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Bully

Isn’t it amazing? This incident was so brutal that it still haunts the memories of most of the participants — just not Mitt Romney. Apparently it just slipped his mind, just one more “boyish prank.” I could do some armchair analysis of the type of personality that is so lacking in empathy at such an early age, but it would only be conjecture. So I’ll let the incident speak for itself.

We’ve all known Golden Boys who felt entitled to do whatever they wanted, and so rarely suffered consequences. We’ve also known their enablers, who were often just as scared of these bullies as their victims were, and who carry the weight of their inaction with them.

Phillip Maxwell, an attorney in Michigan, confirmed to CBS News that the incident with John Lauber is accurately described in The Washington Post piece. Maxwell was one of the Post’s four on-the-record sources. A fifth asked not to be named. Maxwell says the only thing not accurate is that the Post reporter said the incident occurred in a dorm room, but it happened in a common room.


“Mitt was a prankster, there’s no doubt about it. This thing with Lauber wasn’t a prank. This was, well, as a lawyer, it was an assault. It was an assault and a battery. And I’m sure that John Lauber carried it with him for the rest of his life,” Maxwell told CBS News.


The Post’s article details Romney’s teen-age years spent at Cranbrook, a prestigious prep school in Michigan, and focuses on the many pranks played by the future presidential contender. Several were harmless but others are remembered as cruel, insensitive or frightening to the victims.


Maxwell, who is not a Republican and wasn’t planning to vote for Romney, says “this isn’t a politically motivated thing for me. I got asked questions by [Post reporter] Jason Horowitz and I responded honestly to him. I didn’t decide to bring this thing up. But I think it probably is relevant.”


“I’ve carried this story with me a long time. It was very disturbing. I think that view is shared by everyone involved in it,” Maxwell says. “It just was a black mark on my character that I didn’t stop it.”


The hair-cutting incident, according to The Washington Post, was confirmed by five of Romney’s classmates who described the event as “senseless, stupid, idiotic” and “vicious.” Candy Porter was the victim of a well-known prank in which Romney and his Cranbrook friends posed as cops, complete with fake siren and badges, and pretended to bust some friends and their dates. Porter told the Post she was “terrified.”


Romney was also remembered as having shouted “Atta girl!” when another closeted gay student tried to speak up in the classroom.


Romney said he did not recall that incident. “You know there are a lot of times, my guess is at a boys’ school when one of the boys do something and people say ‘hey atta girl,’… I had no idea that he was gay,” Romney explained when asked about the comment. He again apologized for having offended anyone, saying no harm was intended.


When Kilmeade asked if The Post’s article was meant to show that he grew up in an intolerant environment, Romney was quick to say during Thursday’s interview with Brian Kilmeade that he did not, and he pointed out that the sexual orientation of the people referenced in the story was not known when they were all in high school. “I had no idea that this person might have been gay,” Romney said, “and the article points out I participated in a lot of hijinks and pranks in high school and some may have gone too far and for that I apologize.”


“I had no idea this person might have been gay.” Really, Mittens? First of all, I don’t believe it. Nope. A group of adolescent boys who didn’t notice that another boy committed the crime of being “different”? Second, even if I did believe it (which I don’t), I’d point out that your reaction to someone’s harmless differences was to impose your own values on them.


You’re not a nice person, Mitt Romney. You’re mean, you lack empathy, you don’t seem to care about anything unless it affects people who are Just Like You.


That’s not what we need in the White House. Not now, not ever. Christ, it’s bad enough to have a president who brags about drone attacks. But you? You’re even worse.

Finally?

It’s not as if we haven’t heard Harry Reid make noises about filibuster reform before. But it sure sounds like he’s angry enough to actually do something this time:

An angry Harry Reid took to the floor Thursday and demanded changes to the Senate’s hallowed filibuster rules, siding with junior Democrats who have sought to substantially weaken the powerful delaying tactic.
It’s a risky move for the Senate majority leader, who could find himself in the minority in a matter of months and need the filibuster to block the GOP’s agenda. But Reid — who struck a “gentleman’s agreement” last year with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell to preserve the filibuster from an effort by Sens. Tom Udall (D-N.M.) and Jeff. Merkley (D-Ore.) to water it down — signaled he is now on board with their effort given the gridlock in the Senate.

“If there were ever a time when Tom Udall and Jeff Merkley were prophetic, it’s tonight,” Reid said on the floor. “These two young, fine senators said it was time to change the rules of the Senate, and we didn’t. They were right. The rest of us were wrong — or most of us, anyway. What a shame.”

Reid added: “If there were anything that ever needed changing in this body, it’s the filibuster rules, because it’s been abused, abused, abused.”

Reid’s comments came after he tried to quickly pass a House-passed bill aimed at reauthorizing the Export-Import bank. Republicans objected, asking for votes on five of their amendments. Reid filed a cloture motion, setting up a test vote for Monday evening to begin debate on the measure.

It takes 60 votes — and time-consuming cloture motions — to overcome a filibuster, a tool that has been employed with growing frequency by both parties over the years.

[…] Udall and Merkley were calling for the rules to be changed through a circuitous process by 51 votes, a move they called the “constitutional option” but that critics dubbed the “nuclear option.”

Instead, Reid and McConnell agreed to a series of small rules changes and a general agreement to make the Senate more efficient without changing the filibuster.

Of course, this is Harry “Collegiality” Reid. It’s also possible he’s just blowing smoke to get his way on the current matter. But let’s hope he means it this time.

It’s not as if we haven’t heard Harry Reid make noises about filibuster reform before. But it sure sounds like he’s angry enough to actually do something this time:

An angry Harry Reid took to the floor Thursday and demanded changes to the Senate’s hallowed filibuster rules, siding with junior Democrats who have sought to substantially weaken the powerful delaying tactic.
It’s a risky move for the Senate majority leader, who could find himself in the minority in a matter of months and need the filibuster to block the GOP’s agenda. But Reid — who struck a “gentleman’s agreement” last year with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell to preserve the filibuster from an effort by Sens. Tom Udall (D-N.M.) and Jeff. Merkley (D-Ore.) to water it down — signaled he is now on board with their effort given the gridlock in the Senate.
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More stupid right-wing Catholic shit

This is just plan silly:

All second baseman Paige Sultzbach wanted to do was play in her school’s state championship baseball game tonight.


But because she is a girl, that won’t happen.


Sultzbach is a freshman at Mesa Preparatory Academy, which had been scheduled to play Our Lady of Sorrows Academy in tonight’s Arizona Charter Athletic Association state championship at Phoenix College.


But Our Lady of Sorrows, a fundamentalist Catholic school in Phoenix that lost twice to Mesa Prep during the regular season, chose to forfeit the championship game rather than play a team fielding a female player.


Our Lady of Sorrows school officials would not comment, but Sultzbach’s mother, Pamela Sultzbach, said her daughter and the rest of the team received the news after Wednesday afternoon’s practice.


“This is not a contact sport, it shouldn’t be an issue,” Pamela said. “It wasn’t that they were afraid they were going to hurt or injure her, it’s that (they believe) that a girl’s place is not on a field.”


Paige played softball and volleyball in junior high, but because Mesa Prep does not have a girls softball team, she decided to try out for the boys baseball team, with the coach’s encouragement.


From early on, Paige tried to blend in, her mother said. When the coach referred to the kids as “guys and gals,” Paige spoke up and said that they all wear the same uniform, so the coach should just call them all guys.


Her teammates have stood up for her.


During Mesa Prep’s two previous games with Our Lady of Sorrows, Paige didn’t play out of respect for the opposing team’s beliefs, but that wasn’t going to be an option this time, Pamela said.


“We respected their school rule … but she took it hard,” Pamela said. “She didn’t like it and neither did her teammates. They went out and played the best they could because they wanted to prove a point.”


Our Lady of Sorrows is run by the U.S. branch of the Society of Saint Pius X, a group of conservative, traditionalist priests who disagree with the reforms of the Vatican II Council in the 1960s and broke with the Catholic Church in the 1980s.

Imagine

If we’d done this here:

Ecuador’s legislature has passed a bill that would require banks to forgive any outstanding debt on mortgages for first-time home buyers
of properties worth up to $146,000 if they default and forfeit the home.

The measure, aimed at discouraging a real estate bubble of the type that has caused so much pain in the United States and Europe, won praise from many Ecuadoreans on Wednesday.

[…] Approved Tuesday evening by a 68-21 vote, the bill also covers loans by banks to first-time purchasers of automobiles that cost up to $29,200.

[…] The law appears to be unique.

San Diego State University economist Michael Lea, a real estate specialist, said the only similar measure he was aware of was the creation of a national housing bank by the leftist Sandinista movement in Nicaragua after it won power in 1979.

[…]Pablo Davalos, an economist at Catholic University, said the move would be good for most Ecuadoreans.

“This law is positive for the consumer and negative for the banker, who now has to increase his reserves and that means less liquidity and
less profit for the bankers,” Davalos said.

Toilet control

Now it’s not guns, it’s toilets. The Republicans are plain batshit crazy.

Jamie Dimon is a tapeworm

Remember last month, when I wrote about JPMorgan Chase gambling heavily on high-risk credit derivatives, and Jamie Dimon said it was all fine?

Oops.

JPMorgan Chase disclosed on Thursday that a trading group had suffered “significant” losses in a portfolio of credit investments, with the chief executive, Jamie Dimon, estimating losses at $2 billion in a conference call.

“These were egregious mistakes,” Mr. Dimon said on the call. “They were self-inflicted and this is not how we want to run a business.”

And yet, apparently this is exactly how you run a business, Jamie!

The troubles at the unit, the so-called Chief Investment Office, which makes trades to balance the bank’s assets and liabilities, are expected to weigh on the bank’s broader earnings.

For example, the corporate group, which includes the Chief Investment Office, is now expected to lose $800 million in the second quarter, the company said in a filing. Previously, JPMorgan had estimated that the group would report net income of roughly $200 million.

Ultimately, JPMorgan said, the final tally will depend on the markets and other actions by the bank. Mr. Dimon added that it could “easily get worse.”

Shares of JPMorgan were down 5.5 percent in after-hours trading, dragging down other bank stocks.

The trading group has been a focus in recent weeks as questions surfaced about big bets the JPMorgan unit was reportedly making in credit default swaps. Reports emerged in April about a JPMorgan trader in London whose positions were so big that they were distorting the market.

Mr. Dimon played down the significance. In a conference call on April 13, he called the matter “a complete tempest in a teapot.”

“Every bank has a major portfolio. In those portfolios you make investments that you think are wise to offset your exposures,” Mr. Dimon said in the April call. “At the end of the day, that is our job — is to invest that portfolio wisely, intelligently over a long period of time to earn income and to offset other exposures that we have.”

Now, the portfolio is wreaking havoc at the bank. In its filing on Thursday, JPMorgan pointed specifically to problems with its bets on credit.

Now remember, these are exactly the kinds of transactions the banking industry lobbied so hard to protect.

The Chief Investment Office “has had significant mark-to-market losses in its synthetic credit portfolio, and this portfolio has proven to be riskier, more volatile and less effective as an economic hedge than the firm previously believed,” the company said in its regulatory filing.

“We have egg on our face,” Mr. Dimon said on Thursday. “We deserve any criticism we get.”

So if I point out that you’re a scum-sucking bottom feeder who helped crash the international economy, pushed millions of Americans into the poorhouse and that your attitude that moral hazard is only for the little people who bought the crap you so blatantly peddled to them, you’re acknowledging that you deserve it?

No, what you “deserve” is to be impoverished, left homeless and facing a long prison term. But we have a two-tiered justice system and that ain’t happening.

If I passed you on the street, it would be all I could do not to spit on you.

I’m not in love

10cc:

I See You

Mittens distinguishes himself again

How awful is Mitt Romney? Is there anything he won’t do or say to improve his chances of being elected? I don’t know… Ask Chen Guangcheng, the blind Chinese dissident, or Richard Grenell, the gay foreign policy spokesman whom Romney threw under the bus. More here.

Twitter fights NYC court order

From Wired:

In the battle to fight online fishing expeditions by law enforcement officials there is little we can do individually to protect ourselves — which makes it all the more important for internet companies like Twitter and Google to fight back on our behalf.

That’s exactly what Twitter did when it filed a surprisingly feisty motion (.pdf) this week in New York City Criminal Court to quash a court order demanding that it hand over information to law enforcement about one of its account holders — an activist who participated in the Occupy Wall Street protests — as well as tweets that he allegedly posted to the account over a three-month period. The company stepped in with the motion after the account holder lost his own bid to quash the order…

In its motion to quash, Twitter pointed out to the judge that the order would essentially force the company to break the law by handing over data without a warrant. Twitter also took issue with the judge’s ruling that the account holder had no right to fight the order on his own behalf.

The company further dinged prosecutors by pointing out that they could have saved everyone the trouble of dealing with this in court if they had simply printed or downloaded the publicly available tweets themselves…

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