U.S. Politics

10 things you need to know today: October 9, 2013

Yellen will be the first woman to lead the Fed (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko)

The Week

Obama picks Janet Yellen to lead the Fed, the shutdown cuts off military death benefits, and more

1. Obama to nominate Janet Yellen for Fed chair
President Obama plans to nominate Janet Yellen to succeed Ben Bernanke as head of the Federal Reserve, the White House said Tuesday. If Yellen is confirmed, the former University of California economist — currently the Fed’s vice-chair — will be the first woman to lead the central bank. Yellen would be a more popular pick than Obama’s reported first choice, former Treasury secretary Larry Summers, who withdrew in September due to stiff opposition to his candidacy. [Los Angeles Times]

2. Shutdown cuts off military death benefits
The Pentagon said Tuesday that the government shutdown had left it unable to pay death benefits to the families of soldiers killed in action. After funding ran out for many federal agencies, Congress quickly passed the Pay Our Military Act, ensuring that active duty soldiers will continue to receive their paychecks, but the law didn’t cover the $100,000 typically sent to families of those killed, burial expenses, and other benefits. [New York Times]

3. Off-duty cop accused of participating in road-rage attack
An off-duty New York City police officer was arrested Tuesday in connection with the beating of an SUV driver, Alexian Lien, who was chased down by a gang of motorcyclists after a fender bender. Detective Wojciech Braszczok was the fifth biker charged. The chase began after Lien — with his wife and 2-year-old daughter in the car — was threatened and took off, seriously injuring a biker. The whole thing was caught on a video uploaded to YouTube. [Reuters]

4. Obama tells GOP to stop making “threats” 
President Obama on Tuesday stepped up his pressure on Republicans to pass a stopgap spending bill to end the government shutdown without forcing a delay of ObamaCare. In a White House news conference, Obama called on GOP lawmakers to “lift these threats from our families and our businesses” and avoid forcing the U.S. to default on its debts. Republicans say Obama is the onerefusing to negotiate. [New York Times]

5. DNA match provides a break in 1991 murder 
New York police announced Tuesday that they had identified the mother of “Baby Hope,” a 4- to 5-year-old girl whose battered body was found stuffed in a cooler in 1991, through a DNA match. Investigators are now searching for the child’s father for questioning in the high-profile murder case. The mother never saw the girl and her younger sister again after their father left with them following the couple’s acrimonious break-up. [New York Daily News]

6. The U.S. prepares to cut aid to Egypt
U.S. officials say the Obama administration plans to announce within days that it is reducing aid to Egypt’s military, which has been cracking down on supporters of ousted president Mohamed Morsi. Army chief Gen. Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi, in his first interview since the July coup, said Morsi could have prevented the crisis by resigning in the face of protests. Sisi left open the question of whether he would run to replace Morsi. [CNNWashington Post]

7. Trouble in the house of the Kardashians
Kris Jenner, mother of the Kardashian sisters of tabloid fame, and her husband, former Olympic decathlon champion Bruce Jenner, announced in a joint statement that they have separated after 22 years of marriage. The couple, who put their personal lives on display in the reality TV showKeeping Up with the Kardashians, said in a joint statement: “We are living separately and we are much happier this way.” [BBC News]

8. Passengers absorbed in smartphones didn’t notice gunman
The San Francisco Police Department said Tuesday that security footage showed that a man who killed college student Justin Valdez on a light-rail train had his gun in plain sight, but other passengers didn’t notice because they were staring at their smartphones. “They’re just so engrossed, texting and reading and whatnot,” said District Attorney George Gascon. Investigators believe suspect Nikhom Thephakaysone was hunting for a stranger to kill. [San Francisco Chronicle]

9. Three share Nobel in chemistry
Three researchers have won this year’s Nobel Prize in Chemistry for their work in the 1970s developing computer models used to study complex reactions like photosynthesis and combustion, and how drugs interact. The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, which awards the Nobels, said the trio opened up new possibilities for chemists by making “Newton’s classical physics work side-by-side with the fundamentally different quantum physics.” [New York Times]

10. Argentine president is recovering after surgery
Argentine President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner underwent successful surgery to remove a blood clot outside her brain on Tuesday. The injury was the result of a fall in August. Doctors did not immediately say how long the 60-year-old president’s recovery would take, raising concerns three weeks ahead of legislative elections in which Fernandez’s governing party appears likely to lose strength over the country’s weakening economy. [Associated Press]

U.S. Politics

Outrageous! Washington’s jaw drops at possibility of AIG lawsuit…

This week the AIG board will consider whether to join a $25 billion lawsuit. | AP Photo



Remember when AIG took a $182 billion bailout only to turn around and hand out seven-figure bonuses to the same guys who tanked their company?

Grab the pitchforks — it gets better.

Now the insurance organization might join a lawsuit against the U.S. government over the terms of the bailout — saying the deal that saved the company cheated shareholders.

Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner — who faced calls for his firing over the AIG bailout — and Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke are furious, according to one Democratic lawyer. Other officials inside the agencies were angered by the news, too, sources in the department told POLITICO.

Neil Barofsky, former inspector general for the Wall Street bailout said AIG’s possible lawsuit would be a “giant middle finger to the taxpayer.”

One of President Barack Obama’s top aides agreed: “Definition of Chutzpah: AIG, saved by taxpayers, contemplating suit,” David Axelrod tweeted.

Many Treasury and Fed insiders have long believed the terms of the AIG bailout — which only wrapped in recent weeks — were far too generous, not too punitive as the lawsuit is expected to contend.

This week, the AIG board will consider whether to join a $25 billion lawsuit over whether the terms of the bailout were unfair to shareholders, who claim they were deprived of billions of dollars.

AIG began airing ads in recent weeks that say “thank you” to Americans for the rescue — a sentiment AIG’s CEO Robert H. Benmosche assured is sincere in a statement the company released Tuesday night.

“AIG has paid back its debt to America with a profit, and we mean it when we say thank you to the American people,” said Benmosche.

He went on to explain that the company has no choice but to consider suing the government. “At the same time, the board of directors has fiduciary and legal obligations to the company and its shareholders to consider the demand served on us and respond in a fair, appropriate, and timely manner. Tomorrow’s board meeting is about listening to all of the parties involved and gaining a thorough understanding of the issues. We anticipate making a decision in the next several weeks.”

The Treasury and the Fed haven’t released official responses to the news of the potential lawsuit, first reported by The New York Times.

One former administration official, who worked on the AIG bailout, was in a state of disbelief.

“I can’t imagine that they will actually do it. Because whatever recovery they might possibly gain would be totally swamped by the enormous hit to their reputation,” the former official said. “What I don’t understand is why they have not ruled it out already. They have had plenty of opportunity to do so.”

Continue on Page 2…

GOP Hubris · GOP Hypocrisy · JOBS

5 Ways Republicans Have Sabotaged Job Growth

No surprise here.

[Some] Republicans are not very nice people.

When they complain about the dismal job numbers every month and blame President Obama for the poor showing of job growth, they display a measure of  hypocrisy that is beyond belief…

Think Progress

New numbers released today by the Bureau of Labor Statistics show that the economy added a mere 80,000 jobs in June. That’s down from an average of 150,000 jobs a month for the first part of the year, and far too little to keep up with population growth.

Republican intransigence on economic policy has been a key contributor to the sluggish recovery. As early as 2009, Republican fear-mongering over spending and their readiness to filibuster in the Senate helped convince the White House economic team that an $800 billion stimulus was the most they could hope to get through Congress. Reporting has since revealed that the team thought the country actually needed a stimulus on the order of $1.2 to $1.8 trillion. The economy’s path over the next three years proved them right. Here are the top five ways the Republicans have sabotaged the economic recovery since:

1. Filibustering the American Jobs Act. Last October, Senate Republicans killedjobs bill proposed by President Obama that would have pumped $447 billion into the economy. Multiple economic analysts predicted the bill would add around two million jobs and hailed it as defense against a double-dip recession. The Congressional Budget Office also scored it as a net deficit reducer over ten years, and the American public supported the bill.

2. Stonewalling monetary stimulus. The Federal Reserve can do enormous good for a depressed economy through more aggressive monetary stimulus, and by tolerating a temporarily higher level of inflation. But with everything from Ron Paul’s anti-inflationary crusade to Rick Perry threatening to lynch Chairman Ben Bernanke, Republicans have browbeaten the Fed into not going down this path. Most damagingly, the GOP repeatedly held up President Obama’s nominations to the Federal Reserve Board during the critical months of the recession, leaving the board without the institutional clout it needed to help the economy.

3. Threatening a debt default. Even though the country didn’t actually hit its debt ceiling last summer, the Republican threat to default on the United States’ outstanding obligations was sufficient to spook financial markets anddo real damage to the economy.

4. Cutting discretionary spending in the debt ceiling deal. The deal the GOP extracted as the price for avoiding default imposed around $900 billion in cuts over ten years. It included $30.5 billion in discretionary cuts in 2012 alone, costing the country 0.3 percent in economic growth and 323,000 jobs, according to estimates from the Economic Policy Institute. Starting in 2013, the deal will trigger another $1.2 trillion in cuts over ten years.

5. Cutting discretionary spending in the budget deal. While not as cataclysmic as the debt ceiling brinksmanship, Republicans also threatened a shutdown of the government in early 2011 if cuts were not made to that year’s budget. The deal they struck with the White House cut $38 billion from food stamps, health, education, law enforcement, and low-income programs among others, whilesparing defense almost entirely.

There have also been a few near-misses, in which the GOP almost prevented help from coming to the economy. The Republicans in the House delayed a transportation bill that saved as many as 1.9 million jobs. House Committees run by the GOP have passed proposals aimed at cutting billions from food stamps, and the party has repeatedly threatened to kill extensions of unemployment insurance and cuts to the payroll tax.

According to the Congressional Budget Office, those policies — the payroll tax cut, food stamps, unemployment insurance, and discretionary spending for low-income Americans —have the highest multipliers, meaning more job boosting potential per dollar.

Gov. Rick Perry · Karl Rove

Karl Rove Created Rick Perry — Now Can He Stop Him?

I’m curious about what could have happened between Rove and Perry to cause such a rift in their relationship?  I don’t mean the Kay Bailey-Hutchinson “cover” story.

I mean what really happened?

The Huffington Post

Karl Rove won’t say it aloud, but he is afraid of Rick Perry: afraid that the smack-talking Texas governor will wreck the GOP’s chances of winning the White House and the Senate in 2012.

The Perry-Rove story is shaping up as the ultimate tale of dangerously unintended consequences, with Rove in the role of Dr. Frankenstein and Perry as his living, rampaging political creation.

Insiders know that Rove helped launch Perry’s career by advising Perry’s successful run for agriculture commissioner in 1990.

But the larger, deeper point is that Rove designed and built the Texas Republican machine that has now allowed Perry to go national — even after Rove and company tried (and failed) to stop him by running Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas) against him for re-election.

Rove and much of the rest of the GOP Texas establishment was and is embarrassed by Perry: his rootin’-tootin’ style; his naked plays for the votes of the prayerful; his sometimes almost violent accusatory language and his preference for sound bites so pronounced he makes George W. Bush seem like Pericles.

Before Perry announced his bid, Rove was cautious in his comments. “I think he can be a formidable candidate,” Rove told The Huffington Post. “He is the governor of Texas, and he can be a force.”

But Rove has since taken to the Fox airwaves to warn Perry to pipe down, especially after the governor warned Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke that he would be “treated ugly” in Texas and regarded as a “traitor” if he expanded the money supply to fight recession.

Continue reading here…

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Gov. Rick Perry

Former Bush Aides Slam Perry’s Bernanke Comments: ‘Inappropriate And Unpresidential,’ Too ‘Cowboy’

Think Progress

Former aides to President George W. Bush are suggesting Texas Gov. Rick Perry is not presidential material in the wake of his comments yesterday that Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke may be guilty of “treason” and would be treated “pretty ugly down in Texas.”

Former Bush Deputy Press Secretary Tony Fratto spoke out against Perry’s comments just moments after ThinkProgress first reported them, writing on Twitter that the they were “inappropriate and unpresidential.”

This morning, Nicolle Wallace, who served as White House Communications Director in Bush’s second term, said on MSNBC’s Morning Joe that “someone who wants to be the next president  probably shouldn’t use these words” and agreed that Republicans should “lay off of some of this some personal stuff and keep it ideological.” “Not only is it going to maybe turn off some people in the middle, but these aren’t fights that are going to serve Perry well politically,” she added.

Key Bush aide Karl Rove appeared on Fox News later in the morning, where he called Perry’s comments “very unfortunate” and not “presidential“:

It’s his first time on the national stage, and it was a very unfortunate comment.You don’t accuse the chairman of the federal reserve of being a traitor to his country and being guilty of treason and suggesting that we treat him pretty ugly in Texas — that’s not, again, a presidential statement. […] Governor Perry is going to have to fight the impression that he’s a cowboy from Texas, this simply added to it.

Continue reading here…

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Gov. Rick Perry


There may be some merit in Governor Rick Perry’s premise that printing more money now, may cause some problems.  However, the larger issue from his statement begs for answers.

I wonder what Perry was talking  about when he said: “If this guy prints more money between now and the election, I dunno what y’all would do to him in Iowa but we would treat him pretty ugly down in Texas.

Was he referring to the unusually high rate of capital punishment?  By an off-chance, could he be referring to Texas’ history of violence such as lynching and dragging people chained to a pick-up to their death?

I’d sure like the Governor to expound on his statement…

Think Progress

Texas Governor Rick Perry, who entered the presidential campaign on Saturday, appeared to suggest a violent response would be warranted should Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke “print more money” between now and the election.

Speaking just now in Iowa, Perry said, “If this guy prints more money between now and the election, I dunno what y’all would do to him in Iowa but we would treat him pretty ugly down in Texas.

Printing more money to play politics at this particular time in American history is almost treasonous in my opinion.” Treason is a capital offense.

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Rick Santorum

Santorum Opposes Early Childhood Education: Government Wants To ‘Indoctrinate’ Children ‘From The Womb’

Rick Santorum has got to be one of the craziest right-wing nut-job presidential candidates out there.   This article proves how far on the fringe he really is…

Think Progress

Last month, former Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA) — a long-shot contender for the 2012 GOP presidential nomination — said American students scoring low on history tests is proof of “a conscious effort on the part of the left, who has a huge influence on our curriculum, to desensitize America to what American values are so they are more pliable to the new values that they would like to impose on America.” During a campaign appearance at the Perry Public Library in Perry, Iowa this week, Santorum took this line of thinking a step further, explaining that he is opposed to early childhood education programs because he feels they are a government attempt to “indoctrinate your children“:

It is a parent’s responsibility to educate their children. It is not the government’s job. We have sort of lost focus here a little bit. Of course, the government wants their hands on your children as fast as they can. That is why I opposed all these early starts and pre-early starts, and early-early starts. They want your children from the womb so they can indoctrinate your children as to what they want them to be. I am against that.

“Obviously, socialists love children, just like they love people in groups of one million or more,” Santorum added.

Santorum’s bizarre conspiracy-theorizing aside, study after study has shown that federal early childhood education programs have substantial benefits. For instance, students enrolled in Head Start are more likely to be reading and writing at the appropriate level in their early school years, have better health outcomes, earn more money, and commit fewer crimes. Parents with students in Head Start and Early Head Start are also more likely to be involved in their child’s education and cost states less in Medicaid outlays.

One long-term study in California found that “our society receives nearly $9 in benefits for every $1 invested in Head Start children.” Meanwhile, conservative projections show that the real fiscal rate of return overall on public early education investments is about 10 percent. The Center on Children and Families has found that investments in pre-school not only boost GDP, but pay for themselves in the long-term.

As Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke said when discussing the value of investments in education, “the payoffs of early childhood programs can be especially high.” But Santorum would rather play the socialist card than ensure that the richest nation on Earth do all it can for its youth.

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U.S. Politics

Anonymous to Leak Bank of America Documents Monday

Photo of Bank of America ATM Machine by Brian ...
Image via Wikipedia

 Although Gawker is somewhat skeptical about this new offering of email leaks from “Anonymous”, apparently the activist group  is planning to expose Bank of America documents sometime today.   If I were those folks in the financial industry, I’d be very afraid of what may be about to hit the proverbial fan…


A member of the activist collective Anonymous is claiming to be have emails and documents which prove “fraud” was committed by Bank of America employees, and the group says it’ll release them on Monday. The member, who goes by the Twitter handle OperationLeakS, has already posted an internal email from the formerly Bank of America-owned Balboa Insurance Company.

Anonymous to Leak Bank of America Documents Monday

The email is between Balboa Insurance vice president Peggy Johnson and other Balboa employees. (Click right to enlarge.) As far as we can tell, it doesn’t show anything suspicious, but was posted by OperationLeaks as a teaser. He also posted emails he claims are from the disgruntled employee who sent him the material. In one, the employee says he can “send you a copy of the certified letter sent to me by an AVP of BofA’s [HR department] telling me I am banned from stepping foot on BofA property or contacting their employee ever again.”

OperationLeaks, which runs the anti-Bank of America site BankofAmericasuck.com, says the employee contacted the group to blow the whistle on Bank of America’s shady business practices. “I seen some of the emails… I can tell you Grade A Fraud in its purest form…” read one tweet. “He Just told me he have GMAC emails showing BoA order to mix loan numbers to not match it’s Documents.. to foreclose on Americans.. Shame.”

An Anonymous insider told us he believes the leak is real. “From what I know and have been told, it’s legit,” he said. “Should be a round of emails, then some files, possible some more emails to follow that.” The documents should be released Monday on Anonleaks.ch, the same site where Anonymous posted thousands of internal emails from hacked security company HBGary last month. That leak exposed a legally-questionable plot to attack Wikileaks and ultimately led to the resignation of HBGary CEO Aaron Barr.

There are lots of reasons to be skeptical about this latest supposed leak. For now, it’s a guy who hates Bank of America and posted a single internal Balboa email and some seriously outrageous claims to Twitter. (When emailed for comment he posted our email to Twitter with “Fuck you, Gawker.”) It’s unclear what he’s actually got. And the whole incident echoes the time Wikileaks claimed to have its own Bank of America bombshell leak, which turned out to be a dud.

But those we’ve spoken to in Anonymous are convinced there’s something to this. Anonymous has a proven track record with leaks, and Bank of America has been in their crosshairs since they cut off payments to Wikileaks in December. If it’s real, it could be big. Keep your eye on anonleaks.ch: It should hit Monday.

Update: The leak will drop at 12:00am on Monday morning. According to Reuters, a Bank of America spokesman has confirmed the existence of a leak, saying it consists of “non-foreclosure related clerical and administrative documents stolen by a former Balboa Insurance employee.” The spokesman told Reuters, “We are confident that his extravagant assertions are untrue.”

UPDATE: It appears some of the emails may have been leaked already.
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Facebook · Mark Zuckerberg · Time Magazine · Time's Person Of the Year

Time Person Of The Year 2010: Mark Zuckerberg

Huffington Post

Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg has been named Time magazine’s “Person of the Year” for 2010.

At 26, Zuckerberg has put himself on the map not only as one of the world’s youngest billionaires, but also as a prominent newcomer to the world of philanthropy.

Earlier this year, he pledged $100 million over five years to the Newark, N.J. school system. Now, he’s in the company of media titans Carl Icahn, 74, Barry Diller, 68, and others who have joined Giving Pledge, an effort led by Microsoft founder Bill Gates and investor Warren Buffett to commit the country’s wealthiest people to step up their charitable donations.

Zuckerberg owns about a quarter of Facebook’s shares.

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke received the honor last year. The 2008 winner was then-President-elect Barack Obama. The 2007 winner was Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin.

Other previous winners have included Bono, President George W. Bush, and Amazon.com CEO and founder Jeff Bezos.

Time’s “Person of the Year” is the person or thing that has most influenced the culture and the news during the past year for good or for ill.

Wall Street Insider Trading

Report: Feds Preparing Massive Sweep Of Insider Trading In Financial Sector

It’s about damn time!  I’m hoping that the aftermath will weed out a few crooked Congressmen and Senators on both sides of the aisle, as well. 

This is the sort of thing that allows me to maintain a little faith in the Obama administration.  Just when you think those guys have muddled so many things in the name of “bi-partisanship”, they surprise us with this bit of news.  I’m thinking, masterful chess move by the Feds and Obama.

The mortgage and foreclosure bankster scams should be next! 

It goes back to John Kenneth Gailbraith and Jack Clark’s words…


The modern conservative is engaged in one of man’s oldest exercises in moral philosophy; that is, the search for a superior moral justification for selfishness.
John Kenneth Galbraith


The Rational Radical

Everything the right-wing does is designed to accomplish one of two things, either:
(a) transfer wealth from everyone else to the rich, or,
(b) distract everyone else from the fact that (a) is occurring.

Wall Street Journal

Federal authorities, capping a three-year investigation, are preparing insider-trading charges that could ensnare consultants, investment bankers, hedge-fund and mutual-fund traders and analysts across the nation, according to people familiar with the matter.

The criminal and civil probes, which authorities say could eclipse the impact on the financial industry of any previous such investigation, are examining whether multiple insider-trading rings reaped illegal profits totaling tens of millions of dollars, the people say. Some charges could be brought before year-end, they say.

The investigations, if they bear fruit, have the potential to expose a culture of pervasive insider trading in U.S. financial markets, including new ways non-public information is passed to traders through experts tied to specific industries or companies, federal authorities say.

Read the whole story: Wall Street Journal

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