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Divernan's Journal
Divernan's Journal
January 29, 2015

Pennsylvania Gov. Wolf to sign order barring drilling of new oil, gas wells in state forests, parks

Source: Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.

Gov. Tom Wolf is set to sign an executive order reinstating a moratorium on new leases for oil and gas drilling under state-owned forests and parks, according to his office.

The order arises in Wolf's second week in office and reverses an executive order issued by former Gov. Tom Corbett in 2014 that ended a blanket ban on drilling leases. The Corbett administration had agreed to delay new leasing until a legal challenge to his plan was resolved. A Commonwealth Court decision this month opened the door for the state to proceed with the plan to expand drilling in forests and parks.

Drilling and fracking critics including the Sierra Club and PennFuture cheered the announcement as a campaign promise fulfilled and a public health and environmental safeguard.

“There's broad public support to keep fracking out of our state parks and forests, (and) during the campaign Governor Wolf made a commitment to prevent new leasing of our public lands, and we're pleased to see him follow through on that commitment,” said Joanne Kilgour, director of the Pennsylvania chapter of the Sierra Club.

Read more: http://triblive.com/state/pennsylvania/7661139-74/state-drilling-gas#ixzz3QCcpjg7K

Hot damn! A Democratic candidate KEEPS his campaign promises and does so in less than a month! Other promises he immediately fulfilled upon taking office were: (1) to ban all state employees in his administration from accepting gifts and (2) banning no-bid contracts (a big problem in PA).

Although anyone would look good compared to newly ex-governor Tom Corbett, Pennsylvania Governor Wolf is just outstanding. All the regular folks I deal with in various civic organizations are delighted about and excited by Pennsylvania's new Democratic governor.

He's also chosen to remain in his own home, rather than move into the ostentatious governor's mansion. His home is about a 30 minute commute from the Capitol and all the administrative agencies' headquarters. Corbett used to commute across the state to his home in suburban Pittsburgh for 3 day weekend - which meant that if any emergency/disaster occurred requiring a state response, Corbett was a 4.5 hour drive away. Wolf is in the capitol 24/7.
January 27, 2015

Hedge fund managers: grifters widening inequality through insatiable avarice

Robert Johnson, president of the Institute of New Economic Thinking, told attendees at the World Economic Forum in Davos that many hedge fund managers were already planning their escapes, should widening inequality fuel civil unrest. “I know hedge fund managers all over the world who are buying airstrips and farms in places like New Zealand because they think they need a getaway."

This raises a number of questions: (1) Wouldn’t it be cheaper for hedge fund managers to simply stop paying politicians to rig the economic game on their behalf? (2) Do they really need their “carried interest” tax loopholes and their easy access to insider information? (3) Wouldn’t they rather live on $5 million a year in peace, rather than $500 million and worry about civil unrest? (4) Why do they suppose widening inequality won’t create civil unrest in New Zealand?


Ah yes, Hedge Fund Vultures are raping America, one tax loophole at a time. Read the following article to learn the incredible amounts these grifters pay themselves and learn some eye-popping facts about "these smarmy fuckwads who operate said Hedge Funds and do it with little, if ANY, regulatory oversight." From Leopold’s writeup, via Alternet, (http://www.alternet.org/story/151569/how_dracula_hedge_funds_are_sucking_us_dry), one eye-popping fact:

the top 10 hedge fund elites make on average nearly $1 million an HOUR.

As Leopold points out..those guys are trying real hard to maintain a low profile. But he managed to find data on their pay scale, in relation to other rich folks, for 2010 and included the median family income level here in these United States in the following chart:
The Highest Income Celebrities, CEO and Hedge Fund Managers (2010)

The Top Ten------------------ Average Yearly Income---- Years for average American family to earn as much.

Hedge Fund managers --------$1,753,000,000-------- 35,217 years
Movie directors/producers------ $126,000,000 --------- 2,531
Top celebrities from all fields ----$119,800,000-----------2,407
Pop musicians------------------------$87,200,000---------- 1,752
Non-financial CEOs------------------$47,100,000------------- 946
Movie stars----------------------------$42,600,000-------------856
Authors-------------------------------- $26,900,000-------------402
Lawyers-------------------------------- $20,000,000------------402


Corporate vultures who are betting against us really do not deserve that level of pay.

In economics, there’s supposed to be a connection between what you earn and the economic value you produce. Otherwise, it’s called an economic “rent” – which is just a polite way of saying it’s an outright rip-off. These guys (and they are all guys) are ripping off our economy, and it’s up to us to put a stop to it.

Why am I so sure they’re ripping us off? I’ve had the dubious honor of exploring some of their biggest deals, including the “Greatest Trade Ever,” in which hedge funds bet against the housing bubble and won big. It turns out those bets were rigged. Hedge funds brazenly colluded with big investment banks to create securities that were designed to fail, so they could bet against them. So far the SEC has forced Goldman Sachs to pay $500 million in penalties and JP Morgan recently coughed up $153.6 million. This was to settle charges that these banks failed to inform investors that hedge funds had a heavy hand in constructing securities so that they would fail.

In fact, we can now show that hedge funds helped to prolong the housing bubble, deepen the crash and profit along the way. No matter what their apologists say, those hedge fund profits came from trash securities that never should have seen the light of day. Not only didn’t they create positive value for the economy, they created billions of losses that led to bailouts, unemployment and massive public debt. Whether any of them engaged in outright fraud, we leave to the courts. It doesn’t matter. It was a monumental economic rip-off, whether legal or illegal.

To really get your goat..let me tell you what tax rate they get to use, drumroll please…

To add enormous insult to our grievous injuries, these hedge funds managers only pay a 15 percent federal income tax rate (instead of 35 percent) on nearly all of their obscene incomes. That’s because of a tax loophole that allows them to declare their income as capital gains — they call it “carried interest.”

January 26, 2015

Scotland: Total Ban on Fracking & Unconventional Gas In Sight

I really love the Scots. With both the SNP and Labour opposed to fracking, things are looking good for a nationwide ban. First they kicked Wee Donald (Trump) out when he opposed Wind Farms; now this! We should all sing a chorus of Scots Wha Hae:

Lay the proud usurpers low,
Tyrants fall in every foe,
Liberty's in every blow! -
Let us do or dee.


After a flurry of announcements and counter-announcements this week the campaign to ban toxic and risky forms of gas drilling in Scotland may be almost won. The SNP have just announced their support for an amendment in Westminster to have a moratorium on all forms of on-shore unconventional gas extraction. Earlier this morning Scottish Labour announced they would ban fracking with existing powers in Scotland if they controlled the Scottish Parliament after the 2016 elections.

The speed with which the parties have upped their game following each other’s moves shows how anger over fracking plans is close to the surface in Scotland. Hundreds rallied against fracking December and are returning for another rally at Grangemouth refinery tomorrow. A much larger march is planned in just over a month.

Although today’s new policy positions fall short of a total ban, they remain a huge victory for Scotland’s broad alliance against unconventional gas who are fighting a wide ranging campaign against the Scottish and UK governments, local authorities, and fossil fuel companies.

Mary Church, Friends of the Earth Scotland, said the sudden policy changes “are a direct response to the passionate and informed opposition from community groups and concerned citizens.”
January 22, 2015

GOP Sen. Ernstís family actually received nearly $1/2 million in federal subsidies

Even within the GOP, Ernst is a world class hypocrite!


Sen. Joni Ernst’s family actually received more than $460,000 in federal subsidies (Headline)

Despite Sen. Joni Ernst’s (R-IA) rhetoric about growing up poor on Tuesday night, her family actually received hundreds of thousands of dollars in government aid between 1995 and 2009, the District Sentinel news co-op reported.

Farm subsidy records indicate that the freshman senator’s father, Richard Culver, has received $38,395 in commodity subsidies and conservation payments, with all but $12 of the money being used for support of his corn crops. Ernst’s uncle, Dallas Culver, has reportedly received $250,000 in federal corn subsidies and $117,141 in additional aid. And her paternal grandfather, Harold Culver, got an additional $57,479 in aid between 1995 and 2001.

Ernst did not mention her family’s use of federal programs during her response to the State of the Union. Instead, she said she was raised “simply” and taught to live within her means.

EXCLUSIVE: Iowa Senate shocker — contracts awarded to Joni Ernst’s father raise conflict of interest questions
Father of GOP nominee won $200,000 in contracts when Joni Ernst was in office, despite conflict of interest rules. Salon reported last October that Ernst’s father received more than $200,000 in contracts for his construction company during her stint as auditor for Montgomery County, despite a state rule requiring that contracts be voided if a county official or employee “had an interest” in the contractor.

Radio Iowa reported last May that Ernst said she was “philosophically opposed” to federal farm subsidies during a GOP primary debate. However, she added, she would continue to support them if elected.

Joni Ernst of Red Oak said she is “philosophically opposed to subsidies” but supports continuing the subsidy farmers get to buy crop insurance.

(And note ALL FIVE of the Republicans in Ernst's primary contest supported continued farm subsidies! A veritable grasping clutch of hypocrites.
January 19, 2015

Chelsea's hubby's the hedge fund trading son of 2 failed grifter/politicians.

Look up her in-laws - both former members of congress. Her father-in-law, or as some refer to him "felon-in-law" is Ed Mezvinsky

(F)ederal prosecutors said Ed Mezvinsky habitually dropped the Clintons' names and boasted of their friendship during the 1990s as he defrauded friends, family members and institutions out of more than $10 million.

Ed Mezvinsky was sentenced in 2003 to serve 80 months in federal prison after pleading guilty to a massive fraud that prosecutors said amounted to a Ponzi scheme. He was released from custody in April 2008, but remains under federal probation supervision.
Read more at http://www.snopes.com/politics/clintons/mezvinsky.asp#W86TSmhCqGEkOYkR.99

After serving five years in federal prison, he was released in April 2008. He remained on federal probation until 2011, and still owes $9.4 million in restitution to his victims.

And the groom's mother, Marjorie Margolies? Well, she tried to file for bankruptcy but the bankruptcy judge wasn't having it. Somehow the female bankruptcy judge didn't believe a woman who had served in the US Congress when said woman whined that she had no knowledge of her family's finances because her husband took care of all finances.

Shortly thereafter, she filed for bankruptcy,[20] but failed to receive a discharge from her debts, based on 11 U.S.C. §727(a)(5). The court found Mezvinsky had failed to satisfactorily explain a significant loss of assets in the four years prior to her bankruptcy filing. The bankruptcy judge stated, in her published opinion, "I find that the Debtor has failed to satisfactorily explain the loss of approximately $775,000 worth of assets (the difference between the $810,000 represented in May 1996 and the $35,000 now claimed in her Amended Schedule B)." Sonders v. Mezvinsky (in re Mezvinsky), 265 B.R. 681, 694 (Bankr. E.D. Pa. 2001).

When she filed for bankruptcy, a judge rejected her assertion of ignorance in a scathing decision that, depending on how you read it, either calls her feminism into question or suggests she knows more than she’s letting on. “Her consistent response to questions asked by her creditors about the disposition of her assets is lack of knowledge or ‘my husband handled it,’ a mantra that is completely at odds with her public persona, background, and accomplishments,” the judge wrote.

Read more: http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2013/12/the-clinton-in-law-marjorie-margolies-100696_Page3.html#ixzz3PH7Y4Lsv

Who would HRC seat these 2 grifters next to at state dinners? Whomeve they might be, they'd better hang onto their wallets. Oh, and since Ed Mezvinsky's own mother-in-law was one of his fraud victims, HRC would be smart not to invest in her son-in-law's hedge fund.
January 19, 2015

63% want "ideological purity"; they won't vote for a DINO-1%-Wall Street BFF

There's an obvious inconsistency in the results of this poll, which can only be explained by the fact that the 63% of registered Democrats, or self-identified Dems who responded "it's more important to have a nominee who agrees with them" have not yet been made aware of HRC-Sach's intimate ties with and kow-towing to Wall Street, Big Banks and the One Percenters.

She poor-mouthed the Clintons' dire financial straits because she measures her and Bill's $80 million net worth (http://www.therichest.com/celebnetworth/politician/president/bill-clinton-net-worth/) against the One Percent crowd, which the Clintons are lusting to join. They're on the fringes of that group now, but only in the sense of being bought-and-paid-for politicians. Because to the 1 %ers, politicians are people one hires (like a well-dressed, well-spoken servant) to act in one's best interests - not social equals. In Bill's case, amusing to have as a guest at a party, but for god's sakes don't leave him alone with your wives or daughters.

As far as the really wealthy go, the Clintons will always be parvenues, arrivistes and NOKD (Not Our Kind Dear, as they say in St. Barths and Palm Beach). A parvenue is someone who has risen to a higher economic class but not gained social acceptance.
An arriviste is a person who has recently acquired unaccustomed status, wealth, or success, especially by dubious means and without earning concomitant esteem. "Dubious" is appropriate re the Clintons' wealth because that + $100 million the 2 of them have raked in for speaking fees can accurately be considered as $100 million of debt they have incurred to sponsors expecting payback if HRC makes it to the Oval Office.

(As far as the poll goes, no 1%ers were contacted. They don't have listed numbers and they have people who answer their phones.)

Bottom line: HRC's "ideological purity" as that is defined by Democrats, will not pass the test of either a primary or final campaign for the presidency.

January 18, 2015

Your choice of quoted paragraphs is disingenuous & deceptive

This in depth article of some 40 paragraphs has significant insight into the force for change Elizabeth Warren exerts on the Democratic party, not least of which is wanna be candidate Clinton. That is why the article is headlined as it is by the WaPo. But you delve nearly to the bottom to quote 2 critics - an anonymous sore loser supporter of Weiss and MOST AMAZINGLY, you include a nasty quote from that name-calling columnist Sorkin, well known for his friendship with Wall Street. If you want to attack Warren, have the guts & integrity to spell it out in your thread title. To do otherwise destroys your credibility on DU.

New York Times columnist Andrew Ross Sorkin has earned a reputation over the years for being friendly with the Wall Street giants he covers. If you read his bizarre rant against Senator Elizabeth Warren, it's not hard to see why.

Sorkin admits that Warren could have had a better argument if she wasn't so blinded by her rage:
"It is true that Mr. Weiss doesn't have a lot of experience in the regulatory arena, and at least part of the role he is nominated for involves carrying out the remaining parts of the Dodd/Frank overhaul law. It is also true that Mr. Weiss, if confirmed, will be the beneficiary of a policy at Lazard that vests his unvested shares–some $20 million in stock and deferred compensation–by taking a government job. That creates its own conflicts. Ms. Warren might be more persuasive if she focused on those issues."

Good point: Warren should have focused on his lack of regulatory experience. Oh wait, she did. Right there in the fourth paragraph: "
That raises the first issue. Weiss has spent most of his career working on international transactions–from 2001 to 2009 he lived and worked in Paris–and now he's being asked to run domestic finance at Treasury. Neither his background nor his professional experience makes him qualified to oversee consumer protection and domestic regulatory functions at the Treasury."

Free tip for Andrew Ross Sorkin: Don't say someone should have emphasized a point they in fact raised as "the first issue." It makes it seem like you didn't read the article you're critiquing.

In my opinion, these are the paragraphs you should have quoted, if your intent was to convey the meat of the article, as promised by the headline.
No small amount of speculation has centered on whether Warren herself will run for the White House in 2016. She insists that she will not. But her advisers and longtime allies say that she intends to keep the pressure on Clinton, to make sure the former secretary of state pays more than lip service to the issues that matter to Warren.

She is training her heat vision not on the Oval Office, but two doors down the hall on the Cabinet Room. Warren wants to make sure that Wall Street-aligned figures who have shaped the Clinton and Obama brand of economic policy for the past quarter-century, going back to former Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin, are not the only ones at the oval mahogany table.

“The worst case for us is that [Clinton] gives a feisty speech now and then, but surrounds herself with the same old” economic gurus, said one longtime Warren ally, insisting upon anonymity to speak frankly.
January 13, 2015

Former Steeler Dwayne Woodruff seeking state Supreme Court seat

Source: Pittsburgh Post Gazette

Allegheny County Common Pleas Court Judge Dwayne Woodruff showcased his bid for a Supreme Court nomination today with a black-and-gold-tinged news conference in the Allegheny County Courthouse.

Judge Woodruff ceremoniously kicked off his run for one of the nominations for the high court, joining a big field of contenders in a year in which three of the court's seven seats will be decided.

He was joined by his wife, Joy, Judge Livingston Johnson, the chairman of his campaign, and a collection of his former teammates from the Super Bowl-winning Steelers of old. Mr. Woodruff earned his law degree while playing as a cornerback for the team from 1979 through 1990.

More than a dozen candidates have already lined up for the race that could determine the character of the court for a generation. Among the other Democrats seeking the nominations are three sitting Superior Court judges --David Wecht, Christine Donahue, and Anne Lazurus -- and Jefferson County Common Pleas Court Judge John Foradora.

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/news/politics-state/2015/01/13/Former-Steelers-player-Dwayne-Woodruff-seeking-Pennsylvania-Supreme-Court-seat/stories/201501130177

I practiced law for the same firm as Dwayne back in the 90's, so knew him from that time period. He was introduced at the conference by his former law partner and my former law school classmate, Shawn Flaherty (son of former Pittsburgh mayor, Pete Flaherty).

From Wikipedia:
Career after football:
During his football career, Woodruff obtained his Juris Doctor from Duquesne University School of Law, subsequently becoming a founding member of the law firm Woodruff, Flaherty & Fardo, LLC [1] out of Shadyside in Pittsburgh. Woodruff was elected in 2005 to be a Judge in the Court of Common Pleas in Allegheny County, Pennsylvania.[3] Woodruff announced in November 2014 that he would seek a seat on the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania in the 2015 election.[4]

Woodruff is a 1979 graduate of the University of Louisville in Kentucky,[5] where his football jersey hangs in Papa John's Cardinal Stadium and where athletes study at the Woodruff Academic Center, named in Woodruff's honor in 2007 upon a significant monetary donation.[6]

Woodruff is married to Joy Maxberry Woodruff. They are the parents of three children; Jillian an Ob/Gyn Physician, Jenyce an attorney and John a law student at the Duquesne University School of Law.[7]
Charitable Work

Woodruff and his wife Joy are currently chairpersons of the "Do The Write Thing" in Pittsburgh. The program is an Initiative of the National Campaign to Stop Violence (NCSV). The Do the Write Thing Challenge gives middle school students an opportunity to examine the impact of youth violence on their lives in classroom discussions and in written form by communicating what they think should be done to change our culture of violence. By encouraging students to make personal commitments to do something about the problem, the program ultimately seeks to empower them to break the cycles of violence in their homes, schools and neighborhoods.[8]

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