Saturday Reads: Posh Fundraisers, Bizarre Cults, and More

Good Morning!!

I have some excellent reads to share with you today.

Tomorrow is a big day for Mitt Romney. He’ll be in the Hamptons attending a series of fund raisers hosted by members of the top 1% of the top 1%, and he’s expected to collect $3 million by the time it’s all over.

Mr. Romney is expected to pull in $3 million from an event at the Creeks, the estate of Ronald O. Perelman, the billionaire financier and Revlon chairman, where tickets range from $5,000 for lunch to $25,000 for a V.I.P. photo reception. Another will be held at the home of Clifford M. Sobel, an ambassador to Brazil under President George W. Bush, and a final dinner will take place at the Southampton estate of the billionaire industrialist David H. Koch, where the going rate for entry is $75,000 a couple and $50,000 a person….

At Mr. Koch’s estate, the guests will be treated to one-of-a-kind scenery as they wait for face time with a possible president. Tucked into the Southampton dunes, Mr. Koch’s home is valued at about $18 million by the real estate Web site Zillow, which reports that it has seven bedrooms and nine bathrooms. Its backyard is the sea.

But the jewel of the day is Mr. Perelman’s. With 9 fireplaces, 40 rooms and an expansive wine cellar, his estate makes the Koch spread look modest by comparison. Sitting on 57 acres, it was built for the painter Albert Herter in 1899, and when it last went up for sale in 1991 (for $25 million), The New York Times described it as “the largest and most spectacular estate in the Village of East Hampton, with more than a mile of frontage on Georgica Pond and a view of the Atlantic Ocean beyond.” That article also said that an American Conifer Society Bulletin — for tree enthusiasts — had called its grounds “the eighth wonder of the horticultural world” and “the most outstanding private conifer collection in the United States, a living work of art.”

I wonder how that will go over in Ohio? The article says that Obama is skipping the ostentatious Hamptons fund raisers this year, but it provides descriptions previous ones hosted by Democrats. The Dems definitely attract better musical artists. But Republicans say they don’t need entertainment–they’re already excited by the prospect of throwing Obama out of the White House.

Justin Rubin of has a piece at HuffPo about the Koch fundraiser. Some “progressives” plan to crash the party.

Mitt Romney may want to hide his Koch problem with the help of his super PACs, but all the cash in the world won’t be enough to stop our people power from exposing the truth. More than 7 million MoveOn members will be working hard every day between now and November to pull back the curtain and expose Romney’s 1% habit.

This Sunday, we’re staging our latest intervention. As Romney’s limo pulls up in front of David Koch’s Hamptons estate — where each $50,000 ticket will cost more than most people make in a year — our members will be there to greet him. We’ll band together with organizers and allies from a diverse array of groups united by our concern about the pernicious effects Koch cash is inflicting on our democracy.

No intervention is complete without a banner, and MoveOn’s 99airlines plane will be at the Hamptons fundraiser too, flying a banner overhead that points out the simple truth: “Mitt Romney has a Koch problem.” As more Americans find out, Romney’s Koch problem will just get worse.

At the Atlantic, Derek Thompson explains How the Richest 400 People in America Got So Rich. As you might have guessed already, they didn’t do it by actually, you know, working hard.

The New York Daily News has learned that Romney is already practicing for the first presidential debate, which is still 13 weeks away.

Romney sources told the Daily News that during a three-day retreat he hosted late last month for big-time Republican contributors and party mandarins at Park City, Utah, the candidate also found time to squeeze in the first two rounds of what staffers call “debate prep.”

Romney convened six to eight campaign aides around a conference table at the elegant Chateaux at Silver Lake. They sorted through a variety of topics sure to come up in the three Presidential debates, like the state of the economy and the war in Afghanistan, and kicked around the best “test responses” to questions they expect Obama and debate moderators will toss at the ex-Massachusetts governor.

More such encounters are expected over the summer, but what one source called “podium practices” with an Obama surrogate won’t happen for awhile — mainly because Romney doesn’t care for them all that much.
“There will be some role-playing but not as much as other Presidential candidates,” a Romney adviser said. “The traditional model doesn’t fit his style.”

Why doesn’t he just keep repeating that same non-response he used yesterday? That way he wouldn’t have to take a stand on anything.

If you haven’t had a chance to read it yet, please go check out Joseph Cannon’s post on Romney’s ties to “Spooks and Death Squads.” I don’t know how else to express my reaction: I was gobsmacked by it!

If you’re fascinated by cults, as I am, you should read this lengthy article from the Hollywood Reporter on Katie Holmes’ breakup with Tom Cruise and her desire to keep her daughter away from Scientology. Here’s just a teensy taste:

Unlike [Nicole] Kidman, who kept quiet during her divorce from Cruise and has rarely commented publicly about it since, Holmes already has made a statement of sorts by filing her petition in New York and saying she wants full legal custody and primary residential custody of their Suri.

“Katie could blow Scientology wide open,” says [Marty] Rathbun, who was in the church for 22 years before leaving in late 2004. Rathbun, who calls himself an “independent Scientologist” and writes a candid blog popular with former members, was Cruise’s auditor and handled Cruise’s divorce from Kidman.

“If Tom’s smart, he won’t fight her on anything, even custody. He should just try to settle his way out of it,” says Rathbun. “She could press this sole-custody issue and litigate it, and that would be the biggest nightmare in the Church of Scientology’s history. It would be a circus they couldn’t survive.”

And speaking of cults, Alternet explains Mormon underwear–who isn’t curious about that?  Are Mormon Underwear Magic Between the Sheets?

It’s hard to get a balanced sample from active Mormons, because the Garments, as I said, are sacred, and catering to the curiosity of prurient outsiders would violate a covenant sworn during the same temple ceremony in which a Mormon gets authorized to wear the Garment. Unfortunately those who have been fantasizing about a romp in which layers of white cotton create the perfect sense of mystery (or bondage), exMormons offer few words of encouragement. Discomfort seems to be the predominant theme.

I was continuously battling wedgies–often in public; how the people would stare as I would try to wrestle crumpled material out of my crack. Lady DB

If you have ever worn the modern ones you should appreciate the distance these have come. When I first got married they came in a one piece get up with a wide neck so you could step into them. The back had a split crotch (not the kind in kinky panties) but this huge wide sloppy split that would separate under your clothes, leaving a draft in your nether region much of the time. The little panel they sew into the ladies special part was so poorly designed that it would roll and twist till you felt like you were skewered by a roll of old toilet paper. Insanad

Of all of the things about Mo-dom, the thing I miss the least is the underwear. Zapotec

Theologically, Mormon undergarments are said to be symbols of a covenant between God and the believer. Initiates pantomime their own death should they violate this sacred trust. The underwear have sacred symbols drawn from the Masonic Order into which Joseph Smith was initiated shortly before he proclaimed God’s desire that people wear the Garment. True believing Mormons avoid allowing Garments to touch the ground. They may cut off and burn the symbols when a Garment itself is worn out.

There’s much much more info at the link.

At Truthdig, Robert Scheer writes about the LIBOR scandal: The Crime of the Century.

Forget Bernie Madoff and Enron’s Ken Lay—they were mere amateurs in financial crime. The current Libor interest rate scandal, involving hundreds of trillions in international derivatives trade, shows how the really big boys play. And these guys will most likely not do the time because their kind rewrites the law before committing the crime.

Modern international bankers form a class of thieves the likes of which the world has never before seen. Or, indeed, imagined. The scandal over Libor—short for London interbank offered rate—has resulted in a huge fine for Barclays Bank and threatens to ensnare some of the world’s top financers. It reveals that behind the world’s financial edifice lies a reeking cesspool of unprecedented corruption. The modern-day robber barons pillage with a destructive abandon totally unfettered by law or conscience and on a scale that is almost impossible to comprehend.

How to explain a $450 million settlement for one bank whose defense, in a plea bargain worked out with regulators in London and Washington, is that every institution in their elite financial circle was doing it? Not just Barclays but JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup and others are now being investigated on suspicion of manipulating the Libor rate, so critical to a $700 trillion derivatives market.

Read the rest at the Truthdig.

I hope you found something here that appeals to you. Now what are your reading recommendations?

42 Comments on “Saturday Reads: Posh Fundraisers, Bizarre Cults, and More”

  1. bostonboomer says:

    The latest Romney vacation photo shows what looks like the entire clan in a huge boat heading out on the lake.

  2. Pat Johnson says:

    Interesting that Mormonism and Scientology, both recognized as “religions”, are the inventions of two recognized con artists and share cult like secrecy that surrounds their existence. Each has been known to stalk and persecute former members through intimidation and threats. How is this “religious”?

    Katie Holmes was either fantastically naive or extremely ambitious about her career to have ever signed onto this insanity when it has been fully documented that this “religion” was considered a scam and a sham. But at least she has the wherewithal now to pluck her child from the clutches of this scary group before the child has been fully indoctrinated with these crazies.

    And should this divorce begin to reveal more of the inner workings of this sinister group it will also bring more unwanted attention to Mormonism practices as well since both are cloaked in the “secrecy” of the hierarchy, something Mitt would prefer us to ignore.

    Some rumors abound that little Suri Cruise had been earmarked to become the eventual leader of the Church of Scientology, expecting her to be plucked from the home of her parents and groomed from an early age to begin her path for future control. This stuff is beginning to sound like another chapter from the pages of L. Ron Hubbards science fiction but there seems to be a dose of reality for the reason that Katie fled.

    • bostonboomer says:

      Apparently the prenup that Katie signed provided for her to get a large sum of money if she stayed in the marriage for five years. She’s apparently been planning her escape for the past year at least.

    • NW Luna says:

      Scientology is so weird; I can’t fathom how anyone could fall for it. Or Mormonism, for that matter. And special underwear???

      • northwestrain says:

        It takes a brave person to escape a cult like Scientology or the LDS.

        I don’t fault Katie at all — she was young and in love with an illusion and the cult members and leadership did their best to make her see their good side. Most people have no idea how cults Scientology and Mormonism work. Both cults intimidate and harass “walk a ways” (people who leave cults).

        Wouldn’t be great if Katie really does help to expose cults in America? It seems like she’s grown up — and that she played along — acting like well the actress she is.

        Normally I ignore the celebrity gossip — but when a cult like Scientology is involved I’ll pay attention and read from as many sources as possible.

        Katie has seen a lot first hand — and the fact that she watched children being manipulated to turn against their mother was probably a shock. She was wise to play along and wait to make her escape. (I read one report about interviews with cult members who said Katie was an enthusiastic supporter of Scientology.) Now the world is watching — will the Scientology nutjobs attempt to strong arm her? Hopefully she has some powerful pit bull type lawyers.

        “Snapped” is a good resource on cults. When I was in Grad school there were several new age type cults and we were able to study the cult’s techniques. ALL of these mind control methods are very old — and yet people fall for the same crap generation after generation.

        In US history there was been so many cults — religious and otherwise. The Puritans — one of the earliest and a period of US history call the Great Awakening.

    • These cults are just beyond my comprehension, and that they are considered religions by the American Government is a bad joke. It makes me wonder why and how people can actually believe this shit.

    • Pat Johnson says:

      I never thought he was gay, just a wild eyed fanatic wrapped up in a crazy “religion” that promised and delivered his fame and fortune. This is the same Tom Cruise who at one time contemplated becoming a Catholic priest who evidently has been on a path of “discovery” his entire life.

      The video showing him discussing the merits of Scientology a few years back is the real Tom Cruise: a serious nutjob with a lot of talent who has marshalled Scientology into the mainstream because of his name

      He has only gotten weirder as time has gone by.

    • northwestrain says:

      Thanks for the link BB.

      Interesting article — and some semi interesting comments at the bottom.

  3. bostonboomer says:

    Grieving mother cannot see her dead son’s body, because she left the Church of Scientology and has been excommunicated.

    • Am I just completely out of it, maybe I am missing them, but why aren’t the dems pointing this kind of stuff out in campaign commercials? Are they hammering the LIBOR and Diamond issue, the Bain issue…the Koch issue? It just seems like there isn’t the same kind of fury there was back in 2008.

  4. RalphB says:

    Good morning. Great roundup BB. On the political side, these Voter ID laws are an integral part of 2012 campaign strategy. I think Romney is counting on them. More people will be disenfranchised than Obama’s 2008 margin at this point.

    In PA, Voter ID Law Already Changing The Electoral Landscape

    PITTSBURGH — With the number of potential voters left scrambling in the wake of Pennsylvania’s voter ID law in the hundreds of thousands, there’s been some speculation as to whether the law could change the outcome of the election come November.

    In Pennsylvania, there’s no question about it: the law is already having a dramatic effect on how the election is being waged.
    “Yes, many voters are not aware of it,” he said. “All the more responsibility on us that a.) they’re aware of it and b.) we give them what they need to get out and exercise their constitutional rights.”

    How does he do that? There’s no list of record for voters who don’t have proper ID, so Democrats have to go about creating their own list of targets who fit the profile for lacking the identification based on geography, income and other means. Then they hit them with the voter ID messaging as part of standard field operations.
    The reality is not that simple, said Roberta Winters, vice president of the Pennsylvania branch of the nonpartisan League Of Women Voters. The group is suing to have the law taken off the books and recently appealed to Pennsylvania’s Republican governor to delay implementation of the legislation. He declined.
    Winters set the window to get an ID at “four to six weeks” and said that most of the League’s efforts to find voters without IDs and get them IDs “will have to be done before mid-September.” She said the timeline makes the challenge of getting people ID’d “especially challenging.”

    “We will do our best to mitigate it and we’re also litigating it,” Winters said, referring to her group’s lawsuit against the voter ID law. “I think it would be optimistic of me to think this is not going to disenfranchise people.”

    • bostonboomer says:

      Too bad the Justice Department can’t step in in Pennsylvania! The ACLU should be suing though.

      • RalphB says:

        I think they are suing and the League of Women Voters is suing to stop them now.

      • bostonboomer says:

        That’s good. The requirements in PA are ridiculously difficult and confusing.

  5. NW Luna says:

    From the Department of What Could Possibly Go Wrong?

    A unique ice-class barge designed to clean up any oil spills that might result from Shell Alaska’s upcoming operations in the Arctic Ocean has so far failed to acquire final Coast Guard certification. Engineers from the oil company say it’s no longer appropriate to require them to meet the rigorous weather standards originally proposed.

    Further, sea trials for the Arctic Challenger — a 37-year-old barge undergoing a multimillion-dollar retrofit — have been delayed in Bellingham as federal inspectors insist on improvements to electrical, piping and fire-protection systems, a senior Coast Guard inspector has confirmed. …. The federal Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement has said it will not issue final drilling permits until the Arctic Challenger receives final Coast Guard certification. ….

    “Because of the intended use of the Arctic Challenger and the harsh conditions experienced by maritime traffic in the Arctic, the Arctic Challenger is required to be able to withstand the forces generated by a 100-year storm. The operators of the Arctic Challenger contend that the 100-year standard is too stringent of a design standard, and that a 10-year (storm) standard is more aligned with historical conditions for the area of the Arctic they intend to operate (in) this summer,” O’Neil, who is chief of media relations for the Coast Guard, said in an email to the Los Angeles Times.

    Never mind that Arctic storm strength hasn’t been rigorously studied for many years, so we have no accurate idea of what is truly a 100-year storm.

    • quixote says:

      And never mind that “100 year” storms / floods / fires seem to happen every couple of years now.

      I love the business of them choosing the time frame on which to base calculations. I mean it’s not like anything they don’t expect ever happens, right?

      Reminds me of a teenager I knew who took the batteries out of the smoke detector for his mp3 player or some damn thing. When his mother found out and hit the ceiling, his answer was, “But, Mom, I wasn’t planning on having a fire.”

  6. RalphB says:

    Joe Cannon has a great piece on offshore tax havens, including an interview with Nicholas Shaxson from Democracy now. It’s a great read!

    • NW Luna says:

      Dakinikat did a mini-post on this topic in her comment about half-way down the comments for the Romney Flip-Flop post yesterday.

      I hope the offshore $$$ havens and dirty money links sink Romney by November.

      • RalphB says:

        This is greatly expanded from the mini-post. I hope that Kat does a full post on it. Romney should be sunk by this, if not all the wingnut garbage.

        • dakinikat says:

          I can do a full post on it. I’m going to start prepping for my financial institutions class and my global finance class and I usually spend at least one day on these places. I study Brunei who is building itself into a haven right now. It’s basically a mix of legitimate and illegitimate business but it’s hard to separate. Listening to the Shaxson interview now. Cannon is really digging up some interesting stuff on the connections between Bain Capital and some really nasty people down in South America. It looks like Bain wouldn’t exist with out a lot of dirty money which explains the use of tax havens. You can get a quick influx of money into your hedge fund or equity capital firm by going some place like this. Dictators like to extract wealth from their country and look for these opportunities. If you have no problems with using blood money, this is the deal for you.

      • dakinikat says:

        I will say I’m pissed about the LIBOR thing. I use this in all of my research including my dissertation and now it looks like it’s not a market driven rate which has important implications.

      • dakinikat says:

        JJ, I just watched it. Karl Smith’s comments were unbelievable and stupid. I left comments on his site and on Jared Bernstein’s site. (Technical so I won’t share them here). Whoa … just WHOA! I can’t believe he didn’t get what this means. Noticed he wasn’t a real economist. He teaches at a policy/government department. Probably has no notion of finance either. Thanks for sharing that. I’m still stunned after watching it. (oh, and too bad it’s that idiot Tommy Christopher’s link… I have to go take a shower now.)

      • NW Luna says:

        I will say I’m pissed about the LIBOR thing. I use this in all of my research including my dissertation and now it looks like it’s not a market driven rate which has important implications.

        Dak, I would be furious too. I just finished my doctoral degree last month — it’s a clinical rather than research-based degree but I’m still feeling exhausted– and if any of research findings on which I based my scholarly project turned out to be bogus I’d be thunderously angry.

        I’d imagine there are a number of others in the econ community who used LIBOR findings in research work for their theses or dissertations?

        • dakinikat says:

          Yes. If you do anything with global markets–especially global finance–LIBOR is the standard proxy for a credit rate. I just watched JJ’s link however and one idiot thinks it’s no big deal. I was flabbergasted.

        • dakinikat says:

          Congratulations on the doctoral degree! Isn’t that a big relief! Hope you got a great celebration for it!!!

      • NW Luna says:

        Thanks, Dak! Yes, I’m another one of those under-educated non-creative-class females. /s

      • NW Luna says:

        lol. Funny what happens when we just ignore that stereotype.

      • Congratulations on the doctorate Luna, that is fabulous!

        and Dak, I am glad you got a response to your comment…I really still do not understand all the concepts of this LIBOR…I just wish that there were more stories and coverage on the seriousness of this issue.

    • RalphB says:

      Some of the responses are really funny but these guys shouldn’t plan on a stand-up career.

      The Funniest Responses To Lanny Davis’ Public Twitter DM To Morgan Fairchild Last Night

  7. NW Luna says:

    Temperatures Forecast to Cool Across the Midwest and Mid-Atlantic this Weekend

    This weekend, temperatures will significantly cool as a cold front pushes southward from Canada/New England into the Midwest and Mid-Atlantic. Temperatures are expected to be below average over much of the Midwest and Eastern U.S. on Monday. Severe weather, including damaging wind, is expected to accompany this cold front.

  8. RalphB says:

    retail campaigning.

  9. RalphB says:

    It’s official, Zeke Miller of Buzzfeed is a douche nozzle.

    The New Obama Typeface: Revolution Gothic

    A source points out that President Barack Obama’s new typeface is Revolution Gothic, a style inspired by retro Cuban propaganda posters. Who vets the fonts?

    (Obama press secretary Ben LaBolt emails: “Your GOP operative should have had the courtesy to stay sober before noon, and BuzzFeed should go back to labeling cat slideshows.”)

    • NW Luna says:

      Well at least he didn’t use Helvetica.

      Some lovely typefaces have ugly names, and vice verse. “Gothic” is simply a term for sans-serif type. That typeface is very 30s and 40s, not just “retro Cuban.” I dislike typefaces that don’t have the “v” part of capital “M”s and “W”s go at least to the x-height line; looks amateurish. But hey, looks like retro is trendy now.

      • RalphB says:

        I thought LaBolt’s response was classic and gave it the respect it deserved 🙂

    • NW Luna says:

      Oh, yes, Ralph, I agree with that! Sorry I went tangential on typefaces.

  10. RalphB says:

    Reformed wingers usually know the enemy better than we do. I expect this is what’s coming.

    The Next Resistance

    Now that ACA is a done deal in regards to the mandate, now Republicans are cooking up another mess:
    See what they are doing? Degenerate sociopaths like Scott Walker, Rick Scott, Rick Perry, and Bobby Jindal are all screwing their own citizens by refusing to set up exchanges, and then, their Republican allies in the House and Senate are going to try to make it impossible for federal subsidies to be allowed. I’m sure at this very minute Randy Barnett is hatching up a legal theory that will make Antonin Scalia moist in the loins.

    The Republican health care plan is clear- repeal the ACA, end Medicare and Medicaid, and basically just tell the American people to piss off and die. If that can’t be accomplished, then the fallback option is to just make everything the Democrats try to do so difficult that it is near impossible, all while lying to the American people and then, when things are a disaster because of their intransigence, gleefully cackling- “SEE, GOVERNMENT CAN’T DO ANYTHING RIGHT!” The media will pay no attention, Pete Suderman and all the other bought whores in wingnut welfare publications will amplify the message, and David Brooks and Charles Lane will write 400 more columns about how Republicans and Democrats need to come together with a market based solution.