Live Blog I : VEEP PEEP Show

Here we go!

Just thought I‘d drop this CSM article on the faux right wing outrage over the debate moderator tonight in as our first topic on a live blog series tonight. She’s actually a war correspondent but you know, it’s part of the lower expectations game.

On Wednesday, the conservative Daily Caller posted a blog about Ms. Raddatz, alleging bias because of her short-lived marriage in the 1990s to an Obama administration appointee, Julius Genachowski, the head of the Federal Communications Commission.

This shot comes on the heels of an avalanche of criticism aimed at last week’s presidential debate moderator, Jim Lehrer, ranging from GOP commentatorLaura Ingraham to Democratic contributor Bill Maher.

“There have always been questions about moderators,” says Atlanta-based GOP strategist David Johnson, who consulted on Bob Dole’s 1988 presidential campaign. Targeting moderators is simply a political strategy, he says, giving “each side a way to say, the debate was stacked against them if their candidates don’t do well.”

Mounting such a strategy before the debate even starts, Mr. Johnson adds, “makes the moderators go out of their way to be evenhanded.”

In one of the GOP debates earlier this year, CNN’sJohn King took withering heat for asking Newt Gingrichabout allegations made by his second wife. A variety of sources challenged Gwen Ifill’s objectivity in 2008 because she had written a book related to Barack Obama.

Now, both ABC News and the Commission on Presidential Debates have dismissed charges of bias against Raddatz, a senior foreign affairs correspondent. As reported in Politico Wednesday, The Washington Post’s conservative Jennifer Rubin tweeted that “this whole mini flap was obnoxious, dumb.”

Here’s the link to CPSPAN. 

Soledad Spins the Spinners Again

Tara Wall was put to the Soledad Truth treatment yesterday. She was unable to defend a contradictory set of statements on Israel and Palestine made by Wall yesterday after Romney’s NeoCon speech.

Here’s the basic gist from Alternet.

The exchange over the Israel/Palestine conflict has attracted the most attention, with O’Brien grilling Wall on Romney’s “contradictory positions.”

The topic of the segment wasRomney’s foreign policy speech earlier today at the Virginia Military Institute.

O’Brien first tried to get into the fine points of Romney’s foreign policy, questioning whether Romney was laying out any different options on Iran than President Obama. O’Brien asked three questions about Iran, but Wall was not interested in getting into specifics.

Then O’Brien turned to the Middle East. O’Brien juxtaposed the remarks Romney made at the infamous Florida fundraiser that was secretly taped, and his planned remarks today. In Florida, Romney said that peace with the Palestinians was not an option because the “pathway to peace is almost unthinkable to accomplish”–meaning a Palestinian state is unthinkable.

But in Virginia, Romney vowed to work for a “democratic, prosperous Palestinian state living side by side in peace and security with the Jewish state of Israel.”

O’Brien asked Wall about these “contradictory” positions. Wall fired back, and said, “the fact is that it’s the president who’s failed.” O’Brien then talked over Wall’s remarks, saying, “Tara, that was an excellent shift, but answer for me about Gov. Romney.”

O’Brien repeatedly tried to get an answer to her question, but it was to no avail. “I’m not going to get into a big foreign policy debate with you here,” said Wall, explaining that foreign policy is not in her purview in the campaign

Wouldn’t it be nice if all the media wouldn’t act like stage props and actually call out campaigns on inconsistencies and lies?

Interestingly enough,Paul Ryan was rude to a reporter in Michigan who was evidently asking unwanted questions about guns and violence. There’s some indication that Ryan actually walked off the interview.

A Michigan ABC affiliate posted video of an animated exchange between Paul Ryan and a local reporter on Monday evening, prompting questions about whether Ryan walked out of the interview.

When it aired, reporter Terry Camp characterized the interview as ending badly, and said Ryan was “not specific in his answers.” Meanwhile, the Ryan campaign said the candidate was asked a “weird question” relating gun violence to tax cuts.

The Ryan campaign said the interview had simply run past its allotted time, but that Ryan didn’t end the interview prematurely. Video of the interview that was posted to YouTube shows an off-camera aide (later identified as Ryan spokesman Michael Steel) calling the interview to a halt while Ryan is standing, still in casual conversation with the reporter while removing his microphone.

“Does the country have a gun problem?” Camp asked Ryan during the interview, held in the library of the Cornerstone School.

“This country has a crime problem,” Ryan responded.

I guess that Republicans expect the “Fox” treatment wherever they go.  Good to know that some reporters keep after them.  I just wish they all would!!

In Search of that Rare Breed: A Conservative Intellectual

I wrote about the Niall Ferguson article which was bombastic and wrong simultaneously. I didn’t even have to do any heavy lifting on it because the majority of well known economists and public policy wonks had already picked through all of his stuff and found it lacking per usual. Ferguson–like Brooks, Ryan and a shitload of nitwits–is a person that supposedly comes under the heading of “intellectual” and “conservative” these days. I don’t think those words conjoined mean what any one thinks they do.  If there is such a thing as an “intellectual conservative”, it seems to have gone the way of the DoDo.  However, John Cassidy at The New Yorker is on the hunt for one.  I’m not sure he’ll actually find one because–quite frankly–being an intellectual takes openness, honesty, and the ability to think critically.  None of these come in the conservative ‘toolbox’ .  He pits the prowess of Krugman against the perpetually wrong Ferguson in this link.  Ferguson loses as usual.

The cause of their latest spat: a characteristically overstated Newsweek cover story by Ferguson arguing that it’s time to replace Obama. (Headline: “Hit the Road Barack: Why We Need a New President.”) Krugman, who has been spending the last few weeks hiking through some pretty-looking hills, interrupted his vacation to accuse his old nemesis of misrepresenting the factsin claiming that Obamacare will add more than a trillion dollars to the deficit over the next ten years.

Nothing very surprising there, you might say. Ferguson, a prolific author whose “end is nigh” worldview makes him a popular speaker on the hedge-fund/Davos circuit, has been railing away at the Obama Administration since 2009, warning that its profligate spending policies were sending the U.S.A. the way of Greece. The equally indefatigable Krugman has been lecturing Ferguson for almost as long about his ignorance of elementary (Keynesian) economics and the bond market. (If people in the markets truly believed Ferguson’s analysis, the U.S. government would never be able to issue ten-year bonds with a yield of well under two per cent.)

What is pretty remarkable about the latest dustup is the weakness of the arguments presented by Ferguson, a streetwise public intellectual who, according to his Web site, now holds positions at four different élite academic institutions. If called upon three months before an election to pen a provocative cover story in a national newsmagazine clamoring for the President to be chucked out, most writers would make every effort to avoid giving the other side easy opportunities to tear down their arguments. And yet, here comes Ferguson blatantly twisting a report from the Congressional Budget Office and presenting numerous other distortions and half-truths that anybody with access to Google could discredit in a few hours.

The conservative–and business–backlash against intellectualism exercised through curiosity, critical thinking,and honesty is definitely with us. It’s what the yammering pundits and masses crave.  It’s also creating institutions full of folks that are complete flakes that get hired just to appease conservative ideologues who want their doctrine pushed no matter what the “truthiness” of it.  Intellectualism demands that you seek out the truth and adapt it once you find it.  Conservativism demand that you ignore the truth and push the dogma no matter how many times it’s been proven wrong.  Let me ask you a question.  How on earth did any one decide Paul Ryan was brainy?  I’ve never seen any indication of it at all.  Since when has blind obedience to disproved dogma become emblematic of smarts?  The only thing that gets trotted out on TV these days that can parse a sentence are the trio of Bill Kristol, George Will, and Charles Krauthammer.  Neither of them holds a candle to Stiglitz, Krugman, or even Bill Clinton. Yet, if one needs pithy comment, one turns Kristol, Will, Krauthmer and prozac and scotch.

I’ve decided Cassidy’s search is fruitless now that I’ve read the last paragraph.

Reaganism/Thatcherism, for all its faults, was a genuine intellectual movement, or counter-movement. These days, the right seems unable to rise above rabble-rousing. The end of the Cold War robbed it of an external enemy. The tensions between its social and economic wings robbed it of any internal cohesion. The financial crisis and Great Recession robbed it of a creed—laissez faire. It’s still got plenty of willing foot soldiers, and a lot of big money behind it, but where is the fresh thinking and intellectual direction? All that’s left is anti-government posturing, waving the flag, and Obama-bashing. And even in pursuing this limited agenda, it often gets its facts wrong.

What he appears to recognize as the last throes of conservative intellectual movements is actually the beginning of the new group of conservative hacks.  Maybe he believes in fairies too.  Clap you hands!!!

More Congressional Sleaze: Boehner and Cantor own stock in Goldman Sachs

Seth Cline of Open Secrets Blog reports some extremely disturbing connections between Congressional leaders and Goldman Sachs.  I think it’s time for a law that places congressional investment accounts into a blind trust.

According to research by the Center for Responsive Politics, 19 current members of Congress reported holdings in Goldman Sachs during 2010. Whether by coincidence or not, most of these 19 Goldman Sachs investors in Congress are more powerful or more wealthy than their peers, or both.

Nine of them sit on either the most powerful committee in their chamber or committees charged with regulating the Wall Street giant. Moreover, seven of them are among the 25 wealthiest members of their respective chambers, according to the Center’s research.

And of the six lawmakers who fall into neither category, two are the most influential Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives: House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.).

Altogether, the 19 had at least $480,000 and as much as $1.1 million invested in Goldman Sachs in 2010, the most recent year personal finance data are available. That’s an average of about $812,900 for these 19 lawmakers’ holdings combined.

Lawmakers are only required to report their personal assets and liabilities in broad ranges, meaning it’s impossible to know the precise value of these holdings. The Center uses the minimum and maximum values listed on the filings to calculate an average value for each asset and liability.

But these financial interests are not a one-way street: Goldman Sachs employees and its political action committee have contributed about $124,000, combined, to a dozen of the lawmakers who reported holdings in the company in 2010, according to the Center’s research. This includes all money given during the 2010 election cycle and thus far in 2011.

So, not only do Boehner and Cantor get donations from Goldman Sachs, they are also stock holders.  No wonder they want to get rid of the Volcker Rule.  Looks like Paul Ryan is an investor also.

In the leadership category are names such as Boehner and Cantor, each of whom has an average $32,500 invested in Goldman.

Goldman Sachs’ employees, meanwhile, have also contributed heavily to Boehner and Cantor.

Boehner has received $29,500, and Cantor $48,000, from them since 2009, according to the Center’s research.

Other Goldman investors with this kind of power include two members of the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction, better known as the debt supercommittee.

The first, Sen. Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.), reported $1,177 invested in Goldman in 2010, and, as minority whip, is the second highest ranking Republican in the Senate.

And not only is Kyl a member of the supercommittee and party leadership, he also sits on the Senate Finance Committee, which regulates Goldman Sachs and its peers on Wall Street.

Another one of Kyl’s colleagues on the supercommittee, Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich.), is also a Goldman investor.

Upton had an average of $8,000 invested in the company in 2010, according to the Center’s research.

Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), is another influential Goldman shareholder in Congress.

Ryan sits on two very important House committees: the Budget Committee, which he chairs, and the Ways and Means Committee.

Ryan reported an average of $8,000 invested in Goldman and has received $5,800 from the company’s employees so far this year after receiving $10,000 from them during the 2010 cycle, according to the Center’s research.

One of Goldman Sachs’ most valuable congressional investors is Rep. Randy Neugebauer (R-Texas), whose average of $550,000 in investments in the company is far and away the most in Congress.

Additionally Neugebauer sits on the House Financial Services Committee, which oversees Wall Street and the securities and investment industry of which Goldman is a part.

That also helps explain the $9,500 Goldman Sachs employees have contributed to Neugebauer since January 2009 through the company’s political action committee.

Rep. Gary Peters (R-Mich.) is another Goldman Sachs investor on the Financial Services committee. He has an average of $8,000 invested and has received $4,500 from the company this year from its PAC.

There’s a substantial list of Republicans listed that I didn’t include in the list above..  Democrats holding GS stock include  Sens. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.), Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) and Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.).   The details are on a spreadsheet here.

Can you really believe that they’re acting in our best interest when their wealth is vested in stopping GS from doing suspect things like selling lemons to clients and placing side bets that the lemons lose?  I sure don’t.  The Volker Rule places trading restrictions on institutions like GS. It controls the types of transactions that GS can do in its proprietary trading like the example I just gave you. They settled fraud charges in the US with the SEC and are under investigation in the UK and some of Europe.  You may recall the unit and testimony before congress.  The US settlement came in 2010.  That’s the same year that these holdings were found by the Center for Responsive Politics.

The FSA opened its investigation into the bank in April after the SEC charged Goldman with misleading investors in a complex mortgage-backed security known as Abacus. The SEC claimed that Goldman had failed to disclose that a hedge fund that was betting against the security had selected some of the mortgage loans included in the portfolio, costing investors as much as $1bn.

The largest fine handed down by the UK regulator came three months ago, when JPMorgan paid a £33.3m for failing to keep client money in separate accounts.

Goldman, the world’s best-known investment bank, has seen its reputation tarnished in recent months as questions continue to swirl over whether it favoured the interests of some clients at the expense of others during the financial crisis.

The bank’s business model is also under pressure amid volatile markets and regulatory reforms that have forced it to shut some of its highly profitable “proprietary” trading operations.

No wonder we don’t see perp walks.  These folks have skin in GS.  We are so f’d.