Good Morning!! I’m struggling with some kind of viral thing. I don’t know if it’s the flu or what, but I’ve been really tired and my brain hasn’t been working properly. Anyway, I’ve got some odds and ends of news for you, and I hope what I write will make sense.
There’s a good summary of the global nature of the Occupy protests at the Guardian:
In Madrid, tens of thousands thronged the Puerta del Sol square shouting “Hands up! This is a robbery!” In Santiago, 25,000 Chileans processed through the city, pausing outside the presidential palace to hurl insults at the country’s billionaire president. In Frankfurt, more than 5,000 people massed outside the European Central Bank, in scenes echoed in 50 towns and cities across Germany, from Berlin to Stuttgart. Sixty thousand people gathered in Barcelona, 100 in Manila, 3,000 in Auckland, 200 in Kuala Lumpur, 1,000 in Tel Aviv, 4,000 in London.
A month to the day after 1,000 people first turned up in Wall Street to express their outrage at corporate greed and social inequality, campaigners are reflecting on a weekend that saw a relatively modest demonstration in New York swell into a truly global howl of protest.
The Occupy campaign may have hoped, at its launch, to inspire similar action elsewhere, but few can have foreseen that within four weeks, more than 900 cities around the world would host co-ordinated protests directly or loosely affiliated to the Occupy cause.
The exact targets of protesters’ anger may differ from city to city and country to country. But while their numbers remain small in many places, activists argue that Saturday’s demonstrations, many of which are still ongoing – and are pledged to remain so for the foreseeable future – are evidence of a growing wave of global anger at social and economic injustice.
It’s just amazing how this movement has grown.
You know how Dakinikat has been arguing that one of the first things Occupy protesters should be demanding is the restoration of the Glass-Steagall Act? Well, Matt Yglesias says it’s no big deal: Glass-Steagall is Mostly a Red Herring.
Something I’ve heard from participants in the 99 Percent Movement is a revival of interest in rescinding the repeal of the 1932 Glass-Steagall Act. I think this is largely a misunderstanding, and it’s a actually a different — slightly more obscure — banking regulation from the same era that people are interested in.
First off, what did Glass-Steagall do? Well it did a number of things (like establish the FDIC) that were never repealed. But the rule that was repealed in the 1999 Gramm–Leach–Bliley Act were restrictions on the same holding company owning a bank and owning other kinds of financial companies. The thing about this is just that there’s really nothing in particular about co-ownership that you can point to as having been a problem in the financial crisis. And if anything that fact seems to indicate that the repealers were right to think there’s no special problem here — even in a huge financial crisis combined financial firms worked no worse than other kinds.
I’d like to see Matt debate Dakinikat about this on national TV. Here’s what Mark Thoma had to say about it:
I am sympathetic to this point of view, i.e. that the elimination of Glass-Steagall wasn’t an important causative factor in the crash. However, as I said a few days ago:
There is a debate over the extent to which removing Glass-Steagall — the old version of the Volcker rule — contributed to the crisis. However, whether the elimination of the Glass-Steagall act caused the present crisis is the wrong question to ask. To determine the value of reinstating a similar rule, the question is whether the elimination of the Glass-Steagall act made the system more vulnerable to crashes. When the question is phrased in this way, it’s clear that it has for the reasons outlined above.
So there’s still a reason to reinstate some version of the rule even if it wasn’t the main problem in the banking sector this time around.
I have a couple of stories about crazy Republican candidates, well one candidate and one candidate’s wife. First, on Sunday Herman Cain discussed his views on abortion:
“I believe in life from conception, and I do not agree with abortion under any circumstances,” Cain responded. “Not for rape and incest because if you look at, you look at rape and incest, the, the percentage of those instances is so miniscule that there are other options. If it’s the life of the mother, that family’s going to have to make that decision.”
Pressed on the life of the mother exception, Cain stuck to his answer, saying, “That family is going to have to make that decision.”
And check this out (via NPR). Last year Cain wrote a piece for Red State in which he called Jesus “the perfect conservative” and claimed that a “liberal court” was responsible for Jesus being crucified.
He helped the poor without one government program. He healed the sick without a government health care system. He feed the hungry without food stamps. And everywhere He went, it turned into a rally, attracting large crowds, and giving them hope, encouragement and inspiration.
For three years He was unemployed, and never collected an unemployment check. Nevertheless, he completed all the work He needed to get done. He didn’t travel by private jet. He walked and sailed, and sometimes traveled on a donkey…. And when they tried Him in court, He never said a mumbling word….
The liberal court found Him guilty of false offences [sic] and sentenced Him to death, all because He changed the hearts and minds of men with an army of 12.
Funny, most liberals are opposed to capital punishment… Can you imagine this guy in the White House? That would be proof that there is no god.
Next up, Anita Perry, wife of presidential candidate Rick Perry. It seems she’s the real extremist evangelical behind Governor Goodhair. Last Thursday, she gave a very revealing speech in South Carolina in which she claimed that she and her husband have been “brutalized” by the other Republican candidates because of their “faith.”
The Texas first lady weaved [sic] together religion and politics in a speech at North Greenville University, characterizing her husband’s decision to seek the presidency in August as a calling from God. Perry suggested her husband was being targeted for his evangelical Christian faith.
“It’s been a rough month. We have been brutalized and beaten up and chewed up in the press to where I need this today,” she said. “We are being brutalized by our opponents, and our own party. So much of that is, I think they look at him, because of his faith. He is the only true conservative – well, there are some true conservatives. And they’re there for good reasons. And they may feel like God called them too. But I truly feel like we are here for that purpose.”
NPR noted that Mrs. Perry admitted in the speech that she had been the one who pushed Governor Goodhair to throw his hat into the presidential ring.
According to Mrs. Perry, it was she, not her husband, who first heard the divine call that her husband should run for president.
“There was a nagging, pulling at my heart for him to run for president. He didn’t want to hear a thing about running for president. He felt like he needed to see the burning bush. I said ‘Look, let me tell you something. You may not see that burning bush but there are people seeing that burning bush for you.’ “
The “burning bush” was a reference to the Old Testament story found in Exodus 3 where God gives Moses his marching orders to tell Pharoah to release the Israelites from Egyptian bondage.
Among the noteworthy aspects of that Old Testament tale, is that it’s Moses who gets the divine message directly. It doesn’t come via an intermediary like, say, Aaron his older brother.
That’s the thing about such callings. They’re intensely personal. That’s why they’re so often marked by such a profound sense of drive and personal mission and willingness to sacrifice.
If Gov. Perry had doubts, which his wife certainly makes it appear was the case, and had to be persuaded to run, that could certainly help explain what looks to many as a lack of preparation for a national campaign.
Yikes! The burning bush? These people are completely out of touch with reality.
Yesterday Reuters published an in-depth article about Anita Perry, in case you’d like to know more.
Speaking of fundamentalist religions, here’s a bizarre story from The New York Times about Amish “renegades” attacking other Amish people.
BERGHOLZ, Ohio — Myron Miller and his wife, Arlene, had been asleep for an hour when their 15-year-old daughter woke them and said that people were knocking at the door.
Mr. Miller, 45, a stocky construction worker and an Amish bishop in the peaceful farmlands of eastern Ohio, found five or six men waiting. Some grabbed him and wrestled him outside as others hacked at his long black beard with scissors, clipping off six inches. As Mr. Miller kept struggling, his wife screamed at the children to call 911, and the attackers fled.
For an Amish man, it was an unthinkable personal violation, and all the more bewildering because those accused in the attack are other Amish….
The attackers, the authorities said, had traveled from an isolated splinter settlement near Bergholz, south of the Miller residence. Sheriffs and Amish leaders in the region, home to one of the country’s largest concentrations of Amish, had come to expect trouble from the Bergholz group. It is said to be led with an iron hand by Sam Mullet, a prickly 66-year-old man who had become bitterly estranged from mainstream Amish communities and had had several confrontations with the Jefferson County sheriff.
Too weird. So…. What are you reading and blogging about today?
Good Morning!! Let’s see what’s going on out there in the world.
A federal grand jury has indicted Tucson shooter Jerad Loughner.
Jared Loughner was indicted by a federal grand jury Wednesday in Tucson on a three-count indictment for attempting to kill U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and two of her aides, Pamela Simon and Ron Barber. The announcement came from U.S. attorney Dennis K. Burke’s office.
Burke said, “This case also involves potential death-penalty charges, and Department rules require us to pursue a deliberate and thorough process. [Wednesday]’s charges are just the beginning of our legal action. We are working diligently to ensure that our investigation is thorough and that justice is done for the victims and their families.”
According to the indictment, Loughner, 22, attempted to assassinate Gabrielle Giffords, a member of Congress, and attempted to murder two federal employees, Ron Barber and Pamela Simon.
A conviction for attempted assassination of member of Congress carries a maximum penalty of life in prison, a $250,000 fine or both, according to Burke’s office.
That happened really quickly, didn’t it?
Have you heard there’s more snow coming for the Midwest and Northeast? Oh joy. Right now they are saying 3-5 inches for Boston. That’s not too bad, except for the fact that we already about about 2-1/2 feet piled up everywhere. Oh well… check the story to see what might be coming your way.
According to the Wall Street Journal, poor poor Goldman Sachs is hurting.
Goldman Sachs Group Inc.’s profit slide of 52% in the fourth quarter showed the securities giant’s size and swagger aren’t enough for it to escape the tightening squeeze of a regulatory overhaul and jittery clients and investors.
The New York company suffered its third quarterly profit decline in a row, hurt by lower revenue from its vaunted trading and investment-banking businesses. Fourth-quarter net income fell to $2.39 billion, or $3.79 a share, from $4.95 billion, or $8.20 a share, a year earlier.
Oh those nasty regulations! Is anything like that really happening? I’m confused. Oh wait. It’s not really regulations, it’s just the Wall Streeters’ fears of risk or something.
Like its rivals, Goldman is being hurt by the reluctance of many institutional investors, wealthy individuals, companies and other clients to take risks because they still are reeling from losses during the crisis. Hedge funds are weaning themselves from some of the leverage used to make big bets, and U.S. companies are holding more than $2 trillion in stagnant cash.
As a result, demand for the vast inventory of stocks, bonds and other investments that Goldman buys and sells on behalf of customers, generating commissions and other fees for the firm, fell in the latest quarter. Trading-related revenue shrank 31% to $3.64 billion from $5.25 billion in 2009’s fourth quarter.
Whatever… A bunch of rich people whining. Just what you wanted to hear about with your morning coffee, I’ll bet.
The Governor of Alabama doesn’t consider me among his brothers and sisters. Shock!
Alabama Republican Governor Robert Bentley said in a Martin Luther King Jr. Day message Monday that he does not consider Americans who do not accept Jesus Christ as their savior to be his brothers and sisters.
“There may be some people here today who do not have living within them the Holy Spirit,” Bentley said shortly after taking the oath of office, according to the Birmingham News. ”But if you have been adopted in God’s family like I have, and like you have if you’re a Christian and if you’re saved, and the Holy Spirit lives within you just like the Holy Spirit lives within me, then you know what that makes? It makes you and me brothers. And it makes you and me brother and sister.”
”Now I will have to say that, if we don’t have the same daddy, we’re not brothers and sisters,” he continued. “So anybody here today who has not accepted Jesus Christ as their savior, I’m telling you, you’re not my brother and you’re not my sister, and I want to be your brother.”
Awww… I’m really hurt.
Didja hear the new Republican House voted to repeal the useless Republican style health care non-reform bill?
The vote passed Wednesday 245-to-189 — with unanimous GOP support, plus three Democrats. But the repeal bill is destined to die in the Senate, so Republicans will use their newly acquired power in the House to wage a long-term campaign to weaken the law.
The next steps — hearings, testimony from administration officials, funding cuts — lack the punch of a straight repeal vote, but Republicans said they will keep at it, hoping the end result is the same: stalling implementation of the $900 billion law.
Republicans promise to hold a series of hearings and oversight investigations into the law, attempt to repeal individual provisions and craft an alternative health care plan. Some of the first issues they will tackle are the cost of the law, the mandate on larger employers to provide coverage and the impact of the legislation on the states.
But the GOP is expected to be thwarted at every turn by the Democratic-controlled Senate — and ultimately President Barack Obama, who has said he is willing to “improve” the law but “we can’t go backward.”
At least while they’re fooling around with Obamacare, they’re not repealing Social Security….
Sooooo…. what are you reading this morning? Anything cheerful happening?