Feed on
Posts
Comments



Charmer

Aimee Mann:

Don’t you think I feel it too

I heard Walter Hyatt play this years ago. He was such an amazing talent, it was a shock to lose him so young. Uncle Walt’s Band Revisited:

Disco alarm clock

So for three nights in a row, the little digital alarm I bought in a Rite Aid maybe eight years ago stopped working. This is a problem, because I have to take my thyroid pills at the same time every day, preferably early in the morning because OTHERWISE THEY KEEP ME UP UNTIL 4 IN THE MORNING.

The first night, I figured I simply forgot to set the alarm. The second night, I was careful to set it and it still didn’t work. The third night, it finally sunk in that I had to get a new alarm clock.

So I went to the thrift store, where I found this little $2 number that you have to plug in. (The other is battery powered.) When I turned it on, I saw that it had a mixture of bright, BRIGHT primary colors (this picture doesn’t begin to show just how eye-searing these colors are). Strange.

I also took the old one apart, checked to see that the batteries were correctly inserted, and set that one, too. Just for the hell of it.

And of course, at 6:30 a.m., they both went off.

Eric Holder has no balls

I’ve been waiting for this. Matt Taibbi reacts to Eric Holder not prosecuting Wall Street:

I’ve been on deadline in the past week or so, so I haven’t had a chance to weigh in on Eric Holder’s predictable decision to not pursue criminal charges against Goldman, Sachs for any of the activities in the report prepared by Senators Carl Levin and Tom Coburn two years ago.


Last year I spent a lot of time and energy jabbering and gesticulating in public about what seemed to me the most obviously prosecutable offenses detailed in the report – the seemingly blatant perjury before congress of Lloyd Blankfein and other Goldman executives, and the almost comically long list of frauds committed by the company in its desperate effort to unload its crappy “cats and dogs” mortgage-backed inventory.


In the notorious Hudson transaction, for instance, Goldman claimed, in writing, that it was fully “aligned” with the interests of its client, Morgan Stanley, because it owned a $6 million slice of the deal. What Goldman left out is that it had a $2 billion short position against the same deal.


If that isn’t fraud, Mr. Holder, just what exactly is fraud?


Still, it wasn’t surprising that Holder didn’t pursue criminal charges against Goldman. And that’s not just because Holder has repeatedly proven himself to be a spineless bureaucrat and obsequious political creature masquerading as a cop, and not just because rumors continue to circulate that the Obama administration – supposedly in the interests of staving off market panic – made a conscious decision sometime in early 2009 to give all of Wall Street a pass on pre-crisis offenses.


No, the real reason this wasn’t surprising is that Holder’s decision followed a general pattern that has been coming into focus for years in American law enforcement. Our prosecutors and regulators have basically admitted now that they only go after the most obvious and easily prosecutable cases.


If the offense committed doesn’t fit the exact description in the relevant section of the criminal code, they pass. The only white-collar cases they will bring are absolute slam-dunk situations where some arrogant rogue commits a blatant crime for individual profit in a manner thoroughly familiar to even the non-expert portion of the jury pool/citizenry.


In other words, they’ll take on somebody like Raj Rajaratnam, who stacked his illegal insider trades so brazenly and carelessly that his case almost reads like a finance version of Jeff Dahmer tripping over bodies in his Milwaukee apartment. Or they’ll pursue Bernie Madoff on the tenth or eleventh time he crosses their desk, after years of nonaction, and after he breaks down weeping and confessing. Basically, if someone backs a dump truck up to the DOJ and unloads the entire case, gift-wrapped, a contrite and confessing criminal included, a guy like Eric Holder might, after much agonizing deliberation, decide to prosecute.


But here’s the thing: most of the crimes Wall Street people commit involve highly specific, highly individualized transactions that won’t fit Eric Holder’s bag of cookie-cutter statutory definitions. That is not the same thing as saying they’re not crimes. They are: the crimes of the crisis period were and are very basic crimes like fraud, theft, perjury, and tax evasion, only they’re dressed up in millions of pages of camouflaging verbiage.


Or, even more often, the crimes have also been sanctified in advance by “reputable” law and accounting firms, who (for huge fees) offered their clients opinions that, if X and Y are signed in accordance with Z, and A and B are stipulated by the parties, and everyone’s sitting Indian-style and facing the moon when the deal is agreed to, then it’s not fucked up and illegal when Goldman Sachs tells you it’s a co-investor in your deal when it’s actually got $2 billion bet against you.


You know that look a dog gives you when you show it something confusing, like an electric razor or a lawn sprinkler? That’s the look federal prosecutors give when companies like Goldman wave their attorneys’ sanctifying opinions at them. They scratch their heads and say: “Oh, wow, well since this was signed in Australia by three millionaire lawyers wearing magic invisibility cloaks, it really isn’t fraud! They’re right!”


As one high-profile attorney currently working on a closely-watched case involving a Wall Street bank put it to me yesterday: “With these Justice guys, everything the Wall Street lawyers say makes perfect sense to them, no matter how dumb it is.

Duh

What a mess:

It’s midnight, and you see a 12-year-old boy running down the street toward you, begging for help. Moments later a man follows wearing only his underwear, and beckons the boy over. Do you let the man take him? Yeah, neither did Heather Rodriguez or her brother-in-law when that happened to them Sunday. The man “was staring at us,” Rodriguez tells the Oregonian. “He stood there with his hands on his hips like, ‘You’re really not going to give him to me?’”


Yesterday, police alleged that the man in question was the Rev. Angel Armando, priest at the St. Luke Catholic Church in Woodburn, Oregon. The boy told police he was staying with Armando ahead of a camping trip, and awoke in the middle of the night to find the pastor beside him with one hand on the boy’s genitals, and the other holding a cell phone, apparently to take photos. He ran off, precipitating the chase. Armando has been charged with first-degree sexual abuse.

What passes for media these days

These patch.com sites are SO erratic in their content, mostly because they let anyone write for them. On the local Main Line site, this was written by Bob Guzzardi.

You remember Bob, don’t you? He was one of the owners of Philly’s VERY gay-friendly 12th Street gym, who caused a huge controversy when he made a fat donation to the very UN-gay-friendly Rick Santorum. He had to sell out his share as a result.

He’s a wingnut gadfly who focuses on supply-side economics and Israel.

Anyway, so he writes this piece attacking local Rep. Chaka Fattah for his work with CORE Scholars, complaining that Fattah gets earmarks for the organization. (At least, I think that’s what he’s saying. He’s a tad incoherent.)

I happen to know something about CORE because Fattah was one of the people running against the guy I worked for in the mayoral primary, and of course we oppo’ed the hell out of him. Short answer: this wingnut is (hard to believe, I know) just plain wrong.

CORE is a GREAT program. Really good. Here’s what they do:

College Opportunity Resources for Education (CORE) is a federal tax-exempt organization designed to provide promise scholarships and college prep assistance to high school students. Our scholarships are only applicable to students who reside in Philadelphia, for now.


CORE is a nonprofit initiative designed to unite communities around the goal of ensuring that all of our children have access to college. CORE was formed in September 2003 under the leadership of U.S. Congressman Chaka Fattah.


Our premier program, the CORE Promise Scholarship, is the first of its kind in the nation to offer all high school seniors – whether from the public, private, charter or parochial systems – in Philadelphia a unique opportunity to attend select Pennsylvania colleges and universities. Over the past eight years, CORE has awarded over 18,000 Philadelphia students a total of more than $27 million dollars. Of our original group of CORE Scholars, 51% ultimately graduated from college over six years. This is impressive to say the least in spite of the fact that Philadelphia’s college degree attainment rate is approximately 10% over ten years, according to the National Student Clearinghouse.

Gateway vandalism

These cops are plain fucking crazy. Just nuts.

Next stop: State Supreme Court

One of our famously corrupt state judges refuses to stop the voter ID law in PA:

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — A tough new voter identification law championed by Republicans can take effect in Pennsylvania for November’s presidential election, a judge ruled Wednesday, despite a torrent of criticism that it will suppress votes among President Barack Obama’s supporters and make it harder for the elderly, disabled, poor and young adults to vote.


Commonwealth Court Judge Robert Simpson said he would not grant an injunction that would have halted the law, which requires each voter to show a valid photo ID. Opponents are expected to file an appeal within a day or two to the state Supreme Court as the Nov. 6 election looms.


“We’re not done, it’s not over,” said Witold J. Walczak, an American Civil Liberties Union lawyer who helped argue the case for the plaintiffs. “It’s why they make appeals courts.”


The Republican-penned law — which passed over the objections of Democrats — has ignited a furious debate over voting rights as Pennsylvania is poised to play a key role in deciding the presidential contest.


Plaintiffs, including a 93-year-old woman who recalled marching with Martin Luther King Jr. in 1960, had asked Simpson to block the law from taking effect in this year’s election as part of a wider challenge to its constitutionality.


Republicans defend the law as necessary to protect the integrity of the election. But Democrats say the law will make it harder for people who lack ID for valid reasons to vote.


Opponents portray the law as a partisan scheme to help the Republican challenger, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, beat Obama. Their passionate objections were inflamed in June when the state’s Republican House leader boasted to a Republican gathering that the new photo ID requirement “is going to allow Gov. Romney to win the state” in November.


Simpson, a Republican, didn’t rule on the full merits of the case, only whether to grant a preliminary injunction stopping it from taking effect.


In his 70-page opinion, Simpson said the plaintiffs “did an excellent job of ‘putting a face’ to those burdened by the voter ID requirement,” but he said he didn’t have the luxury of deciding the case based on sympathy. Rather, he said he believed that state officials and agencies were actively resolving problems with the law and that they would carry it out in a “nonpartisan, even-handed manner.”


The law, he said, is neutral, nondiscriminatory and applies uniformly to all voters. Speculation about the potential problems in issuing valid photo IDs or confusion on Election Day did not warrant “invalidation of all lawful applications” of it, he wrote.


Plus, more harm would result from halting the law, he said.

“This is because the process of implementation in general, and of public outreach and education in particular, is much harder to start, or restart, than it is to stop,” Simpson wrote.

Hmm

I’m thinking this isn’t going to be popular with the pregnant ladies.

White people

An interview with Joan Walsh about her new book:

On the subject of white people, one who’s been in the news a fair bit lately is Paul Ryan. Obviously he comes from a very different social background than Mitt Romney. But he’s been proclaimed as “working-class” by many commentators, and you dispute that.


Absolutely. He is a child of privilege and comfort, born into a construction business run by his family in Janesville, Wis. I think Paul Ryan is a great example of what drove me to write this book. It has been so vexing to me, and so mysterious, that wealthy or upper-middle-class white people, especially Irish Catholics, have become the face of the white working class when they never spent a frickin’ day in the working class in their lives. And that goes for Bill O’Reilly, Sean Hannity, Pat Buchanan and Paul Ryan. Ryan’s not as associated with the racism and the really nasty stuff, but his politics are just as nasty. His beliefs and what he wants to do are just as divisive and damaging.


But without irony, last weekend we saw him hailed as the white working-class addition to this ticket. And again, it works. I think it works in part because the media is so removed from any kind of working-class roots themselves that they don’t think about what that means. What that has come to mean is not that you lack a college education and work your ass off doing manual labor. It’s come to symbolize being closed-minded about abortion, being hyper-pro-military, being religious, being culturally very conservative. It doesn’t have any class content at all.

« Newer Posts - Older Posts »

eXTReMe Tracker