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This ran yesterday, so you might have missed it.

I wanted to do something to show my appreciation for your support through the years, and since there are so many things I’m no longer comfortable sharing with the general public, or don’t have the time to do on a daily basis, here’s your chance.

Or for now, you can sign up here. (No, I won’t know who you are.) The first newsletter will go out sometime next week.


After this post passes, you can always sign up in the right-hand column.

The bankers are unhappy

So I’m happy! Matt Taibbi with some news that is making bankers very, very unhappy:

Minds are changing on Too Big to Fail. A month ago, it was just something in the air. Now, it looks like we’re headed for a real legislative confrontation. And man, is the finance sector freaking.

Last week, on April 24th, Democratic Senator Sherrod Brown of Ohio and Louisiana Republican David Vitter introduced legislation called the “Terminating Bailouts for Taxpayer Fairness Act of 2013 Act,” or the “Brown-Vitter TBTF Act” for short. The bill is a gun aimed directly at the head of the Too-Big-To-Fail beast.

During the Dodd-Frank negotiations a few years ago, Brown teamed up with Delaware Democrat Ted Kaufman to introduce an amendment that would have physically capped the size of the biggest banks. The amendment was bold and righteous but was slaughtered on the floor by a 61-33 margin, undermined by leaders of both parties – 27 Democrats voted against it.

Brown-Vitter offers a different and, in a way, more elegant solution to the problem than Brown-Kaufman. Rather than impose size limits, it simply insists that banks with over $500 billion in assets maintain higher capital reserves than are currently required. Companies like J.P. Morgan Chase, Wells Fargo, Morgan Stanley, Goldman Sachs, Citigroup and Bank of America will have to keep capital reserves of about 15 percent, about twice the current amount.
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The revolving door

tomwheelerRemember when Obama promised not to appoint any lobbyists? Ha, ha!

WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama intends to nominate veteran Rep. Melvin Watt to head the Federal Housing Finance Agency, the government regulator that oversees lending giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and he has chosen a former cable and wireless industry lobbyist to head the Federal Communications Commission, according to White House officials.

If confirmed by the Senate for the FHFA post, Watt, a North Carolina Democrat who has been in Congress for 20 years, would replace Edward DeMarco, an appointee of President George W. Bush, who has been a target of housing advocates, liberal groups and Democratic lawmakers.

Also on Wednesday, Obama plans to nominate Tom Wheeler, one of his top campaign fundraisers, as the country’s top telecommunications regulator. He is expected to name FCC Commissioner Mignon Clyburn to serve as acting chairwoman while Wheeler awaits Senate confirmation.

Wheeler raised more than $500,000 for Obama’s re-election effort, according to data provided by the campaign. He also contributed more than $17,000 combined to Obama’s re-election and to several Senate campaigns, including Virginia Democratic Sen. Tim Kaine’s successful effort.

Maybe it’s time we bought our own lobbyist?

Here we go again

You have to hand it to the Republicans — they keep pushing the same evil ideas and they never give up. (Unlike the Democrats, who don’t even try.)

In a bid for women’s support and votes, the GOP launched an aggressive ad campaign on “mommy blogs” on Tuesday. The ads will tout its deceptively titled Working Families Flexibility Actthat would weaken overtime pay laws:

The banner ads will be featured on over 100 websites popular among women and geo-targeted to be viewed by residents in 20 Democratic-held congressional districts targeted by the GOP for 2014. […]

The $20,000 ad buy, running on sites including Ikeafans.com and MarthaStewart.com through Friday, will call on Democrats to vote with House Republicans next week on a bill to give hourly private sector workers more flexibility to choose between compensatory time and cash payment for overtime work.

“Tell Rep. Kyrsten Sinema you shouldn’t have to choose between work and family,” reads one ad set to run in Sinema’s suburban Phoenix district. “Will Rep. Collin Peterson stand up for working moms?” reads another that’s slated to run in Peterson’s western Minnesota district. The banner ads link to a petition site calling on lawmakers to support “more freedom for working moms.”

There’s no doubt that many Americans are overworked and in need of policies that better allow them to balance their families and their jobs. But the GOP’s solution is not much of a solution at all. Rather than giving workers the ability to accrue paid leave through regular working hours, it would instead allow workers and employers to trade traditional time-and-a-half pay for overtime hours for compensatory time off.

Legends

They always tell us they’re just stories, and then they find proof they weren’t. This story’s 12 years old, but it’s still cool:

For centuries, Heracleion was believed to be a legend, much like the fabled city of Atlantis.
But 12 years ago, underwater archaeologist Dr Franck Goddio was searching the Egyptian coastline for French warships from the 18th century battle of the Nile, but instead stumbled across the treasures of the lost city.

After removing layers of sand and mud, divers discovered evidence of extraordinary wealth, painting a picture of what life was like in Heracleion, believed to have been at the centre of Mediterranean trade more than 1,000 years ago.

Archaeologists have found remains of more than 64 ships, buried in the seabed four miles off the coast of Egypt, the largest number of ancient ships ever to be found in one place.

As well as 700 anchors, the team have dug up gold coins and weights made from bronze and stone which would have been used in trade and to calculate taxation rates.

Men on top

nuns

Business as usual in Vatican City!

Pope Francis has reaffirmed Pope Benedict XVI’s rebuke of the main leadership group of U.S. Catholic sisters and approved a plan to place the group under the control of three U.S. bishops, according to the Vatican.

Reaffirmation of the move came in a meeting Monday between the leaders of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR) and Archbishop Gerhard Ludwig Müller, the head of the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, according to a statement from the Vatican.

During the meeting, the Vatican said, Müller told the LCWR leaders that he had “recently discussed” the issue with Pope Francis, “who reaffirmed the findings of the Assessment and the program of reform.”

The meeting was the first between LCWR, which represents about 80 percent of the United States’ approximately 57,000 sisters, and Müller, who became head of the doctrinal congregation in July.

LCWR confirmed that its leadership met with Vatican officials in a statement Monday and said the conversation was “open and frank.”

I hope the nuns tell them to fuck off, metaphorically speaking.

The next Elizabeth Warren

Is trying to get around the telecom industry:

Telecom regulators don’t usually have public followings, except perhaps among other telecom regulators. But as soon as rumors began circulating that Julius Genachowski planned to resign as chairman of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), petitions appeared on sites like BoingBoing, Reddit, and Daily Kos calling on President Barack Obama to appoint a 50-year-old law professor and former administration official named Susan Crawford as Genachowski’s successor. It’s not hard to see why she has acquired an enthusiastic fan base in these precincts of the Internet. With an appealing blend of earnestness and feistiness, Crawford is set on turning the sorry state of broadband and wireless services in the United States into the biggest populist outrage since Elizabeth Warren went after the banks.

Dropped calls, patchy Internet, and exorbitant bills are experiences many Americans are already angry about. But to Crawford, the telecom industry is a problem not just because of its dreadful service, but because it is undermining the future of the U.S. economy. Like Warren, she has a knack for making her case against the most powerful companies—she refers to them dismissively as “the incumbents”—in ways the average person can understand. At a public hearing in California, Crawford scoffed at a contention by AT&T and T-Mobile that local wireless markets were competitive: “This is like asserting that my former hometown of Washington, D.C., has several football teams: the Redskins, the Georgetown University team, and the Gonzaga High School team.” Discussing broadband with Bill Moyers, she observed, “The rich are getting gouged, the poor are very often left out, and this means that we’re creating, yet again, two Americas.”

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