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Member since: Tue Feb 10, 2004, 01:08 PM
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Environmental Scientist

Journal Archives

Friday TOON Roundup 2 - New Money

Friday Toon Roundup 1: RIP, Mr. Nelson

Bernie’s valuable lesson:The Democratic Party does not represent the values of progressive Americans


Over the past year, the insurgent political campaign of Senator Bernie Sanders has revealed quite a bit about the reasoning of partisan Democrats, and thus separated the progressives from the liberals. As a populist candidate who has refused support from Super PACs and big monied interests, Sanders has shined a light on the unpleasant reality that the Democratic party — and its likely presidential nominee — is almost as reliant on funding from billionaires and Wall Street as the detested Republican party is.

Now, when it comes to criticizing Republicans, progressives and establishment Democrats generally see eye to eye. The Republican party is shamelessly anti-democratic and under the thumb of special interests; there is no debate about that. However, the other major party in American politics, while less shameless, is certainly no paragon of virtue. This has become increasingly evident as the 2016 primaries have progressed — and many Democrats are furious that the Sanders campaign has exposed this truth.

In recent weeks, the Sanders campaign has been increasingly vocal about the Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton’s many troubling positions and her ties to Wall Street and other industries. Sanders has criticized Clinton’s high-prices speeches for Goldman Sachs (for which she has flatly refused to release the transcripts), the $15 million raised from Wall Street by one of her Super PACs, and the fact that top donors throughout her career have been individuals working at banks like Citigroup, Goldman Sachs, and JP Morgan Chase.


This is yet another case of partisan Democrats forgoing principles in the name of party and politician. Sanders has done a great service in exposing some vexing truths about the modern Democratic party: Namely, that it doesn’t always practice what it preaches, and that it is more conservative and reactionary than most conservative parties around the world (e.g. the UK’s Conservative Party). Still, many Democrats will continue to wear partisan blinders and excuse their “team” because it is less repugnant than the other team. This is nothing new. Democrats who once strongly condemned the counterterrorism policies of the Bush administration became curiously silent after Obama expanded many of them, like the devastating and counterproductive drone program.

the rest

Honestly, Who Wants to Listen to Jon Huntsman and Joe Lieberman?


It's 2016, so we were overdue for another epistle from the No Labels grifters, the vagabond Bedouin merchants who ply The Empty Quarter of American politics. Led by badly beaten footnote also-rans Jon Huntsman and Weepin' Joe Lieberman, they've released their new policy playbook for whoever gets elected president in November. All of their proposals allegedly are based on polling done by the group and, coincidentally, I'm sure, they all are steeped in the group's fundamental belief that the problem with American politics is, well, politics. To make sure they reached the widest and most diverse audience as possible, they hooked up with that well-known populist pamphlet, Fortune magazine. It's pretty much what you might expect.

A bone gets tossed to the plain folks on capital gains, but you can say farewell to the mortgage interest deduction, the deduction of local and property taxes, and charitable donations. Also, the corporate tax deduction drops 14 points to 25 percent. And the ultimate goal, of course, is to "reduce the federal deficit" because a balanced budget is the Grail legend of this particular desert cult. They do not recognize the immutability of Blog's First Law of Economics: Fck the deficit. People got no jobs. People got no money.

There's a lot of technobabble stuff in the section about education and entrepreneurship that's worth skipping, although these folks seem to be the only people in the country who still believe in the golden dream of the online university. They want to tighten further the work requirements for people on public assistance, which is certainly an innovative idea that nobody ever thought of before. They also see the basic problem with the country's public infrastructure as the process' being over-regulated and not, as should be obvious to anyone not sleeping through the past 20 years, the refusal of conservative politicians to spend any money on the problem. And speaking of regulations, they'd like to "streamline" them and they suggest that some of them might be better handled at the state level. I don't know if they polled anyone in West, Texas. As for health care, they're also enthusiastic for the Republican idea of allowing people to buy health-insurance "across state lines," so we can all live in Mississippi. And there's a little bit of tort reform in sheep's clothing.

Institute reforms to reduce defensive medicine, with policy options including placing caps on non-economic and punitive damages; establishing risk-sharing between parties responsible for injury in place of the normal practice of joint and several liability; and imposing limits on contingency fees charged by lawyers.

As for their fiscal ideas, which is pretty much the only reason that No Labels exists, they'd like a Fiscal Responsibility Act that would "Prohibit Congress from passing budgets that would increase the national debt as a share of the overall economy, except in cases of war, disaster or recession," and they've bought into a gimmicky no-budget-no-pay scheme for Congress that's straight out of drive-time talk-radio. And the whole program can be summed up by the project's stated and ultimate goal:

Balance the federal budget by 2030.

Damn, I'm on fire now.


Hillary Clinton PAC Spends $1 Million to Combat Users on Reddit and Facebook

FEC loopholes mean Correct the Record can openly coordinate with Clinton's campaign.

Citing "lessons learned from online engagement with 'Bernie Bros,'" a pro-Hillary Clinton Super PAC is pledging to spend $1 million to "push back against" users on Twitter, Facebook, Reddit and Instagram.

Correct the Record's "Barrier Breakers" project boasts that it has already "addressed more than 5,000 people that have personally attacked Hillary Clinton on Twitter" in its press release, which the PAC released on Thursday.

The PAC was created in May of last year when it was spun off from the American Bridge SuperPAC, which is run by longtime Hillary and Bill Clinton supporter David Brock. Brock also founded the left-wing media watchdog website Media Matters for America.

Some Bernie Sanders-supporting users on Reddit already started to notice the changes on Thursday afternoon.



Nixon would be proud

Why the S.E.C. Didn’t Hit Goldman Sachs Harder


In the late summer of 2009, lawyers at the Securities and Exchange Commission were preparing to bring charges in what they expected would be their first big crackdown coming out of the financial crisis. The investigators had been looking into Goldman Sachs’s mortgage-securities business, and were preparing to take on the bank over a complex deal, known as Abacus, that it had arranged with a hedge fund. They believed that Goldman had committed securities violations in developing Abacus, and were ready to charge the firm.

James Kidney, a longtime S.E.C. lawyer, was assigned to take the completed investigation and bring the case to trial. Right away, something seemed amiss. He thought that the staff had assembled enough evidence to support charging individuals. At the very least, he felt, the agency should continue to investigate more senior executives at Goldman and John Paulson & Company, the hedge fund run by John Paulson that made about a billion dollars from the Abacus deal. In his view, the S.E.C. staff was worried about the effect the case would have on Wall Street executives, a fear that deepened when he read an e-mail from Reid Muoio, the head of the S.E.C.’s team looking into complex mortgage securities. Muoio, who had worked at the agency for years, told colleagues that he had seen the “devasting impact our little ol’ civil actions reap on real people more often than I care to remember. It is the least favorite part of the job. Most of our civil defendants are good people who have done one bad thing.” This attitude agitated Kidney, and he felt that it held his agency back from pursuing the people who made the decisions that led to the financial collapse.

While the S.E.C., as well as federal prosecutors, eventually wrenched billions of dollars from the big banks, a vexing question remains: Why did no top bankers go to prison? Some have pointed out that statutes weren’t strong enough in some areas and resources were scarce, and while there is truth in those arguments, subtler reasons were also at play. During a year spent researching for a book on this subject, I’ve come across case after case in which regulators were reluctant to use the laws and resources available to them. Members of the public don’t have a full sense of the issue, because they rarely get to see how such decisions are made inside government agencies.

Kidney was on the inside at a crucial moment. Now retired after decades of service to the S.E.C., Kidney recently provided me with a cache of internal documents and e-mails about the Abacus investigation. The agency holds the case up as a success, and in some ways it was: Goldman had to pay a five-hundred-and-fifty-million-dollar fine, and a low-ranking trader was found liable for violating securities laws. But the documents provided by Kidney show that S.E.C. officials considered and rejected a much broader case against Goldman and John Paulson & Company.



Danziger toon

Thursday TOON Roundup 3- The Rest






Texas Floods


Earth Day

Thursday TOON Roundup 2 - Rethugs

“With great ignorance comes great confidence.”

Thursday Toon Roundup 1- Money

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