Saturday Late Morning Links

Good Morning! Here are a few news links to get you started on your weekend reading.

Ralph posted this FDL link in a comment last night last night, and I thought it deserved front page attention: Right-Wingers Horrified to Discover That Conservative Movement is Seriously Crazy

The complete implosion of the Secessionist on the national stage and the subsequent rise of the Pizza Guy has just been too much for some wingers to take. They’re looking at those polls showing the Pizza Guy still leading Willard, and wondering how the hell they came to be totally surrounded by crazy people.

The quotes from wingers are too funny. They’re almost as disturbed by their candidates as we are.

From Politico, more on the Cain sexual harassment situation:
Under Herman Cain, NRA launched sex harassment fight

In the wake of the televised 1991 Clarence Thomas Supreme Court confirmation hearings — and the widely publicized sexual harassment charges leveled against him by Anita Hill — American businesses had been hit by a wave of sexual harassment cases. And the restaurant industry, in particular, was hit especially hard.

Industry officials saw it coming — none other than Cain himself warned as long ago as 1991 that changes in federal law resulting from the hearings could cause problems for employers.

“This bill opens the door for opportunists who will use the legislation to make some money,” Cain, then CEO of Godfather’s Pizza, told Nation’s Restaurant News. “I’m certainly for civil rights, but I don’t know if this bill is fair because of what we’ll have to spend to defend ourselves in unwarranted cases.”

Excuse me? Unwarranted cases?

NYT: Greek Leader Survives Vote, Bolstering Deal on Europe Debt

ATHENS — Prime Minister George Papandreou of Greece survived a crucial confidence vote in the Greek Parliament early on Saturday, a vote that signaled approval of the comprehensive deal reached by European leaders last week to stabilize the euro and to help Greece avoid defaulting on its debt.

Mr. Papandreou pledged to form a unity government with a broader consensus, regardless of whether he would lead it, and met with President Karolos Papoulias to explore the composition of a transitional government.

According to media reports, Mr. Papandreou told the Greek president that the country needed to forge a political consensus to prove it wanted to keep the euro. “In order to create this wider cooperation, we will start the necessary procedures and contacts soon,” Reuters quoted Mr. Papandreou as saying.

“My aim is to immediately create a government of cooperation,” Mr. Papandreou was quoted as saying. “A lack of consensus would worry our European partners about our country’s membership of the euro zone.”

According to the UK Guardian, Papandreau will soon be replaced with “his deputy and rival Evangelos Venizelos.”

Venizelos has won considerable respect among eurozone leaders for his handling of the crisis. It was he who forced Papandreou to abandon his destabilising plans for a referendum on the 27 October eurozone summit package that envisages a further €130bn (£112bn) bailout for Greece paid for largely by a 50% “haircut” for private creditors on their holdings of Greek debt. This was after the pair were given a humiliating dressing down by Germany’s Angela Merkel and France’s Nicolas Sarkozy before the G20 summit got under way in Cannes.

The finance minister, who was first to congratulate the premier on his pyrrhic victoryon Saturday, has been on the phone to reassure his eurozone colleagues, above all Wolfgang Schäuble of Germany, that Greece will meet the terms of the second bailout and be able to reach a deal on the fine details within a few weeks.

Bondholders marshalled by the International Institute for Finance are demanding political certainty in the country – as is the business community which has been pressing behind the scenes for a government of national salvation led by a non-political figure such as Loukas Papademos, former president of the European Central Bank.

Venizelos told Schäuble et al that he would turn up at Monday’s meeting of eurogroup finance ministers in Brussels armed with what his ministry called “the political guarantees which are necessary for the disbursement of the sixth tranche of €8bn”. This is the sum required before 15 December to save Greece from bankruptcy. Greek banks, which have almost €50bn exposure to state debt, need the package approved swiftly so they can rebuild their capital base.

WSJ on the death of Andy Rooney:

Andy Rooney was America’s bemused uncle, spouting homespun wisdom weekly at the end of “60 Minutes,” a soupcon of topical relief after the news magazine’s harder-hitting segments.

Peering at viewers through bushy eyebrows across his desk, Mr. Rooney might start out, seemingly at random, “Did you ever notice that…” and he was off, riffing on pencils, pies, parking places, whatever. Then he was done, slightly cranky revelations delivered in a neat three-minute package.

Mr. Rooney, who died Friday night at age 92, was a reporter and writer-producer for television for decades before landing in 1978 on “60 Minutes.” To his consternation, the show made him into a celebrity.

I was never a fan, but I’m sure many Americans will miss him.

Please post your recommended reads in the comments, and have a great Saturday!

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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?