These are my links for July 24th through July 25th:
Obama Thanks ‘Gay-Porn Kingpin’– “I want to thank someone who put so much work into this event, Terry Bean,” President Obama said as the crowd began to cheer. “Give Terry a big round of applause.”Terry Bean is, according to the New York Post, a “gay-porn kingpin.””ONE of the ‘bundlers’ who has raised $50,000 to $100,000 for the Barack Obama presidential campaign is Terrence Bean, who once controlled the biggest producer of gay porn in America,” the Post reported in 2008, during the president’s first run the office. “Bean, the first gay on Sen. Obama’s National Finance Committee, is the sole trustee of the Charles M. Holmes Foundation, which owned Falcon Studios, Jock Studios and Mustang Studios, the producers of about $10 million worth of all-male pornography a year.”
Too Big To Fail, Obama and Dodd-Frank– The two-year anniversary of Dodd-Frank has come and gone, and Too Big To Fail is only growing.Sure, President Obama assured us the sweeping law would reform the sleaze and mindless risk-taking of the banking business — but all it’s given us is the certainty of future bailouts.Actually, that’s not fair: It’s also producing reams and reams of rules and regulations that force banks out of certain profitable lines of business, like proprietary trading, that had little to do with the shenanigans that led the financial crisis.But the biggest problem is the expansion of the largest single contributor to the banking collapse: The government’s protection of the remaining big financial institutions, a k a Too Big To Fail.The reason Too Big To Fail is so dangerous is that it provides a level of comfort to the Wall Street risk takers — enabling them to act like riverboat gamblers and simply bet more and more until the system comes crashing down, as it did four years ago. Why fear, when the taxpayer is on the hook for your losses?
Dodd-Frank was supposed to end the bank-protection racket. Everyone from the president to Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner (who’s due up on Capitol Hill this week to discuss the law) to its chief sponsors, then-Sen. Chris Dodd and Rep. Barney Frank, said so.
They tell us the law makes certain that the next time the big banks take too much risk, there will no taxpayer bailout: The bankers (and those who trusted them) will have to pay for their risk-taking sins in bankruptcy court, just like any other business in America.
Don’t buy it. A relatively open secret on Wall Street is that the megabanks that survived the financial crisis — JP Morgan, Citigroup, Bank of America, Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley and Wells Fargo — are still very much protected by the federal government and the American taxpayer.
California cities’ bankruptcies: Blame the housing bust– The reporting and commentary on the bankruptcies of California cities over the last month haven’t been journalism’s finest hour. From reading the voluminous accounts of the fiscal woes of Stockton and San Bernardino, you’d think that municipal unions and feckless city officials are primarily what led these cities down the path to fiscal ruin.But you’d be wrong. What bankrupted Stockton and San Bernardino were the most severe housing busts in the nation. What bankrupted those two cities were banks peddling subprime mortgages to poorly paid workers.That story has been missing from most accounts of the debacle, which instead focus on the preferred narrative of the right and center-right: that of fiscal irresponsibility and overpaid public employees. “Another city sinks in pension morass,” the Orange County Register editorialized. The problem common to the cities, wrote Sacramento Bee columnist Dan Walters, is that “elected leaders and appointed managers succumbed to hubris and political pressure, particularly from their employee unions.”Even most of the straightforward reporting has emphasized the errors of city managers and the burdens of having to pay city workers andBut that narrative is “Hamlet” without the prince. Yes, some elected and appointed officials were indifferent or insensible to their city’s fiscal plight. But lots of cities have negligent public officials, and even more have police officers and firefighters with those demonized defined-benefit pensions. What sets Stockton and San Bernardino apart is a far narrower set of circumstances: They were at the epicenters of the American housing bubble and the American housing bust.
To Move Polls, Romney Needs to Go Positive– Every once in a blue moon, a pollster asks exactly the right questions and brings some clarity to a number of important “big picture” issues in an election. Such is the case with the latest Pew poll. In particular, this survey helps us answer:– Is this election a choice or a referendum?
Marijuana Dispensaries Banned in L.A. Per City Council Vote– The L.A. City Council today voted to put an end to the city’s infamous and numerous marijuana dispensaries, citing neighborhood concerns and court rulings that have questioned a city’s right to regulate the retailers.Most of all, however, the council argued that L.A’s for-profit pot shop scene was never envisioned by state lawmakers whom the City Attorney says wanted to legalize the nonprofit growing and sharing of cannabis among the seriously ill.That interpretation, of course, is up for debate, but …… for now the city of L.A. is having things its way: No more weed retailers in the pot shop capital of the nation. Maybe. (See more below).At one point LA Weekly counted about 550 of them, and in light of a lack of city regulation, it seems that the number has remained fairly constant to us. In fact sources have told us that some rogue shops have taken advantage of City Hall’s lack of action –it has been trying to regulate dispensaries since at least 2007 — to open illicit pop-up shops that come and go quickly.
Gov. Scott Walker knocks Mitt Romney’s campaign– Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker criticized Mitt Romney’s campaign Wednesday for being too cautious and for assuming the election could just be a referendum on the president.“I think there’s a lot of caution. I think the mistake that they’ve made is the feeling like it can just be a referendum on the president,” said Walker, a Republican, on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.” “It’s certainly a part of it for any incumbent, it’s got to be a referendum on, do you like or dislike, not just the president, but his policies… but there’s got to be something more. People don’t just vote somebody out, they’ve got to vote somebody in
Nearly one in 10 employers to drop health coverage– About one in 10 employers plan to drop health coverage when key provisions of the new health care law kick in less than two years from now, according to a survey to be released Tuesday by the consulting company Deloitte.Nine percent of companies said they expect to stop offering coverage
to their workers in the next one to three years, the Wall Street Journal reported. Around 81 percent said they would continue providing benefits and 10 percent said they weren’t sure.
Walker Changes Attitudes on Public Employee Unions– The results are in, and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker has beaten Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett in the recall election. That’s in line with pre-election polling, though not the Election Day exit poll. Even before the results came in, we knew one thing, and that is that the Democrats and the public employee unions had already lost the battle of ideas over the issue that sparked the recall, Walker’s legislation to restrict the bargaining powers of public employee unions.That’s supported by a Marquette University poll showing 75 percent of Wisconsin voters favoring increases in public employees’ contributions for health care and pensions. It also showed 55 percent for limiting collective bargaining for public employees and only 41 percent opposed.
Forget Wisconsin. The Unions’ Biggest Loss Was in California– Bad news for teachers and other public-sector employees: America is more than ready to cut your pensions and benefits. While most politicos had been focusing this week on the Wisconsin recall, an election 2,100 miles away in San Jose, Calif., may be a bigger harbinger of the kind of austerity voters are developing a taste for.In this city of about a million residents an hour south of San Francisco,voters on Tuesday approved arguably the country’s boldest pension cuts. San Jose’s Democratic mayor, Chuck Reed, has been grappling with ballooning pension costs that have increased from $73 million to $245 million in the last decade. Retirement costs already consume more than 20% of the city’s general fund, which helps explain why Reed was pushing San Jose to pass Measure B,which would give voters the power to approve increases in pension benefits and give the city the power to suspend automatic 3% annual raises during a fiscal crisis. The measure would also make workers contribute half the cost of their pensions; employees currently pay $3 for every $8 the city contributes, and the city is financially responsible for any shortfalls. Also included are provisions to curb the abuse of disability benefits. It’s a tough package —and will certainly be challenged in court because it changes benefits not only for future workers, something everyone agrees is legal, but for current ones as well. Nonetheless, voters passed it by a stunning margin of 69.5% in favor, 30.4% opposed. A pension reform measure also passed in San Diego.
Romney: Obama slowed recovery to push Obamacare– In an appearance in Texas Wednesday, Mitt Romney charged that President Obama “knowingly slowed down the recovery in this country…in order to put in place Obamacare.” The president’s action, Romney said, “deserves a lot of explaining.”Speaking to an audience at USAA, an insurance and financial services company headquartered in San Antonio, Romney cited a book, “The Escape Artists: How Obama’s Team Fumbled the Recovery,” by the liberal journalist Noam Scheiber. In the book, Scheiber discussed Obama’s thinking on the question of whether, early in his term, to focus more attention on passing a national health care law or to devote more energy to bringing about economic recovery. As Scheiber put it, Obama saw health care as a bigger long-term accomplishment. “There was a strain of messianism in Barack Obama, a determination to change the course of history,” Scheiber wrote. “And it was this determination that explained his reluctance to abandon his presidential vision.” So health care it was.”I always admired the president’s courage for recognizing that fifty years from now people would remember that all Americans had health care,” former Obama economic adviser Larry Summers told Scheiber. “And even if pursuing health care affected the pace of the recovery, which was unlikely in my view, people wouldn’t remember how fast the recovery from this recession was.”
Senator Asks DOJ to Investigate SWAT-ting Attacks on Conservative Bloggers– A number of conservative bloggers allege they have been targeted through the use of harassment tactics such as SWAT-ting (fooling 911 operators into sending emergency teams to their homes), in retaliation for posts they have written, and now Sen. Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga., has stepped into the matter. He has sent a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder urging him to investigate the SWAT-ting cases to see if federal laws have been violated.”I am writing with concern regarding recent reports that several members of the community of online political commentators have been targeted with harassing and frightening actions. Any potentially criminal action that incites fear, seeks to silence a dissenting opinion, and collaterally wastes the resources of law enforcement should be given close scrutiny at all levels,” Chambliss wrote in the letter.
Exit poll: Wisconsin in play in November – The Wisconsin exit poll evidently reported the race for governor in the recall ballot as 50%-50%. With 92% of the vote in, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s excellent website reports the score as 54%-46% Walker. Let’s say that’s the final results: only 13% of precincts from Milwaukee County and 3% of precincts from Madison’s Dane County —the Democrats’ two reservoirs of big majorities—remain uncounted. It has been emblazoned on mainstream media that the exit poll also showed Barack Obama leading Mitt Romney in the state 51%-45%. But if you think the exit poll was 4% too Democratic—and that’s in line with exit poll discrepancies with actual vote results over the last decade, as documented by the exit poll pioneer, the late Warren Mitofsky*—that result looks more like 49%-47% Romney. Or assume the remaining Milwaukee County precincts whittle Republican Governor Scott Walker’s margin over Democratic Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett to 53%-47%, which looks likely, the Obama-Romney numbers would look like 48%-48%
Rendell: Wisconsin recall a ‘dumb political fight’ for labor to pick– Former Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell (D) ripped the unions and activists who charged forward in trying to recall Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) on Wednesday, calling the push a political blunder.”It was a dumb political fight — I would have waited until Walker’s reelection,” Rendell told The Hill when asked if the recall push had been a mistake. The former governor and head of the Democratic National Committee pointed to exit polls that showed a number of independents and Democrats who opposed Walker’s policies nonetheless voted for him because they opposed a recall.
Barney Frank: Dems, unions made ‘big mistake’ in pushing for Wisconsin recall– Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) slammed unions and liberal activists for pushing to recall Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R).”I think the people on the Democratic side made a big mistake and the funding thing was a big deal,” Frank told The Hill Wednesday afternoon, alluding to Republicans’ big cash advantage in the race. “My side picked a fight they shouldn’t have picked. The recall was upsetting to people, the rerun of the election with [Democratic Milwaukee Mayor] Tom Barrett — it’s not a fight I would have picked.”
Obama frets after ‘terrifying’ recall vote– President Obama will need to double down on his efforts to keep Wisconsin safely in his column after Gov. Scott Walker’s (R) resounding victory in Tuesday’s recall election.Every Democratic presidential candidate since Walter Mondale in 1984 has won Wisconsin, but the Obama campaign “can’t view Wisconsin as being in the bank for them,” said Barry Burden, a professor of political science at the University of Wisconsin at Madison. “They’re definitely going to have to put more effort here than they were initially planning.”Political observers say Obama remains the odds-on favorite to win Wisconsin’s 10 electoral votes, a sentiment reflected in exit polls showing the president leading Mitt Romney by a healthy margin.
Romney narrows gender– Mitt Romney has significantly narrowed the gender gap with President Obama despite massive Democratic attacks on the GOP over a variety of issues.As recently as April, Obama led Romney by 18 percent among women voters in a USA Today/Gallup poll of 12 swing states. The huge advantage with women gave Obama an overall edge of 9 percent.Recent polls show Romney has sliced into that lead.
In Wisconsin, the Left Picked a Fight—and Lost– It’s important to remember, as Democrats cope with their failure to topple Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker in Tuesday’s recall, that this was a fight they chose.Unlike the vast majority of elections, which occur on a regular schedule, the recall was a fight the left picked on purpose. They picked it because they thought they could win. And they were wrong.It wasn’t even close. In the final tally, Walker led his Democratic opponent, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, by 53 percent to 46 percent.
The idea behind the recall effort was to send a message: a warning to conservatives across the country that there was a line not to be crossed when it came to messing with the hard-earned gains of public worker unions. By losing, however, the consortium of unions, progressives and Democrats that worked so ardently to send Walker packing may have sent the opposite message. If Walker can survive, what’s to stop any other right-leaning governor from pushing the envelope?
“This really is a test case. The far right made Wisconsin its petri dish,” said Robert Kraig, executive director of Citizen Action Wisconsin, a grassroots progressive group that supported the recall effort. Walker’s win, he said, will embolden the Koch brothers and other national conservative funders to get ideologically sympathetic Republicans to push their agenda across the country.
Wisconsin recall: The biggest losers– Vince Lombardi, the man who taught Cheeseheads to think with clarity about the severe consequences of victory and defeat, once offered this gem about life: “Show me a good loser, and I’ll show you a loser.”Scott Walker last night showed Wisconsin and the country a bunch of pretty good losers in his recall election triumph. In the spirit of tell-it-like-it-is St. Vince, POLITICO offers up a guide to the top five: Democrats, President Barack Obama, public unions, conservative critics and money monks.Here’s why:
“If winning isn’t everything, why do they keep score?”
Well, politics is all about keeping score — and Democrats suffered a good old-fashioned beatdown. They invested seven months of effort, tens of millions of dollars, exhausted volunteers to collect nearly 1 million signatures. Then, they litigated an extremely divisive primary and spent millions more — all to get back to exactly where they were when they started: with Walker on top.
There’s no other way to slice it: this was a crippling blow to a party in Wisconsin that not long ago controlled both U.S. Senate seats and the governor’s mansion. Sure, Walker spent gobs of money in unique circumstances to pull it out. But the psychological blow is impossible to ignore and will certainly echo in the state’s first open U.S. Senate race in 24 years.
Why Scott Walker won the Wisconsin recall– Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) escaped a recall effort championed by organized labor and touted by many within both parties as a preview of the fall presidential campaign in the Badger State.How much — or little — Walker’s victory tells us about the state of play heading into the fall election remains an open question that won’t be easily answerable for days or even weeks (or months).What we can answer — or come close to answering — is why Walker won. We put that question to a number of Democratic and Republican strategists in the final days of the recall campaign and, out of those conversations, developed a clear image of what went right for the incumbent — or, as accurately, wrong for Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett (D) — that led to tonight’s result.
It’s always important to remember that no win/loss in politics is ever (or, at least, very rarely) attributable to a single factor and so all of the reasons we list below worked together to ensure that Walker won and Barrett didn’t.
Red Flags All Over for Obama in Wisconsin– Democrats reserved nearly $19 million more in broadcast airtime this week across 24 House districts, throwing down yet another financial marker for the fall elections.The reservation marks the second stage of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee’s $46.3 million television spree scheduled for after Labor Day.The competition for ad time is steeper than ever this cycle, with presidential campaigns and well-funded outside groups plotting billion-dollar blitzes this fall. By reserving time in the hottest television markets early, the DCCC ensures the best rates and placement for its spots.
To be clear, the DCCC can cancel its reservation or shift money to different markets as races fluctuate. Nonetheless, the planned spending is far ahead of the National Republican Congressional Committee, which has yet to announce any fall TV buys
DCCC Reserves $19M Worth of Airtime– Democrats reserved nearly $19 million more in broadcast airtime this week across 24 House districts, throwing down yet another financial marker for the fall elections.The reservation marks the second stage of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee’s $46.3 million television spree scheduled for after Labor Day.The competition for ad time is steeper than ever this cycle, with presidential campaigns and well-funded outside groups plotting billion-dollar blitzes this fall. By reserving time in the hottest television markets early, the DCCC ensures the best rates and placement for its spots.
To be clear, the DCCC can cancel its reservation or shift money to different markets as races fluctuate. Nonetheless, the planned spending is far ahead of the National Republican Congressional Committee, which has yet to announce any fall TV buys
Wisconsin Republican Gov. Scott Walker casts his ballot Tuesday, June 5, 2012, in Wauwatosa, Wis. Walker faces Democratic challenger Tom Barrett in a special recall election
These are my links for June 4th through June 5th:
The Wisconsin Recall Stakes – A test of whether taxpayers can control the entitlement state– A single election rarely determines a democracy’s fate, but some matter more than others. Tuesday’s recall election of Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker is one that matters a great deal because it will test whether taxpayers have any hope of controlling the entitlement state and its dominant special interests.Specifically, we will learn if a politician can dare to cross government unions and survive. Mr. Walker isn’t facing this extraordinary midterm challenge because he and a GOP legislature asked public workers to pay 12.6% of their health insurance premiums and put 5.8% of their paychecks toward their pensions. Those are small sums compared to what private employees typically pay.His political offense was daring to challenge the monopoly sway that public unions have come to hold over modern state government through collective bargaining. Public unions aren’t like private unions that negotiate labor terms with a single company or workplace. Public unions have outsize influence because they can often buy the politicians who are supposed to represent taxpayers. The unions effectively sit on both sides of the bargaining table.
Intrade Has Walker’s Chances over 90%; NY Times in Panic Mode– With an Intrade poll citing Walker’s chances of winning the Wisconsin recall at more than 93%, The New York Times is entering into full-blown panic mode over whatthis election could mean for Obama’s chances this November:A Republican resurgence here, which has burst into full view as the party determinedly defends its sitting governor in a rare recall election, is spilling into the presidential race. The result is poised to shape the general election fight between Mr. Obama and Mitt Romney, who intends to add Wisconsin to his list of targeted states.After valiantly trying to shield its readers from Walker’s lead, The New York Times is now doing its best to spare them the full horror of what is occurring in Wisconsin. The progressive left pulled out all the stops: unions, rage, “community organizers,” demonstrations, and name calling were supposed to make Wisconsin the front line for the progressive “fightback.” In a state that hasn’t been carried by a Republican since Reagan in 1984, Democrats thought this strategy couldn’t fail.
Wisconsin Walker recall: Dems prep for recall recount– Brace yourself: Wisconsin Democrats say they are preparing for the event that the hotly contested recall race could drag on for weeks, or even longer.Floating the prospect of a recount is, of course, a message that bolsters the party’s claims that the race is closer than people think and that it will go down to the wire — despite polls showing Walker with the lead.
Romney Strongly Defended Individual Mandate, Emails Show– When Mitt Romney was governor of Massachusetts and getting health reform passed there, emails demonstrate he strongly defended the individual mandate, the Wall Street Journal reports.Republicans now criticize the much-hated requirement that everyone get health insurance and it’s the center of some of the strongest challenges to the 2010 health reform law. But the emails support the historical evidence that themandate was originally a Republican idea, one that President Obama only reluctantly embraced later
Obama Desperate :Bill Clinton hits Romney on Solyndra visit– Former President Bill Clinton is jumping into the fray over Solyndra, the failed, taxpayer-backed solar company that Mitt Romney and GOP super-PACs hope to transform into a symbol of President Obama’s economic record.Clinton used a New York City fundraiser for Obama Monday night to bash Romney’s recent surprise campaign stop at the shuttered California headquarters of Solyndra, which went bankrupt last year after receiving a $535 million federal loan guarantee in 2009.
Fear factors: What worries Mitt Romney backers– With Romney, it’s just the opposite. Voters are just getting to know the guy, and there’s a lot there they might not like — so much of it personal, relating to Romney the man and Romney the candidate, according to these GOP officials, even those who praise his strong showing out of the gate in the general election. His Mormon faith. His stiff public appearance. His ideological inconsistency. His trouble confronting and controlling the Donald Trumps of the party. His knack for cringe-worthy stabs at connecting.“I worry that the default will be for the devil you know over the devil you don’t,” said William Kristol, editor of The Weekly Standard.In interviews with top officials nationwide, Republicans expressed fear Romney will start, well, acting like Romney again — by improvising, maybe sparking another my-friends-own-NFL-teams moment in a clumsy attempt at connecting with voters. Or his Mormon faith will spook Christians more than is commonly thought – or detected in public polls. A surrogate is virtually certain to say something crazy — like Donald Trump, who seems to double-down on questioning Obama’s birthplace every chance he gets, including in an interview with POLITICO below.