Monthly Archives: November 2014

Elizabeth Warren Draws Praise, Ire In 1st 2 years In Senate

Boston CBS local is carrying the story Elizabeth Warren Draws Praise, Ire In 1st 2 years In Senate from The Associated Press.

She also faulted Obama for nominating Antonio Weiss, the head of investment banking for a financial advisory and asset management firm, for a position at the Treasury Department. Warren said Weiss isn’t qualified to oversee consumer protection and domestic regulatory functions at the Treasury.

Her opposition to Weiss has drawn criticism.

“Ms. Warren’s other main objection is simply that Mr. Weiss has worked on Wall Street, which she seems to believe disqualifies him based on symbolism alone,” wrote Andrew Ross Sorkin, a New York Times columnist and author of “Too Big to Fail: The Inside Story of How Wall Street and Washington Fought to Save the Financial System — and Themselves.”

I was particularly pleased that the best opposition case that her critics could come up with was the above misstatement of what her complaint was.  Weiss’s lack of experience in the area to which the President wishes to appoint him, and the fact that there are much  better candidates with far superior qualifications is actually the basis for her objection.  It is exactly the fact that the Wall Street apologists and even some of its critics just do not seem to understand the problem that makes Elizabeth Warren such a standout crusader for the middle-class.

Deval Patrick reveals ‘huge mistake’ Democrats made in 2014

MSNBC has the story Deval Patrick reveals ‘huge mistake’ Democrats made in 2014.

“One problem the president has is he doesn’t tell the story well or regularly,” he told host Chuck Todd. Obama needs to tout his accomplishments more often, Patrick said, citing the “importance of repetition.”

I would never inflict any show on you that was hosted by Chuck Todd, so I will not include any video from whatever show it was.

As for what Deval Patrick was reported to have said, that has been my complaint about Obama for 6 years now.  One more thing though, there is a story to be told well and regularly, but there is also part of the story that can’t be told well because the story is not good.  Obama muffed his chance when his administration did not go after criminal complaints against the criminal bank executives.  That was completely his administration’s call.  Congress could not have blocked him.

He is also too strong a believer in right wing  economics, and his actions have clearly  demonstrated that.

His pushing of anti-middle-class trade deals is also a hard story to tell well.  It is not just that he is acquiescing to someone else’s activity.  It is his administration that is negotiating this in secret, and he is in the forefront of pushing for the TPP in word and deed.

By the way, Governor Patrick, you are not so good a follower of your own advice.  The Governor does not make a lot of well publicized appearances to tell his story frequently.  When I have hard him speak, he does tell the story well, though.

Yes, the key is to tell the story well and frequently even after you are elected, but first you’d better have a good story worth telling. For instance, I think Elizabeth Warren is making the record for a good story to tell, and her public appearances inside and outside of the Senate are telling that story well.

Elizabeth Warren’s Next Target: Walmart

Mother Jones has the article Elizabeth Warren’s Next Target: Walmart.

Warren and her colleagues also plan to discuss legislation that could help Walmart employees and other low-wage workers around the country, including measures that would raise the federal minimum wage to $10.10 an hour, forbid unpredictable irregular work schedules for part-time workers, and help prevent employers from retaliating against workers who share wage information.

It is so great to see that Elizabeth Warren’s ideas for improving the plight of the middle-class extends far beyond just the banks and the crimes their executives have committed.

Thanks to Amherst For Elizabeth for posting this on their Facebook page.

Merkley: Let’s end outrageous tax loopholes that ship our jobs overseas

I don’t think Oregon’s Senator Merkley is as well known back here in Massachusetts’ as our own Senator Elizabeth Warren is. I’d like to correct any impression that there might be that Elizabeth Warren is alone in this fight. Or that Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders are the only two in the Senate fighting for progressive principles.

I found another YouTube video Merkley: Let’s end outrageous tax loopholes that ship our jobs overseas.

Oregon’s Senator Jeff Merkley addressed the Senate on July 23, 2014, in support of a bill being debated that would bring back manufacturing jobs to Oregon and to all of the United States. Senator Merkley is an original cosponsor of the Bring Jobs Home Act, which would close tax loopholes that subsidize corporations for moving their operations overseas and create new tax incentives for companies that bring jobs back to America.

Senator Merkley adds some facts that offsets some of the statistics that people use to make you think that the situation is improving more than it actually is.

In an economy while jobs have been returning, quality, living wage jobs remain elusive. Indeed 60% of the jobs that we lost in 2008 and 2009 were living wage jobs, and in the jobs we are getting back only 40% of those are living wage jobs.

So when even some Democrats would like to blow their own horns about how the economy is recovering by counting the number of people finding work, remember that not all jobs are created equal. If someone lost a living wage job and had to replace it with a minimum wage job, that is not recovery.

Senator Merkley Questions NY Fed President on Too Big To Jail

A Ready for Warren Facebook post highlighted the following video.

From the YouTube post we have the following introduction:

Oregon’s Senator Jeff Merkley questions William Dudley, the President of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, on whether financial regulators have truly ended “Too Big To Jail.”

Previously I had posted a video Elizabeth Warren Blasts New York Fed President William Dudley. I didn’t want to leave the impression that Elizabeth Warren is all alone in fighting this fight. (I have read that there were actually two or three more Senators than just these two grilling Dudley.)

Martha Coakley Gets a Partial Win on Foreclosures

Boston Magazine has the article Martha Coakley Gets a Partial Win on Foreclosures.

In a decision announced Tuesday, the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) ordered Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to start selling back foreclosed properties to their previous owners, either directly or through third-party organizations. Their previous refusal to do so was the impetus for a Massachusetts state law and subsequent lawsuit, brought by Coakley’s Attorney General office.
The new policy will apply only to some 125,000 current Fannie and Freddie holdings, but not those foreclosed on in the future.
Federal officials have expressed concerns that the policy could encourage home owners to go through foreclosure in order to buy back their homes at the current, lower price.

Apparently the Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac see great moral hazard in the poor getting a break in the real estate collapse caused by the wealthy, criminal bank executives.  It is also apparent that they see no moral hazard in these same crooks being able to take advantage of the very collapse they caused.  This is not even counting the break these criminals got by being able to stay out of jail.  Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were willing to go out of their way to prevent poor homeowners from getting any relief and for prolonging the real estate collapse rather than allowing even a few petty crooks to take  advantage the way the gigantic crooks did.  Maybe they don’t understand that even if all 125,000 aggrieved former  home owners got an unfair break, it wouldn’t come anywhere near the damage that the 5 biggest banks in this country caused.

Sarcasm Alert
But don’t attribute these double standards to class warfare. Only flaming liberals believe there is class warfare.

Thanks to Jacquelyn Wells for posting this on her Facebook page.

The NYT Thinks Jailing the Banksters Would Cause a “Bind”

William K. Black wrote another scathing article The NYT Thinks Jailing the Banksters Would Cause a “Bind”.

It is critical to remember that the administration did not simply shield the fraudulent banks from prosecution – it shielded the bankers that led the fraud epidemics from prosecution, from civil suits, from serious enforcement actions, and even from having their fraud proceeds “clawed back.” During the entire Obama administration, not a single senior prosecutor, regulator, White House official, or Treasury official resigned in public protest at this assault on the rule of law that once made our Nation great. No greater indictment of their lack of integrity (and competence) is possible. They were tested in the crucible and they all failed.
The “Justice” department deliberately chose to act in the most unjust fashion possible, and the results are already proving catastrophic for the global economy.

Maybe the following numbers from the article will demonstrate what Black means by catastrophic.

We have just seen the three most destructive epidemics of financial fraud in history cause a Great Recession that cost $21 trillion in lost U.S. GDP and over 10 million jobs – and both numbers are far larger in Europe.

This loss of GDP alone dwarfs the accumulated deficit incurred by the US government over its entire history.  Yet, all the politicians, Republican and Democrat, seem focused like a laser on reducing the budget deficit.  Perhaps this focus is what allows the much larger crimes of the financial sector pass them by in their peripheral vision without them taking much notice.

I am glad to see Bill make the case, again, that punishing fraudulent bank officers is not the same as punishing bank corporations.  In fact it is protecting bank corporations from the predations of their fraudulent officers.  Assessing huge fines against bank corporations and letting the fraudulent officers keep their loot is exactly what should anger the share holders, employees, and customers of these institutions.  Talking about being a bank regulator,  Black wrote the following:

If our role were “protecting [banks] to ensure they operate successfully” [it isn’t] then there would be no “conflicting role” in “pursuing misconduct” by the banks’ officers and employees. The opposite would be true – our highest priority essential to “protecting” banks would be to remove criminal bank officers and our second highest priority would be deterring such criminality by aiding DOJ in prosecuting those officers.

The article mentions the Huffington Post story  The Fed Just Acknowledged Its Too Big To Jail Policy.

Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) aggressively questioned Dudley’s claim that the New York Fed had helped end too big to jail with the Credit Suisse case. No human beings are actually in jail for Credit Suisse’s tax evasion scheme — either the Americans who stashed cash in secret, illegal offshore accounts, or the Credit Suisse employees who executed the scheme. The criminal investigation into Credit Suisse, Merkley emphasized, was spurred by a report from Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.), not the Fed.

It is good to keep in mind that Elizabeth Warren is not alone in pursuing this failure of the Fed to do its job.  Perhaps she makes the most interesting videos, but we need the information from The Huffington Post about who was and who wasn’t at the hearings.

You don’t suppose any of the potential voters who did not come out in the last election were turned off by the failures of the Obama administration’s Department of Justice? The administration could have been aggressively pursuing these criminals at the same time others in the administration and the President himself were pushing health care reform.  An entity the size of the federal government can do more than just one thing at a time.

Senator Elizabeth Warren visits Israel as part of Mideast trip

The Israeli newspaper Haaretz has the story Senator Elizabeth Warren visits Israel as part of Mideast trip: The Massachusetts Democrat is to meet with Israeli, Jordanian and Palestinian officials, according to The Boston Globe.

U.S. Senator for Massachusetts Elizabeth Warren arrived in Tel Aviv on Saturday as part of a visit to Israel, the West Bank and Jordan, The Boston Globe reported Sunday. This is the lawmaker’s first trip abroad as senator.

The Democratic senator is planning to meet with Israeli, Jordanian and Palestinian officials, according to the report, which cited an aide.

Warren was also set to meet representatives of UNRWA and UNHCR, as well as USAID. She is also to visit troops from Massachusetts who are serving in the area.
In August, during the 50-day war between Israel and Hamas, Warren said in a meeting with constituents that Israel was being attacked “indiscriminately” and had a right to defend itself, according to the report.

I don’t know how I missed The Boston Globe article Sen. Warren in Middle East for meetings, visit to Mass. troops.

For a senator who has largely focused on domestic issues — rarely choosing to wade into foreign policy — the trip appears mostly designed to allow Warren a chance to familiarize herself with Israel, one of America’s closest allies and the biggest recipient of foreign aid. It also allows her to travel to some of the safer areas of the Middle East, and accomplish a basic duty as senator: see first hand the areas where US Senate votes have an impact. Warren had been among only a handful of senators who haven’t traveled abroad. . . . Warren was pressed on her support of Israel and her votes to send money to support its fight against Hamas, during an August meeting with constituents in Barnstable. Warren said Israel was being attacked “indiscriminately” and had a right to fight back even though civilian casualties were the “last thing Israel wants.” “But when Hamas puts its rocket launchers next to hospitals, next to schools, they’re using their civilian population to protect their military assets,” Warren said, according to the Cape Cod Times. “And I believe Israel has a right, at that point, to defend itself.”

The Globe failed to point out the part where the constituent to whom she replied about Israel told her that she was badly misinformed. I am pretty sure it was the Globe that reported that she said to one of her aides something to the effect that she needed to learn a lot more about the situation before she made any further remarks like the ones she made.

Isn’t it interesting how your political views effect your memory. The also seem to have a big impact on editorializing in the news section of the newspaper.

Given the part of history The Boston Globe left out, I am hoping that Elizabeth Warren is making her trip with her usual amount of skepticism about official stories told to her by people in authority. I hope she comes back with a lot more sophistication in foreign policy than she has shown here-to-fore. As a big fan of hers who is hoping she runs for President in 2016, this is one area where I recognize some weakness that needs to be strengthened.

November 24, 2014 00:02

Well, I was not able to find that report that I thought I read in The Boston Globe.  However, a Google search on “Elizabeth Warren” “Boston Globe” Israel “Cape Cod” brought me to a number of interesting articles.

First is the Cape Cod Times article Warren explains positions on Israel, Pilgrim.

    Warren said Hamas has attacked Israel “indiscriminately,” but with the Iron Dome defense system, the missiles have “not had the terrorist effect Hamas hoped for.” When pressed by another member of the crowd about civilian casualties from Israel’s attacks, Warren said she believes those casualties are the “last thing Israel wants.”

“But when Hamas puts its rocket launchers next to hospitals, next to schools, they’re using their civilian population to protect their military assets. And I believe Israel has a right, at that point, to defend itself,” Warren said, drawing applause.

Noreen Thompsen, of Eastham, proposed that Israel should be prevented from building any more settlements as a condition of future U.S. funding, but Warren said, “I think there’s a question of whether we should go that far.”

Then there was an article Senator Warren’s progressive supporters demand accountability for her rightwing pro-Israel positioning by Jeff Klein.

When Elizabeth Warren came to Tufts University in Medford on Monday she was met by anti-war and Palestinian rights activists who asked why the popular senator and national Democratic Party celebrity seemed to echo Israeli talking points about the recent Israel attack on Gaza.
As she exited the auditorium, Warren — an irrepressible campaigner — approached the activists, shook their hands and warmly thanked each of them for being there. We handed her a flyer as she entered her car to leave.  The aide promised a meeting soon. We’ll see.

There is a lot more in the above article about some of the push-back that Elizabeth Warren has been receiving.  She may already be much more sophisticated on the topic as she lands in Israel than when she spoke on Cape Cod and at Tufts.

The article from The Boston Globe was published online about 4 hours ago, about half a day after I read the Sunday paper edition of The Boston Globe.

Making Progress: Senator Elizabeth Warren

Those of  us who are fans of Elizabeth Warren know the story behind what she stands for, but not enough other people know it.  So no matter how many times we have heard it, it still bears repeating. Here is Elizabeth Warren explaining the story at the Center for American Progress Policy Conference in November 2014.

In this 18 minute speech, she spent about 15 minutes explaining the story. If you have not heard the story, you really owe it to yourself to listen to this first 15 minutes. Once you have heard what she has to say, come back here for my comments on what she said in 2 of the 3 minutes just before the end of her speech.

I want to summarize for you some research from election day … The survey of voters in 11 battleground states. Now remember, these are the people who showed up to vote in mid-terms, two weeks ago, the people who in 10 of the 11 states that are represented in this survey sent Republicans to the Senate. And here’s what they said, 80% of all those voting said both parties are doing too much to help Wall Street, 75% said invest more money in education from pre-K through college. 66% said close corporate tax loopholes to make investments in infrastructure, or reduce the deficit. 62% said raise the minimum wage. 61% said increase Social Security taxes and increase benefits. And 62% said the Republicans don’t have a plan to help the economy. People across this country get it. Sure there’s a lot of work to be done and there is a long way to go before Democrats can reclaim the right to say that we are fighting for America’s working people …

She needs a whole other speech to explain why in 10 of the 11 battleground states in the last election the voters sent Republicans to the Senate. What she did mention in this speech is that “80% of all those voting said both parties are doing too much to help Wall Street.”

When she said that “62% said the Republicans don’t have a plan to help the economy”, she needed to finish that thought. What percentage of the people thought that the Democrats did have a plan to help the economy? She missed the opportunity to explain what is wrong with Democrats with whom large majorities of people agree with their supposed policies, but these very voters who agree with them did not vote for them.

She mentions that Democrats have a lot of work to do to “reclaim the right to say that we are fighting for America’s working people.” Maybe she was trying to be too diplomatic to be more specific about what Democrats didn’t do or just didn’t do correctly. I hope her new role in advising the Democratic leaders in the Senate does not stop her from being more specific in the near future about what Democrats need to do.

Without me naming names, I ask you to think about what Democratic candidates who might run for the Presidential in 2016, have as clear an idea of what America did right from the depression era up until 1980 and what they did that was so wrong from 1980 up until now as Elizabeth Warren explained in the first 15 minutes of this speech. Try to be brutally honest with yourself. The future of the party and this country may depend on your ability to face the facts.

Iran will do a deal with the west – but only if there’s no loss of dignity

Reader RichardH sent me a link to the UK  Guardian article Iran will do a deal with the west – but only if there’s no loss of dignity.

Speaking about Iran’s present political system, Hooman Majd wrote the following:

Beyond building the world’s first modern theocracy, which some revolutionaries and perhaps a large percentage of the then silent population never bargained for, the revolution was as much about Persian dignity and greatness as it was about overthrowing a despotic monarchy. It isn’t just pride, as some suggest, that governs popular support for the nuclear programme (or any other technical accomplishment), although Iranians are proud – perhaps overly so – of their 5,000-year history and culture, and can be accused of faith in Persian exceptionalism in much the same way the US has in its own.

I think about the application of this idea in our relations with Russia, Iraq, North Korea, Libya, Syria. and some other countries.  When we don’t give them the respect that they feel they deserve and we try to take away their sense of dignity, then it ought to be no surprise to us that they won’t agree with us on almost anything.  The more we heighten our threats and reprisals against these countries, the more recalcitrant and counter threatening they become.

Think about this same part of human nature in our domestic relations between President Obama and the Congressional Republicans.  In the beginning, Obama tried to win them over by giving them far more respect than they were giving to him.  They did not reciprocate.  It took many years for Obama to learn that his way of gaining their cooperation was not going to work.  In fact, the escalating threats by the Republicans against Obama have finally convinced him that he has  to stand up to them.

In the foreign policy domain, Obama at first took a conciliatory tone to many of our adversaries.  However, he reversed policy with them far  faster than he did with the Republicans.  Ironically, if he had  stayed the course in foreign policy, he might have got some reciprocity that he was never going to get from the Republicans.

In fact, it might have been showing deference to Republican sensitivities for him to take harsher stands in foreign policy.  It didn’t win him any fiends among the Republicans, and  it has only made things worse among some of our adversaries that seemed to be coming around to a more conciliatory approach themselves.  Just think of the sanctions we have imposed on Russia as a reward for the help they gave us in dealing with Syria.

This consideration of too many sides in all these situations has left me with one conclusion.  No single approach to relations is always appropriate in every situation.  You have to try to figure out the best approach for each situation.