Archive for April, 2010

Filibustering GOP still doing Wall Street’s dirty work

The human capacity to rationalize on its own behalf is enormous, as demonstrated by the ethical musings of one “Fabulous Fab” Tourre, the Goldman Sachs trader now at the center of a civil suit filed by the SEC. In an email to his girlfriend on Jan. 27, 2007, Tourre agonized about the impending collapse of the subprime market and the pain it would cause, but quickly tried to banish such thoughts from his mind:

“Anyway, not feeling too guilty about this, the real purpose of my job is to make capital markets more efficient and ultimately provide the U.S. consumer with more efficient ways to leverage and finance himself, so there is a humble, noble and ethical reason for my job ;) amazing how good I am in convincing myself !!!”

But he wasn’t quite as convinced as he wanted to be. In another email, written just two days later, he confessed:

“When I think that I had some input into the creation of this product (which by the way is a product of pure intellectual masturbation, the type …

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In the Ga. Legislature, it’s the same as it ever was

The comprehensive ethics reform promised by legislative leaders back in January — reform that would weaken the seductive grip of special-interest lobbyists on our elected leaders — never materialized.

You are no doubt surprised by that fact.

Oh, legislators did pass a bill last week that they labeled “ethics reform.” House Speaker David Ralston, whose staff wrote the bill behind closed doors, would have you believe that the measure accomplishes all it was intended to accomplish. Sadly, that may be true.

“We had to respond to some problems we had in a very forceful way. This bill does that,” Ralston said last week while urging his colleagues to support the bill. “We had to change some of the ways we did business in this House, and we’ve done that. This bill gets it right.”

In reality, the bill changes little in the way the House does business. For example, it places no limit on how much lobbyists can spend courting their friends in elective office. …

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Gulf oil spill spreading; almost 50 miles long and 40 miles wide


An slick of oil leaking from the Deepwater Horizon oil rig off the coast of Louisiana, shown here in an aerial photograph taken Monday, is still several days from landfall, experts say. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

Boy, so far this isn’t looking good…..

From the NYT:

NEW ORLEANS — Coast Guard officials said Monday afternoon that the oil spill near Louisiana was now covering an area in the Gulf of Mexico of 48 miles by 39 miles at its widest points, and they have been unable to engage a mechanism that could shut off the well thousands of feet below the ocean’s surface….

The Coast Guard also said in a statement Monday that an aircrew from the United States Fish and Wildlife Service spotted sperm whales in the vicinity of the oil spill on Sunday.

“The unified command is monitoring the situation and is working closely with officials from Fish and Wildlife, National Marine Fisheries Service and NOAA to understand the impact the spill and response activities may have on whales …

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Sarah Palin a $12 million celebrity brand, not a politician

In a rather bizarre, rambling announcement speech last summer, Sarah Palin announced she was resigning her position as governor of Alaska after just two years in office. She was doing it, she said, for Alaska.

Rather than take “the quitter’s way out” of hunkering down and plodding through her duties, she said, she had decided to take another course, “to build UP this state and our country, and her industrious, generous, patriotic, free people!” She wouldn’t go with the flow, because “only dead fish ‘go with the flow’.”

In reality, as a new story in New York magazine documents, Palin did it for the money, and it lays out a pretty good case that the decision was the right one:

“The numbers are staggering. Over the past year, Palin has amassed a $12 million fortune and shows no sign of slowing down. Her memoir has so far sold more than 2.2 million copies, and Palin is planning a second book with HarperCollins. This January, she signed a three-year contributor deal with Fox News …

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Wall Street banksters brought reform upon themselves

With Senate Democrats itching to begin final debate on Wall Street reform, a floor vote this evening is expected to test Republican solidarity. Are all 41 GOP senators really willing to be seen as obstructing reform on behalf of Goldman Sachs and the rest of the high-flying finance industry? If not, who will break ranks?

So far, Charles Grassley of Iowa and Susan Collins Olympia Snowe of Maine have both expressed support for a controversial proposal to strictly regulate derivatives, a step that the New York Times notes is “certain to anger some of Wall Street’s biggest players.” But that doesn’t mean they’ll vote tonight in favor of moving forward.

Reports the Times:

“Officials said the Democratic plan on derivatives included many tougher provisions put forward by Senator Blanche Lincoln, Democrat of Arkansas and chairwoman of the Agriculture Committee, including one that is fiercely opposed by major banks because it would force them to spin off much of their derivatives …

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Arizona trying to claim title, but Georgia’s still in the race

from Politico:

“Arizona is “turning into a punch line,” one of the state’s newspapers reported Friday after surveying the latest global commentary about the state featuring choice phrases such as “wingnut paradise,” “nuttiest legislative body,” “America’s dumbest state,” and “blazing a trail into the fringe.”

…Even some of the state’s own politicians have begun referring to Arizona as a “laughingstock.”

…The sources of derision?

There was the “birther” bill approved by the Arizona House this week requiring presidential candidates to prove their citizenship by displaying birth certificates.

There’s an immigration measure that effectively converts the state’s police departments into immigration officers, mandating that they stop and question people they suspect of being undocumented immigrants.

And there’s the new gun law that allows anyone besides convicted felons to carry concealed weapons without registration or background …

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A bit of the new to get your travelin’ feet a-movin’

I don’t often highlight new artists or music here, in large part because I don’t hang out in the clubs as much I did in the old days, so I don’t get to hear that music where it ought to be heard. But I happened to be at Smith’s Olde Bar a couple of weeks ago listening to bands, and the first two or three to hit the stage were pretty good. Then this guy named Tim Brantley, the headliner, comes on and all of a sudden I find myself gravitating toward the stage to watch, because he’s better than pretty good. He was pretty damn good, and the “damn” makes all the difference.

I don’t know much about him, but this is one of the songs he played that night, accompanied by a guy who played a kickin’, rockin’-out cello, if you can believe it. I’m not sure you can capture live music all that well on video, but see if you like it.

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Eleven believed dead and oil sheen spreading in Gulf

A deep-water oil well that exploded earlier in the week sunk into the Gulf of Mexico Thursday, taking with it any remaining hope that 11 workers still missing in the blast might be rescued. Like the coal miners of West Virginia, oil field hands do tough, dirty, dangerous work so the rest of us can enjoy the comforts of home and the easy convenience of our automobiles.

With a sheen of oil already one mile wide and five miles long and growing, the collapse of the rig also sunk guarantees heard often during the “drill here, drill now” days of the 2008 presidential campaign that such accidents just don’t happen anymore, that the days when offshore oil drilling posed a danger to the environment were well behind us thanks to new technology.

Instead, officials are warning about “potentially the biggest blowout of an oil and gas well in the Gulf of Mexico in 30 years.”

From the New York Times:

“I think it certainly has the potential to be a major spill,” David Rainey, a vice …

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New transportation bill makes a good start at least

In impassioned remarks Wednesday night, House Speaker David Ralston told colleagues that it was time to stop thinking and talking about “the two Georgias” — metro Atlanta and the rest of the state —and refocus on one Georgia.

A proposed new transportation bill then awaiting a House vote did just that, Ralston said. In fact, he said, he had specifically instructed House negotiators on the bill to “make sure this plan helps MARTA, helps Atlanta, because in doing so we help Georgia.”

After Ralston spoke, House members quickly approved the bill by a vote of 141-29. A few minutes later, the Senate followed suit, 43-8. However, many of those voting had very little idea what the bill did, because it had been revealed publicly just a few hours earlier.

So does the plan accomplish the goals set by Ralston?


And yes.

For years, metro Atlanta political and business leaders have begged the state Legislature for a means to finance badly needed transportation projects in the …

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Reid to GOP: Get on board, or get run over

After watching months and months of attempted negotiation with GOP senators produce nothing in the health insurance debate, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid isn’t in the mood to watch a rerun.

From Politico:

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said Thursday that he will not wait for Democrats and Republicans to reach a bipartisan compromise on a Wall Street reform bill, scheduling the first key test vote for Monday.

“I’m not going to waste any more time of the American people while they come up with some agreement,” Reid said. “The games of stalling are over.”

The move puts pressure on Senate Banking Committee Chairman Chris Dodd (D-Conn.) and Alabama Sen. Richard Shelby, the ranking Republican, to reach some resolution on their bipartisan talks. Both senators have said they were progressing toward a deal, but Republicans have suggested that they would need more time than Democrats are willing to give….

Democrats have made a political calculation that at …

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