama’s talk of raising taxes on millionaires who currently pay at very low rates (“The Buffett Rule”) by saying that it was a bad idea to raise anyone’s taxes “until we get this economy off the ground.” He added for good measure: “We don’t have a lot of resentment against people who are successful. We kind of like it, Americans. It’s one of our best characteristics that, if we think someone earned their money fairly, we do not resent their success. Americans lost the fact that, whatever you think about this millionaire surcharge — I don’t really care because I would pay it but it won’t affect me because I already paid income because I live in New York. I will pay more, but it won’t solve the problem.” Clinton tried to clarify these remarks later, but not before Crossroads GPS, the group founded by Karl Rove, built an Obama attack ad around the remarks.

What is utterly lost in the pundits’ exaltation of Clinton’s comments on Bain is that there is, in fact, a real debate going on within the Democratic Party, and that the reaction to the Obama campaign’s attacks on Bain are bringing out the intra-party tensions. On the one side are Democrats like Obama who have seen many former Wall Street supporters turn away from them for daring to hold them responsible for the 2008 financial collapse, for proposing reforms like closing the carried-interest loophole, and for generally believing that the explosive growth of the financial sector the past three decades has not exactly been healthy for the country. These Democrats argue that, while attacks on Bain might not play so well in the Acela Corridor, they may well resonate in Ohio. On the other side of the debate are Democrats like Clinton and Cory Booker, the mayor of the 68th biggest city in the country, who have managed to remain in the good graces of Wall Street, not least because they are not in the position of having to fix what went terribly wrong in the fall of 2008, and who also, it must be noted, are indebted to the high-finance world — Booker for its crucial support of his campaigns, and Clinton for its support of his post-White House philanthropic efforts.

Big dogs never bite the hand that feeds them.

So, this is my offering this morning.  What’s on your reading and blogging list today?

35 Comments on “Friday Reads”

  1. In answer to your comment up top about the poor American worker: Some Walmart employees air workplace complaints – News from USA TODAY

    If she could figure out how to live in her car, Janet Sparks would.

    The 52-year-old makes $11.60 an hour as a front-of-the-store manager at a Louisiana Walmart and says she struggles to pay for basic necessities, let alone her $600-a-month rent.

    It is a long article, but as a member of the walmart family, it touches on so many familiar things that ring true…it makes me more depressed.

    • janicen says:

      I agree, JJ, Walmart is a disgrace related to the treatment and compensation of employees. As a liberal, raised in a strong pro-union, blue collar household, it frustrates me because, while I recognize this fact, I also know that the vast majority of Walmart workers that I have met have been anti-union, NASCAR-loving, flag waving Republicans who would never think of entertaining anything that might resemble a liberal idea. So I struggle with what I feel is morally right with what I also feel are just desserts.

      • northwestrain says:

        Anecdotal snapshots from RV campgrounds in the Southwest:

        We met many Walmart employees at various RV campgrounds. One in particular stands out — he lived in an older Travel Trailer and couldn’t afford to heat it. He lives at the RV park full time.

        He is representative of the Walmart employees we met at the RV camps — all the camps had at least one full time Walmart employee.

  2. This is a good one:

    • RalphB says:

      That hits the mark perfectly!

    • dakinikat says:

      We’ve got to do something about Citizens United and the like or we’re doomed as a participative democracy. I still can’t believe all the Koch and Karl Rove money convinced a lot of Wisconsinites that a recall was a proper thing to do. I thought they were a lot smarter up there than that.

  3. Pat Johnson says:

    It’s discouraging isn’t it: we have no one that we can safely look to as a protecter of our rights. No one.

    I am unable to defend the Dem Party. They have let us down in ways that defeats any sense of enthusiasm. To hear Chris Van Hollen support the Catfood Commission is beyond my comprehension.

    And the GOP is just a party of batshit crazy greedy monsters who will do even more harm to our way of life than is even predicted. They are indeed a collective group of bible thumping, women hating, war mongering, race baiting fools who advanced their true colors no more so than the last 3 1/2 years. Their collective obstructionism from the floors of congress has stalled any form of economic recovery and this is done in the name of party loyalty. This is nothing short of a crime.

    Obama does not deserve a second term but neither do these weasels deserve one either. It is more than disheartening to know that the next group of elected officials – whoever they may be – has even less interest in actually serving then their need to exert “power” over the majority in whatever shameful measures they can provide for their paymasters.

    I am at a loss these days to even pretend anymore that we live in a nation of laws that honors the democratic will of the people.

    • RalphB says:

      Get over it. At least the Obama Dems are not a bunch of fucking face eating cannibals and you know the other side is bloody with it.

      • Pat Johnson says:

        I hear you, ralph.

        I may just go out and buy some bath salts myself. You know, “Calgon, take me away!”

      • RalphB says:

        Becoming a more viable alternative each day 😉

      • dakinikat says:

        I keep hoping New Orleans forms a city state and leaves Louisiana and its throw back neanderthals swinging. We used to be a swing state until Karl Rove exported our population and didn’t help them move back after Katrina.

  4. RalphB says:

    This is funny. I dream of a world when every day can be NW-STFU Day.

    The Silence Of The Lames

    As you might be aware, having seen the free-standing displays of cards and party supplies at your local Hallmark store or the massive cheap-beer pyramids constructed out of beer suitcases as you entered your local food emporium, today (Friday) is National Wingnut Shut The Fuck Up Day. A holiday tradition like no other, NW-STFU Day is intended as a show of solidarity amongst all rightwing bloggers, small and smaller, signifying strength and resolve against the depredations of rightwing boogieman Brett Kimberlin who, at this very moment, is calling you on the phone … and he’s in your house! [cue skree skree skree sound effect].

  5. Fannie says:

    Is it true Ralph, NW-STFU day won’t be expousing Marxism- communist, and socialist, and linking the two together, and this happening today? I bet they will do a double play and link the words “them or us” to their no contact sport.

    • RalphB says:

      Funny way for all the “wingnut perpetual victims” to get attention but I think it’s true. 😉

  6. Pat Johnson says:

    One of the saddest sights here in Springfield today is the funeral of one of our best police officers who died this week as a result of a domestic violence call. The shooter also turned the gun on his ex girlfriend, who has survived, and then shot himself.

    It is difficult to get across town today because of the amount of traffic from law officials all over the nation who are in attendance. The estimate is that the number is in the thousands.

    The ceremony is very, very moving and the pagentry within the church is emotional.

    These men put their lives on the line every day on behalf of the rest of us and this tragedy is being greatly felt in Springfield which is not a large city by any means.

    Just a sad, sad day for his family, law enforcement, and the city itself.

    Some hero’s are never known outside their own community.

    • janicen says:

      How many funerals are happening all over the country just because some idiot got his hands on a gun? When will someone decide that there may be a few too many in circulation?

      Sending healing thoughts out to the community. Thanks for calling this to our attention, Pat.

      • Pat Johnson says:

        In this instance, janicen, the shooter was an officer working out of Reikers Island in NYC. Not sure if the gun he used was legal in his position or not.

        Whatever the circumstances, he was hellbent on revenge against the woman he tracked to this city and who had sworn out a order of protection against him. Either way his motive was to inflict the harm against her by coming here from out of state and Officer Ambrose responded to the call.

        But few politicians from either party ever address the issue of guns flooding the market, legal or not, that have led to so many bloodbaths while these morons play “shoot ’em up” games in the streets.

        This tolerant attitude has led to the rise of healthcare costs and a breakdown of law and order with a subculture growing within every community across the nation with the proliferation of weapons that leaves nobody safe.

        With these ugly “austerity” measures being enacted, this police officer was in a one man patrol car that has reduced the force to a large extent.

        One more “story” in the advance of “budget cutting” that leaves even first responders even more vulnerable when trying to protect us.

      • bostonboomer says:

        That’s heartbreaking.

  7. bostonboomer says:

    Texas man shoots elementary school teacher over noise complaint–claims he was standing his ground. He was talking to 911 at the time and repeating “the buzzwords he learned in concealed weapons class, according to the prosecutor.” Somehow he also took a video.

    I wonder if George Zimmerman took a concealed weapons class and learned what to say to 911?

    • RalphB says:

      That guy is on trial for murder in Houston though. Legal analysts say his defense shouldn’t hold up.

      • bostonboomer says:

        I doubt if it will, but it’s still somewhat parallel to George Zimmerman, because they each initiated an encounter and were talking too 911 while describing it.

      • RalphB says:

        I agree and only wanted to say there is a difference in the way those Castle doctrine laws are enforced. Could be because the Castle doctrine is old in TX and not a novel or new concept.

  8. dakinikat says:

    Some good news …

    18 rescued in child pornography raids, feds say

    Eighteen victims of child pornography were rescued during a nationwide sweep by federal law enforcement agencies, U.S. immigration and Customs Enforcement announced Friday.

    The sweep, dubbed Operation Orion, resulted in the arrests of 190 individuals, most of which were in the U.S. but included arrests in Argentina, the Philippines, Spain and the United Kingdom, ICE said in a press release. The operation took place from May 1 to May 31.

  9. RalphB says:

    Considering the way this was handled, I doubt Barrett got the max possible minority vote from Milwaukee. This doesn’t even have Stand your Ground involved, it’s plain premeditated murder of a child.

    Another Unarmed Black Youth Shot & Killed. Darius Simmons was Only 13 Years Old

    Darius Simmons was by all accounts a good kid. The fun loving 6th grader was simply moving a garbage can in front of his home when his neighbor, 75 year old John Henry Spooner confronted him with a shotgun and accused him of stealing from his home. Darius, who was in school the time of the robbery, denied being involved with the theft. John Henry Spooner then proceed to shoot Darius in his chest, while he had his hands raise showing Spooner he was unarmed. His mom, who was watching in horror, ran to Darius to see if she could find a pulse, she couldn’t. Darius, 13 years old and unarmed, was murdered in cold blood in front of his mother.

  10. RalphB says:

    According to the Miami Herald, Florida;s Governor and Secretary of State may have to “pound sand”.

    County elections chiefs to state: We won’t resume voter purge program

    Florida’s noncitizen voter purge looks like it’s all but over.

    The 67 county elections supervisors — who have final say over voter purges —are not moving forward with the purge for now because nearly all of them don’t trust the accuracy of a list of nearly 2,700 potential noncitizens identified by the state’s elections office.The U.S. Department of Justice has ordered the state to stop the purge.

    “We’re just not going to do this,” said Leon County’s elections supervisor, Ion Sancho, one of the most outspoken of his peers. “I’ve talked to many of the other supervisors and they agree. The list is bad. And this is illegal.”

  11. I got a news story for ya! UGA professor charged with prostitution | Online Athens

    A University of Georgia professor of German was arrested Thursday evening by Gwinnett County police after dressing up as a woman and agreeing to have sex with an undercover officer, according to Gwinnett County police Cpl. Jake Smith.

    Max Roland Reinhart, 65, faces a charge of prostitution after agreeing to give the undercover officer 30 minutes of sexual service for $60. He also is charged with keeping a place of prostitution for renting a room at the Guest House Inn in Norcross, where he and the undercover officer met, Smith said. Contrary to what the charge of keeping a place of prostitution might seem to indicate, Reinhart did not run a brothel, but only sold his services, Smith said.

    The best part of this story is in the comments:

    Fri., Jun 08 @ 10:44:46 am

    Hey, it’s been a long time since our last raise.

    Check it out!

  12. I really hate this guy: Romney calls for fewer cops, firefighters, and teachers – The Maddow Blog

    The rules of the political discourse apparently dictate that the story that matters today is President Obama saying the private sector is “fine” relative to the public sector is The Scandal That Matters. It’s a dumb story, and reporters obsessing over seem to realize it’s a dumb story, but the train has apparently left the station.

    If anyone’s looking for more meaningful quotes from presidential candidates, Mitt Romney’s line today on public-sector jobs is arguably one of the more important things the Republican has said in a very long time.

    For those who can’t watch clips online, Romney said of Obama:

    “[Obama] wants to hire more government workers. He says we need more fireman, more policeman, more teachers. Did he not get the message of Wisconsin? The American people did. It’s time for us to cut back on government and help the American people.”

    Let’s be clear about this: Romney is rejecting the idea of saving the jobs of cops, firefighters, and teachers. He sees this as an applause line. The Republican nominee for president believes we can “help the American people” by laying off, not just public-sector workers in general, but specifically cops, firefighters, and teachers.

    • RalphB says:

      I think that’s an argument that Obama will enjoy joining. His campaign has already released a video of Rmoney.

    • NW Luna says:

      Times are tough. So we should cut back on education, and public safety?

    • I remember in 2003 I paid over 600 in overdraft fees one month. I think that is were the bank makes another large portion of their profits.

    • ecocatwoman says:

      Well, then maybe we should have the Bank of the United States. Those overdraft fees – paid by the little folks, which is what the Repugs want – could get rid of the deficit in no time at all. One problem solved. Next!