• Tips gratefully accepted here. Thanks!:

  • Recent Comments

    cwaltz on Monday: Research Professionals…
    paper doll on The Employment Index
    paper doll on The Employment Index
    Mr Mike on Monday: Research Professionals…
    Mr Mike on The Employment Index
    paper doll on The Employment Index
    ownaa on The Employment Index
    CB on The Employment Index
    katiebird on The Employment Index
    abc on The Employment Index
    Sweet Sue on The Employment Index
    Sweet Sue on The Employment Index
    bernard jenkins on The Employment Index
    CL on The Employment Index
    riverdaughter on The Employment Index
  • Categories


  • Tags

    abortion Add new tag Afghanistan Al Franken Anglachel Atrios bankers Barack Obama big pharma Bill Clinton Chris Christie cocktails Conflucians Say Dailykos debate Democratic Party Democrats Digby DNC Donna Brazile Economy Elizabeth Warren feminism Florida Fox News General Glenn Beck Glenn Greenwald Goldman Sachs health care Health Care Reform Hillary Clinton Howard Dean Joe Biden John Edwards John McCain Jon Corzine Karl Rove Keith Olbermann Matt Taibbi Media medicare Michelle Obama Michigan misogyny Mitt Romney Morning Edition Morning News Links Nancy Pelosi New Jersey news NO WE WON'T Obama Obamacare OccupyWallStreet occupy wall street Open thread Paul Krugman Politics Presidential Election 2008 PUMA racism Republicans Sarah Palin sexism Single Payer snark Social Security Supreme Court Terry Gross Tim Geithner unemployment Wall Street WikiLeaks women
  • Archives

  • History

    September 2014
    S M T W T F S
    « Aug    
     123456
    78910111213
    14151617181920
    21222324252627
    282930  
  • RSS Paul Krugman: Conscience of a Liberal

  • The Confluence

    The Confluence

  • RSS Suburban Guerrilla

  • RSS Ian Welsh

    • The End of the Rebels in the Ukraine and the Ukraine’s Future
      We’re down to street fighting in Donetsk.  The Russian leaders resigned in the last two weeks.  The rebels appear to be done, at least in terms of their conventional military phase (of course, I could be wrong depending on how much stomach Ukrainian troops have for house to house fighting).  It seems like that would [...]
  • Top Posts

Friday, Friday! Gotta get down on Friday!

Let’s take a turn around the internet , shall we Miss Bennett?

Someone, beside *me*, really has it in for Jon Corzine.  The story about MF Global has been on the frontpage of the NYTimes every day this week.  In some cases, there have been several stories per day.  The one from yesterday was especially negative, not only for Corzine but for what his relationship with Obama says about the president’s judgement (remember that his judgement was Obama’s selling point in 2008).  Earlier this year, Gary Gensler, the head of the CFTC was proposing a rule to restrict the very same kind of trading that Corzine’s MF Global was doing and like Brookesley Born back in 2000, Gensler was overruled, this time by Corzine himself and a bunch of his lobbyist dudes.

As a former sovereign debt trader at Goldman Sachs, Mr. Corzine wagered that the European regulators would backstop any default. So even as dark clouds circled over Europe, he sensed an opportunity. Starting in late 2010, MF Global began to accumulate short-term sovereign debt of countries like Italy, Spain and Portugal.

MF Global financed these purchases through complex transactions known as repurchase agreements. In these, the bonds themselves were used as collateral for a loan to purchase them. The interest paid on that loan was less than the interest the bonds paid out, earning the firm a profit from the spread.

While that practice is quite common, the C.F.T.C. wanted to crack down on such lending in those instances when customer funds were used. The C.F.T.C. proposal would have also banned the use of client funds to buy foreign sovereign debt.

It is unclear whether the firm used client funds to purchase the risky bonds of Italy, Spain, and other debt-laden European nations, but experts say it is not unusual for such transactions to be paid for with customer money.

A person close to MF Global said the firm did not use client funds to finance these trades.

Leading the government’s effort to curtail these arcane practices was Gary Gensler, the chairman of C.F.T.C., who had worked for Mr. Corzine at Goldman Sachs. Mr. Gensler pushed for the proposed change in October 2010, and planned to bring it to a vote this summer.

MF Global has four outside lobbyists in Washington, tiny by Wall Street standards. But it was Mr. Corzine who marshaled the firm’s response to the proposal, lobbying most of the agency’s five commissioners directly. One commissioner said he visited with Mr. Corzine in MF Global’s headquarters, and acknowledged being impressed by the Wall Street titan, said a person with direct knowledge of the meeting who asked for anonymity because the meeting was private.

The C.F.T.C. polices the markets for futures trades. Staff members there often do not have a Wall Street pedigree.

Mr. Corzine’s background in finance made him highly credible, agency officials said.

Mr. Corzine’s efforts culminated on July 20, as the agency was preparing for a vote on the proposal. That day, MF Global executives were on four different calls with the agency’s staff. Mr. Corzine himself was on two of those calls.

One of the calls was with Mr. Gensler. Both men are active Democrats, and served on financial panels together recently.

Shortly after the calls, Mr. Gensler, aware that he could not push the vote through, decided to delay the proposal indefinitely.

In Ron Suskind’s book, Confidence Men, Gensler comes off as one of the few good guys in Obama’s administration who has a background in finance and knows how players like Corzine work.  In a recent brief interview with CNBC when asked whether there were other Wall Street firms with a sovereign debt crisis, Gensler just smiled and said nothing.  Gensler wasn’t able to do much better than Born against Wall Street’s lobbying arm with the rest of the CFTC board.  The good thing is that the rule isn’t dead, it’s just delayed.  The bad thing is that Barack Obama was prepared to make Jon Corzine his Treasury Secretary if Geithner resigned.  Come to think of it, why *didn’t* Geithner resign?  Did the risky trades at MF Global scare Obama off?

As of last night, Corzine had lawyered up with a criminal defense lawyer and this morning, he resigned from MF Global.  What kind of influence he personally had with Obama’s White House may make for some interesting election year fireworks.  And let’s not forget OccupyWallStreet who may just help ignite some true voter pushback on the Obama administration.  Call me crazy but my tinfoil antenna are starting to pick up signals that the opinion makers are starting to be embarrassed by Obama and are concerned that according to the models they are running, he can’t win against Romney next year.  Nate Silver suspects that Obama may be toast.

**********************

Good news!  Our national unemployment rate is down to 9%!  Isn’t that amazing?  Don’t tell anyone from Sanofi, Novartis, Amgen and Merck.  Let it be a surprise.

Also, don’t be surprised when the government is forced to revise that number upwards.

Meanwhile, in another bit of, er, good(?) news, the New York Times reports that the reports of increasing poverty are greatly exaggerated and anyways, poverty is not that bad these days.  You get food stamps!  See, if you’re not actually starving and suffering from kwashiorkor, you’re not really poor, even if you were solidly middle class last year.  This year, I will have paid more in taxes than required to support a family of four above the poverty level, next year I am at the poverty level. Good to know that impending homelessness, healthcarelessness and food stamps are not as bad as I think they will be.

**********************

In the battle of the pundits, David Brooks squares off against Paul Krugman.  David, who is really Wormtongue in disguise, constantly points out that if you have a college education, you’re doing pretty well during this recession compared to the great unwashed masses who only have high school diplomas.  THOSE people can’t get jobs because they are unqualified.  Truly successful people have college educations.  Oh, wait, Steve Jobs dropped out of college after his Freshman year.  Well, surely he’s an exception.  Wait, Bill Gates also dropped out.  And so did Mark Zuckerberg.  Jeez, does anyone in Silicon Valley have a Bachelor’s degree?? Yes!  Steve Wozniak has one.  He got it after he became a millionaire at Apple from designing the Apple II.

But surely, SURELY, they are exceptions, no?  Actually, David, none of my friends with multiple advanced degrees are doing very well right now.  Oh, there’s plenty of work to do.  It’s just mostly unpaid.  The people who need the help the most can’t find the funds and these are not greedy entrepreneurs of the kind that Brooks would admire.  They’re just not getting funded.  Well, it’s only cancer and other diseases.  But I will be sure to tell my friends at Sanofi, Merck, Novartis and Amgen that they are fully employed and prosperous because they graduated from college.  Let’s not let reality get in the way.

Paul Krugman, on the other hand, says the educated are not getting jobs.  He says this because he looks at all those graphs and correlations and mathematical thingies that David Brooks probably didn’t study when he was in college.  And Krugman is living in the middle of pharmageddon central.  All he needs to do is stick his head out the window to hear the agonizing cries of the chemistry PhD at the Frick lab only a few blocks down the road who cannot find a job.

That’s why Krugman is a god and David Brooks is still just a Wormtongue, whispering sweet distractions into the moneyed class’s ears so that they don’t have to feel, well, *anything* really, while he tells the rest of us that we’re worthless without a college education.  And the college educated trudge all the way to the unemployment office.  “Hi-ho, Hi-ho, it’s off to un-work we go”

************************

And now for our musical interlude for all the high school graduates out there:

Real Life Stuff

Ayayayay!  Woke up about 15 minutes later than I planned.  Have to actually *be* somewhere this morning.  So, this is going to be short.

If there are any intrepid reporters out there who want to see what’s going on in the drug industry, check out the Drug Discovery Day activities at the CoRe building at Rutgers University.  There will be 50 companies and recruiters available.  You can be depressed directly or you could network and be depressed.  Choices, Choices!  Actually, I wanted to go to this but I have another event that might be more interesting, but we’ll see.

On the MF Global front, there were signs and implications a few months ago that something was up.  Enough signs that the White House was aware of it, albeit it on the late side.  Gary Gensling, former Clinton advisor and now head of the CTFC, became concerned last Thursday that MF Global was comingling is monies.  This turned out to be true.  The whole article has the feel of people trying to patch together a timeline so no one looks totally awful.

It’s not Monday but I still feel manic.

 

The NY Times wonders why Corzine’s MF Global wasn’t checked

MF Global embezzled, I’m sorry, misallocated funds from its depositors to cover bets it made that Greece would be bailed out by the ECB and German and French taxpayers.  You’d think that the brokerage houses would have learned from 2008 and the NY Times editorial says that most of them have (I’ll believe that when I see it).  But somehow, Jon Corzine’s brokerage was allowed to operate in a highly leveraged condition.  The editorial board just can’t wrap its head around this:

Another reason that Mr. Corzine’s bets may have gone so wrong — and another echo of the financial crisis — is that American regulators did not rein in the firm. MF Global was highly leveraged, with liabilities at the end of June of $44.4 billion and equity of only $1.4 billion.

In a research note published on Tuesday, Steve Blitz, a senior economist with ITG Investment Research, pointed out that MF Global was one of the firms designated by the Federal Reserve as a primary dealer in United States Treasuries. After the havoc of high leverage in the financial crisis, how is it possible that the Fed allowed MF Global to operate with so much leverage? Are the Fed, the Securities and Exchange Commission and other relevant regulators fully monitoring the risks at other broker dealers?

Meanwhile, self-regulation is clearly not the answer. The Wall Street Journal reported on Monday that the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, a self-regulatory agency for brokerages, recently warned MF Global to shore up its capital to cushion against its increasingly risky positions. Whatever the firm did, if anything, clearly wasn’t enough.

Are the authorities monitoring the risks?  Well, obviously, they weren’t monitoring this one.  How can that be?  What possible motivation could there be for averting one’s eyes from the MF Global’s collapse and unacceptable risk taking?  I mean, did they own Jon a favor or something?

Jeez, it’s like some kind of allegorical morality play.  “In this scene, Everyman is thwarted by the rich banker from Goldman-Sachs.  Which cardinal sins does he represent?  Anyone?  Bueller?”

Let’s not forget some of the delegate accounts from Denver where the Hillary delegates who tried to vote for her on the first ballot were cornered, screamed at, harassed in hotel lobbies, and threatened that they would lose their jobs if they didn’t change their votes before the roll call.  Here’s a few just to get a feel for how bad it was.  (I talked to some personally when I was in Denver and these accounts sound pretty accurate):

ARKANSAS: “I was so angry at the sham of a roll call that I just wanted it to be over… ” “the last time I felt such unbearable group pressure was on a jury”   ” Obama representatives yelling, you’ll be sorry” to “hold outs”.  It was brutal.”

An alternate kept calling out that the state voted 70% for Hillary yet recorded its 47 delegate votes for Obama – “how could that be?”

*

CALIFORNIA: Chris Stampolis reports “I cast my signed vote for Hillary this morning.  It will be added to the roll call count for California”.  Except, we may never know how California voted…

Delegate Ray Panko reports that, “The California vote was about 230+ for Obama to 160+ for Clinton which did not reflect the state vote.  The process was completely controlled by the DNC and the Obama campaign. They had us all vote at breakfast. They took our votes and tallied them. They did this to see how close the numbers would be between Obama and Clinton. The aim was to prevent the public from seeing the closeness of the race. California passed because the Obama/Dean,Nancy Church(DNC) told it to pass. It was a sham, show, farce, gimmick.

Overall, the process was reprehensible.  Each delegation was told a different story. No one was told the actual rules of the DNC which say delegates are required, in good conscience, to vote on the first ballot a vote that reflects the will of the voters who sent them to the convention. Gloria Allred was prevented from speaking to the California Hillary delegates to inform them of this rule and that it applies regardless of whether or not the candidate releases us or not.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v…

People understood that pledged delegates would do what they came to Denver to do – vote for one of the nominees to reflect the votes of those who sent them.  We expected there to be respect for the 18 million votes and Hillary’s historic candidacy.  We even thought that Super Delegates would be allowed to do their job – to select the electable Democrat.   But that was not to be.  Instead, the roll call turned into one chaotic caucus rigged to be sure that the final vote would never be known, without any sublety or reverance for the sanctity of the vote or individual obligations.”

A Super Delegate reported that “CA “passed” without ever recording its votes because the Hillary delegation stood firm and had the vote been given accurately, Hillary would have been temporarily ahead in the roll call”.

Clinton delegate and LA attorney Gloria Allred grabbed a napkin from the tables at the California delegation breakfast and wore it as a gag to protest not being allowed to speak at the breakfast.  “I was not elected to be a potted plant,” Allred said through her gag, holding up DNC rules that say delegates must vote as they are elected. Californnia had 204 delegates pledged to Hillary Clinton, versus 166 for Obama.”

*

NEW HAMPSHIRE: “What thugs they are.  They make it clear that they really do not need us and have no intention of doing anything about the unity they mouth.”   “Our state voted strongly for Clinton but was threatened that funds would be withdrawn. The state cast its votes for Obama”.

NEW JERSEY:  “We overheard delegates from our state which had voted strongly for HRC saying that they understood DNC funding for local races in their state would be dependent on a unanimous delegation vote”.
A delegate was told “he needn’t worry about his vote – the totals for New Jersey were irrelevant, that the delegation was going to announce as unanimous”.

NEW YORK: “My guess, with no inside information at all, is that no-one expected her votes to melt away or be driven away – that the BOs would be gracious enough to let her have her votes and she would then nominate by acclamation.  That she did, but they had snarked away her delegates for maximum humiliation value”.

*

PENNSYLVANIA: An elderly weeping delegate who wanted to vote for Hillary was consoled by several fellow delegates who said they were all sent to Denver by their friends and neighbors to vote for Hillary but, “no-one seemed to care”.

OHIO: Flo Gurwin  After watching the convention proceedings in Denver, I certainly do believe in HIS change–his ability to continually change his mind.  I do not trust him.  I think he’s a snake and the scumbags surrounding him leave little doubt in my mind that he is not the sort of person I want for my president.”

*

TEXAS: Frances Morey: “I was less than enthusiastic about the impeachment of Bush AND Cheney because Pelosi would have been next in line for the Oval Office”. She also noted that “going into this convention Obama was flat-lining in the polls. If there is a bounce to follow we know who is responsible–The Clintons”.

“This morning I got my credential and was directed to go to another room. There I showed my badge and my id and indicated my presidential preference on a sheet next to my name and signed my name. This is the state tally sheet. Texas delegation officials, Boyd Richie’s staff and volunteers, have total control of this. They will use this tally sheet to report the Texas delegation totals for todays roll call vote at the Pepsi center later today.”

Blanche Darley, wearing a button saying ObamaNation Scares the Hell out of Me, on the impact of HRC’s speech: “We love her, but it’s our vote …we don’t trust or like him…”

Nata Koerber: “Hillary has a life-time of service to the Democratic Party and has done everything required and then some to encourage support of Obama. The responsibility of uniting the Party lies squarely in the lap of Barack Obama, and Joe Biden, Obama’s preferred choice for VP.”

A HRC pledged delegate, realizing that it did not matter how his delegation voted, announced that “it is obvious that the Obama campaign has no regard for the Clinton delegates or voters, that they were making it clear that Obama does not feel he has to treat us with even minimal respect.”

You can read more delegate accounts at Alegre’s Corner.

The bankers bought the superdelegates, the state parties, and Obama himself.  They own him.  He does their bidding.  And there was no one who symbolized that ownership more than Jon Corzine himself when he unanimously gave away the entire state of New Jersey’s delegates to Obama who lost the state by 10 points.  New York went right after we did and that put an end to the most rigged primary season and roll call vote in Democratic party history.

It’s no mystery why the Obama administration charged with oversight and regulation turned a blind eye to what Corzine’s fund was doing.  That’s the way the system was set up to work.

D’uh.

Corzine headed fund misallocated customer money??

Dorothy Rodham, Hillary Rodham Clinton’s mother, died today at the age of 92.  Dorothy Rodham’s early life reminds me of my grandfather’s.  She grew up in a working class house, raised by her punishingly strict grandmother after her father sent her away.  She longed for a college education but girls like her were unlikely to get one.  Her life took a different path.  You can read more of her biography here.  We send our condolences to Hillary and her family.

*******************************************************************

MF Global, a brokerage firm recently run by Jon Corzine, filed for bankruptcy yesterday after it failed to close a deal with another brokerage firm to take it over.  The deal was scuttled when $700 million in customer deposits went missing.  Originally, it was thought nearly a billion was missing but some of that money later trickled in.  What happened to the $700 million?:

Regulators are examining whether MF Global diverted some customer funds to support its own trades as the firm teetered on the brink of collapse.

The discovery that money could not be located might simply reflect sloppy internal controls at MF Global.

Ahh, yes, the “internal controls”.  Does Sarbanes-Oxley apply to brokerage firms or does it just apply to every other corporation from CEO down to the glasswashers where every penny must be accounted for in mind numbing detail?  Oh, wait!  Here’s another article about Goldman-Sachs partners having extraordinary power over their internal controls and compliance and maybe *that’s* why Corzine got carried away (not that he did anything wrong).  It’s like the hazards of confidence  of people who believe in their own (godlike) abilities, the confidence in this case attributed to sitting on a pile of Goldman-Sachs cash and influence.  But what if you’re not at Goldman-Sachs anymore?  Where do you get the confidence to override your internal controls…?  Did I mention that Corzine was betting against the Sovereign debt crisis in Europe?  Yeah, he totally expected no countries to default and that the ECB and countries like Germany would bail everybody out.  Sure, go ahead and place a bet on all those bonds.  The European taxpayers will cover you.  How many other Wall Street firms did the same thing?  Well, we’ll all find out shortly.

But the investigation, which is in its earliest stages, may uncover something more intentional and troubling.

In any case, what led to the unaccounted-for cash could violate a tenet of Wall Street regulation: Customers’ funds must be kept separate from company money. One of the basic duties of any brokerage firm is to keep track of customer accounts on a daily basis.

Wait!  Didn’t Bank of America just transfer some of it’s shadier assets to the FDIC covered customer bank accounts side of its ledger sheet?  That sounds like mixing monies to me and sticking taxpayers with the responsibility to cover potentially catastrophic losses but maybe I’m just being one of those uninformed cotton-headed-ninny-muggins people who don’t really understand the glory of what the banking class is trying to accomplish.  

Jeez, you would have thought that Corzine, former governor of NJ who treated us New Jerseyans so tenderly by solving the property tax problem, oh wait, he didn’t actually do that.  Well, Corzine who was so respectful of New Jerseyans’ voter enfranchisement.  S%&#!  He was the one who gave away ALL of our delegates to Obama at the 2008 convention wasn’t he?  (the Obama contingent are rolling their eyes and can’t believe the rest of us haven’t gotten over that because after all, it was just hard ball politics.  OK, when it happens to YOUR votes, we’ll just tell you to suck it up and quit whining.  I mean, it’s only your vote.  It’s not like it actually counts for anything, as the Obama administration has proven again and again.  And again.)

So, what did Corzine do here?  Not that we’re claiming that Jon Corzine did anything wrong or anything because that would be slander or libel or something we never prosecute anymore and, anyways, there’s no proof!  No proof whatsoever that he did anything the least bit out of the ordinary.  Yep, he was just sitting quietly, with his hands neatly folded in his lap not bothering anyone…

When he arrived at MF Global — after more than a decade in politics, including serving as a Democratic United States senator from New Jersey — Mr. Corzine sought to bolster profits by increasing the number of bets the firm made using its own capital. It was a strategy born of his own experience at Goldman, where he rose through the ranks by building out the investment bank’s formidable United States government bond trading arm.

One of his hallmark traits, according to the 1999 book “Goldman Sachs: The Culture of Success,” by Lisa Endlich, was his willingness to tolerate losses if the theory behind the trades was well thought out.

He made a similar wager at MF Global in buying up big holdings of debt from Spain, Italy, Portugal, Belgium and Ireland at a discount. Once Europe had solved its fiscal problems, those bonds would be very profitable.

But when that bet came to light in a regulatory filing, it set off alarms on Wall Street. While the bonds themselves have lost little value and mature in less than a year, MF Global was seen as having taken on an enormous amount of risk with little room for error given its size. By Friday evening, MF Global was under pressure to put up more money to support its trading positions, threatening to drain the firm’s remaining cash.

Hmmm, it sounds to me like Corzine risked a little too much, had to cover his bets and found that he had insufficient funds to do so, but that’s just my uninformed interpretation.  And if he dipped into his customers’ accounts to take out a temporary loan?  Just enough to tie him over until the next paycheck?  I’m sure everything was going to turn out fine.  It’s not like he was supposed to have enough collateral around, because that might have been in that finance industry reform bill that got watered down to tincture of remedy status.  It seems like the other banks have been howling screams of pain over their obligations to cover their bets.  It sounds so onerous that I thought maybe that weak tea of a bill might have been too much.  Apparently not.

By late Sunday evening, an embattled MF Global had all but signed a deal with Interactive Brokers. The acquisition would have mirrored what Lehman Brothersdid in 2008, when its parent filed for bankruptcy but Barclays of Britain bought some of its assets.

But in the middle of the night, as Interactive Brokers investigated MF Global’s customer accounts, the potential buyer discovered a serious obstacle: Some of the customer money was missing, according to people close to the discussions. The realization alarmed Interactive Brokers, which then abandoned the deal.

Later on Monday, when explaining to regulators why the deal had fallen apart, MF Global disclosed the concerns over the missing money, according to a joint statement issued by the Commodity Futures Trading Commission and the Securities and Exchange Commission. Regulators, however, first suspected a potential shortfall days ago as they gathered at MF Global’s Midtown Manhattan headquarters, the people briefed on the matter said. It is not uncommon for some funds to be unaccounted for when a financial firm fails, but the magnitude in the case of MF Global was unnerving.

[...]

But the firm has yet to produce evidence that all of the $600 million or $700 million outstanding is deposited with the banks, according to the people briefed on the matter. Regulators are looking into whether the customer funds were misallocated.

With the deal with Interactive Brokers dashed, MF Global was hanging in limbo for several hours before it filed for bankruptcy. The Federal Reserve Bank of New York and a number of exchanges said they had suspended MF Global from doing new business with them.

It was not the first time regulators expressed concerns about MF Global.

MF Global confirmed on Monday that the Commodity Futures Trading Commission and the S.E.C. — had “expressed their grave concerns” about the firm’s viability.

Presumably, the regulators let the customers know when they first had “grave concerns” about the firm’s viability so they could reconsider where they put their funds… or not.  “Grave concerns” sounds pretty ominous. Well, it’s not like his customer’s desires should have any bearing on what Corzine actually did with their money.  It’s just not his way.  I seem to recall that he was accused of playing with the NJ state workers’ pension funds but let’s not cast aspersions until I find some links that aren’t in virulently conservative Republican sites.  Still, the pensions are in trouble and this latest information about how Corzine plays fast and loose with money does make one wonder…

And people wonder why OccupyWallStreet has become so popular.

Hey!  Here’s a blast from the past.  Remember when Jon Corzine was at the Democratic National Convention giving away all of his state’s delegates to a candidate that lost the state primary by 10 points?  Memories, it brings a tear to the eye.  Sobbing, actually.  It’s a good thing that Corzine knows people in high places who owe him *big* favors.

Corzine: “She would have been able to handle this Congress”

Corzine knew better

So, the former governor of New Jersey attended a birthday party for the Big Dawg and in one sentence managed to sum up everything that is wrong with the Democratic party right now:

“…Susan and Alan Patricof watched the slenderized and beaming couple kick it up to “You’re Still the One” as former New Jersey Senator John Corzine looked on wistfully. “I just wish,” Corzine said shaking his head, “I mean I knew — she would have been able to handle this Congress… but it was just Obama’s time.”

Stand back, Myiq, I can handle this.

Dear Jon, this statement exemplifies why you aren’t the Governor of New Jersey any more.  I voted for you for Senator and Governor.   After Christie Whitman left, I thought it was time for a Democrat to take control of the state and work on property tax reform.  You remember property taxes?  Those things that increase mortgage payments by roughly 50%?  Yeah, the voters of NJ expected you to do something about that, like adopt a more Pennsylvania like tax system.  You know, spread the responsibility, move towards a more equitable income tax solution, or hit your buds to pony up more, maybe consolidate some municipalities so they shared services, work with the teacher’s unions to make sure teachers proved themselves before they got tenure.  You know, stuff like that.  But you examined the problem only briefly, threw up your hands and declared yourself powerless and expected us to just kind of suck it up and vote for you again.

It reminds me of some of Obama’s legislative “victories”.  His supporters say he’s powerless to influence the big bad, nasty, wasty Republicans so his proposals are weak tea and do nothing to alleviate the suffering of millions of Americans.  But, Golly!, he certainly has a record of legislative accomplishments, doesn’t he?  No one since FDR has dones so much.  I guess all that Civil Rights legislation and Great Society stuff and Medicare doesn’t count.  LBJ must be rolling in his grave.  But isn’t Reagan delicious??

But I digress.  Let’s look at what your statement actually says.  We’ll break it down for the slow witted.

1.) “I knew — she would have been able to handle this Congress”.  That’s a very interesting admission, Jon.  Presumably, you had insight into Hillary’s capacity to govern because you had seen her in action.  You were in the Senate at roughly the same time.  You worked with her.  And she would have had a very powerful mentor at her side at all times who she could have asked for advice.  Initially, you were a Clinton Superdelegate.  That’s because even you could see that after eight years of George Bush’s devastating disaster of a presidency, the country was going to need a responsible, capable, experienced leader to clean up.  It would have been a thankless job too.  Because avoiding a financial crisis like the one we have now wouldn’t have the same impact as fixing it now that the economy is totally broken.  If Hillary had been elected and structured the TARP in such a way that the big banks had been taken over, that homeowners had been able to keep their houses and paid the banks on time and real, ready-to-go infrastructure projects had put people back to work, she would have just looked like a good president.  If we elect her in 2012 and she does all of these things, she will look absolutely Rooseveltesque!  Obama might not like that much but, trust me, the American people will love it.

2.) “…but it was just Obama’s time.”  No, Jon, it was OUR time.  That is, the American people’s time.  It was time for us to stop being terrified of scary Muslims.  It was our time to stop the slide of the middle class towards destitution.  It was our time to invest in infrastructure and our future.  We needed a leader who was ready and able to help us do that.  It wasn’t feminists’ time or African Americans’ time.  The prize of the presidency of the United States was not a personal accomplishment for Barack Obama.  He wasn’t ready for a commitment as big as this one.  And this is where you made your fatal mistake.

Where the hell do you get off substituting your opinion for expressed wishes of the voters of your state?  As a superdelegate, you can do whatever fool thing you want with your vote.  But you don’t have the right to take the primary results of millions of people of the state you govern and dump them in nearest waste paper receptacle because you are dazzled by a Wall Street shmoozer who thinks it is his destiny to rule the world.  You may have thought the local Democratic machine wouldn’t stand in your way if you did it anyway but the voters had the right to hold you accountable for your lack of effort and your bad judgment.  That’s why you’re not Governor anymore.

If there’s anyone to blame for Chris Christie’s win in NJ, it’s YOU, Jon.  All you had to do was act like you actually cared about the voters in your state.  Instead, you behaved with arrogance, detachment and wrong headed stupidity.  You saddled a lot of New Jersey residents with taxes they struggle to pay and you deprived them of a voice in the most crucial election of their lifetimes.  And for that, the voters held you personally responsible.

And that’s going to happen to Congress this fall.

Thanks for nothing.

BTW, Happy Belated Birthday, Bill.

(And so’s your wife)

Martha Coakley and the Despicable Democratic Spin Meisters

The Dems are fashioning a pre-emptive strike in advance of Martha Coakley’s potentially disastrous loss on Tuesday.  Let the record show that the Democrats are starting to parrot the Fox News pundits.  From the NY Times this morning comes these tasty tidbits to savor:

“It comes from the fact that Obama as president has had to deal with all these major crises he inherited: the banks, fiscal stimulus,” said Senator Paul G. Kirk Jr., the Democrat who holds the Massachusetts seat on an interim basis pending the special election. “But for many people it was like, ‘Jeez, how much government are we getting here?’ That might have given them pause.”

and…

Senator Evan Bayh, Democrat of Indiana, said the atmosphere was a serious threat to Democrats. “I do think there’s a chance that Congressional elites mistook their mandate,” Mr. Bayh said. “I don’t think the American people last year voted for higher taxes, higher deficits and a more intrusive government. But there’s a perception that that is what they are getting.”

I love this stuff.

Presumably, the 2008 primary voters of Massachusetts realized that Obama would inherit a lot of crap from his predecessor.  This is not news to them.  That’s probably why they didn’t vote for him. Maybe it’s just me but when I was written off by my own party as an inconvenient vote, a rage simmered in me just waiting for an opportunity to strike back.  Maybe, if Jon Corzine had acted like a real Democrat and had spent his four year term making the NJ tax system fairer, he would have gotten a second chance.  But Corzine wasn’t done in by more Republicans voting so much as he failed to get Democrats to the polls.  You can call it an enthusiasm gap if you want.

Or you can parrot the Republican line and say that people are objecting to more big government.  {{snort!}} Yes, that may be the perception that they’re getting because that is the perception that Democrats like Bayh are promoting.  But if that’s true, why the heck is my email account cluttered up with appeal after appeal for money for Coakley in Massachusetts.  I mean, don’t Democrats want government that works for voters?  So, they are saying one thing to the cable news audience and another thing to their (former) Democratic base?  Whoda thunkit?

Could you Democrats just cut the crap already?

If Martha Coakley loses on Tuesday it will be because she succumbed to a trait common to most tragic heros: arrogance.  Everyone thought that she was a shoe in when she won the primary, including the candidate herself.  What she is instead is a very bad politician.  Politics requires some showmanship.  You have to be able to read your audience.  But Martha Coakley is stupidly honest about what she thinks of her sucker voters.  She roped in her liberal Massachusetts constituents by presenting her liberal credentials in the primary and then did a 180 on them a short time later by embracing the health care reform act.  She signalled in advance that she didn’t really give a damn about what her liberal constituents thought.

Martha didn’t have to do this.  This is Massachusetts.  Democrats outnumber Republicans by millions.  It remains a mystery why she tacked right in a state where tacking right is a non-starter.  I can’t imagine what DC Democrats thought they could get from it unless they wanted her to lose.  But then, why all of the appeals for cash?  Why the sense of panic and desperation?  What nitwit in Washington thought it was a good idea for Coakley to broadcast the fact that she was going to screw her voters?  The loyalty pledge to Obama and the powers that back him up has finally met its match.

I wouldn’t presume to tell Massachusetts how to vote on Tuesday and they’re not looking for me for guidance anyway.  But we can look at the likely outcome.  It’s going to be Democrats that determine this thing, either by defection or by staying home.  If they elect Scott Brown, they send a potent message to the party and the country that they’re sick and tired of being jerked around by Democrats In Name Only that pretend to share their values but are really beholden to a small evil group to which no one they know belongs.  That gives national Democrats about 10 months to get their shit together and quit playing games.

If they vote for Coakley, even if the outcome is close, they signal to Washington that they are perfectly willing to be suckers but they end up with a woman who will get them closer to that 30% critical mass of female legislators that will eventually have the power to tell the Rahm Emannuel types to go take a long walk on a short pier when it comes to selling out their gender for the sake of some uber shmoozer’s political reputation. Unfortunately, that 30% level is still a loonnnng way off. Still, going forward is a potent argument.

But it Coakley loses on Tuesday, the Democrats would be wise to yank the Kirks and Bayhs from the airwaves.  The base won’t be buying it anymore.

Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to TwitterAdd to TechnoratiAdd to Yahoo BuzzAdd to Newsvine

Daggett wins second debate for NJ Governor

Daggett's Sea of Green

Daggett's Sea of Green

I got a call the other day from the Daggett campaign, the independent candidate for governor of New Jersey, to meet for a rally before the second and last debate in the race.  The debate was yesterday at William Paterson University in Totowa NJ.  All of the usual suspects were there.  Corzine’s crew brought in a lot of union guys.  The Republicans had their anti-choice crowd.  There were a surprising number of conspiracy theorists who turned out to protest childhood vaccinations and specifically the H1N1 vaccine.  Don’t even get me started.

And then there was the Daggett campaign.  We had about as many ralliers as the other two campaigns and some nifty bright green signs and T-shirts.  Green sort of speaks to Daggett’s environmental creds. He’s been endorsed by the Sierra Club. By the way, Daggett’s campaign staff is drop dead gorgeous.  His rally coordinator is so hot you could bake cookies on him.  One of his staff, a tall beautiful blonde, was wearing a very fashionable sweater minidress that showcased the most amazingly long, perfect legs.  Just before the debate started, she strutted across the loge, like Joan Holloway on a mission, right in front of a bunch of Corzine supporters.  Their jaws dropped and every pair of eyes, mine included, followed her shapely gams right up to her callipygian butt.  Well done!  You can be smart and smokin’ hot.  Too bad you missed it, myiq.

The debate was sponsored and obviously controlled by the local Fox affiliaate.  I managed to snag a ticket for the debate literally minutes before it began. (Thank you, hot cookie guy!)  I don’t know the criteria that was used to give out advanced tickets but it was clearly rigged in Chris Christie’s favor.  Like I said, there weren’t an overwhelming number of Republicans outside but, judging by the cheering and applause, Republicans inside Shea PAC outnumbered the other campaigns by about 2:1.  Bostonboomer, who liveblogged the debate last night, reported that the Fox commentators talked over Daggett’s responses and occasionally Corzine. allowing Christie to pontificate in his big beefy goodness without interruption.  As we were outside during the rally, one Republican operative approached our group and said, “How does it feel to be marginalized?”  He seemed disturbed.  We were cheerily unperturbed.  We know there are a lot of New Jerseyans who are registered ‘unaffiliated’. All they need is a good reason to vote for the third guy.  (Note to Daggett’s campaign: I know your poll position is crappy.  So, why not take a cue from Joe Lieberman’s senate campaign in 2006 and create and ad with a snappy mnemonic so that voters can find you?)

Now, onto the debate.  I was transfixed.  I’ve never been to a live debate before.  And while this wasn’t as high stakes as a presidential debate, I have to give a lot of credit to the organizers and the candidates for sticking to the rules.  There were no gotcha questions.  The Lightening Round was a chance for the candidates to reveal their personalities and turned out to be pretty funny.

In short, this should be a model for all debates going forward.  I learned a lot about all three candidates and their approach to fixing what ails New Jersey.  But it was Daggett who stole the show.  Seriously, guys, I could vote for this man for president.  He’s got that Hillary Clinton policy wonk thing down cold.  He was well prepared for most questions and for the ones where he didn’t have an immediate answer, I got the sense that his mental gears were clicking.

Daggett could have a lot of appeal to both Democrats and Republicans.  He is liberal on social issues, prudent and conservative on fiscal issues.  He emphasizes tax cuts for homeowners and corporations.  I’m a little worried by how he intends to pay for it but his idea of expanding the sales tax to items that the upper middle and upper class purchase is a step in the right direction.  In fact, he could go even further and impose a small sales tax on most consumer goods (2-4%?  It would still be lower than surrounding states).   In New Jersey, we don’t have a sales tax on food or most consumer items.  There is a restaurant tax but if you go to the grocery store, no tax on most products.  New York, by contrast, has up to a 9% tax on just about everything (See Ann’s comment for more precise details).  So, you can see why New Jersey is an attractive place to shop.  On the other hand, our property taxes are through the roof.  For example, I pay more than $500 on my little townhouse – per month.  Yep, after the ridiculous federal, social security and state income taxes are paid from my generous paycheck, reducing me to just average Jane Bagodonuts, I pay more than $500 per month on a house with no property.  Personally, I don’t mind shifting some to that tax to consumable goods.  Let the people who buy the luxury cars and high end consumables pick up the tab.  Daggett also proposes a tax on gas to pay for transportation infrastructure and mass transit.  I think this is a good idea, especially if it encourages more use of mass transit in a state as congested as New Jersey.

Where I had some issues with Daggett was his approach to health care.  His opposition to the public option is not necessarily a dealbreaker for me.  I think policy wonks are able to see permutations to solving these kinds of problems because they understand the mechanisms of government.  So, if we ended up with a German type of health care, ie private insurance but highly regulated, that would be Ok with me as long as everyone is covered, insurance companies and health care providers are held accountable with mandates  for basic policies  and public funds are used to provide subsidies for those individuals who can’t afford it.  I don’t think that’s what we’re getting with Obamacare where the mandates seem to be falling more heavily on the individual and choice of insurance company is limited.  While single payer would eliminate a lot of our administrative headaches and it works for other countries, it’s not the only answer.  There’s no reason to suppose it couldn’t work here but we can’t rule out other models that check the health care industry just as well.

Daggett also didn’t have an answer for how to fund state colleges and universities.  Well, he’s got a couple of weeks to come up with an answer.  To be fair, Corzine and Christie weren’t any better on this question.  Corzine points to state financial aid grants as a sort of bandaid on the problem. Christie got all sentimental about sending his four children to local schools but added nothing to the conversation.  Daggett at least acknowledged that there was a problem with the underlying structure of state aid to colleges and universities that needed to be addressed.  He just needs to find a funding mechanism.  Might I suggest one?  Ok, this is going to sound crazy and bring out the MADD crew but most New Jersey restaurants do not have liquor licenses.  Yep, if you want to go out to a nice, new restaurant for a special dinner, you’d better call ahead because you might have to brown bag it, and drink everything you bring with you.  There aren’t that many licenses available and most of them are bought up by big chain restaurants and, I suspect, the mafia.  If you go to New York or Pennsylvania, this is never an issue.  You can get a nice glass of chard just about anywhere.  So, sell more liquor licenses, license grocery stores to sell wine and beer and watch the revenue flow in.  This leftover from Prohibition is only benefitting organized crime.

The dynamics of the debate were also pretty interesting to watch.  After Daggett’s responses to questions, Corzine frequently agreed with him in response but never once referred to him by name.  Corzine continued to frame the debate as between two party representatives, him and Chris Christie.  I think that might have worked in any other year when there wasn’t such a strong, articulate, engaging third party candidate.  I’m not sure it will work this year.  In Daggett’s closing statement, he makes a point of reminding the audience that in spite of what Corzine and Christie’s wishful thinking, there *is* a choice this year.  There is a third party candidate who offers something new, different and positive.

Go, Daggett, GO!

PS:  This race is phenomenally expensive and Daggett has chosen to run on public funds.  Corzine has spent $20 million on ads attacking Chris Christie’s waistline.  Daggett is trying to run a positive campaign on limited funds.  Just sayin’.

Note: The second debate will be televised tomorrow.  I’ll try to do another live blog because I think it is important to think outside the box, especially when there is a viable third party candidate like Daggett.  These people need more attention and support to give voters more choices and keep the other parties on their toes.

digg!!! tweet!!! share!!!

Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to TwitterAdd to TechnoratiAdd to FurlAdd to Newsvine

Add to: Facebook | Digg | Del.icio.us | Stumbleupon | Reddit | Blinklist | Twitter | Technorati | Furl | Newsvine

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 450 other followers