Sunday, May 25, 2014

Last Call For The GOP Money Guys

The Country Club wing of the GOP has the Tea Party right where they want them, and that's fine with the money guys because they're sick and tired of the nutjob side of things interfering with the corporate takeover of America.

Banks are breathing a sigh of relief after established GOP incumbents bested a handful of Tea Party challengers at the polls recently.

Industry sources said the establishment wins improve Republican odds of retaking the Senate, which would in turn lead to a friendlier climate for the long-beleaguered sector. But some note that the Tea Party has left a mark on the Republican Party, presenting a challenging landscape for the industry.

The Tea Party movement can trace its roots back to fury about bailouts and banks, but the force that pulled the Republican Party right in recent years is finding less success at the polls recently.

In Idaho, Rep. Mike Simpson (R-Idaho) was repeatedly blasted by outside groups for his 2008 vote in favor of the Wall Street rescue, but he soundly defeated his conservative challenger all the same.

Voters in Georgia, Oregon and Pennsylvania also opted for more mainstream candidates as opposed to conservative upstarts. And in Kentucky, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) trounced his primary challenger, Matt Bevin, who made McConnell’s vote in favor of the bailout a central plank of his campaign.

The recent shift away from feisty conservatives who are antagonistic toward Wall Street is a welcome development for a sector long in the political crosshairs of those at both ends of the political spectrum.

The fact that [Sen.] Ted Cruz [R-Texas] will not have a whole lot of new allies is very encouraging,” said one senior financial industry executive.

Shutting down the government and screwing up the markets?  Not what the corporate types signed up for.  They run the GOP and they're more than happy to continue to do so.  If the Tea Party suckers vote for them too after losing in the primaries?  Let them.  It's all good with the money men who really run the place.

Who are the bankers scared of?  Democrats.

Banks are also watching election returns this year with one eye on a lawmaker who isn’t even on the ballot in 2014.

Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) is not up for reelection until 2018, but he currently occupies the inside track to take over the Senate Banking Committee in the next Congress once Chairman Tim Johnson (D-S.D.) retires.

Brown is a frequent critic of Wall Street, and has advocated for tougher restrictions on the industry.

With more mainstream candidates on the general election ballot, financial industry advocates are hoping Senate power changes hands, and shifts that panel’s gavel away from Brown.

So what a surprise, the anti-banker bailout Tea Party saps are voting for the same guys that destroyed our economy again and again.  The bankers fear the Democrats however.

There's a lesson there.

The Damage Caused By Fragile Egos

Daily Banter editor Bob Cesca covers last week's Twitter e-peen slap fight between Double G and Julian Assange over who was the most ideologically pure when it came to "no more secrets".  Why should you care?  Because the end result is that people's lives are in danger.  Cesca:

It all began Monday morning when The Intercept posted a new Snowden revelation with the cutesy headline: “Data Pirates of the Caribbean: The NSA Is Recording Every Cell Phone Call in the Bahamas.” Get it? Pirates! The article exhaustively describes an operation called MYSTIC and another called SOMALGET in which NSA gathers audio and metadata of cellphone calls in the Bahamas in order to spy on human traffickers and drug cartels. The Bahamas is notorious for both.

Greenwald went on to inflate claims that this was all illegal spying, except at the very end where he admits SOMALGET is legal and the program cannot be used against US citizens, even in the Bahamas.  So yeah, standard Double G tactics.  But that's not the dangerous part:  Wikileaks founder Julian Assange stepped in because Double G didn't go far enough to harm the US.

The article refers to five nations where MYSTIC is used: the Bahamas, Kenya, Mexico, the Philippines and nation that Greenwald redacted because, to quote the article, “The Intercept is not naming in response to specific, credible concerns that doing so could lead to increased violence.”

The redaction didn’t sit well with Julian Assange, who is widely believed to operate the @wikileaks Twitter account.

Assange then threatened to reveal the 5th country, something that Greenwald wouldn't even do.  And sure enough on Thursday, Assange carried through on his threat.

We do not believe it is the place of media to “aid and abet” a state in escaping detection and prosecution for a serious crime against a population.

Consequently WikiLeaks cannot be complicit in the censorship of victim state X. The country in question is Afghanistan.

The Intercept stated that the US government asserted that the publication of this name might lead to a ’rise in violence’. Such claims were also used by the administration of Barack Obama to refuse to release further photos of torture at Abu Ghraib in Iraq.

And that's where we are.  President Obama is in Afghanistan today for a Memorial Day visit to our 32,000 troops and service personnel still there, and an NSA program in use in the area now will have to be scrapped because the bad guys now know the full details.

Both Greenwald and Assange have decided they are the people who get to determine what is a criminal act by the US government, and if they hurt Americans in the process, it doesn't really matter because as Americans, we're all complicit anyway and maybe we deserve it based upon what's being done in our name, because if we were as ideologically pure as these two arbiters of justice, we'd rise up against our government to stop them.  We haven't. so clearly we're just as guilty.

Therefore, some eggs will have to get broken.

So sayeth Assange, and to a lesser extent, Greenwald.

Once again, I question the motives of people who seem to be determined to do as much damage to our national security as possible.

Hawaii Ten Point Ten-Oh

The new law, approved overwhelmingly by Hawaii lawmakers in April, will raise Hawaii’s base wage in stages to reach $10.10 by January 2018 from a current level of $7.25, which is also the federal minimum.

“In today’s world that minimum wage is not a survival wage, certainly not in Hawaii,” Abercrombie said, referencing Hawaii’s high cost of living and rising housing prices.

Democrats headed by President Barack Obama have seized on the issue of raising the base wage of $7.25 as a way of stirring voter enthusiasm heading into mid-term elections in November.

Obama pushed Congress to raise the federal minimum wage to $10.10 but has failed to win the backing of the Republican-controlled House of Representatives.

Here's where's Hawaii Democrats are making the biggest difference in people's lives:

Much of the Hawaii wage debate centered on tips. Under the measure, employers of tipped workers making less than $17.10 per hour including tips would have to pay $10.10 per hour. For workers making more than $17.10 per hour, employers can deduct a $.75 tip credit from the hourly wage.

Under the $7.25 hourly rate, the tip credit is currently $.25 per hour for those workers making at least $7.75 an hour.

Considering Hawaii has just about the highest cost of living of any state, this is a long overdue change.  Good for Gov. Abercrombie and the Democrats who made this happen.
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