Should Senator Al Franken (D-MN) have resigned? I’m no sure. I have very mixed feelings about this. Part of me say, yes, he should have resigned but another part thinks the Democrats should have let the process play out with an ethics committee hearing, which Franken, himself advocated and with he said he would fully …
Tag: Al Franken
Earlier this year, the Justice Department brought a $5 billion fraud law suit against the ratings agency Standard and Poors for knowingly giving triple “A” ratings to financial products the agency’s analysts understood to be unworthy. The financial crisis that began in 2007 was mostly caused by those fraudulent ratings. Senators Al Franken (D-MN) and Roger Wicker (R-MI) worked together on an amendment that was included in Dodd-Frank (pdf) to bring accountability and transparency to the ratings process. The amendment also required that the Securities and Exchange Commission conduct a study, that study has been completed (pdf). It found that there were “inherent” conflicts of interest in the system contributed to the 2008 crisis.
Contributing editor and investigative journalist for Rolling Stone Matt Taibbi published an in depth look at the ratings agencies and how ratings agencies like Moody’s and Standard & Poor’s helped trigger the meltdown with new documents. The documents surfaced from two lawsuits that files against S&P by a diverse group of institutional plaintiffs with King County, Washington, and the Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank. The plaintiffs claimed that S&P, along with Morgan Stanley, fraudulently induced them to heavily invest in a pair of doomed-to-implode subprime-laden deals. Matt calls these new revelations the “Last Mystery of the Financial Crisis:
What about the ratings agencies?
That’s what “they” always say about the financial crisis and the teeming rat’s nest of corruption it left behind. Everybody else got plenty of blame: the greed-fattened banks, the sleeping regulators, the unscrupulous mortgage hucksters like spray-tanned Countrywide ex-CEO Angelo Mozilo.
But what about the ratings agencies? Isn’t it true that almost none of the fraud that’s swallowed Wall Street in the past decade could have taken place without companies like Moody’s and Standard & Poor’s rubber-stamping it? Aren’t they guilty, too?
Man, are they ever. And a lot more than even the least generous of us suspected.
Thanks to a mountain of evidence gathered for a pair of major lawsuits, documents that for the most part have never been seen by the general public, we now know that the nation’s two top ratings companies, Moody’s and S&P, have for many years been shameless tools for the banks, willing to give just about anything a high rating in exchange for cash.
In incriminating e-mail after incriminating e-mail, executives and analysts from these companies are caught admitting their entire business model is crooked.
Matt joined MSNBC’s All In host Chris Hayes to discuss how these newly-revealed documents are “the smoking gun of the financial crisis” revealing the corruption and dishonesty at the core the industry.
If you follow my website (CandyBullets) you’re probably well aware of the threat posed by the “IP PROTECT ACT” known more commonly as the Internet Blacklist bill. You’re may also be aware that this bill was recently halted in the Senate by the true Democrat Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) who prevented the bill from coming up for a vote in the Senate (where it would doubtless pass) however a House version will be introduced this week with help of Representative Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) — probably tomorrow. If you’re not familiar with this bill then I suggest you become acquainted (the full text of the bill may be found here.)
Remember how crooked accountants like Arthur Anderson helped create the Enron disaster? Well the credit rating oligopoly of the Big Three (Moody’s, Fitch and Standard & Poor’s) is doing almost the same thing, and Senator Al Franken wants to put a stop to it.
As Senator Franken told ABC news
“If a failing student paid their teacher to turn their F into an A, everyone would agree that what the teacher had done was unethical … But right now, investors are being sold a phony bill of goods. We need to protect consumers from the pay-to-play system that rewards Wall Street players at the expense of Main Street.”
Al Franken has an Amendment to the Wall St reform bill that will bring this to an end.
More below the fold
Crossposted at Daily Kos
First thing is first. I am broke, totally broke, with no money for food or transportation to look for a job with. Therefore, I have been urged by others online to post a paypal account and ask for donations so that I can continue looking for work. If you can make a donation, I would greatly appreciate it, as it will help maintain my ability to live until I find work. In return, I will try to continue posting articles for your enjoyment as often as I am able to.
Now that I have gotten that out of the way, on to the show.
Full transcript and more below the fold.
I wasn’t sure Politico could stoop any lower than it did when it published seven highly subjective (to put it lightly) meta-narratives that the Obama Administration supposedly did not want to become public knowledge. Widely ridiculed, the column caused the periodical’s credibility to take a severe hit, and unfortunately its turn towards right-wing distortion in opposition to fact seems to have continued. While none of us knows for sure what goes on behind closed doors, in true Politico style if I had to guess before I knew all the facts, I’d conclude that someone must be pushing the notion that it must incorporate more content that appeals directly to conservatives into each daily edition. Right-wing points of view have a place, but sloppy logic never does.
I do read Politico on a daily basis, if only to see media framing devices at work, and so yesterday I was incensed, to say nothing of dismayed to note that apologizing for rape apologists appears to be no big deal. Since the media is comprised of human frailties, it frequently mirrors the frustrations and the flaws of its creators. For example, an article published this week took Senator Al Franken to task for not taking questions from reporters and instead directing them to his own public relations manager. Exclusive stories and one-on-one scoops are the Holy Grails of the profession and with the continued decline of the industry, so one can understand easily why disappointment and resentment might build if one of the most colorful and newest Senators might wish to refuse to play ball.
Politico portrayed the decision to avoid contact with the media as evasive and obstructionist by implying that the Junior Senator from Minnesota was too staff-driven and not the soundbyte machine that some had hoped he would become once finally sworn in to take his seat. That the Fourth Estate would be surprised by his desire and strategy to be kept on a deliberately short leash strikes me as disingenuous at best. Candidate Franken wisely restrained himself from drawing too much undue attention during the campaign and during the exhaustive recount process that immediately followed last year’s election made only short, safe statements while keeping largely out of sight until the situation was resolved. This was a carefully crafted design that did him well before and abandoning it now doesn’t make much sense. Once established and having achieved some degree of seniority, Franken will have the freedom to branch out and speak his mind without fear of serious backlash or threat of losing his seat, but for the moment the most sensible solution is to for him to learn the ropes and avoid stepping on toes in the process.
The column critical of Franken’s media management style took special effort to note that the Minnesota senator is one of only a very small number of elected representatives who do not stand directly at the podium to make statements to the press or undergo question and answer sessions. Reading between the lines, the column implied that perhaps the Senator had something to hide or was afraid of letting his true self and true concerns shine through. It cited an anecdote where Franken very nearly answered a reporter’s questions before deciding instead to pass the inquiry along to his communications director. The disappointment and let down inherent in the entire column was clearly palpable and I have to say that while a part of me wished also for more candor from him, I also understood the Senator’s dilemma and did not disagree with his choice of resolution.
Returning to the column referenced in the beginning of this post, I cite a particularly revealing segment to reveal a better understanding of the full picture.
In a chamber where relationship-building is seen as critical, some GOP senators question whether Franken’s handling of the amendment could damage his ability to work across the aisle. Soon after Tennessee GOP Sens. Bob Corker and Lamar Alexander co-wrote an op-ed in a local newspaper defending their votes against the Franken measure, the Minnesota Democrat confronted each senator separately to dispute their column – and grew particularly angry in a tense exchange with Corker.
People familiar with the Corker exchange say it was heated and ended abruptly – a sharp departure from the norm on the usually clubby Senate floor.
As rendered, the entire story reeks of false concern and shame. It is certainly true that the Senate as an entity is an elite club where partisan differences are often merely for show and bi-partisan friendships help grease the wheels of legislation, but a reliance on deep background sources to make a damning point always raises alarm bells to me. Nebulously defined sources of information remind one of celebrity gossip more than hard news. Some outlets, it needs to be mentioned, won’t even use anonymous sources because they leave a column’s veracity quite understandably open to question. Without credibility, a news article reads as fiction, defeating its entire purpose for existing.
Here is what actually happened. Here is how Senator Franken dared to create this supposed maelstrom of ill-will and resulting uncouth broach of decorum. In particular, note the first sentence of the paragraph and how it prefaces what follows afterward.
Franken, who declined to be interviewed, has said previously that the measure was inspired by the story of former KBR employee Jamie Leigh Jones, who alleges that she was drugged, beaten and gang-raped at age 19 when stationed in Baghdad. She fought the arbitration clause in her contract, and in September the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit ruled that Jones’s sexual assault allegations were not “related to” her employment, allowing her to proceed in court. KBR is fighting the ruling.
Yes, how dare Senator Franken not add a few choice bon mots to flesh out the interpretation of a contemptible act that one would think speaks quite sufficiently for itself. As for the he said/he said conflict, we are told that it didn’t end up with F-bombs being dropped or with personal attacks being levied on the floor of the chamber itself, quite unlike the conduct of certain other Senators from a party that shall remain unspecified. The left-wing blogosphere has become a convenient target for Republicans and Trusted Media Outlets™, particularly if and when they get thoroughly bored with blowing spit balls at each other. People familiar with the exchange say their anger was heated and ended abruptly—a sharp departure from the norm.
“I don’t know what his motivation was for taking us on, but I would hope that we won’t see a lot of Daily Kos-inspired amendments in the future coming from him,” said South Dakota Sen. John Thune, No. 4 in the Senate Republican leadership. “I think hopefully he’ll settle down and do kind of the serious work of legislating that’s important to Minnesota.”
Silly me. I wasn’t aware that the act of rape or violence were a bipartisan matter that might be best resolved by compromise. Could we say that a rape only traumatizes 3/5ths of a person while we’re at it? Seems fair enough to me. You really confuse me, Senator Thune. You remind me of the mainstream media and its attitude towards little old us out here in the blog realm. First you say that the blogosphere isn’t an objective source of news or information and is of no real consequence, but then you throw darts at us as though you were really paying attention all the time. One can’t be on two sides of an issue at once, even though as a politician I’m sure you’d like to present that concept. One can be either one way or the other, but not both simultaneously.
[Franken] Aides point out that despite attacks on Republicans by liberal commentators like Rachel Maddow and Keith Olbermann and on blogs such as Daily Kos, Franken never appeared on any of the shows or on the blogs to make a partisan argument about the matter, saying that the senator turned down entreaties to do so. Also, they point to the 10 Republicans who voted for the amendment as proof that it wasn’t a partisan measure.
Yet again, we are encouraged to believe that Senator Franken is somehow cowardly for not going on the defensive or bolstering his claims by directly speaking out in favor of them. While the blogs and the increasingly ravenous media love a contentious argument, the Minnesota Senator is wise to not draw undo attention to himself. Those who hog the spotlight risk taking the focus off of the reform measure that desperately need to be enacted and serve as an unnecessary distraction. One person is a much easier target than a collective group of people with similar goals. In addition to being common sense, this is also Public Relations 101 and the fact that Politico is either unaware of it or instead determined to provoke an exchange reveals that a once noble profession acts increasingly like a drowning man. Ignore those who are unhappily going down with the ship, because their spite and desperation reveals everything about them and almost nothing about us.
Crossposted at Daily Kos
Only three of the 763 “sneak-and-peek” requests in fiscal year 2008 involved terrorism cases, according to a July 2009 report from the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts. Sixty-five percent were drug cases.
Bold text added by the diarist
You must be frigging kidding me.
A partial transcript, commentary and more below the fold.
White House Open to Deal on Public Health Plan
By LAURA MECKLER and JANET ADAMY – JULY 7, 2009 – WSJ
WASHINGTON — It is more important that health-care legislation inject stiff competition among insurance plans than it is for Congress to create a pure government-run option, White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel said Monday.
One of the most contentious issues is whether to create a public health-insurance plan to compete with private companies.
Mr. Emanuel said one of several ways to meet President Barack Obama’s goals is a mechanism under which a public plan is introduced only if the marketplace fails to provide sufficient competition on its own. He noted that congressional Republicans crafted a similar trigger mechanism when they created a prescription-drug benefit for Medicare in 2003. In that case, private competition has been judged sufficient and the public option has never gone into effect.
Mr. Obama has pushed hard for a vigorous public option. But he has also said he won’t draw a “line in the sand” over this point.
OH NO! Not that stupid Trigger Option again!
Howard Dean – Fairness, Responsibility …
What does the Democratic Party stand for?
Howard Dean lists these “Core Values” of the Democratic Party
1) Fairness and Equal Rights for all
2) Strength and Toughness
3) Fiscal Responsibility
These are demonstrated by providing Health Care for all.
Dean stresses the urgent need for us to express these values, on an emotional level, and not just in Policy Statements.
“People vote on their Values — NOT on Position Papers!”