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Archive for the ‘Democrats’ Category

Bill Clinton Era SEC Chair Tells Elizabeth Warren to Muzzle Herself

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Pam Martens and Russ Martens report in Wall Street on Parade:

Yesterday, former SEC Chair Arthur Levitt penned an OpEd for the Wall Street Journal, effectively telling Senator Elizabeth Warren to stop criticizing Mary Jo White in public. White is the current Chair of the SEC that Senator Warren publicly asked President Obama to fire this month for her bad leadership.

Obviously Levitt thought it was appropriate to criticize Senator Warren in public. So what is wrong with Senator Warren, doing the same thing to the Chair of the SEC, particularly since it is the responsibility of Congress to ride herd on Federal agencies, and the SEC has been a spectacular failure in protecting the public, but highly successful at protecting Wall Street firms. I would say that Sen. Warren’s criticism of Mary Jo White is totally appropriate, particularly since Levitt by his example validates this sort of public criticism. Continuing the column:

Senator Warren is a genuine champion of the investing public and understands how the SEC has become a lapdog to Wall Street under White’s inept leadership. Levitt is part of the Bill Clinton machine that de-regulated Wall Street and turned it into a massive looting racket in the 1990s through today. It’s important to take note of Levitt’s effort to muzzle Warren in the pages of the Wall Street Journal. Expect to see more of this coming from a lot more of Wall Street’s cronies.

Arthur Levitt was appointed as SEC Chair by President Bill Clinton in 1993. Levitt served until 2001, making him the longest serving SEC Chair. Levitt had previously been Sandy Weill’s business partner in a Wall Street brokerage firm. In 1998, when Weill wanted to create Citigroup by merging his Travelers Group, which owned an insurance company, brokerage firm and investment bank, with Citibank, an insured depository bank – an illegal merger at the time under the Glass-Steagall Act — Levitt and his other cronies in the Bill Clinton administration eagerly got the ball rolling.

During his long tenure, Levitt presided over the serial looting of the public by Wall Street. Levitt was in charge when two university professors discovered that the Nasdaq stock market had been fleecing investors for more than a decade in an illegal price-fixing scheme. Levitt was in charge when Wall Street’s fraudulent research and IPO pump and dump schemes led to the great tech bubble crash, wiping away $4 trillion in market value. Levitt was there when JPMorgan and Citigroup helped Enron cook its books.

So when Levitt tells readers of the Wall Street Journal that “Mary Jo White has been a firm, thoughtful SEC chairman who, through speeches and a carefully chosen agenda, has made herself a capable steward of an essential agency,” one should take it with a grain of salt.

In 1994, a year after taking the reins at the SEC, Levitt . . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

26 October 2016 at 5:09 pm

How Democrats Killed Their Populist Soul

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An old story: the rebels coopted by the establishment and becoming a lapdog. Matt Stoller writes in the Atlantic:

It was January 1975, and the Watergate Babies had arrived in Washington looking for blood. The Watergate Babies—as the recently elected Democratic congressmen were known—were young, idealistic liberals who had been swept into office on a promise to clean up government, end the war in Vietnam, and rid the nation’s capital of the kind of corruption and dirty politics the Nixon White House had wrought. Richard Nixon himself had resigned just a few months earlier in August. But the Watergate Babies didn’t just campaign against Nixon; they took on the Democratic establishment, too. Newly elected Representative George Miller of California, then just 29 years old, announced, “We came here to take the Bastille.”

One of their first targets was an old man from Texarkana: a former cotton tenant farmer named Wright Patman who had served in Congress since 1929. He was also the chairman of the U.S. House Committee on Banking and Currency and had been for more than a decade. Antiwar liberal reformers realized that the key to power in Congress was through the committee system; being the chairman of a powerful committee meant having control over the flow of legislation. The problem was: Chairmen were selected based on their length of service. So liberal reformers already in office, buttressed by the Watergate Babies’ votes, demanded that the committee chairmen be picked by a full Democratic-caucus vote instead.

Ironically, as chairman of the Banking Committee, Patman had been the first Democrat to investigate the Watergate scandal. But he was vulnerable to the new crowd he had helped usher in. He was old; they were young. He had supported segregation in the past and the war in Vietnam; they were vehemently against both. Patman had never gone to college and had been a crusading economic populist during the Great Depression; the Watergate Babies were weaned on campus politics, television, and affluence.

What’s more, the new members were antiwar, not necessarily anti-bank. “Our generation did not know the Depression,” then-Representative Paul Tsongassaid. “The populism of the 1930s doesn’t really apply to the 1970s,” argued Pete Stark, a new California member who launched his political career by affixing a giant peace sign onto the roof of the bank he owned.

In reality, while the Watergate Babies provided the numbers needed to eject him, it was actually Patman’s Banking Committee colleagues who orchestrated his ouster. For more than a decade, Patman had represented a Democratic political tradition stretching back to Thomas Jefferson, an alliance of the agrarian South and the West against Northeastern capital. For decades, Patman had sought to hold financial power in check, investigating corporate monopolies, high interest rates, the Federal Reserve, and big banks. And the banking allies on the committee had had enough of Patman’s hostility to Wall Street.

Over the years, Patman had upset these members by blocking bank mergers and going after financial power. As famed muckraking columnist Drew Pearson put it: Patman “committed one cardinal sin as chairman. … He wants to investigate the big bankers.” And so, it was the older bank allies who truly ensured that Patman would go down. In 1975, these bank-friendly Democrats spread the rumor that Patman was an autocratic chairman biased against junior congressmen. To new members eager to participate in policymaking, this was a searing indictment.

The campaign to oust Patman was brief and savage. Michigan’s Bob Carr, a member of the 1975 class, told me the main charge against Patman was that he was an incompetent chairman (a charge with which the nonprofit Common Causeagreed). One of the revolt’s leaders, Edward Pattison, actually felt warmly toward Patman and his legendary populist career. But, “there was just a feeling that he had lost control of his committee.”

Not all on the left were swayed. . .

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Written by LeisureGuy

25 October 2016 at 4:37 pm

Saddest words: “It might have been” — Bernie Sanders edition

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Of all sad words of tongue or pen,
The saddest are these: “It might have been.”

— John Greenleaf Whittier. 1807–1892, from “Maud Muller”

Matt Flegenheimer and Tamiche Alcindor report in the NY Times:

Even to skeptics, the presidential campaign of Senator Bernie Sanders has often appeared less quixotic with the benefit of hindsight.

If Mr. Sanders had only edged Hillary Clinton in Iowa — and not the other way around — before winning a blowout in New Hampshire, perhaps things would have been different.

If he had only attacked Mrs. Clinton’s use of a private email server as secretary of state, instead of offering her a reprieve, some supporters lamented, perhaps things would have been different.

And now, as Mrs. Clinton contends with daily disclosures from the hacked messages of top campaign aides — missives that have reinforced the central progressive criticisms of her bid, including her coziness with Wall Street — some of Mr. Sanders’s admirers have been compelled to consider again what might have been.

Continue reading the main story

With a couple of breaks and more fortunate timing, many of them believe, the rumpled socialist from Vermont really, truly could have been president.

“I think they should have put the damn emails out before the primaries were over,” said RoseAnn DeMoro, executive director of National Nurses United, a union that campaigned heavily for Mr. Sanders. “Bernie could have won the election, and that’s the most irritating and painful thing. It would have made a world of difference.

“Now we are going to have a dynamic status quo,” Ms. DeMoro predicted. “It’s going to look like change. But it’s not change.”

Not all Sanders supporters believe an earlier release would have altered history. The emails — disseminated by WikiLeaks from the account of John D. Podesta, Mrs. Clinton’s campaign chairman, who has attributed the hack to Russian intelligence officials — have created a relatively modest headache for Mrs. Clinton as she nears Election Day, providing occasional fodder for Donald J. Trump as Democrats condemn the apparent foreign interference in an American election.

But the content of the messages, while a measure short of astonishing so far, almost certainly could have upended a primary campaign premised largely on Mrs. Clinton’s place in an increasingly progressive and populist Democratic Party.

In excerpts from paid speeches to financial institutions and corporate audiences, Mrs. Clinton embraced unfettered international trade and offered praise for a budget-balancing plan that would have required cuts to Social Security. She spoke of the need for “a public and a private position” on politically sensitive issues. And she allowed that her family’s growing wealth had left her “kind of far removed” from the experience of the middle class.

“I feel like I’m channeling Captain Renault from ‘Casablanca,’” said Jonathan Tasini, a former union leader who challenged Mrs. Clinton in her Senate primary in New York in 2006. “I’m shocked — shocked! — that Hillary Clinton has a close relationship with Wall Street.”

It is a familiar, if still painful, sensation for Sanders backers, even as most of his voters drift toward Mrs. Clinton, some more haltingly than others.

For at least a handful, the emails have especially rankled given the seeming free fall of Mr. Trump, which has bolstered their view that Mr. Sanders’s proudly left-wing politics would not have precluded victory in the general election.

On the heels of leaked emails over the summer from the Democratic National Committee, which suggested favoritism toward Mrs. Clinton among party leaders, and persistent complaints that Mr. Sanders’s bid was not taken seriously enough from the start, Sanders allies say the latest revelations have only heightened tensions that are likely to persist if Mrs. Clinton is elected. . .

Continue reading.

My comment to the paper: “And let’s not forget Associated Press informing Californians BEFORE THEY VOTED that Clinton had already cinched the nomination. Good support for Clinton, AP, but a little suspect since the news would have been just as valid after the polls closed, and it was by no means a slam-dunk. The way the DNC coordinated with and worked for the Clinton campaign is disgraceful, but Washington seems to have shed totally its sense of shame and perhaps even its sense of right and wrong: government by sociopaths. Think about it.”

Written by LeisureGuy

18 October 2016 at 12:09 pm

Posted in Democrats, Election

Hillary Clinton’s speeches to Goldman Sachs: What was most surprising

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Daniel Drezner writes in the Washington Post:

As WikiLeaks continues to dump John Podesta’s emails onto the world, there’s a cornucopia of information to digest. I decided to start by focusing on a key source of tension between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders during the Democratic primary: the transcripts of Clinton’s paid speeches at Goldman Sachs. These were supposed to contain information damaging to Clinton’s campaign.

After reading all three speeches … I don’t understand why Clinton didn’t make them public back in the spring.

Okay, I understand a little. Clinton’s Goldman Sachs transcripts are not speeches per se but rather structured conversations between Clinton and a Goldman Sachs interlocutor, as well as a Q&A with the audience. Clinton references the same Winston Churchill joke a bit much. She praises Chinese President Xi Jinping on occasion, mostly for his political skills and his apparent ability to rein in the People’s Liberation Army. Mostly, however, what comes through is Clinton’s comfort talking about the subtleties of international relations. The contrast with the current GOP nominee is rather striking.

In particular, there are three aspects of the speeches that are worthy of note in 2016:

1. Clinton sounded more enthusiastic about trade in 2013. From the transcript of her first speech:

But on the trade and regulatory harmonization, we are very serious about [the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership] and something that I strongly supported. The discussions are ongoing. It will come down, as it often does, to agriculture, particularly French agriculture, and we’ll just have to see how much we can get done by that process.  And there is no doubt that if we can make progress on the trade regulatory front it would be good for the Europeans. It would be good for us. And I would like to see us go as far as we possibly can with a real agreement, not a phony agreement. You know, the E.U. signs agreements all the time with nearly everybody, but they don’t change anything.  They just kind of sign them and see what comes of it.

I think we have an opportunity to really actually save money in our respective regulatory schemes, increase trade not only between ourselves but also be more effective in helping to keep the world on a better track for a rural spaced global trading system by having us kind of set the standards for that, along with the [Trans-Pacific Partnership], which we didn’t mention when we talked about Asia, which I think is also still proceeding.

This isn’t terribly surprising, as Clinton’s position on trade policy has easily been the most cynical part of her campaign. But it is worth noting.

2. Clinton is keenly aware of the link between domestic dysfunction and foreign policy. Clinton relayed this anecdote from her first speech about the effect of Congress’s possible failure to lift the debt ceiling:

I was in Hong Kong in the summer of 2011 and I had a preexisting program with a big business group there, and before we had a reception and there were about a hundred business leaders, many of them based in Hong Kong, some of them from mainland China, some of them from Singapore and elsewhere. They were lining up and saying to me: Is it true that the American Congress might default on America’s full faith and credit, their standing, that you won’t pay your bills?

And you know I’m sitting there, I’m representing all of you.  I said: Oh, no. No. No. That’s just politics. We’ll work it through. And I’m sitting there: Oh, boy. I hope that is the case.

So for all of their efforts to take advantage of whatever mistake we might make or whatever problem we might have, they know right now at least in 2013, the beginning of this century, the United States isn’t strong at home and abroad. They’ve got problems, and it is for me pretty simple.  If we don’t get our political house in order and demonstrate that we can start making decisions again — and that takes hard work.

In all three speeches, Clinton talks about the necessity for political compromise in the American system of government. In this polarized climate, I guess I can see how such statements would be seen as politically problematic. No, wait, I can’t.

3. Clinton presaged the rise of Trump. In her third speech, Clinton refers to shifts in the political culture of the United States, and places them in the proper historical context:

We have always had this kind of streak of whether it’s know-nothingism or isolationism or, you know, anti-Communism, extremism. Whatever. We’ve had it forever from the beginning. So it’s important that people speak out and stand up against it, and especially people who are Republicans, who say, look, that’s not the party that I’m part of. I want to get back to having a two-party system that can have an adult conversation and a real debate about the future.

A bit later, she elaborates further on the obstructionists in the GOP. See if this description sounds familiar:

What I really resent most about the obstructionists is they have such a narrow view of America. They see America in a way that is no longer reflective of the reality of who we are. They’re against immigration for reasons that have to do with the past, not the future. They can’t figure out how to invest in the future, so they cut everything. You know, laying off, you know, young researchers, closing labs instead of saying, we’re better at this than anybody in the world, that’s where our money should go. They just have a backward-looking view of America. And they play on people’s fears, not on people’s hopes, and they have to be rejected. I don’t care what they call themselves. I don’t care where they’re from. They have to be rejected because they are fundamentally un-American. And every effort they make to undermine and obstruct the functioning of the government is meant to send a signal that we can’t do anything collectively. You know, that we aren’t a community, a nation that shares values.

I mean, America was an invention. It was an intellectual invention, and we have done pretty well for all these years. And these people want to just undermine that very profound sense of who we are. And we can’t let them do that.

After that passage, Clinton goes on to discuss Alexis de Tocqueville. The horror, the horror. . .

. . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

17 October 2016 at 1:42 pm

Elizabeth Warren continues to hold Stumpf accountable for the Wells Fargo scam

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From an email I just received:

USA Today Headline: Elizabeth Warren isn’t done with ex-Wells Fargo CEO

The paper reports that Elizabeth Warren says retiring with $131 million package “isn’t real accountability…. As I said at the hearing last month, Mr. Stumpf should resign, return every nickel he made while this scam was going on, and face an investigation by the Justice Department and SEC. So far, he’s one for three.'”

Written by LeisureGuy

14 October 2016 at 4:36 pm

Donna Brazile denies that she assisted Clinton against Sanders—but she did

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Pam Martens and Russ Martens report in Wall Street on Parade:

After the prior Chair of the Democratic National Committee, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, resigned in disgrace in July after Guccifer 2.0 and WikiLeaks released emails showing that the DNC had actively engaged in derailing the presidential candidacy of Senator Bernie Sanders to tip the field to Hillary Clinton, the woman who replaced Wasserman Schultz as Interim Chair of the DNC, Donna Brazile, is under the gun for putting her finger on the scale for Hillary Clinton.

On March 12, 2016, Brazile was serving in the dual capacity as a Vice Chair of the DNC and a contributor to CNN. The recent WikiLeaks release of emails shows that on that date at 4:39 p.m., Brazile sent an email to Jennifer Palmieri, Communications Director for the Hillary Clinton campaign, titled: “From time to time I get the questions in advance.”

The title clearly conveys that Brazile was referring to questions that would be asked the very next day at the March 13, 2016  CNN Democratic Town Hall at Ohio State University in Columbus. Only Clinton and Sanders were scheduled to appear on stage, as other Democratic challengers had dropped out. CNN’s Jake Tapper and TV One’s Roland Martin were to serve as moderators. Questions were to come from both of the moderators as well as Ohio voters in the audience. The Town Hall was a pivotal event, coming just two days before Democratic primaries in five states: Florida, Illinois, Missouri, North Carolina and Ohio.

Brazile’s email indicated that she was worried that Clinton might be tripped up by a question on the death penalty. Brazile wrote:

“Here’s one that worries me about HRC [Hillary Rodham Clinton].


“19 states and the District of Columbia have banned the death penalty. 31 states, including Ohio, still have the death penalty. According to the National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty, since 1973, 156 people have been on death row and later set free. Since 1976, 1,414 people have been executed in the U.S. That’s 11% of Americans who were sentenced to die, but later exonerated and freed. Should Ohio and the 30 other states join the current list and abolish the death penalty?”

The next evening at the Town Hall, Clinton did indeed receive a question on the death penalty.

Despite the unambiguous violations inherent in the title, text and outcome of Brazile’s email, she is flatly denying that she leaked a question to Clinton. In a prepared statement, Brazile said:

“As it pertains to the CNN Debates, I never had access to questions and would never have shared them with the candidates if I did.”

CNN now appears to be throwing Brazile under the bus. The Wall Street Journalreported last evening that CNN is denying that it leaked the question to Brazile but it believes “a broadcast partner on the town hall may have shared the question.” That now puts TV One’s Roland Martin squarely in the cross hairs.

Another leaked email shows that . . .

Continue reading.

It’s interesting how frightened the Democratic party establishment—the great number of corporate-oriented Democrats who are funded by various special interests—were of Bernie Sanders. His campaign, if not sabotaged, might well have carried the day. (Full disclosure: I voted for Bernie in the primary.)

Later in the post:

All of this is playing out as corporate media ignores a major Federal lawsuit that has been filed against the DNC and its former Chair, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, by Sanders’ supporters who have produced a growing mountain of evidence that Sanders was cheated out of a fair primary process. (See related articles below.)

Written by LeisureGuy

14 October 2016 at 8:54 am

Posted in Democrats, Election, Media

Michelle Obama’s takedown of Donald Trump by looking clearly at what he did

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And what he did is exactly what he said he did. He actually claimed (in a video) that this is what he does, and now those to whom he did it are coming forward, and he’s surprised? He knew they were there. Why surprise?

Just read this LA Times report of the speech. Wow. This is truly telling it like it is.

UPDATE: And my God! Dan Balz wrote a hell of a column on the two speeches.

Written by LeisureGuy

13 October 2016 at 8:18 pm

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