05/25/2011 archive

This Ain’t No Way To Treat A Lady

At a House sub-committee called TARP, Financial Services and Bailouts of Public and Private Programs, the sub-committee chair, Rep. Patrick McHenry (R-NC) rudely berated Dr. Elizabeth Warren who was called to testify before the sub-committee on matters concerning the new Consumer Financial Protection Board (CFPB). Dr. Warren had previously agreed to appear for an hour. When she prepared to leave to attend another scheduled meeting, McHenry abusively berated her because she could not wait for the two Republican committee members who were absent. He called her a liar with regard to agreement about her appearance and about her involvement in setting up the structure of the CFPB. Dr. Warren looked shocked but remained firm and ever the lady. They really hate smart, powerful women

The backlash has been rapid with McHenry’s Facebook page being taken over with harsh criticism of his behavior and demands that he apologize to Dr. Warren:

“Thank You Mr McHenry!

The complexity of the problems in our economy is causing many of the disenfranchised to incorrectly assume the elite will do the right thing.

But fortunately, we have leaders like you, with your blatant disregard for the facts, that clarify for the undecided, what the right course of action is. — Confirm Elizabeth Warren!”

“What a pathetic display of pig-headed machismo. To openly call a highly respected government official such as Elizabeth Warren a liar in the hopes of fallaciously discrediting her, CLEARLY illustrates the problem with the American government at present.

The liars, such as Mr. McHenry, are called “Saints” and “Defenders of the Constitution”, and the few brave warriors who fight on behalf of the people are marginalized and sidelined.

America, for the sake of your nation and the very survival of your culture, you cannot let this kind of behavior continue”

“You are disgrace to the office you hold. Even 12 year old students found your behavior offensive. Apologize.”

“Some of McHenry’s top donors…Wells Fargo, Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan Chase, Bank of America, Mortgage Bankers Association, Capitol One, Citigroup, & Mastercard….his ulterior motives against Elizabeth Warren and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau REEK!”

McHenry’s baseless attacks and rudeness were so bad that another committee member, Rep. John Yarmuth (D-KY), used his time to apologize for the unprofessional, schoolyard behavior.

YARMUTH: I apologize to the witness, Dr. Warren, for the rude and disrespectful behavior of the chair. The snarky comments about a Senate race, and the questioning of your veracity when there is documented evidence that you are being totally truthful indicates to me that this hearing is all about impugning you because people are afraid of you and your ability to communicate in very clear terms the threats to our consumers and the threats to our constituents and possibly very, very effective ways to combat them. So I think, in one respect, I congratulate you for instilling such fear in the committee, on the majority side, and in some aspects, or segments, of the business community because they understand how effective you are in getting the message out to the American people.

In the meantime on the Senate side, Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL) has said that Republicans will block ay nominee for the CFPB unless Democrats agree to change the agency’s structure and funding. More hostages, please.

Main St Insider was kind enough to post this video at Docudharma on Tuesday and provided many of the links to the up dates, also a partial transcript and the video of Rep. Yarmuth’s apology.

Punting the Pundits

Punting the Punditsis an Open Thread. It is a selection of editorials and opinions from around the news medium and the internet blogs. The intent is to provide a forum for your reactions and opinions, not just to the opinions presented, but to what ever you find important.

Thanks to ek hornbeck, click on the link and you can access all the past “Punting the Pundits”.

Wednesday is Ladies’ Day. Scroll down for the gentlemen.

Katrina Vanden Heuvel: Why Obama should appoint Elizabeth Warren

When the Senate goes on recess at the end of this week, President Obama should appoint Elizabeth Warren to direct the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). By making a recess appointment, the president can name the best qualified leader to head the new agency, while demonstrating he’s willing to stand up to Republican obstruction and Wall Street pressure. He’ll earn plaudits not only from the base of the Democratic Party that adores Warren but also from independent voters, who will be thankful for an advocate for consumers willing to stand up to the Wall Street lobby.

Given the mandate of the CFPB – to police “unfair, deceptive or abusive practices” of the financial world – anyone with a whit of sense knows that Elizabeth Warren is the best person to head the new agency.

Warren earned just renown for her path-breaking work on the financial pressures on middle-class families, while helping to develop consumer finance law as a professor at Harvard Law School. As head of the oversight panel that Congress established to provide independent review of the bank bailout, she challenged the secretive practices of the Treasury Department and helped provide Congress and citizens with a better sense of the extraordinary measures being taken to bail out the big banks. This pleased neither Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner nor Wall Street.

Amy Goodman: Vermont, the Land of Healthy Firsts

Vermont is a land of proud firsts. This small New England state was the first to join the 13 Colonies. Its constitution was the first to ban slavery. It was the first to establish the right to free education for all-public education.

This week, Vermont will boast another first: the first state in the nation to offer single-payer health care, which eliminates the costly insurance companies that many believe are the root cause of our spiraling health care costs. In a single-payer system, both private and public health care providers are allowed to operate, as they always have. But instead of the patient or the patient’s private health insurance company paying the bill, the state does. It’s basically Medicare for all-just lower the age of eligibility to the day you’re born. The state, buying these health care services for the entire population, can negotiate favorable rates, and can eliminate the massive overhead that the for-profit insurers impose.

Jennifer Abel: A Patriotic Duty: Repeal the Patriot Act

This draconian law was never about public safety. Americans’ constitutional liberties have been trashed for the war on drugs

The first thing you need to understand about the Patriot Act is this: Osama Bin Laden’s destruction of the World Trade Centre wasn’t the reason the act was passed; it was merely the excuse. The real reason dates back to the 1980s, when President Ronald Reagan demonstrated his principled commitment to personal liberty and small government by turning the “war on drugs” up to 11.Of course, the constitution as it’s written makes drug laws difficult to enforce. Police learn about most crimes – real crimes – when the victims report them to the police. But there’s no victim to complain when a willing buyer purchases a product from a willing seller, so drug cops looking to make arrests and justify their existence had to resort to privacy violations and fishing expeditions instead.

Ruth Marcus: Politics and the gossip machine

Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels’ decision not to run for president offers the perfect opportunity to lament the increasingly intrusive nature of modern politics and to praise politicians who place family considerations over personal ambition.

I think I’ll pass.

It’s true that there is a vanishingly small zone of privacy in political life, especially at its highest echelons. The unseemly scramble for celebrity news to feed what The New York Times describes as the “Gossip Machine” has had a spillover effect on politics.

This no doubt has the effect of dissuading some good men and women from entering public life. But the phenomenon is neither entirely new nor especially regrettable.

Sahar Aziz: It’s Time to Take Back Our Civil Liberties

It took the United States government nearly 10 years to hunt down and kill Osama bin Laden in retribution for the September 11, 2001, attacks. Over that same period, Muslims struggled to overcome guilt by association for the criminal acts of bin Laden. Meanwhile, all Americans were forced to give up civil liberties in a purported exchange for more security.

As part of its concerted war on terror, the US government under both presidents Bush and Obama directed most national security resources toward terrorism committed by Muslims, while the likes of Jared Lee Loughner and Joseph Stack attacked undetected. Frightening images of Muslim terrorists persuaded the American public that spending billions of dollars on occupying Iraq and Afghanistan was necessary despite burgeoning economic ills at home.

John Nichols: No Wonder New York Republicans Are Scared Of The Special Election Results

New York Republicans moved even before the polls had closed to prevent certification of the winner of the hotly-contested New York special congressional election for a traditionally “safe” Republican seat.

Officially, Republican nominee Jane Corwin’s campaign has indicated that it obtained an order from the New York Supreme Court preventing a certification of a winner in the special election in New York’s 26th District in order to prepare for a recount. But the order was obtained before anyone knew whether the result would be close enough to justify a recount.

So what’s the real reason? GOP strategists hope to stir up uncertainty and confusion.

Anything to muddy the waters.

Why? Because no matter what the eventual winner is, the results will show that they have lost the Medicare debate.

Ari Berman: House GOP Escalates Attack on Elizabeth Warren, Consumer Bureau

Congressional Republicans have frequently attacked Harvard Law Professor Elizabeth Warren and the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) she’s setting up, which officially launches on July 21. The House GOP escalated its anti-Warren, anti-CFPB campaign at a hearing of the House Oversight Committee today, chaired by Representative Patrick McHenry (R-NC).

McHenry was once known as Tom DeLay’s “attack-dog-in-training,” a title he more than earned today. Before the hearing had even begun, McHenry went on CNBC and brazenly accused Warren of lying to Congress. He claimed that Warren had misrepresented her role in advising state attorneys general who are seeking a multibillion-dollar settlement with the country’s largest mortgage service providers, who stand accused of massive and widespread foreclosure fraud. As evidence, McHenry pointed to a leaked internal document prepared by the CFPB that laid out different settlement options for the state AGs. McHenry claimed this went beyond the scope of the “advice,” that Warren had already admitted to providing, at the behest of the Treasury Department, in earlier testimony to Congress in March. “We’ve given advice when asked for advice,” she reiterated this afternoon.

Bill McKibben: A Link Between Climate Change and Joplin Tornadoes? Never!

Caution: It is vitally important not to make connections. When you see pictures of rubble like this week’s shots from Joplin, Mo., you should not wonder: Is this somehow related to the tornado outbreak three weeks ago in Tuscaloosa, Ala., or the enormous outbreak a couple of weeks before that (which, together, comprised the most active April for tornadoes in U.S. history). No, that doesn’t mean a thing.

It is far better to think of these as isolated, unpredictable, discrete events. It is not advisable to try to connect them in your mind with, say, the fires burning across Texas – fires that have burned more of America at this point this year than any wildfires have in previous years. Texas, and adjoining parts of Oklahoma and New Mexico, are drier than they’ve ever been – the drought is worse than that of the Dust Bowl. But do not wonder if they’re somehow connected.

Cry For This Country

This country stands on the edge of no longer existing as the Founding Father’s envisioned in the Constitution. Congress is about to infer on the Executive branch unprecedented power to wage war anywhere, detain or assassinate anyone, anywhere without due process and continue the expansion of the national security and surveillance state. The renewal of the reviled Patriot Act, is slated to be passed by congress with bipartisan approval today. As Jon Walker so astutely observes:

The often praised “bipartisanship” is rarely ever the product of both parties coming together around what the people want, and almost always about using each other as cover to avoid electoral consequences for voting in opposition to the will of the electorate.

The controversial Patriot Act, a bill once despised by almost every Democrat, passed cloture in the Senate on Monday night by 74 to 8. As Glen Greenwald noted only bills in support of Israel get this kind of near unanimous support. Eight Senators voting against cloture were Independent Sen. Bernie Sanders, Democrats Jeff Merkley, Mark Begich, Max Baucus, and John Tester, and GOP Senators Lisa Murkowski, Rand Paul, and Dean Heller. Tester and Paul spoke out specifically, objecting to the most egregious parts of the bill and the need for reform.

I have to give Rand Paul credit here, demonstrating more integrity than Obama, since he is insisting on these reforms and will use delaying tactics to prevent the bill’s re-authorization without them despite threats from Sen Diane Feinstein, Chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee.

 Sen. Paul announced that he was considering using delaying tactics to hold up passage of the bill in order to extract some reforms (including ones he is co-sponsoring with the Democrats’ Judiciary Committee Chairman Sen. Leahy, who — despite voicing “concerns” about the bill — voted for cloture).  Paul’s announcement of his delaying intentions provoked this fear-mongering, Terrorism-exploiting, bullying threat from the Democrats’ Senate Intelligence Committee Chair, Dianne Feinstein:

   “I think it would be a huge mistake,” Feinstein told reporters. “If somebody wants to take on their shoulders not having provisions in place which are necessary to protect the United States at this time, that’s a big, big weight to bear.”

In other words:  Paul and the other dissenting Senators better give up their objections and submit to quick Patriot Act passage or else they’ll have blood on their hands from the Terrorist attack they will cause.  That, of course, was the classic Bush/Cheney tactic for years to pressure Democrats into supporting every civil-liberties-destroying measure the Bush White House demanded (including, of course, the original Patriot Act itself), and now we have the Democrats — ensconced in power — using it just as brazenly and shamelessly (recall how Bush’s DNI, Michael McConnell, warned Congressional Democrats in 2007 that unless they quickly passed without changes the new FISA bill the Bush White House was demanding, a Terrorist attack would likely occur at the Congress in a matter of “days, not weeks”; McConnell then told The New Yorker: “If we don’t update FISA, the nation is significantly at risk”). Feinstein learned well.

Paul and Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) are preparing  to introduce an amendment to the PATRIOT Act that would phase out some of the most controversial components of the national security law but that may not happen. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is preparing to do an end run around Senate procedures by including the Patriot Act in another bill from the House that has already passed in the Senate but was amended in the House. David Waldman explains this better:

Harry Reid turned the Senate around in it consideration of the PATRIOT Act renewal. Instead of fighting it out on cloture on the motion to proceed to the bill, and then having to fight another cloture battle on the bill itself, he’s pulling a nifty parliamentary trick that allows him to skip on of the cloture fights. The House just got done passing S. 990, a small business bill, and has sent it back to the Senate, apparently amended in some way (although they passed it under suspension of the rules, which doesn’t permit amendments, so I missed whatever process they might have used to change it between receiving it on Monday and passing it on Tuesday).

At any rate, the bill having been amended, it now returns to the Senate for their approval of its new form. And here’s where the trick comes in: Reid will move to agree to the House amendment, but add just one more. That additional amendment will be… to remove the entire existing text and replace it with the text of S. 1038, the PATRIOT Act renewal bill they were just trying to get to the floor.

Why do that? Because although you can filibuster the amendment (or technically, the motion to concur in the House amendment with a further amendment), if you manage to get cloture on that and vote it through, it has the effect of sending a completed PATRIOT Act bill over to the House, with no second cloture vote needed.

It’s a nifty trick and I always admire it, but I wish it wasn’t happening with the damn PATRIOT Act.

It seems that Congress and the President are determined to continue shredding the Constitution by extending the Patriot Act another 4 years. I cry for this country.

Liar’s Poker

I have 6 Aces.

The world’s most reckless central bankers

By Colin Barr, Fortune Magazine

May 25, 2011: 6:32 AM ET

Euro area President Jean-Claude Juncker said last month he is willing to mislead the public if the price in terms of market stability is right.

“When it becomes serious, you have to lie,” Juncker said. Either that, or you have to get serious. No prizes for guessing which course Europe will choose.

As Ireland’s post-bailout death spiral makes clear, austerity alone simply is not going to do the trick. Balancing a budget that is as out of whack as Greece’s “has been known to cause riots if done in a single year,” warns Paolo Manasse, an economics professor at the University of Bologna.

Yet officials at the ECB insist the alternative — inflicting losses on bondholders who until recently were all too happy to foot the bills for the big, fat Greek consumption party — is still too damaging to even contemplate. Taking a book out of the Tim Geithner playbook, ECB board member Juergen Stark last week called a possible restructuring a “catastrophe” because it would do bad things to the banks.

Meanwhile the real catastrophe plays out before our eyes. Every day that goes by without a restructuring that forces investors to share European taxpayers’ pain, the ultimate cleanup tab rises. You only have to survey the mess that is the U.S. housing market — or the wreck that once was the Irish economy — to see how that movie ends.

“You cannot really afford to keep buying time, because it is so expensive,” says Daniel Gros, who runs the Center for European Policy Studies think tank in Brussels. “Paying out 100% to existing bondholders is just too big a burden to bear in this situation.”

On This Day In History May 25

This is your morning Open Thread. Pour your favorite beverage and review the past and comment on the future.

Find the past “On This Day in History” here.

May 25 is the 145th day of the year (146th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 220 days remaining until the end of the year.

On this day in 1977, Stars Wars opens with an intergalactic bang as the first of George Lucas’ blockbuster Star Wars movies hits American theaters.

Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope, originally released as Star Wars, is a 1977 American epic space opera film, written and directed by George Lucas. It is the first of six films released in the Star Wars saga: two subsequent films complete the original trilogy, while a prequel trilogy completes the six-film saga. It is the fourth film in terms of the series’ internal chronology. Ground-breaking in its use of special effects, unconventional editing, and science fiction/fantasy storytelling, the original Star Wars is one of the most successful and influential films of all time.

Set “a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away”, the film follows a group of freedom fighters known as the Rebel Alliance as they plot to destroy the powerful Death Star space station, a devastating weapon created by the evil Galactic Empire. This conflict disrupts the isolated life of farmboy Luke Skywalker when he inadvertently acquires the droids carrying the stolen plans to the Death Star. After the Empire begins a cruel and destructive search for the droids, Skywalker decides to accompany Jedi Knight Obi-Wan Kenobi on a daring mission to rescue the owner of the droids, rebel leader Princess Leia Organa, and save the galaxy.

Produced with a budget of $11 million and released on May 25, 1977, the film went on to earn $460 million in the United States and $337 million overseas, surpassing Jaws as the highest-grossing film of all time at the time. Among the many awards the film received, it gained ten Academy Award nominations, winning six; the nominations included Best Supporting Actor for Alec Guinness and Best Picture. Lucas has re-released the film on several occasions, sometimes with significant changes; the most notable versions are the 1997 Special Edition and the 2004 DVD release, which have modified computer-generated effects, altered dialogue, and added scenes.

There’s No Place Like Home

As read by Keith.

(note: Today is mishima’s day off.)

DocuDharma Digest

Regular Features-

Featured Essays for May 24, 2011-


Evening Edition

Evening Edition is an Open Thread

From Yahoo News Top Stories

1 Mubarak, sons to be tried for killings, corruption

by Samer al-Atrush, AFP

1 hr 51 mins ago

CAIRO (AFP) – Egypt’s ex-president Hosni Mubarak and his two sons were on Tuesday referred to a criminal court on charges of ordering the killings of anti-regime protesters and graft, the public prosecutor’s office said.

The prosecutor’s office said that Mubarak and his sons Alaa and Gamal have been charged with “premeditated murder of some participants in the peaceful protests of the January 25 revolution.”

“The public prosecutor Abdel Maguid Mahmud has decided today to refer former president Hosni Mubarak and his two sons Alaa and Gamal, who will remain under detention, and businessman Hussein Salem to a criminal court,” it said.