Monday, October 10, 2011

Last Call

And Europe seems to have survived another deadline with Belgium agreeing to nationalize and bail out banking giant Dexia and France and Germany pledging to recapitalize the rest of the European major banks.

Dexia agreed to the nationalization of its Belgian retail bank and secured 90 billion euros ($121 billion) in state guarantees, in a rescue that raises pressure on other euro zone countries to strengthen their banks.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Nicolas Sarkozy said on Sunday they would tackle Greece's woes and agree how to recapitalize the regions' banks by the end of the month, but they declined to reveal details of their plan.

"We expect the EU to come up with a minimum core Tier One (capital) level under certain stress scenarios and a higher one without any stress. Then banks will be asked to reach this level in a short period of time," said a senior banker in Germany.

The question is how much will be needed?  British PM David Cameron wants to take the Hank Paulson approach.

British Prime Minister David Cameron told his euro zone peers to adopt a "big bazooka" solution.

"If capital is to have any chance of stabilizing the banks, it will need to be large: we would start with the IMF's 200 billion euros," said Alastair Ryan, analyst at UBS. This could involve euro zone governments owning 40 percent of the sector if such a sum was to come from the state, he estimated.

That's not chump change, and neither is the EU owning 40% of the European banking sector.  Could this be the EU's move to finally nationalize and unwind the Too Big To Fail banks?  Maybe...but I doubt it.

Joe The Plumber Makes House Calls

Our ol' buddy Samuel "Not actually Joe, Not really a plumber" Wurzelbacher is running for the House in Ohio, taking on Democrat Marcy Kaptur in OH-9.

The man known as “Joe The Plumber” is running for Congress.

Samuel Joseph Wurzelbacher filed paperwork with the Federal Election Commission (FEC) declaring his intention to seek the congressional seat held by Rep. Marcy Kaptur in Ohio’s 9th district.

Wurzelbacher rose to fame during the 2008 presidential election, when he asked then-Sen. Barack Obama how his tax policies would affect the American dream and the McCain campaign started using his story on the trail.

Good luck with that, Joe.  Kaptur's won big for 18 years now.   Granted, redistricting may make the 9th competitive, but the GOP is too occupied with getting rid of Dennis Kucinich, and to do that they have to railroad as much of the Lake Erie urban vote into Kaptur's district as possible to make the Toledo-Cleveland suburbs as red as Ohio State's jerseys.

It'll probably work, too.  Joe on the other hand, well he's got about as much chance of winning in Kaptur's district as I do.

Whatever You Want Them To Be

Our old friend Doug "Third Party" Schoen is back in Politico today, screaming that Occupy Together really means America wants a centrist third party candidate who will tame the evil partisans in Congress and bring them together to push his Americans Elect effort to destroy "reform" Medicare and Social Security and save America.

In my recent polling, both parties and the congressional leadership all draw net negative ratings.

So there is good reason to believe that a credible third party may be on the ballot in 2012 — and would garner far more support than most political analysts would expect.

I recently polled for Americans Elect, a nonprofit political organization that is now planning an Internet convention to select a third presidential ticket for the 2012 election. They are in the process of securing ballot access in all 50 states.

This demonstrates that an increasing number of Americans are now searching beyond the two parties for effective leadership. Many now support an alternative 2012 ticket to break the two-party duopoly’s stranglehold.

Amazing.  He's polling for an organization that wants to create a third party ticket and he of course found that Americans really want a third party ticket.  Quelle surprise!

Voters desperately want the opportunity to change the political system. Polling showed they are looking for their voices to be heard by electing a centrist alternative to the Democratic and Republican presidential tickets in 2012. They believe, our results show, that this could force the two parties to work together, bringing logical ideas from both.

I'm having trouble figuring out how this would actually solve the problem, since the problem is Congress (and specifically Republicans in Congress), not the White House.  A centrist candidate would have what leverage exactly over Eric Cantor and John Boehner?  No, nobody expects this third party candidate to win...but it certainly would damage President Obama's re-election chances.  There's no way the Tea Party would support a relentlessly centrist candidate.  They'd line up behind the GOP for sure.

But Americans Elect would effectively split independents and Democrats, which is the point.  If these guys were serious about reforming government, they'd start with Congress, not the White House.  The fact that they exist to make sure the GOP wins in 2012 tells you everything you need to know about Doug Schoen (who has been trying to get rid of President Obama by any means possible) and the people he works for.

Supporters Who Honk Are Fined In Seattle

Police experimented with a new tactic Friday night as they responded to a weeklong Occupy Seattle demonstration at Westlake Park -- ticketing drivers who honked in support of protesters.

Starting at 11 p.m. Friday, police started pulling over and ticketing drivers who honked as they drove past protesters.

When the first car -- a taxi -- was pulled over, the protesters followed and shouted at police who then formed a blockade around the driver's cab.

The cab driver was then given a $144 ticket -- and protesters ended up handing him money afterwards to help pay for his fine.

I guess instead of honking to support a national movement, you could flip off the cops instead. At least it would be quiet.  I gotta say, I think it's awesome that protesters helped him pay for the fine.  It shows who is trying to do the right thing for their fellow man, and who is oppressing those who dare speak out. If I wasn't already on board, I would be now.

Cruel And Unusual Punishment, Rush Limbaugh Style

Just for an extra drop of perspective, this was originally published on "" under "funny police news."  I guess I don't see what's funny about it.
Talk about your Monday from hell. Not only did Bridgett Nickerson Boyd's car break down on her way to work, but when she pulled over to the side of the freeway, a sheriff's deputy named Mark Goad pulled behind her, wrote her a ticket for driving on the shoulder, decided to arrest her, followed her to the hospital when her suddenly racing heart prompted a call to paramedics, then took her into custody again after she was treated by doctors and finally drove her to jail.
To make matters worse, Boyd claims in a lawsuit that the handcuffs were put on her wrists painfully tight - she claims she explained to the officer she had just had surgery on her hand - and that she was forced to listen to Rush Limbaugh "make derogatory comments about black people" all the way to the jail. Boyd is African-American.
Because of the incident, which occurred on Oct. 4, 2010, Boyd filed a federal lawsuit Monday against Goad and Harris County alleging defamation, false imprisonment, malicious prosecution, assault and battery, and intentional infliction of emotional distress.
''Deputy Goad was aware that Boyd had not committed a crime and her arrest was without probable cause," according to the lawsuit filed in Houston.
The magistrate who saw her while jailed apparently agreed and dismissed all charges.

So, when a woman pulls over with a smoking engine that is enough for one jackass to arrest her for driving on the shoulder.  The stupidity is then further compounded by forcing her to listen to a racist rant by our favorite jackass, Rush Limbaugh.  The only non-jackass (except for Boyd, of course) is the magistrate who had the common sense to see a problem and put a stop to it before it approached white-hot nuclear stupidity.

I have special sympathy for her regarding the handcuffs and her hands.  This woman was far from a hardened criminal, there was no reason to ensure that she would be uncomfortable.  They could have cuffed her lightly, put her in a supervised room, or even used an alternate means of control if they did fear she was a danger to others or herself.  I despise people who abuse their power, and I believe that we should remove power from those who are incapable of wielding it with dignity and fairness.

This is harassment, pure and simple.  From the arrest until the magistrate, that poor woman had suffered unnecessarily.  Whether it was because she is black, female or both isn't relevant.  What matters to me is that she did the right thing and was treated like crap throughout the ordeal.

Jackasses in the highest.

Cain Unable, Part 5

Herman Cain is now saying the fact that he exists means racism isn't holding minorities back.  It's all in your head.

When asked by CNN Chief Political Correspondent Candy Crowley if he thought African Americans had a level playing field, Cain said he thought most of them did, using his own experience in corporations as an example.

Many of them do have a level playing field,” Cain said. “I absolutely believe that. Not only because of the businesses that I have run, which has had the combination of whites, blacks, Hispanics - you know, we had a total diversity. But also because of the corporations whose board I've served on for the last 20 years. I have seen blacks in middle management move up to top management in some of the biggest corporations in America.”

As for African Americans who remain economically disadvantaged, Cain said they often only had themselves to blame.

“They weren't held back because of racism,” Cain said. “People sometimes hold themselves back because they want to use racism as an excuse for them not being able to achieve what they want to achieve.”

I didn't honestly think Herman Cain could be any more repugnant, but saying that racism is all in the heads of African-Americans is just ludicrous to the point of self-parody involving what people think about black CEOs running for the GOP White House ticket.

The cognitive dissonance is staggering to me.  Herman Cain was in college during the civil rights era in the 60's.  When federal civil rights laws were codified, Cain benefited from them on the way to his lofty perch as Godfather's Pizza CEO.  At no point have I ever heard of Cain saying he was going to pass up civil rights programs or not take advantage of them because he thought the playing field was level.  He admits in the interview that educational and economic disparity still exists, and then blames poor minorities for it.  How does one escape a hell like that, you wonder?  Through a college scholarship, perhaps?

Hell, look at the racism that spewed out when candidate Obama entered the race in 2007.  It's only gotten worse since then, and Cain honestly believes there's a level playing field?  Is he blind to all the assistance he received?  Did he ever turn down a position because a company had an affirmative action policy in place?  How the hell is he so damn sure that he received zero assistance from any of the civil rights measures that followed on his way to CEO?

Of course, Crowley asked none of that.  But I sure as hell want to know.

Then Cain went on Face The Nation yesterday and said this about Occupy Wall Street:

Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain claimed Sunday that the Occupy Wall Street protests going on in New York City and across the country were a conspiracy designed to help President Barack Obama.

“The proof is quite simply the bankers and the people on Wall Street didn’t write these failed policies of the Obama administration,” Cain told CBS’ Bob Schieffer. “So it’s a distraction. So many people won’t focus on the failed policies of this administration.”

“You’re saying that these people all got together to draw attention away from Barack Obama?” Schieffer asked.

“We know that the unions and certain union-related organizations have been behind these protests that have gone on, on Wall Street and other parts around the country. It’s coordinated to create a distraction so people won’t focus on the failed policies of this administration,” Cain replied.

“It’s anti-American because to protest Wall Street and the bankers is basically saying you are anti-capitalism. The free market system and capitalism are two of the things that have allowed this nation and this economy to become the biggest in the world.”

Yeah, it's all Obama's fault.  Bankers had nothing to do with the financial crisis, see.  Also, damn dirty effing hippies hate America and it's a conspiracy to make you forget that President Obama destroyed the economy in 2007 with a time machine and an Excel spreadsheet.

Have I mentioned my strong dislike of Herman Cain?

Kings Of Wishful Thinking

Not only does our old friend Iowa GOP Rep. Steve King think it's a bad idea to allow the poor to vote and have a voice in government, his friend New York Republican Rep. Peter King thinks it's a bad idea to allow the poor to have a voice period and has an issue with Occupy Together coverage.

Rep. Peter King (R-NY) is upset at the growing movement and the media’s coverage of it, hoping that a modern day version of protests from five decades ago isn’t being recaptured now.

It’s really important for us not to give any legitimacy to these people in the streets,” said King on Laura Ingraham’s radio show Friday evening. “I remember what happened in the 1960s when the left-wing took to the streets and somehow the media glorified them and it ended up shaping policy. We can’t allow that to happen.” 

Let's think about that.  If it were up to Steve King, only property owners would be allowed to vote.  If it were up to Peter King, there would be no coverage of Occupy Wall Street or anywhere else.  Republicans are publicly running on a platform to disenfranchise tens of millions at the voting booth and in the media.  They are absolutely terrified of the common people having a voice.  Everything they are trying to accomplish legislatively is about stifling that voice, about ending the discussion, about rolling back rights, about the most base definition of conservatism:  the unchanging prevention of progress in favor of not the status quo, but the status quo ante.

"We can't allow that to happen," King says.  What, exactly, can he not allow to happen?  Dissent against the Republican agenda?  Minorities voting?  The people taking to the streets to protest against his real employers?  King is begging Americans to be part of his collective "we" here as well.  Who is the "we" here?  The 1% at the top?  Why does King get to make that call?  He certainly seems to think he has that power.

So yes, Occupy Together is now much more than a thorn in the side of the corporate Republicans and their mouthpieces.  It's a legitimate threat to them, and the GOP is treating them as such for a very real reason.

Land Of The Rising Core Temperature, Part 41

Another check of the ongoing Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster finds plant owner TEPCO in serious jeopardy, on the hook for around $50 billion dollars in compensation to people who lived near the plant.  As the first compensation checks go out this week, it's only a matter of time before TEPCO is nationalized by the crushing weight of their own massive failures.

Masato Muto, 40, works for the Tokyo Electric Power Co. in a rented one-story building. Only a clock and a calendar hang on the office walls, and most days, only angry people come through the front door.

The nuclear evacuees who come to this Tepco branch office in Fukushima prefecture are greeted two ways. First, by a letter from the company president — taped to a whiteboard by the entrance — that apologizes for the “great inconvenience” and “anxiety” caused by “the accident.” Next, by an employee like Muto, one of the 1,700 Tepco workers dispatched to centers in Fukushima to help people collect payments for their lost jobs and homes — provided they first fill out the 60-page application form.

Seven months after the triple meltdown at Fukushima Daiichi, Tepco, which operated the facility, owes $50 billion in compensation to the tens of thousands who lived close to the nuclear plant. The payments could send the company into bankruptcy, a government panel recently said. At minimum, they will handcuff the utility giant for years, forcing it to cut jobs, sell its assets, and perhaps raise electricity rates for its 29 million customers. 

I've long said that the total cost of Fukushima Daiichi will top the $1 trillion mark when all is said and done, not to mention untold thousands of lives.   TEPCO is not long for this Earth as a company, and Japan, already mired in a second lost decade economically, may not rise from the ashes of this disaster for a generation.

The prestige of working for Tepco is now gone, and so are many of the perks. It once operated resorts and sponsored clubs for its employees; Muto was once a running back on the American football team. But since the disaster Tepco has booked $23 billion in losses. Economists say the company will either go bankrupt — a likely scenario if its idled nuclear reactors don’t re-start — or carry for years the baggage of debts to evacuees and lenders.

Either way, said Tatsuo Hatta, an economist from Gakushuin University, “it’s a funeral company.”

And sadly, a lot of other funerals will precede TEPCO's demise, as well as follow it.


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