Saturday, February 16, 2013

February 16

Via Ed Kilgore, Robert Rizzuto at

… On Thursday, as Senator Warren got the opportunity to question regulators at her first Senate Banking Committee hearing, she bluntly asked "When did you last take… a large financial institution, a Wall Street bank, to trial?"

After much conjecture and discussion, the answer from Securities and Exchange Commission regulators was that no banks have actually been taken to trial despite the wrongdoings that led to the financial collapse of 2008….

Warren, a bankruptcy law expert who served as the chair of the Congressional oversight panel for the Wall Street bailouts, said that big banks who take part in illegal activities to bring in big money will never be compliant with the law unless there are actual prosecutions instead of just fines.

"If they can break the law and drag in billions in profits and then turn around and settle, paying out of those profits, they don't have much incentive following the law," Warren said. "It's also the case that every time there's a settlement and not a trial, we don't have those days and days and days of testimony about what those financial institutions were up to."

Warren went on to lambaste the SEC officials for not pursuing criminal prosecutions, drawing the comparison between them and then local prosecutors who go after average citizens for crimes that are arguably less egregious than almost sinking the United States economy.

"There are district attorneys and U.S. attorneys who are out there every day squeezing ordinary citizens on sometimes very thin grounds and taking them to trial in order to make an example, as they put it," Warren said. "I've very concerned that 'too big to fail' has become 'too big for trial' and that just seems wrong to me."

NYMag's Kevin Reese adds more context:

… Even though Wall Street bankers weren't the target of Warren's interrogation yesterday — the regulators who oversee them were — the financial industry is apparently freaking out about the hearing, on the theory that it augurs a tough road for them ahead in dealing with Warren as a senator. Ben White [warning: Politico] got some quotes from scared financial industry executives who called her performance "shameless grandstanding" and accused her of competing with Ted Cruz for the title of "most extreme fringe freshman senator."

Which raises the question: Are these people kidding? More »


As far as I'm concerned, to paraphrase Samuel Johnson, a cruise is being in a jail, with the chance of being drowned, or at least having uncontrolled vomiting and diarrhea. Nobody died on Carnival Triumph, and the CNN breathless coverage was over the top, but it's typical that the cruisers have no recourse:

[...] [T]he ability of passengers to sue cruise ship operators is sharply limited, lawyers said.

Tickets issued by Carnival and other companies contain language limiting how much a passenger can recover and also set the location of the court where any lawsuit filed can be filed. The location typically suits the company involved, said Vincent J. Foley, a lawyer in New York who specializes in maritime cases.

People who shit in bags, had to live in a tent city on the deck of a ship, and ate buns with ketchup because food ran out are going to get what Carnival chooses to give them: a refund on their cruise and a voucher for another cruise. I'm sure this group will take advantage of that generous offer, because they'll want to re-live their sun-filled vacation on the Triumph. Of course, there's no guarantee that they'll have the all-inclusive port-a-pottie experience next time, but if they're lucky, they might spend time locked in a toilet fighting norovirus.

Carnival is a company headquartered in Miami that registers its ships in the free-market paradises like the Bahamas, and they don't pay taxes because they are considered exporters. They make most of their money from Americans, and they have a track record of diarrhea and death. In a sane world, the government would be working to put them out of business. In this world, they'll continue to have fires, spread disease and run aground, without excessive tax burden, just as Hayek would have wanted it.

(Nicholas Kristof: "We journalists were all over the story of the cruise ship from hell, and those passengers' suffering was real. Now that it's over, how about if we provide equal attention to the 2.5 billion people around the world who always lack adequate sanitation, water or food? Now, there's a story!")


Wisconsin Republicans: Forcing Women To Undergo Transvaginal Ultrasounds Is Our 'Priority'


First Fox News got rid of some of their underperforming pundits, like Dick Morris and Sarah Palin, and the Internet was Sad. Then they turned around and hired a bunch of new idiots, like Scott Brown and Herman Cain, and the Internet was happy again! (And if you can make "Ken Layne" happy, you can do it to anyone.) But ol' Herb Cain kind of bores us — YEAH WE SAID IT — and Scott Brown is sort of a big old hairy nothingburger when he is not warning Elizabeth Warren to stop forcing him to shoot a load of racist all over her. So who, if Fox News really wants to keep that sweet, sweet libtard hate-clix-grift rolling in, should they hire next? READ MORE »


Well, that was fast! John Boehner has taken a close look at President Obama's minimum wage proposal and after less than 24 hours of careful deliberation, has decided that Poors are doing just fine, thanks, and also, we must pay Poors very little and this is the best way to help them.

"When you raise the price of employment, guess what happens? You get less of it," the Ohio Republican told reporters Wednesday morning. "At a time when the American people are still asking the question 'Where are the jobs?', why would we want to make it harder for small employers to hire people?" READ MORE »

We try not to delve too often into comments sections for material, because honestly. But this, the day after Valentine's Day, is one of those occasions where it's sort of impossible not to. Did you know that Barack Obama took his wife out to dinner last night, to the hip new Jose Andres place? Did you also know that people are INSANE?

Yes, Barack Obama flew home from Atlanta in time for his dinner date with the beautiful First Lady, and Yahoo News commenters went full Victoria Jackson. (Because Barack Obama was not supposed to fly home from Atlanta, we guess, but should have either taken a Greyhound bus or stayed in Atlanta forever.) There are your usual comments about monkeys and heaping platters of baby back ribs and buckets of KFC, but those are to be expected, because "postracial." What interests us more is the SCIENCE FACT that since Barack Obama broke the economy and personally put all those millions of takers out of work, he and his ugly wife (did you know that Michelle Obama is ugly? We are sorry to say that this too is SCIENCE FACT) should be eating leftover meatloaf and mac and cheese with cut up hot dogs like Yahoo commenters do.

Let us look, together, at how Yahoo commenters think a taxpayer-funded salary is supposed to work. READ MORE »


Staff and parents at a middle school in the Boise suburb of Meridian, Idaho, pretty much lost their shit when a student carrying a folding "military style" short-handled shovel was mistaken for a maniac roaming the halls of the school with an axe on Thursday. The school went into lockdown while police searched the school for some two hours. Eight other schools in the Meridian district also locked their doors before police determined that the kid had an antique shovel that he had brought to school as part of a project for a history class. Despite the lockdown being a false alarm, parents who had gathered to wait at a nearby church were allowed to take their kids home for the rest of the day if they wished to. School officials quickly reclassified the school's security status from "Freaking Right The Fuck Out Over Nothing" to "Defensively Covering Embarassment With Reassurances That We Were Acting With An Excess Of Caution For The Children." READ MORE »


Death and Taxes! - As a corporation, Facebook will never die and it seems will never pay taxes. The company made over $1B in profit and paid $0 in taxes, all of it legal. Oh yeah, I forgot: Facebook received $429M in tax rebates, too. (Think Progress)


It's a lie that's been making the rounds of the rightwing nutosphere -- and now it's being repeated by Ted Nugent: four handguns werenot used in the Sandy Hook School Massacre. It was a Bushmaster AR-15 rifle. Period. End of story. If the case anti-gun control people have to make is so good, why are they constantly lying to everyone?


smart take by Robert Reich on the renewed Republican push for a Balanced Budget Amendment.


OK, this is about as dumb and ridiculous as it gets: a Christian right radio host says gay rights impede on her right not to have to see gay people. Apparently, their lack of invisibility offends. I say this impedes on my right not to be aware of stupid people. I'm being oppressed.


Earlier this month Cardinal Roger Mahony was "relieved of his duties" for his role in covering up the still-widening molestation scandal that is shredding the Archdiocese of Los Angeles.  Yesterday Mahoney announced on his blog that it's now clear to him that Jesus wants him to be humiliated. 

Note that Mahony only asks God to forgive his accusers and not himself.  Even though he's been stripped of his duties as a cardinal, Mahony remains a "priest in good standing" and is eligible to vote to Emperor Palpatine's successor.


Why did Senator John McCain claim he wouldn't filibuster Chuck Hagel, then go ahead and do so anyway? Because Chuck Hagel hurt his feelings over five years ago.

McCAIN: But to be honest with you, Neil, it goes back to there's a lot of ill will towards Senator Hagel because when he was a Republican, he attacked President Bush mercilessly and say he was the worst President since Herbert Hoover and said the surge was the worst blunder since the Vietnam War, which was nonsense. He was anti-his own party and people — people don't forget that. You can disagree but if you're disagreeable, then people don't forget that.

Long-in-the-tooth Republicans like McCain may never get over the fact that the Bush Administration and everything it entailed was an awesome failure. They can't acknowledge it, they can't accept it, and they can't move past it.


Today in the War on Women

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