Archive for November, 2011

Ron Paul drops the H-Bomb (H for hypocrisy) on Newt

Ummm, Newt? You there?

– Jay Bookman

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Judge lambastes deal in Wall Street fraud case

It always drives me nuts to see stories to the effect that “Corporation X agreed Thursday to pay a $500 gazillion penalty to settle federal fraud charges, but the company admitted no wrongdoing.”

Apparently, U.S. District Court Judge Jed Rakoff of the Southern District of New York agrees with me.

In a sharp rebuke to such deals, Rakoff this week rejected a $285 million proposed settlement between Citigroup and the Securities and Exchange Commission, calling the deal “neither fair, nor reasonable, nor adequate, nor in the public interest.”

As Rakoff lays out the allegations against Citigroup in his opinion:

“… after Citigroup realized in 2007 that the market for mortgage-backed securities was beginning to weaken, Citigroup created a billion-dollar fund that allowed it to dump some dubious assets on misinformed investors. This was accomplished by Citigroup’s misrepresenting that the fund’s assets were attractive investments rigorously selected by an independent investment …

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Polls put Gingrich up huge in Iowa, S.C. and now Florida

From The Florida Times-Union:

ATLANTA – Newt Gingrich is the current favorite in Florida’s Jan. 31 Republican presidential primary, picking up supporters who fled Herman Cain to claim 41 percent in a poll conducted Tuesday night for the Florida Times-Union.

Gingrich has as much support as the next four candidates combined in the telephone survey of 513 registered voters who say they’re likely to cast ballots in the primary. The poll, conducted by InsiderAdvantage/Majority Opinion Research, has a margin of error of 4 percent….

The Times-Union poll was the first conducted in Florida since the woman claiming the affair broadcast her story on television. In it, Cain drops to third place with 13 percent, behind Mitt Romney’s 17. No other candidate is in double digits.

The same polling company, Atlanta-based Insider Advantage, puts Gingrich up in South Carolina as well this week, with 38 percent to 15 percent for Romney. A third Insider poll released earlier this week puts the …

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Ga. leaders wise to rethink corrections policy

When money gets tight, priorities change. Beliefs that were once assumed to be not merely true but downright unassailable are suddenly re-examined in a new light and found to be faulty.

Consider, for example, the assumption that the best way to fight crime is to throw as many people as possible into prison for as long as possible. Thanks to that philosophy, the number of people in Georgia prisons has more than doubled in the last 20 years, rising twice as fast as the state population. By the end of 2007, Georgia had the fourth highest rate of incarceration in a nation with an incarceration rate four times the international average.

A lot of the people we’ve thrown into prison could have been punished a lot more cheaply, a lot more humanely, and a lot more effectively. In fact, data suggest that in some cases, throwing people into prison makes them more likely to become repeat offenders. But for years, no one in political power dared to raise such questions, out of fear …

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Is the 2012 GOP going to pull a 1964?

While I still expect Mitt Romney to be the Republican nominee for president,  I have to admit that data such as this, from a recent Quinnipiac poll of registered Republican or Republican-leaning voters, give me pause:

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Three out of four believe it’s more important to nominate someone who shares their beliefs on the issues rather than someone capable of beating the hated Obama? At first, I thought that must be some anomaly, something gone awry with the polling. But I checked around and found a CBS poll that asked a similar question this month.

Again, “58 percent said they believe it’s more important to have a nominee who agrees with them on the issues than one who can beat Mr. Obama next year. Thirty-nine percent said the opposite.”

That’s not the 74-24 split reported in the Quinnipiac poll, but it’s still an overwhelming margin. It helps to explains why Karl Rove and others among the party’s Washington elite seem more and more frustrated by Romney’s inability to close the …

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Why Cain’s collapse fuels Gingrich’s rise

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"That's OK, Herman, I'll take things from here."

UPDATE: In a conference call with senior campaign staff this morning, Herman Cain reportedly said that he was reassessing his campaign. At least a few of those on the line took that to mean he was considering dropping out.

I think most of us can now agree that Herman Cain is finished as a candidate. The combination of a terrible campaign staff, a painfully ill-prepared candidate and multiple allegations of sexual misbehavior has reduced Cain from the flavor of the month to an object of pity and embarrassment.

The former talk-radio host may choose to remain in the race, but he is no longer relevant and will continue to leak support. It’s time to move on.

So what does that mean?

I’ve been scrolling through a series of recent polls, both national and state-level. In general, all of them report that Gingrich, Romney and to a lesser degree Cain occupy an upper tier. But the question of the day is what will happen to Cain supporters? …

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Will Europe’s problems become our problems?

Yikes.

In recent months, I’ve begun to feel just a wee bit more optimistic about the economy, and the weekend shopping figures seem to justify that sentiment. Hiring seems to be picking up a bit as well. The biggest remaining obstacle to continued recovery would seem to be the ongoing economic problems in the Eurozone. If that challenge could be managed, we might be alright heading into 2012.

Unfortunately, numbers released last week revealed that new manufacturing orders in Europe had fallen by 6.4 percent, a decline comparable to the collapse of 2008. And what does this mean for those of us on this side of the Atlantic? How much protection does thousands of miles of ocean provide?

Tim Duy at Fed Watch compares how U.S. output has historically tracked that of Europe and concludes that Europe’s decline could have a serious impact here, and none of it good:

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Of course, since this is all Barney Frank’s fault and has nothing to do with an international debt crisis driven by an …

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Wow. Newt Gingrich condemns political opportunism?

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Newt Gingrich, in a South Carolina radio interview, was asked today whether there are things he would not do or say in order to become president. Gingrich used the question to contrast himself with Mitt Romney:

“Sure, there are lots of things that I wouldn’t do. I wouldn’t lie to the American people. I wouldn’t switch my positions for political reasons. It’s perfectly reasonable to change your position if facts change, if you see new things you didn’t see in the past. Everybody’s done that — Ronald Reagan did it.

“It’s wrong to go around and adopt radically different positions based on your need of any one election. Because then people have to ask themselves, ‘What will you tell me next time?’”

I share the speaker’s distaste for crass political opportunism. For instance, what would you say of a politician who on March 7 boldly condemns President Obama for not intervening in Libya on humanitarian grounds and who insists on immediate action …

“Exercise …

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As share of GDP, profits soar and paychecks plummet

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NARRATIVE #1:

Barack Obama is a socialist, secular Marxist who hates business and wants to steal from the producers and give to the “takers.” Through overregulation, high taxes and “uncertainty,” he has made it all but impossible for American business to make a profit.

————————

NARRATIVE #2 (in graphic form) :

corpprof

Source: New York Times, U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis

As Floyd Norris notes in the New York Times:

“In the eight decades before the recent recession, there was never a period when as much as 9 percent of American gross domestic product went to companies in the form of after-tax profits. Now the figure is over 10 percent.

During the same period, there never was a quarter when wage and salary income amounted to less than 45 percent of the economy. Now the figure is below 44 percent.

For companies, these are boom times. For workers, the opposite is true.”

Now, which competing narrative should you accept? I suppose it’s like shopping for a new car or television set — it …

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Barney Frank, the GOPs’ favorite villain, to retire

Barney Franks casts his mysterious spell over House Republicans.

Barney Frank casts his mysterious spell over House Republicans.

Barney Frank, 71, will reportedly announce this afternoon that he will not be running for re-election next year.

On the hand, that will deprive the Republican noise machine of one of its favorite stock villains. On the other hand, it will quickly identify someone else to replace him. Elizabeth Warren, another Massachusetts liberal, comes to mind.

It will also occasion another rehash of claims that Frank, as a minority member of the U.S. House at an era time when Republicans ran the place with an iron fist, somehow managed to singlehandedly bamboozle the GOP majority into backing the destruction of the U.S. housing industry. And as always, they will have no explanation of how such a thing is possible.

As the Boston Globe reports:

“A close adviser told the Globe today that the new district in which Frank would have to run next year was a major factor in his decision. While it retained his Newton stronghold, it was …

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