Later On

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Archive for the ‘Democrats’ Category

Kevin Drum asks a good question about Hillary Clinton’s supposed “coziness” with Wall Street

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His post corrects a couple of misunderstandings I had had—e.g., he provides reasons for her turnabout on the bankruptcy bill.

It occurs to me that one characteristic we want in the Democratic candidate, should s/he become president, is a kind of political sustainability: the ability to move proposals and policies into the structure of government. I think, absent a complete political revolution in which Congress completely changes hands, which does not seem likely, that Hillary can provide that. I do think Bernie Sanders is doing a good job of pushing her policy positions to the left by demonstrating clearly just how much support there is for a more progressive Democratic party. So in the event that Hillary wins the nomination, I can vote for her with more hope than I had before Bernie appeared on the scene.

Written by LeisureGuy

8 February 2016 at 9:04 am

What Eric Holder is doing now, following his stint as Attorney General

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David Dayen reports in The Intercept:

Former Obama administration attorney general Eric Holder is prominently featured in a Hillary Clinton campaign ad running in South Carolina. “If you want to make sure Republicans don’t take us backward, help Hillary move us forward,” Holder says.

Meanwhile, in his post-public service life as a partner with white-collar defense firm Covington & Burling, Holder is upholding his Justice Department’s tradition of negotiating lower fines for corporate offenses, albeit from the other side of the negotiating table.

The Associated Press reports that Holder, whose Justice Department prosecuted no major executive for the fraud that led to the 2008 financial crisis, is representing South African telecommunications conglomerate MTN in a $3.9 billion dispute with the country of Nigeria.

MTN Nigeria did not deactivate 5.2 million unregistered cell phone SIM cards after the Nigerian Communications Commission ordered them to do so by August 2015. Extremist groups operating in Nigeria use the cards for communications in kidnappings and attacks.

The commission initially imposed a $5.2 billion fine, which MTN challenged in court and got reduced to $3.9 billion. Now, Holder “is leading MTN’s legal team” in attempting to get the fine further reduced or eliminated, according to the commission’s spokesman, Tony Ojobo. The Federal High Court in Lagos has given MTN and the commission until March 18 to negotiate a settlement. Holder is negotiating directly with Nigerian officials, the AP reported.

During his Justice Department leadership, Holder specialized in negotiating settlements with corporations. The Justice Department issued a record numberof deferred prosecution and non-prosecution agreements, allowing corporations charged with misconduct to buy their way out of trouble without jail time or clawed-back bonuses.

Covington & Burling defends corporate clients all over the world, including telecom, pharmaceutical, and financial interests. They openly promote getting bank clients off the hook in their marketing materials.

Holder defended corporations at the firm before becoming attorney general, and immediately returned there at the end of his tenure, calling it “home for me.” A year earlier, he purchased a condo that sits 300 feet from Covington & Burling’s new headquarters in Washington. The firm even held open a corner office in that new building for Holder while he was a sitting attorney general, while he negotiated settlements with Covington & Burling clients.

But Holder bristles at the suggestion that there might be a connection between his current employer and his conduct at Justice.

Lanny Breuer, head of the criminal division at DOJ under Holder, also returned to Covington & Burling after government work. In all, six former Justice Department officials now work at the firm.

The game is indeed rigged. And note the sort of people supporting Hillary. No wonder they fear Bernie.

Written by LeisureGuy

4 February 2016 at 2:26 pm

Judgment calls in evaluating Bernie’s healthcare plan: single-payer

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Kevin Drum gets down into the nitty-gritty of evaluating costs of proposed plans. And it’s quite interesting, showing how two people looking at the same plan can differ greatly in their estimation of costs—and thus in answering two key questions, “Is it worth it? and is it fiscally sustainable?”

Written by LeisureGuy

3 February 2016 at 6:15 pm

Elizabeth Warren: American Justice Is ‘Rigged’ In Favor Of The Rich

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Zach Carter reports at Huffington Post:

In a scorching speech from the Senate floor on Wednesday, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) said the American criminal justice system is rigged in favor of the wealthy, and condemned new legislation that would make it harder to prosecute bank fraud.

“There are two legal systems,” Warren said. “One for the rich and powerful, and one for everyone else.”

Warren’s office issued a report earlier this week documenting 20 cases in which federal officials had enough evidence against corporate malfeasance to issue fines. In most of the cases, companies were not even required to admit guilt. In only one case did a corporate offender go to jail — Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship, who received a 3-month sentence over a mine disaster that killed 29 people.

“It’s not equal justice when a kid gets thrown in jail for stealing a car, while a CEO gets a huge raise when his company steals billions,” Warren said. “It’s not equal justice when someone hooked on opioids gets locked up for buying pills on the street, but bank executives get off scot-free for laundering nearly a billion dollars of drug cartel money.”

Multiple banks have been busted for laundering drug money, though none of their executives have been charged with crimes.

“One legal system is for big companies, for the wealthy and the powerful. In this legal system, government officials fret about unintended consequences if they are too tough.” But in the second legal system, Warren said, “government enforcement isn’t timid.”

“Just ask the families of Sandra Bland, Freddie Gray and Michael Brown about how aggressive [police and prosecutors] are,” Warren said.

WATCH Warren’s remarks in the video below.

Warren said it is time for Congress to pass criminal justice reform easing the severe sentences for nonviolent offenses. And she called out Republicans for demanding a new amendment that would impose broad “mens rea” reform that would bar prosecutors from pursuing a wide array of corporate offenses, including gross negligence by CEOs.

“Republican politicians love to say they’re tough on crime,” Warren said. “They love to talk about personal responsibility and accountability — when they’re back home in their districts. But right here in Washington they are pushing to make it even easier for corporate criminals to escape justice. …That is shameful.”

Billionaire Republican donors Charles and David Koch have been pushing for the corporate crime relief amendment. . .

Continue reading. Video at the link.

And it’s worse than you think. Later in the article:

Warren also railed against a House bill scheduled for a vote on Thursday that would strip prosecutors of the authority to pursue an array of bank fraud cases in which the bank actually commits a crime. Instead, under the bill, prosecutors would only be able to address cases in which the bank is a victim of the crime.

Written by LeisureGuy

3 February 2016 at 11:58 am

Interesting comparison on the issues and positions

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Some Democrats feel that Sanders cannot win, and thus they are voting for Clinton. The positions and policies of the two are not so important. I don’t know who can win, so I tend to vote for the person whose views, policies, and positions seem best to me. (Indeed, I thought that was the idea: vote for the person who best represents your beliefs.)

I thought this chart was interesting:

Screen Shot 2016-02-01 at 6.07.03 AM

Written by LeisureGuy

1 February 2016 at 10:31 am

Posted in Democrats, Election

The “Bernie Bros” Narrative: a Cheap Campaign Tactic Masquerading as Journalism and Social Activism

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Glenn Greenwald writes in The Intercept:

The concoction of the “Bernie Bro” narrative by pro-Clinton journalists has been a potent political tactic – and a journalistic disgrace. It’s intended to imply two equally false claims: (1) a refusal to march enthusiastically behind the Wall-Street-enriched, multiple-war-advocating, despot-embracing Hillary Clinton is explainable not by ideology or political conviction, but largely if not exclusively by sexism: demonstrated by the fact that men, not women, support Sanders (his supporters are “bros”); and (2) Sanders supporters are uniquely abusive and misogynistic in their online behavior. Needless to say, a crucial tactical prong of this innuendo is that any attempt to refute it is itself proof of insensitivity to sexism if not sexism itself (as the accusatory reactions to this article will instantly illustrate).

It’s become such an all-purpose, handy pro-Clinton smear that even consummate, actual “bros” for which the term was originally coined – straight guys who act with entitlement and aggression, such as Paul Krugman  – are now reflexively (and unironically) applying it to anyone who speaks ill of Hillary Clinton, even when they know nothing else about the people they’re smearing, including their gender, age or sexual orientation. Thus, a male policy analyst who criticized Sanders’ health care plan “is getting the Bernie Bro treatment,” sneered Krugman. Unfortunately for The New York Times Bro, that analyst, Charles Gaba, said in response that he’s “really not comfortable with [Krugman’s] referring to die-hard Bernie Sanders supporters as ‘Bernie Bros’” because it “implies that only college-age men support Sen. Sanders, which obviously isn’t the case.”

It is indeed “obviously not the case.” There are literally millions of women who support Sanders over Clinton. A new Iowa poll yesterday shows Sanders with a 15-point lead over Clinton among women under 45, while 1/3 of Iowa women over 45 support him. A USA Today/Rock-the-Vote poll from two weeks ago found Sanders nationally “with a 19-point lead over front-runner Hillary Clinton, 50% to 31%, among Democratic and independent women ages 18 to 34.” One has to be willing to belittle the views and erase the existence of a huge number of American women to wield this “Bernie Bro” smear. . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

31 January 2016 at 10:01 am

Posted in Democrats, Election

The NY Times Endorses Hillary Clinton with a Banner Ad from Citigroup

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

Today’s digital edition of The New York Times captures the essence of the cancer eating away at our democracy: a leading newspaper is endorsing a deeply tarnished candidate for the highest office in America while a major Wall Street bank that has played a key role in her conflicted candidacy runs a banner ad as if to salute the endorsement. The slogan on Citigroup’s ad, “cash back once just isn’t enough,” perfectly epitomizes the frequency with which the Clintons have gone to the Citigroup well.

According to the Center for Responsive Politics, among the top five largest lifetime donors to Hillary’s campaigns, Citigroup tops the list, with three other Wall Street banks also making the cut: Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan Chase and Morgan Stanley. (The monies come from employees and/or family members or PACs of the firms, not the corporation itself.)

Hillary Clinton famously told ABC’s Diane Sawyer in 2014 that she and Bill Clinton left the White House after his second term “dead broke.” But apparently, Citigroup felt they were a good investment. According to PolitiFact, Citigroup provided a $1.995 million mortgage to allow the Clintons to buy their Washington, D.C. residence in 2000. That liability does not pop up on the Clinton disclosure documents until 2011, showing a 30-year mortgage at 5.375 percent ranging in face amount from $1 million to $5 million from CitiMortgage. The disclosure says the mortgage was taken out in 2001.

Citigroup has also committed $5.5 million to the Clinton Global Initiative, a charity run by the Clintons. It has also paid enormous speaking fees to Bill Clinton.

What has Citigroup gotten from its outsized support of the Clintons? Bill Clinton is the President who repealed the most important investor protection legislation of the past century, the Glass-Steagall Act, an outcome heavily lobbied for by Citigroup. Hillary Clinton has signaled to Wall Street that she will not push to have the Glass-Steagall Act restored while her leading opponent, Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont, vows to restore it and return sanity to America’s financial system.

Just nine years after Bill Clinton signed this massive deregulation of Wall Street and gave Citigroup’s Sandy Weill a souvenir pen from the signing, the U.S. financial system collapsed in the greatest implosion since the Great Depression.  Two years before the collapse, Sandy Weill had exited Wall Street as a billionaire as a result of this deregulation, while Citigroup became a penny stock in the crash and a ward of the government in the greatest taxpayer bailout in U.S. history.

In March of 2014, during the Senate confirmation hearing to install Stanley Fischer, a former executive of Citigroup, as Vice Chairman of the Federal Reserve, Senator Elizabeth Warren summed up what Citigroup’s money can buy in Washington:

Senator Warren: “Many big banks are well represented in Washington but the connection between Citigroup and Democratic administrations really sticks out. Three of the last four Democratic Treasury secretaries have Citigroup ties; the fourth was offered but turned down the CEO position at Citigroup. Former Directors of the National Economic Council and the Office of Management and Budget at the White House and our current U.S. Trade Representative also have Citigroup ties. You once served as President of Citigroup International and are now in line to be number two at the Federal Reserve…”

Fischer said he thought his Citigroup experience would help him.

Senator Warren countered: “I also think it’s dangerous if our government falls under the grip of a tight knit group connected to one institution. Former colleagues get access through calls and meetings; economic policy can be dominated by group think; other qualified and innovative people can be crowded out of top government positions.”

One of Hillary’s strengths according to the Times’ endorsement is that she has engaged in a “lifelong fight for women,” a statement that only resonates in some Orwellian universe intractably mired in Newspeak.

Hillary Clinton is the woman who stood by her man as multiple women came forward to accuse him of adultery or sexual assaults. Hillary Clinton is the woman who served as First Lady as Bill Clinton eviscerated the lives of poor children and single mothers by enacting welfare reform, a program so draconian that Senator Edward Kennedy called it “legislative child abuse” and voted against it.

As a result of Bill Clinton’s handiwork in the repeal of the Glass-Steagall Act, millions more women and children and families were thrown into poverty during the financial crash; 10 million people were forced from their homes through foreclosures, while Bill and Hillary’s rich campaign supporters became even richer – right along with the Clintons.

According to the Washington Post, in less than a year and a half, Hillary and Bill Clinton earned over $25 million in speaking fees, a significant portion of which came from Wall Street firms. In 2012, Hillary’s last full year as Secretary of State, Bill Clinton socked away an astonishing $16.3 million in speaking fees. . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

31 January 2016 at 9:59 am

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