Thursday, July 12, 2012

Last Call

Over at ABLC, Angry Black lady made it pretty clear that Mitt Romney went to the NAACP convention in Houston on Wednesday to score points with his own reactionary base rather than try to make any sort of concerted effort to sway black voters to his side.  Today, Vice President Joe Biden made the case for the Democrats and why black voters should continue voting for the President Obama/VP Biden ticket in November.  Both Romney's cynically calculated outrage and Biden's call for continued support were political in nature, but the difference between the two men couldn't have been a more demonstrative example of the vast gulf between the way Democrats and Republican view the black vote.

 Romney came in with the clear appearance of starting a fight.  His comments to a group of donors in Montana late yesterday made it evident where he thought he stood Wednesday after his speech to the NAACP:

When I mentioned I am going to get rid of Obamacare they weren't happy, I didn't get the same response. That's ok, I want people to know what I stand for and if I don't stand for what they want, go vote for someone else, that's just fine. But I hope people understand this, your friends who like Obamacare, you remind them of this, if they want more stuff from government tell them to go vote for the other guy -- more free stuff. But don't forget nothing is really free. it has to paid for by people in the private sector creating goods and services, and if people want jobs more than they want free stuff from government, then they are going to have to get government to be smaller. And if they don't want to repeal Obamacare they are going to have to give me some other stuff they are thinking about cutting, but my list takes Obamacare off first and I have a lot of other things I am thinking of cutting.

Really?  Because it seems to me Mitt Romney here is saying that black voters only care about getting free stuff, and that he's more than happy to advance the most awful stereotypes about the "lazy welfare parasites" of black culture while dripping with privilege himself.  More importantly, it reveals that Romney was never interested in speaking to black America, but speaking down to us, which is a huge difference if you've ever been in a situation like that.  Of course Romney was going to get booed when his speech was laden with red state red meat and delivered in a tone where the Superior White Male is telling us Poor Dumb Black Folk what we need to know, and if we knew what was good for us, we'd vote Republican. And yet Romney's trip to Houston was a rousing success. 

He clearly showed up to be controversial, got his optics and headlines, and moved on.  It was a cynical ply by a political manipulator in order to win points with the angry part of the GOP base that thinks all black people exist to do is collect government checks for free, the money coming solely from taxes the evil Obama administration extorted from the blood and sweat of hard-working, morally superior white people.  He immediately played the victim card, as if coming to the nation's oldest civil rights group was a burden he had to gird his loins for, and bravely faced the vicious brown mob baying for his very soul.  He came out blooded, our hero Mitt.  Hail, gladiator!

Hail, indeed.

The NAACP has released the following statement: “This morning Governor Romney laid out his policy agenda for this nation. Unfortunately, much of his agenda is at odds with what the NAACP stands for – whether the issue is equal access to affordable health care, reforming our education system or the path forward on marriage equality. We appreciate that he was courageous and took the opportunity to speak with us directly.”

The Romney camp is of course perfectly fine with that. Which brings us to one Joseph R. Biden.  This morning Vice-President Biden took the stage in Houston and showed the staggering difference in the way Republicans and Democrats treat black voters.  One looks at us like everything that's wrong in America.  The other treats us like everything that can be right in America.

Biden drew cheers as he credited Obama for championing a landmark health care law, launching the mission that killed al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden and stepping in to rescue the financial system and U.S. automakers General Motors and Chrysler.
“He has put country first,” Biden said.
Biden addressed the annual convention of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People a day after Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney said he'd do more for African-Americans than Obama, the nation's first black president.
Romney was booed when he said he'd repeal Obama's sweeping health care reform law but otherwise got a polite reception as he reached out to a traditionally Democratic voting bloc.
The vice president countered that Romney's policies would hurt black working families, and he outlined detailed differences between Obama and Romney on health care, education, energy, women's rights and research.

Imagine that...treating African-Americans as....Americans.  Biden was so well received the crowd actually booed when he said he had to wrap up.  They didn't want him to leave, and Biden made the case, treating the audience as intelligent and informed members of the body politic rather than targets to score political points off of.  Even more illuminating, Biden did so by appealing to issues all Americans are worried about. So yes, not only was sending the Vice President a brilliant political move, but it was an excellent speech as well.  Treating black voters as voters rather than black.  What a novel idea. An idea that will never occur to Mitt Romney's limited programming.

Penn State In Freeh Fall

The hotly anticipated independent review of Penn State's conduct in the conviction of former assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky on pedophile charges is out today, and it paints a brutal and unflinching picture of a university that literally ignored Sandusky's vile, criminal conduct for 14 years, going so far as to say the purposeful ignorance actually empowered Sandusky to hurt kids for over a decade.

In a statement released along with the 267-page report, Louis Freeh, the former FBI director and federal judge who spearheaded the review, blasted several top former officials at the school.

"Our most saddening and sobering finding is the total disregard for the safety and welfare of Sandusky's child victims by the most senior leaders at Penn State," Freeh wrote.

"The most powerful men at Penn State failed to take any steps for 14 years to protect the children who Sandusky victimized."

He went on to name four former school officials -- former President Graham Spanier, former Vice President Gary Schultz, legendary former head coach Joe Paterno, and former athletic director Tim Curley.

The four men "never demonstrated, through actions or words, any concern for the safety and well being of Sandusky's victims until after Sandusky's arrest," Freeh wrote.

Their failure "to protect against a child sexual predator harming children" lasted "more than a decade," the full report says.

"They exhibited a striking lack of empathy for Sandusky's victims by failing to inquire as to their safety and well being, especially by not attempting to determine the identity of the child who Sandusky assaulted in the Lasch Building in 2001. Further, they exposed this child to additional harm by alerting Sandusky, who was the only one who knew the child's identity, of what (Mike) McQueary saw in the shower on the night of February 9, 2001."

Pretty awful stuff here.  I've long said that as hideous and abhorrent as Sandusky's evil acts were, they pale in comparison to people like JoePa knowing about it for years and doing absolutely nothing to fix the problem or to more importantly save those kids.  Penn State is in really deep legal trouble here based on the review, and frankly I'm glad to see that more heads will roll.

And it's about damn time.

Overstaying Your Welcome

The Boston Globe drops this semi-well known secret into the political arena:  Mitt Romney's been lying for months now when he said he left Bain Capital in 1999 and "wasn't involved" in the company's profiting from outsourcing American jobs to China and other foreign countries.  He was actually there until 2002.

Government documents filed by Mitt Romney and Bain Capital say Romney remained chief executive and chairman of the firm three years beyond the date he said he ceded control, even creating five new investment partnerships during that time.

Romney has said he left Bain in 1999 to lead the winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, ending his role in the company. But public Securities and Exchange Commission documents filed later by Bain Capital state he remained the firm’s “sole stockholder, chairman of the board, chief executive officer, and president.”

Also, a Massachusetts financial disclosure form Romney filed in 2003 states that he still owned 100 percent of Bain Capital in 2002. And Romney’s state financial disclosure forms indicate he earned at least $100,000 as a Bain “executive” in 2001 and 2002, separate from investment earnings.

The timing of Romney’s departure from Bain is a key point of contention because he has said his resignation in February 1999 meant he was not responsible for Bain Capital companies that went bankrupt or laid off workers after that date. 

Which means surprise!  Mitt Romney is an inveterate liar.  He's been lying about this for months and months now on the campaign trail, and he's got a lot of ugly questions he needs to answer now.  Most of all, this means the Obama campaign is now fully on the offensive, and even Gallup is showing now that Mitt's money is costing him with voters.

The Obama campaign has targeted Romney's wealth in recent weeks, stressing his net worth and how he earned it as head of Bain Capital, where he has invested it, and the fact that he has not released all of his tax returns from the last decade. Obama's campaign is apparently using Romney's wealth in its efforts to convince voters that Romney is not as well-equipped as Obama to understand the problems and needs of middle- and lower-class Americans. The Romney campaign has pushed back, stressing that voters are more interested in fixing the economy than in the candidates' personal financial situations.

Gallup's July 9-10 results show that most Americans say Romney's wealth does not matter. Those who say it does make a difference tilt five to one toward saying it makes them less likely, rather than more likely, to vote for him for president.

And as more and more Americans find out how he got that money, it will cost him even more with the voters.   Team Mittens is bleeding out now, and it's getting worse.

Farm Kids Need Protection

FULTS, Ill. — Families and agriculture groups say farming can be dangerous but parents are in the best position to protect their children while helping them learn about the family business.
I agree.  Learning hands-on about how to run the family farm teaches the value of hard work and inside knowledge about a trade.  It also helps families keep food on the table in poorer areas.  I grew up in a farm community, and I remember exceptions planned around hunting season and time to put up hay.  This was necessary for the kids and the families to keep profitable while feeding the region.

Agriculture organizations succeeded last spring in convincing the U.S. Labor Department to drop proposals that would limit farm work by children. Now they say the government should leave safety to parents.
I don't agree.  Farming isn't just dragging a hoe or driving a tractor.  Modern farms use chemicals, pesticides, large machinery and tools that are sharp enough to cut off limbs if used incorrectly.  While parents are in a great position to teach kids how to work a farm, it's clear that there should be some standards for safety like those that protect any other worker.  We have read dozens of articles now about parents who think they know best for their kids and putting them at risk.  While some may cry about government interference, an OSHA-like authority to make sure guides are followed is not a bad idea.

There is room for compromise.  Parents should be smart and understand that basic standards for safety and education are necessary to protect kids, and themselves, from harm.

Bowie Jagger Story Is Not New

I heard this years ago, like ten years ago, but it was never more than an urban legend at the time.  It seems that Mick Jagger and David Bowie were friends with benefits.  Not that there's anything wrong with that.

David Bowie and Mick Jagger’s friendship was once, apparently, a friends-with-benefits situation. In his new biography of the Rolling Stones front man, “Mick,” author Christopher Andersen describes how Bowie and Jagger coupled during their 1970s heyday.
“Where Jagger was still coy about his own sexual preferences, Bowie made no effort to conceal the fact that both he and his wife were bisexual and often shared partners,” Andersen writes in an excerpt of the book published by theNew York Daily News. ‘”Mick looked at David and wondered if maybe this was the wave of the future,’ said Leee Black Childers, former executive vice president of MainMan, the management firm that handled Bowie. ‘Mick was very conscious of doing whatever it takes to stay hot; David was the hottest thing around at the time.’”
I had to snicker at the "doing what was hot at the time" comment, but otherwise this is the story I heard verbatim.  So now we know.

I suppose it's important to point out that people who enjoyed their music haven't started sleeping with animals or slaughtering children, as the 'phobes would have us believe.  Two guys slept together, made awesome music, and nobody got hurt.

It's amazing what can happen when people mind their own business.

Another Poll Arising Position

The wingers are mocking the President for this National Journal analysis of recent poll numbers showing that the GOP's strategy of running as the party of non college-educated white folks against a black President is working pretty well for them.  But there's some interesting data in there that should have the Republicans worried.

No one expects Obama to win these blue-collar men, who are now among the most reliably Republican segments of the electorate. But even so, these numbers, if sustained through Election Day, would represent a modern nadir for Democrats. Since 1980, the worst performance for any Democratic nominee among these working-class white men was the 31 percent Walter Mondale managed against Ronald Reagan in 1984; the meager 39 percent Obama drew in 2008 was actually the party's best showing over that period. These new surveys show Obama that these non-college white men represent Obama's largest source of decline in the white electorate since 2008. 

And that decline has been pretty steep, from 39% to 29% in the latest polls.

Still, Obama is also facing weak numbers among working-class white women. The Quinnipiac Poll shows him drawing just 37 percent of white women without a college education, and the ABC/Post poll puts him at 40 percent with those women. In each poll that's up five percentage points from his showing in the most recent national survey, a change within the margin of error. But even so, Obama's performance in the new polls shows the continued Democratic struggles with those "waitress moms" that Bill Clinton and then Al Gore targeted successfully (Clinton won 48 percent of their vote in 1996 and Gore 45 percent in 2000). Obama appears on track to do no better, and possibly slightly worse, than the modest 41 percent he won with those women in 2008, which was itself essentially unchanged from John Kerry's weak 40 percent showing in 2004.

So he's actually rebounding a bit among non-college educated white women, but losing the men.  I can see that.  The real news is the entire electorate is less white, so these numbers are less important to Obama and more important to Mitt Romney.

But if Obama's doomed, how come he keeps polling ahead consistently in states like Ohio?

Such a poor performance among working-class whites would enormously complicate Obama's hopes in older Rust Belt states where they predominate, including Ohio, Iowa, Michigan and Wisconsin (and to a slightly lesser extent Pennsylvania). But in several of those states, recent polls (like Quinnipiac's most recent Ohio and Pennsylvania surveys) show Obama running slightly better with non-college whites than he's run nationally, which has allowed him to maintain a lead

So he's running even better in the swing states, because Mitt Romney's that bad of a candidate. That makes sense:  the economy is doing better in most of these states (Ohio especially) and you have to remember in these Rust Belt swing states, working-class white voters are also...tada!  UNION VOTERS.  And Republicans have been directly hostile to union voters especially in Ohio and absolutely in Wisconsin.

Those Bain Capital and offshore Cayman Island account attacks on Romney are scoring points, regardless of race and gender.

Peregrine's Final Flight

The bizarre suicide attempt of derivatives trader Russ Wasendorf has taken another strange turn as it turns out Reuters is now reporting his outfit, Peregrine Financial Group, had been cooking the books for more than two years in an attempt to cover up hundreds of millions in missing cash.

Wasendorf, 64, is reported to be in a coma after a suicide attempt Monday morning, according to a complaint filed by the Commodity Futures Trading Commission on Tuesday that accuses Wasendorf and Peregrine of fraud.

The source offered new details on how Wasendorf allegedly carried out the deceit, which involved the forging of confidential documents that the NFA uses to verify a broker's cash balance with its depository institution.

Wasendorf intercepted these documents after they were mailed by the NFA, the broker's first-line regulator, to U.S. Bank, where PFGBest had said it had well over $200 million on deposit, the person said. The NFA has said the account actually held just $5 million this week.

Wasendorf had set up a post office box in Cedar Falls, Iowa, according to a second person involved in the matter. It was to that post office box that NFA sent the documents, which were addressed to the bank.

The post office box was neither in Wasendorf's name nor registered to the bank, the second person said.

Wasendorf then forged signatures and fabricated bank balances on the documents and simply mailed them back to the Chicago-based NFA, the person said.

Good old fashioned mail fraud.  Gotta love it. Yves Smith over at nakedcap is a bit less nice about the whole rotten deal.

However, it needs to be stressed that this is not how a regulated broker is supposed to fail. As many seasoned traders stressed at the time of the MF Global collapse, customer accounts are supposed to be sacrosanct. And as a result, it is normally possible to have fairly smooth transfer of customer accounts out of failed firms. If it turns out that twice in a relatively short period that customers had their funds pilfered under regulators’ noses, it means that investors should vote with their feet until they have some assurance that these failings have been rectified.

And a good half of that money, $200 million of the firm's $400 million, is now missing.  But we need less regulation to unleash the power of capitalism on the markets, so that guys like Russ Wasendorf can make nine figures vanish into thin air.  Sure.

The American way.

How many more firms ripping off client accounts for hundreds of million and billion will it take before we do something about it?


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