Friday, June 25, 2010

Last Call

Everyone all together now:

Dick Cheney has a heart?

Everything You Need To Know

Financial reform, summed up by three stories:

"Bank Stocks Soar On Financial Reform Agreement"
Banks outdistanced the rest of the market after congressional negotiators agreed on a bill that increases the regulation of financial companies, but that doesn't include some of the harshest provisions that the government originally proposed. The legislation imposes new rules on the complex investments known as derivates, but the rules aren't as strict as investors feared.
"Billions Of Reasons For Banks To Raise Your Checking Fees"
Bank of America, the country's top bank by assets, is "testing new offerings" for its checking account services -- the bank already has monthly maintenance fees on its checking accounts -- that will provide customers with "more choices on how they can pay" for the bank's services, a BofA spokeswoman said. 
"Banks Are Very Cheap In Wake Of Reform"
“At the end of the day, Congress accomplished nothing to remove risk from the system," he continued. "This bill was a big political football.”
Enjoy...especially when Democrats are blamed for not being tough enough when the next financial bomb hits.  And that is going to be a hell of a lot sooner than 70 years.

Zandar's Thought Of The Day

Damn you Matt Osborne.

Damn you to the lowest reaches of Hell.

World Cupdate

The final day of group play started out with Group G, with the already eliminated North Koreans playing the all but eliminated Ivory Coast, and Brazil and Portugal in a match to determine the group's winner.  North Korea tried to gain some respect, but having already given up a staggering nine goals in two games the odds looked long indeed, even against the Elephants.  Likewise, Ivory Coast had to win by ten goals or so just to have a shot at advancing...but against this porous North Korean defense, it wasn't an entirely impossible task, either.  Ivory Coast went all out with a 3-3-4 attack led by Keita, Gervinho and all-star Didier Drogba, while the North Koreans hunkered down in a 1-4-5 total defense formation with Tae-Se Jong the lone point man...the same starting eleven they've been thrashed with twice before.  With nothing to lose by going on vicious offense, the Elephants stampeded into the North Korean zone early and often.  Toure Yaya smashed a goal in at 14' and Romaric scored again at 20' and the Elephants were on the march across the plain, but North Korea managed to hold off any more goals for the half.  The second half turned into something of a stalemate as the Elephants couldn't get much going.  Some substitutions provided new blood, but it wasn't going to be eight goals' worth.  It was worth one goal by Kalou at 82', but the 3-0 win was too little, too late for the Elephants.

Meanwhile, the day's big match was Portugal versus Brazil, the Shield Select taking on the Cup favorite Canarinhos.  Both teams wanted the win to avoid meeting Group H leader Chile in the next round, and as a result Brazil went with a powerful 3-3-4 offensive battle plan, the Samba Kings looked to dance with Nilmar, Baptista, and Luis Fabiano leading their eleven.  Portugal was without star Deco, resorting to Ronaldo and Danny powering their 1-1-4-4 attack so repeating their 7 goal performance against North Korea wasn't going to be easy.  The two squads showed healthy professional respect for one another's abilities early on, probing and taking each other's measure.  This of course immediately led to both sides turning this into a ground war and the bookings started flying as both sides started looking for cracks in the armor.  A scoreless halftime didn't improve either team's scorched earth mentality either.  Brazil shifted to a 1-3-2-4 setup at halftime with Fabiano at point. However, with the first half thick with yellow cards and both sides looking to advance, neither side could afford a red right now, so the second half began to wind down into a defensive slog.  A few more defensive subs to take those in yellow trouble out, and the game collapsed into trench warfare.  The crowd, expecting footy and not a dance recital, let the boo-birds fly during stoppage.  Still, this chess match saw Brazil and Portugal advance without too much damage.

That left Group H in the late games in an almost identical position:  Leaders Chile and Spain playing to win the group, and the Swiss looking to advance against the all but eliminated Honduras.  The Swiss looked to neutralize Los Catrachos with a flexible 2-4-4 lineup featuring Nkufo and Derdiyok up front, while Honduras also led a 2-4-4 into battle with strikers Palacios and Suazo.  Honduras tried to look dangerous early on, but there was no shaking the Swiss out of their workman-like defense and counter strategy.  The problem is the Swiss couldn't execute much either and both squads settled into a pattern of solid approaches and horrible finishes, but that only favored Honduras as they launched break after break only to get walled off.  Meanwhile the Swiss would stake out territory and advance slowly, only to get swarmed by the Catrachos.  Blessedly the half ended without anything actually happening.  The second half began the opposite of the first, with the Swiss on the attack and Honduras strolling down on the counters only to flub the finish.  More skirmishing continued with the Swiss pushing up and Honduras rolling in behind them but neither team could find an opening.  Honduras put one in at 85' but it was patently offsides, and the game ended in a 0-0 draw, Honduras held scoreless for all three matches.

The main event was Chile and Spain, La Roja versus La Furia Roja, and another match-up of mirror formations:  Chile's 3-3-4 had Gonzalez, Sanchez and Beausejour anchoring in the center, while Spain went with Iniesta, David Villa and Torres in the middle of the striker line.  But it was Chile that fell completely to pieces in the first half, getting nailed early with three yellows in the first 20 minutes.  When they backed off, Spain went all in on the attack and David Villa came up with a goal from a mile out on a terrible clear attempt by Chilean keeper Claudio Bravo at 24'.  Spain continued to press and La Roja cracked completely at 37' as Ineista beat Bravo a second time, and this caused Chile's Marco Estrada to pick up his second card about a millisecond later, leaving Chile down 2 goals and a man short in the space of 20 minutes.  Chile limped off the field all but broken, the second half a mere formality.  But in the second half La Roja sub Rodrigo Millar came out caliente and burned the stunned Spaniards early at 48', and suddenly we had a match on our hands.  Chile pushed with all they had, but being a man down kept them from being able to drive home the dagger.  Meanwhile, Spain was rocked back on their heels but quickly recovered to use their man advantage to slow the pace of the half down and held on for the 2-1 win to take the group.  Chile now must face the unenviable task of Brazil in the next round, while Spain will face Portugal in a battle of the neighbors...and that wraps up a memorable group play phase.  Tomorrow, the real finals begin with the Round of 16!

Right Now, Dave Weigel Is Getting Shafted

It appears that Dave's views on Pat Buchanan leaked yesterday all over the web has now cost him his job at the WaPo.
FishbowlDC has confirmed that WaPo conservative-beat blogger Dave Weigel has resigned after a slew of his anti-conservative comments and emails surfaced on FishbowlDC and Daily Caller over the past two days.

A spokesperson for the Post said the paper will not offer additional comments but confirmed that the writer's resignation was accepted. 
That would be Kafkaesque to the point of hilarity if it wasn't so frickin' depressing.  Dave Weigel's one of the best actual journalists in Villageville, and they canned his ass anyway because he basically said what a racist dickhead Pat Buchanan was on a private email list.  Those emails got blasted all over the place, and Weigel got scalped as a result.

To recap, things that mean losing your job as a DC reporter include being mean to Pat Buchanan and Israel, things that get you promoted include war drumming for Iraq, saying torture is okay, and repeatedly asking where Obama's birth certificate is.

I hate the Village.  I really do.

Drilling Down On The Oil Numbers, Again

Opposition to more offshore drilling is solidifying as the BP oil geyser continues to gush millions and millions of gallons of crude into the gulf and across beaches in now four states.  Steve Benen tabulates the results:
A new Pew Research Center poll finds that the BP oil spill disaster has grown more serious, Americans' support for drilling has fallen dramatically.
Opposition to allowing more offshore oil and gas drilling in U.S. waters has grown dramatically in recent months as oil continues to flow into the Gulf of Mexico. For the first time since the question was first asked nearly two years ago, a majority (52%) opposes the government allowing more offshore oil and gas drilling in U.S. waters. That is up from 31% in February and 38% in May, shortly after the April 20 rig explosion that triggered the leak. In April 2009, 68% favored allowing more drilling in U.S. waters; 27% were opposed.
Support for offshore drilling has dropped across party lines, most sharply among Democrats and independents.
A majority of self-described Democrats and independents now oppose expanded offshore drilling, a sharp reversal of attitudes from earlier this year. By a nearly 2-to-1 margin, rank-and-file Republicans still want more drilling, though it's worth noting that even opposition among Republicans has grown from 19% in May to 34% now.
The question is what's the response to this from lawmakers going to be?  The energy bill trade-off was more offshore drilling in exchange for carbon caps.  That's a non-starter now for a majority of Americans.  Even election year Republicans have to tread carefully on this one.  Does this doom the energy bill, or is there another way around this towards another compromise?  Do Republicans even want to compromise?  The news is pretty grim on that front today.
Republicans have sourly predicted Reid's strategy of tying popular oil spill provisions to controversial climate policies that charge industrial emitters for releasing carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases. Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, the top Republican on the Energy and Natural Resources Committee, which is working on the spill measures, described the move this week as "untenable."

Still, Democrats are betting that the Gulf spill's black backdrop will energize public support for wider action on clean energy, making it difficult for Republicans and even wavering Democrats to block clean energy legislation before midterm elections.

"I think that the strategy of bringing up a bill and working toward that 60 ... it's going to force people out of the woodwork," said Franz Matzner, climate legislative director for the Natural Resources Defense Council.

The party lacks clarity, however, on which climate measures it will add to the legislation.
We'll see.  Republicans are pretty vulnerable here on this, especially Republican House incumbents who have amassed a long record of coziness with Big Oil.  The action however is in the Senate, and that's going to be a much harder fight.

So What's The Deal With The FinReg Deal?

What's in the financial regulation legislation deal that made it to the final bill?  As somebody who has repeatedly said and still believes the measure will not pass the Senate, the answer is pretty surprising.
Members of the House-Senate committee approved proposals to restrict trading by banks for their own benefit and requiring banks and their parent companies to segregate much of their derivatives activities into a separately capitalized subsidiary.

The agreements were reached after hours of negotiations, most of it behind closed doors and outside the public forum of the conference committee discussions. The approvals cleared the way for both houses of Congress to vote on the full financial regulatory bill next week.

The bill has been the subject of furious and expensive lobbying efforts by businesses and financial trade groups in recent months. While those efforts produced some specific exceptions to new regulations, by and large the bill’s financial regulations not only remained strong but in some cases gained strength as public outrage grew at the excesses that fueled the financial meltdown of 2008.

Representative Barney Frank of Massachusetts, who shepherded the bill through the House, said the bill benefited from the increased attention that turned to the subject of financial regulation after Congress completed the health care bill.

“Last year when we were debating it in the house, health care was getting all of the attention and it was not as good a bill as I would have liked to bring out because we were not getting public attention,” Mr. Frank said. “What happened was with the passage of health care, the American public started to focus on this.”

Senator Christopher J. Dodd of Connecticut, the Democratic chairman of the Senate Banking Committee, said legislators were still uncertain how the bill will work until it is in place. “But we believe we’ve done something that has been needed for a long time,” he said.

Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner also praised the conference committee for its work. “All Americans have a stake in this bill,” he said. “It will offer families the protections they deserve, help safeguard their financial security and give the businesses of America access to the credit they need to expand and innovate.” 
The bill, surprisingly, still has Blanche Lincoln's derivative language in it, the Volcker Rule (most of it) as well as laws that will prevent banks from playing the big casino games.  It's actually a fairly good piece of legislation and it's considerably better than I thought it was going to be.

Shame then that the Republicans will filibuster it in the Senate rather than see Obama and the Democrats get a legislative victory that might make voters take notice.

Psst. Hey Buddy, Wanna Buy An Island?

Greece needs money pretty badly right now, and if issuing bond debt isn't going to make people buy, they have a plan B: selling their many small Mediterranean islands to the wealthy.
There's little that shouts "seriously rich" as much as a little island in the sun to call your own. For Sir Richard Branson it is Neckar in the Caribbean, the billionaire Barclay brothers prefer Brecqhou in the Channel Islands, while Aristotle Onassis married Jackie Kennedy on Skorpios, his Greek hideway.

Now Greece is making it easier for the rich and famous to fulfill their dreams by preparing to sell, or offering long-term leases on, some of its 6,000 sunkissed islands in a desperate attempt to repay its mountainous debts.

The Guardian has learned that an area in Mykonos, one of Greece's top tourist destinations, is one of the sites for sale. The area is one-third owned by the government, which is looking for a buyer willing to inject capital and develop a luxury tourism complex, according to a source close to the negotiations.

Potential investors also looking at property on the island of Rhodes, are mostly Russian and Chinese. Investors in both countries are looking for a little bit of the Mediterranean as holiday destinations for their increasingly affluent populations. Roman Abramovich, the billionaire owner of Chelsea football club, is among those understood to be interested, although a spokesman denied he was about to invest.
Seems like a damn good time to be in super high-end real estate, especially when you have an extremely motivated seller.  Also seems like a damn smart idea for Greece...they can probably raise a fair amount of capital off sales like this.

Dialed It Back

First quarter GDP numbers have been....wait for it...officially revised downward.  There's a shocker.
In its final estimate, the Commerce Department said gross domestic product expanded at a 2.7 percent annual rate instead of the 3 percent pace it reported last month.

Although the growth pace was below market expectations for a 3 percent rate, it still marked three straight quarters of expansion as the economy digs out of its most brutal downturn since the 1930s. 

However, recent data have suggested the recovery lost some momentum in the second quarter, with persistently high unemployment restraining consumer spending, and home building and purchases faltering. 

The Federal Reserve this week struck a cautious note on the economy and said the recovery was "proceeding." The economy is, however, not expected to fall back into recession. 
Nobody expects a recession, unless you're an objective viewer.  Apparently even more than Star Trek teleporters, economics is subject to large levels of Heisenberg uncertainty, particularly US macroeconomics.  All of that is subject to and affected by being observed.

Schrodinger's economy?  Maybe.  What I do know is that every time something bad happens in this economy, it's "unexpected".  You know, even though it happens constantly.

It's almost like the Happy Face Financial Media has no clue what they are saying.  Imagine that.

At Least One Democrat Gets It

More of this, please, from Michigan Dem Sen. Debbie Stabenow as she calls the GOP out on killing the jobs bill:

Stabenow, whose state of Michigan has the second-highest unemployment in the country, did not mince words. “The Republicans in the Senate want this economy to fail,” she said bluntly. “In cynical political terms, it doesn’t serve them if things turn around (in the economy).”

Stabenow charged that Democrats have changed the bill over and over to pick up votes from Republicans, and they keep changing the minds on what needs to be cut. As it stands, the only thing in the bill that isn’t paid for is the extension of unemployment benefits, but that has historically been labeled emergency spending in a time of high unemployment. Said Stabenow, “If 15 million people without jobs isn’t an emergency, what is?”
It's not an emergency if the Republicans all think those 15 million are lazy union/minority parasites who probably vote Democratic in elections.  After all, since all Republican voters are hard working Real Americans, none of them have lost their jobs, right?

Only terrorists have to worry about losing civil liberties.  You're not a terrorist, are you?

Only illegal immigrants have to worry about Arizona's law.  You're not an illegal immigrant, are you?

Only people going to hell for homosexuality have to worry about a gay marriage ban.  You're not gay, are you?

Only unemployed social parasites have to worry about losing unemployment benefits.  You're not a parasite, are you?

The Real American is redefined yet again by the GOP.  Real Americans don't have anything to worry about.  It's the Others who have to worry...and in the eyes of Republicans, they don't count as Americans anyhow.

Rand Versus Fourteen

Rand Paul's the latest GOP luminary to shoot his mouth off about changing the Constitution.
Senate candidate Rand Paul (R-KY), in an interview this week with Right Wing News, doubled down on his assertion that the children of undocumented immigrants born in the United States should not be citizens.

In the new interview, Paul said he believes the courts should review whether the Fourteenth Amendment actually grants citizenship to the children of undocumented immigrants. And if they decide it does, he said, we should amend the Constitution.

"I also think that we need to have the courts review whether or not -- if you break the law to come into the U.S. -- whether your child would be a citizen just by being born here," he said. "The Fourteenth Amendment actually says that you will be a citizen as long as you are under the jurisdiction of the United States. Many argue that these children that are born to illegal aliens are really still under the jurisdiction of the Mexican government. I think we need to fight that out in the courts."
Which is funny, because the courts determined that over a hundred years ago in a case involving a Chinese immigrant.   But Rand wants the courts (presumably led by unaccountable, unelected activist judges) to re-fight the civil rights and Fourteenth Amendment battles all over again, mainly because Rand and his buddies didn't like the outcome, and that outcome is making it politically more difficult on Republicans in the future due to America's changing racial demographics.

Let's not kid ourselves here.  This has nothing to do with the law, and everything to do with Republicans being terrified of the Great Brown Horde taking over America.  Any time you hear a Republican wanting to change the Constitution to "preserve our culture" it means "I want to take economic, social, and political power away from groups that do not vote for us because we demonize them."

Why would the Randroid be any different?  He's just another Southern Republican, folks.


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