Jim Reed Campaign: Doug LaMalfa’s Ties to the Financial Industry

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Jim Reed for Congress Campaign
Contact: Jim Dyar, Communications Director
jimd@JimReed2012.com
October 30, 2012
Doug LaMalfa’s most recent filing with the Federal Election Commission has revealed that he has taken at least $27,641 in contributions from the financial industry, including funds from Wells Fargo and National Venture Capital Association.
“Can you trust Doug LaMalfa to protect the district from the greed an excess of Wall Street when he is taking money from Wells Fargo and the National Venture Capital Association?” Jim Reed said. “I will always put the Main Street’s of Redding, Chico and the rest of the First District before Wall Street.”

LaMalfa has said that regulations must be cut across the board, which includes regulations on the financial sector that prevent unscrupulous lenders from taking advantage of every-day Americans. The deregulated environment of Wall Street helped trigger the economic collapse that left thousands without jobs in our district.

Wells Fargo was one of the worst offenders of the big banks that caused the collapse. The bank gave minority borrowers high-priced sub-prime mortgages that it knew they couldn’t afford, even calling them “ghetto loans” in internal documents. Even worse, they gave bonuses to loan officers who issued those loans. And now they are giving thousands of dollars to Doug LaMalfa’s campaign.
The National Venture Capital Association is the trade group that represents Bain Capital among other members. Bain is known for being a pioneer in outsourcing, making profits while the companies they bought went bankrupt, and laying off workers, leaving families without jobs and health care.

“Companies like Bain are the worst of the Wall Street vultures,” Reed said. “It’s no surprise that they’re giving their money to Doug LaMalfa. It is time to ask Doug. ‘Will you repeal regulations passed over the last four years to stop the excesses of Wall Street from hurting every day Americans?’ ”

Video: Hurricane Sandy Rips Front Off Apartment Building

Look how quickly those firemen respond and run into the building after its facing wall disintegrates. No hesitation. That’s their training. It becomes instinct, automatic.

I was once on a summer camp bivouac with the Army National Guard at a base near San Louis Obispo. Two of my friends were getting ready to go to sleep in the bed of a two-and-a-half-ton truck (a “deuce and a half”). They were in their sleeping bags, with their feet down toward the cab, and their heads near the tailgate, where they had a Coleman lantern burning. When one of them reached up to turn off the Coleman, it exploded, spewing flaming gas all over the tailgate, trapping my friends behind a wall of flame.

Two other guys in the platoon were fireman in civilian life (one in Oakland, one in Berkeley). Most of us recoiled form the fire, frozen. But these two fireman immediately ran toward the fire, beating it out with their jackets.

I was amazed at the quick response and speed of those two firemen, as if they … really hated fire.

6 Top Economists Explain Which President Is More Likely to Speed the Next Financial Crisis

Editor’s note: Do most economists have a liberal bias, or is it just that — as Stephen Colbert famously observed — “reality has a liberal bias?” Here, Lynn Parramore of Alternet asks six prominent economists “Which President Is More Likely to Speed the Next Financial Crisis?” Their answers — though not as uniform as you might suppose — do tend to point to the same candidate:

Reprinted from Alternet

By Lynn Stuart Parramore

Five out of six say Romney is a worse bet on crisis-avoidance. But Obama has big challenges to address if re-elected.

Five years after the horrific financial collapse of 2007-2008, the economy remains fragile. No one is quite sure when another financial crash might happen. Five years? Ten years? There’s widespread worry, however, that whenever it comes it’s likely to make 2007-2008 look like a picnic in comparison. A short list of some of our most urgent vulnerabilities shows that we could easily be plunged into hell once again unless politicians act responsibly and forcefully to avoid it:

  • The financial sector remains bloated; price-fixing, money-laundering and monster trading losses illustrate continuing abuse and risky behavior in the banking industry.
  • Too-big-to-fail banks are bigger and more dangerous than ever. Deposits are much more concentrated in the largest banks now than they were before the crisis.
  • Politicians are embracing government austerity policies —commonly known as “belt-tightening” – that weaken the economy. That must inevitiably push down the value of many assets that banks continue holding on their books, even though they are assuredly selling off many mortgage-backed securities to the Federal Reserve, Fannie and Freddie.
  • The housing market remains troubled and recovery efforts have often protected banks at the expense of strapped homeowners.
  • Student debt is growing, now exceeding credit card debt, though a good chunk of these debts are owed to various federal government agencies.
  • The unchecked flow of money into the political system means that the players in the financial sector are bribing the overseers of the regulators: Congress. And with bank compensation continuing to soar, regulators and congressional staff still know they can walk out the door to much higher salaries if banks perceive them as friendly.
  • Unemployment remains high, and widespread chronic job insecurityimposes tremendous social and economic costs.

The two politicians seeking the White House have different views of how to handle these challenges. Which of their approaches is more likely to help us avoid the next financial crisis, and which would likely hasten it? I asked several prominent economists to weigh in.

1. Joseph Stiglitz, winner of the 2001 Nobel Prize in economics, and author, most recently, of The Price of Inequality:

“Austerity policies will make the economy more fragile, and because the banking system is not fully fixed, that could put the financial sector at risk. It’s absolutely clear that Romney and Ryan are much more wedded to austerity policies than Obama. Obama is more interested in a jobs program and providing stimulus to the economy.

“On financial sector reform, I think Romney has been totally disingenuous. In the first presidential debate, he criticized Dodd-Frank for worsening the problem with too-big-to-fail. If he were serious, he would have said something about breaking them up. But given where his support was coming from, he was not willing to tell us what he thinks. He was trying blame to Dodd-Frank for not breaking up banks, but what Dodd-Frank said is that if you don’t break up the banks, then we will put in place a framework in which shareholders and bondholders will bear the costs of failure. The intent of Dodd-Frank, and the belief of the Obama administration, is that they have put in place safeguards so that taxpayers will be protected: a living will, resolution authority, etc. That doesn’t prevent too-big-to-fail, and the criticism that I and many others have is that in crisis, we will blink and let the banks do what they want. But Romney’s criticism was totally wrong.”

2. William Lazonick, professor of economics at the University of Massachusetts Lowell and director of the Center for Industrial Competitiveness:

“Financial crises occur when the value-extracting activities of financial interests dominate the value-creating activities of productive interests. During his first term, we cannot exactly credit President Obama with waging war against the value-extractors on Wall Street and corporate boards. But at least, unlike Romney, he is not running on a platform that claims that financial manipulation, driven by individual greed, will restore prosperity to the American economy.

“If we learned anything from eight years of George W. Bush, a Romney administration is the nation’s best chance of, once and for all, destroying the American dream.”

3. Gar Alperovitz, Lionel R. Bauman Professor of Political Economy at the University of Maryland and co-founder of the Democracy Collaborative:

“Romney clearly would be more likely to hasten the next financial crisis, first by the kind of (radically reduced) regulatory enforcement (and deregulation) he has promised; second, by undoing the modest Dodd-Frank legislation; third by appointing an Attorney General and Treasury Secretary almost certain to give the store away to Wall Street as a matter both of ideology and inclination.”

4. Dean Baker, co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research in Washington, DC:

“I would say that the prospects look better with Obama, but not by much. If you go by what he says (who knows what he would do), Romney doesn’t take any restraints on the banking system seriously. He has spoken with explicit contempt of Dodd-Frank, not attacking specific provisions, but has implied that the idea that the government had to rein in the financial sector was fundamentally wrong-headed.

“On the other hand, Obama has repeatedly backed away from any policy that would seriously hurt the financial industry. The top two on my list would be breaking up the too-big-to-fail banks and a financial transactions tax. More importantly he has been reluctant to talk honestly about the basis for the crisis, an out-of-control housing bubble that the regulators were too incompetent to recognize. In fact, he hired back many of these top incompetents and gave them key positions in his administration (Bernanke tops the list).

“Failing to recognize an $8 trillion housing bubble and to understand that its collapse would cause serious damage to the economy is an error of monumental proportions. It is like a school bus driver coming to work drunk and getting all the kids killed by driving into oncoming traffic. Obama’s decision to give all the drunken bus drivers an amnesty virtually ensures that they will continue to drink on the job and that they will be no better in preventing the next bubble than they were in preventing the last one.”

5. James K. Galbraith, Lloyd M. Bentsen Jr. Chair in Government/Business at the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs, University of Texas:

“This election is important for many  issues; avoiding a future financial crisis isn’t one of them because it’s not an issue that differentiates the candidates so far as I can tell, except maybe the effect of the fiscal stance.

“On that, I might give a slight edge to Mr. Romney, since Republicans in power famously do not care about budget deficits. Under the Democrats, the coming campaign for ‘fiscal responsibility’ might just be bad enough to push the financial sector back over the edge. Still, that’s not a reason to vote for Romney.”

6. Thomas Ferguson, professor of political science at the University of Massachusetts, Boston and author of The Golden Rule: The Investment Theory of Party Competition and the Logic of Money-Driven Political Systems:

“New York bank stocks swerve with every twist in the European crisis that raises the probability of a ‘Lehman in reverse’ – a bank failure over there that would spread over here. That tells you all you need to know about whether President Obama’s Dodd-Frank ‘reform’ bill really fixed the problem of our too-big-to-fail banks or not, even if our giants can still borrow more cheaply than smaller banks because of the implied government guarantee.

“As for Romney, the latest musings about banking regulation on his Etch-A-Sketch pad are not quite as crazy as his earlier talk about just repealing Dodd-Frank. But it’s still a good bet that he would water down into nothingness even the flimsy safeguards built into that wretched legislation. So I guess I’d say that under either man a future banking crisis is a serious risk, but that under Romney the likelihood is even higher.”


Lynn Parramore is an AlterNet senior editor. She is cofounder of Recessionwire, founding editor of New Deal 2.0, and author of ‘Reading the Sphinx: Ancient Egypt in Nineteenth-Century Literary Culture.’ She received her Ph.d in English and Cultural Theory from NYU, where she has taught essay writing and semiotics. Parramore is a frequent commenter on political, economic and cultural topics on television, radio, and web outlets. She is the Director of AlterNet’s New Economic Dialogue Project. Follow her on Twitter @LynnParramore.

Live Storm Coverage

Our Words Are Our Weapons: Against the Destruction of the World by Greed

Reprinted from TomDispatch.com

By Rebecca Solnit

In ancient China, the arrival of a new dynasty was accompanied by “the rectification of names,” a ceremony in which the sloppiness and erosion of meaning that had taken place under the previous dynasty were cleared up and language and its subjects correlated again. It was like a debt jubilee, only for meaning rather than money.

This was part of what made Barack Obama’s first presidential campaign so electrifying: he seemed like a man who spoke our language and called many if not all things by their true names. Whatever caused that season of clarity, once elected, Obama promptly sank into the stale, muffled, parallel-universe language wielded by most politicians, and has remained there ever since. Meanwhile, the far right has gotten as far as it has by mislabeling just about everything in our world — a phenomenon which went supernova in this year of “legitimate rape,” “the apology tour,” and “job creators.”  Meanwhile, their fantasy version of economics keeps getting more fantastic. (Maybe there should be a rectification of numbers, too.)

Let’s rectify some names ourselves. We often speak as though the source of so many of our problems is complex and even mysterious. I’m not sure it is. You can blame it all on greed: the refusal to do anything about climate change, the attempts by the .01% to destroy our democracy, the constant robbing of the poor, the resultant starving children, the war against most of what is beautiful on this Earth.

Calling lies “lies” and theft “theft” and violence “violence,” loudly, clearly, and consistently, until truth becomes more than a bump in the road, is a powerful aspect of political activism. Much of the work around human rights begins with accurately and aggressively reframing the status quo as an outrage, whether it’s misogyny or racism or poisoning the environment. What protects an outrage are disguises, circumlocutions, and euphemisms — “enhanced interrogation techniques” for torture, “collateral damage” for killing civilians, “the war on terror” for the war against you and me and our Bill of Rights.

Change the language and you’ve begun to change the reality or at least to open the status quo to question. Here is Confucius on the rectification of names:

“If language is not correct, then what is said is not what is meant; if what is said is not what is meant, then what must be done remains undone; if this remains undone, morals and art will deteriorate; if justice goes astray, the people will stand about in helpless confusion. Hence there must be no arbitrariness in what is said. This matters above everything.”

So let’s start calling manifestations of greed by their true name. By greed, I mean the attempt of those who have plenty to get more, not the attempts of the rest of us to survive or lead a decent life. Look at the Waltons of Wal-Mart fame: the four main heirs are among the dozen richest people on the planet, each holding about $24 billion. Their wealth is equivalent to that of the bottom 40% of Americans. The corporation Sam Walton founded now employs 2.2 million workers, two-thirds of them in the U.S., and the great majority are poorly paid, intimidated, often underemployed people who routinely depend on government benefits to survive. You could call that Walton Family welfare — a taxpayers’ subsidy to their system. Strikes launched against Wal-Mart this summer and fall protested working conditions of astonishing barbarity — warehouses that reach 120 degrees, a woman eight months pregnant forced to work at a brutal pace, commonplace exposure to pollutants, and the intimidation of those who attempted to organize or unionize.

You would think that $24,000,000,000 apiece would be enough, but the Walton family sits atop a machine intent upon brutalizing tens of millions of people — the suppliers of Wal-Mart notorious for their abysmal working conditions, as well as the employees of the stores — only to add to piles of wealth already obscenely vast. Of course, what we call corporations are, in fact, perpetual motion machines, set up to endlessly extract wealth (and leave slagheaps of poverty behind) no matter what.

They are generally organized in such a way that the brutality that leads to wealth extraction is committed by subcontractors at a distance or described in euphemisms, so that the stockholders, board members, and senior executives never really have to know what’s being done in their names. And yet it is their job to know — just as it is each of our jobs to know what systems feed us and exploit or defend us, and the job of writers, historians, and journalists to rectify the names for all these things.   

Groton to Moloch 

The most terrifying passage in whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg’s gripping book Secrets: A Memoir of Vietnam and the Pentagon Papers is not about his time in Vietnam, or his life as a fugitive after he released the Pentagon Papers. It’s about a 1969 dinnertime conversation with a co-worker in a swanky house in Pacific Palisades, California.  It took place right after Ellsberg and five of his colleagues had written a letter to the New York Times arguing for immediate withdrawal from the unwinnable, brutal war in Vietnam, and Ellsberg’s host said, “If I were willing to give up all this… if I were willing to renege on… my commitment to send my son to Groton… I would have signed the letter.”

In other words, his unnamed co-worker had weighed trying to prevent the violent deaths of hundreds of thousands of people against the upper-middle-class perk of having his kid in a fancy prep school, and chosen the latter. The man who opted for Groton was, at least, someone who worked for what he had and who could imagine having painfully less. This is not true of the ultra-rich shaping the future of our planet.

They could send tens of thousands to Groton, buy more Renoirs and ranches, and still not exploit the poor or destroy the environment, but they’re as insatiable as they are ruthless. They are often celebrated in their aesthetic side effects: imposing mansions, cultural patronage, jewels, yachts.  But in many, maybe most, cases they got rich through something a lot uglier, and that ugliness is still ongoing. Rectifying the names would mean revealing the ugliness of the sources of their fortunes and the grotesque scale on which they contrive to amass them, rather than the gaudiness of the trinkets they buy with them. It would mean seeing and naming the destruction that is the corollary of most of this wealth creation.

A Storm Surge of Selfishness 

Where this matters most is climate change. Why have we done almost nothing over the past 25 years about what was then a terrifying threat and is now a present catastrophe? Because it was bad for quarterly returns and fossil-fuel portfolios. When posterity indicts our era, this will be the feeble answer for why we did so little — that the rich and powerful with ties to the carbon-emitting industries have done everything in their power to prevent action on, or even recognition of, the problem. In this country in particular, they spent a fortune sowing doubt about the science of climate change and punishing politicians who brought the subject up. In this way have we gone through four “debates” and nearly a full election cycle with climate change unmentioned and unmentionable.

These three decades of refusing to respond have wasted crucial time. It’s as though you were prevented from putting out a fire until it was raging: now the tundra is thawing and Greenland’s ice shield is melting and nearly every natural system is disrupted, from the acidifying oceans to the erratic seasons to droughts, floods, heat waves, and wildfires, and the failure of crops. We can still respond, but the climate is changed; the damage we all spoke of, only a few years ago, as being in the future is here, now.

You can look at the chief executive officers of the oil corporations — Chevron’s John Watson, for example, who received almost $25 million ($1.57 million in salary and the rest in “compensation”) in 2011 — or their major shareholders. They can want for nothing. They’re so rich they could quit the game at any moment. When it comes to climate change, some of the wealthiest people in the world have weighed the fate of the Earth and every living thing on it for untold generations to come, the seasons and the harvests, this whole exquisite planet we evolved on, and they have come down on the side of more profit for themselves, the least needy people the world has ever seen.

Take those billionaire energy tycoons Charles and David Koch, who are all over American politics these days. They are spending tens of millions of dollars to defeat Obama, partly because he offends their conservative sensibilities, but also because he is less likely to be a completely devoted servant of their profit margins. He might, if we shout loud enough, rectify a few names.  Under pressure, he might even listen to the public or environmental groups, while Romney poses no such problem (and under a Romney administration they will probably make more back in tax cuts than they are gambling on his election).

Two years ago, the Koch brothers spent $1 million on California’s Proposition 23, an initiative written and put on the ballot by out-of-state oil companies to overturn our 2006 Global Warming Solutions Act. It lost by a landslide, but the Koch brothers have also invested a small fortune in spreading climate-change denial and sponsoring the Tea Party (which they can count on to oppose climate change regulation as big government or interference with free enterprise). This year they’re backing a California initiative to silence unions. They want nothing to stand in the way of corporate power and the exploitation of fossil fuels. Think of it as another kind of war, and consider the early casualties.

As the Irish Times put it in an editorial this summer:

“Across Africa, Asia, and Latin America, hundreds of millions are struggling to adapt to their changing climate. In the last three years, we have seen 10 million people displaced by floods in Pakistan, 13 million face hunger in east Africa, and over 10 million in the Sahel region of Africa face starvation. Even those figures only scrape the surface. According to the Global Humanitarian Forum, headed up by former U.N. secretary general Kofi Annan, climate change is responsible for 300,000 deaths a year and affects 300 million people annually. By 2030, the annual death toll related to climate change is expected to rise to 500,000 and the economic cost to rocket to $600 billion.”

This coming year may see a dramatic increase in hunger due to rising food prices from crop failures, including this summer’s in the U.S. Midwest after a scorching drought in which the Mississippi River nearly ran dry and crops withered.

We need to talk about climate change as a war against nature, against the poor (especially the poor of Africa), and against the rest of us. There are casualties, there are deaths, and there is destruction, and it’s all mounting. Rectify the name, call it war. While we’re at it, take back the term “pro-life” to talk about those who are trying to save the lives of all the creatures suffering from the collapse of the complex systems on which plant and animal as well as human lives depend. The other side: “pro-death.”

The complex array of effects from climate change and their global distribution, as well as their scale and the science behind them makes it harder to talk about than almost anything else on Earth, but we should talk about it all the more because of that. And yes, the rest of us should do more, but what is the great obstacle those who have already tried to do so much invariably come up against? The oil corporations, the coal companies, the energy industry, its staggering financial clout,its swarms of lobbyists, and the politicians in its clutches. Those who benefit most from the status quo, I learned in studying disasters, are always the least willing to change.

The Doublespeak on Taxes 

I’m a Californian so I faced the current version of American greed early. Proposition 13, the initiative that froze property taxes and made it nearly impossible to raise taxes in our state, went into effect in 1978, two years before California’s former governor Ronald Reagan won the presidency, in part by catering to greed. Prop 13, as it came to be known, went into effect when California was still an affluent state with the best educational system in the world, including some of the top universities around, nearly free to in-staters all the way through graduate school. Tax cuts have trashed the state and that education system, and they are now doing the same to our country. The public sphere is to society what the biosphere is to life on earth: the space we live in together, and the attacks on them have parallels.

What are taxes? They are that portion of your income that you contribute to the common good. Most of us are unhappy with how they’re allocated — though few outside the left talk about the fact that more than half of federal discretionary expenditures go to our gargantuan military, more money than is spent on the next 14 militaries combined. Ever since Reagan, the right has complained unceasingly about fantasy expenditures — from that president’s “welfare queens” to Mitt Romney’s attack on Big Bird and PBS (which consumes .001% of federal expenditures).

As part of its religion of greed, the right invented a series of myths about where those taxes went, how paying them was the ultimate form of oppression, and what boons tax cuts were to bring us.  They then delivered the biggest tax cuts of all to those who already had a superfluity of money and weren’t going to pump the extra they got back into the economy. What they really were saying was that they wanted to hang onto every nickel, no matter how the public sphere was devastated, and that they really served the ultra-rich, over and over again, not the suckers who voted them into office.

Despite decades of cutting to the bone, they continue to promote tax cuts as if they had yet to happen. Their constant refrain is that we are too poor to feed the poor or educate the young or heal the sick, but the poverty isn’t monetary: it’s moral and emotional. Let’s rectify some more language: even at this moment, the United States remains the richest nation the world has ever seen, and California — with the richest agricultural regions on the planet and a colossal high-tech boom still ongoing in Silicon Valley — is loaded, too. Whatever its problems, the U.S. is still swimming in abundance, even if that abundance is divided up ever more unequally.

Really, there’s more than enough to feed every child well, to treat every sick person, to educate everyone well without saddling them with hideous debt, to support the arts, to protect the environment — to produce, in short, a glorious society. The obstacle is greed. We could still make the sorts of changes climate change requires of us and become a very different nation without overwhelming pain. We would then lead somewhat different lives — richer, not poorer, for most of us (in meaning, community, power, and hope). Because this culture of greed impoverishes all of us, it is, to call it by its true name, destruction.

Occupy the Names  

One of the great accomplishments of Occupy Wall Street was this rectification of names. Those who came together under that rubric named the greed, inequality, and injustice in our system; they made the brutality of debt and the subjugation of the debtors visible; they called out Wall Street’s crimes; they labeled the wealthiest among us the “1%,” those who have made a profession out of pumping great sums of our wealth upwards (quite a different kind of tax).  It was a label that made instant sense across much of the political spectrum. It was a good beginning. But there’s so much more to do.

Naming is only part of the work, but it’s a crucial first step. A doctor initially diagnoses, then treats; an activist or citizen must begin by describing what is wrong before acting. To do that well is to call things by their true names. Merely calling out these names is a beam of light powerful enough to send the destroyers it shines upon scurrying for cover like roaches. After that, you still need to name your vision, your plan, your hope, your dream of something better.

Names matter; language matters; truth matters. In this era when the mainstream media serve obfuscation and evasion more than anything else (except distraction), alternative media, social media, demonstrations in the streets, and conversations between friends are the refuges of truth, the places where we can begin to rectify the names. So start talking.


Rebecca Solnit is the author of thirteen books, a TomDispatch regular, and from kindergarten to graduate school a product of the California public education system in its heyday. She would like the Republican Party to be called the Pro-Rape Party until further notice.

Follow TomDispatch on Twitter @TomDispatch and join us on Facebook.

Copyright 2012 Rebecca Solnit

Palast on Kochs Pilfering from Indians, Bill Clinton’s Real Impeachable Crime?

This is a hugely entertaining short video interview with Greg Palast, who talks about some fascinating billionaire crimes in his latest book, “Billionaires & Ballot Bandits: How to Steal an Election in 9 Easy Steps.”

How do billionaires deal with their own criminality?

According to Palast, they simply buy new laws and new legislators.

What was the real impeachable crime that Bill Clinton never got impeached for?

Palast tells us what it was and how Clinton got away with it, and what it all had to do with billionaires.


The Progressive Case Against Voting for Obama

An essay by Matt Stoller (“The progressive case against Obama”), published yesterday in Salon, is the most extraordinary piece of analysis I’ve read in this political season, or in any other. And, as a progressive (and possibly as an erstwhile Obama supporter), I have to say it rocked my world (and I’ve never said that before).

Stoller, a longtime Democratic activist and major fundraiser, makes the progressive case against voting for Obama. For me, this was painful reading: Even though I’ve been aware of many of Obama’s shortcomings, Stoller made me aware of some very serious others.

If nothing else, all liberals and progressives should read this essay so at least we can say that we voted with our eyes wide open.

And if you are inclined to say, “Yeah, but what about women’s rights? At least the choice is clearly in favor of Obama on that issue” Or, “What about the Supreme Court?” … STILL you should read Stoller’s essay.

Excerpts:

“Under Bush, economic inequality was bad, as 65 cents of every dollar of income growth went to the top 1 percent. Under Obama, however, that number is 93 cents out of every dollar. That’s right, under Barack Obama there is more economic inequality than under George W. Bush. And if you look at the chart above, most of this shift happened in 2009-2010, when Democrats controlled Congress. This was not, in other words, the doing of the mean Republican Congress. And it’s not strictly a result of the financial crisis; after all, corporate profits did crash, like housing values did, but they also recovered, while housing values have not.”

” … during the transition itself, Bush’s Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson offered a deal to Barney Frank, to force banks to write down mortgages and stem foreclosures if Barney would speed up the release of TARP money. Paulson demanded, as a condition of the deal, that Obama sign off on it. Barney said fine, but to his surprise, the incoming president vetoed the deal. Yup, you heard that right — the Bush administration was willing to write down mortgages in response to Democratic pressure, but it was Obama who said no, we want a foreclosure crisis. And with Neil Barofsky’s book ”Bailout,” we see why. Tim Geithner said, in private meetings, that the foreclosure mitigation programs were not meant to mitigate foreclosures, but to spread out pain for the banks, the famous “foam the runway” comment. This central lie is key to the entire Obama economic strategy. It is not that Obama was stymied by Congress, or was up against a system, or faced a massive crisis, which led to the shape of the economy we see today. Rather, Obama had a handshake deal to help the middle class offered to him by Paulson, and Obama said no. He was not constrained by anything but his own policy instincts. And the reflation of corporate profits and financial assets and death of the middle class were the predictable results.”

I’m not sure how I’m going to vote this time. (UPDATE: It didn’t take much thought to figure this out. See my comment below).

Julia Morgan’s Berkeley City Club

By Don Pelton

We recently spent a couple of night’s in architect Julia Morgan’s Berkeley City Club (sometimes called the “Little Castle”) in order to attend a conference there.

It’s a gorgeous place, first opened in 1929 as the “Berkeley Women’s City Club.” (Read more about how this building is part of the “women’s club movement” in the US, here and here).

We were puzzled to notice that every room in this historic building, just one block from the UC campus, is provisioned with earplugs on every nightstand.

Late in the evening of our second night there — the night before the “Big Game” between Stanford and UC — we understood why. A huge boisterous pre-game rally sounded like it was just next door. The rally ended with fireworks that lit up the sky (see my belated photo of the afterglow to the right).

Here are a few images from our stay:


The Three Graces (panel in garden)

Swimming Pool


Reading/computer room

Interior Garden


Hallway, 1st Floor

Arches

San Juan Ridge Taxpayers Association Concerned About New Mine Proposal

STATEMENT REGARDING NEVADA COUNTY APPROVAL OF EIR CONSULTANT FOR PROPOSED RE-OPENING OF SAN JUAN RIDGE MINE

Today, the Nevada County Board of Supervisors approved a contract for $179,811 with consultants PMC to prepare an Environmental Impact Report (EIR) for the proposed re-opening of the San Juan Ridge Mine. The San Juan Ridge Taxpayers Association (SJRTA) commends Nevada County’s decision to prepare a full EIR for the project in light of the possibility of significant negative impacts to the water supply, environment and local economy.

Because the applicant promised no impacts to water when the mine originally opened in 1993, the SJRTA was willing to accept the project with mitigations.  But the applicant was wrong, and the mine caused dewatering of 12 wells in the surrounding community, including the well for our local elementary school.  Some wells were contaminated with a variety of metals and minerals. To this day, the school’s water must be treated at the school district’s expense to meet drinking water quality standards.

The proposed San Juan Ridge Mine would operate in close proximity to our public elementary school, our only medical clinic, our community cultural center, and businesses that employ more than 200 people.  Says SJRTA president Gary Parsons, “The mine could devastate our water supply and our community, further poison the water that we provide for our school children, and damage our economy and our natural environment.”

While we commend the County for requiring an EIR for the project, the SJRTA has concerns that the EIR be fully funded.  Given the broad range of potential environmental impacts and magnitude of potential effects, and the difficulty of understanding underground water supplies, there is a need for special analytical tools that may be costly.  Costs for the recently proposed Idaho-Maryland Mine’s Environmental Impact Report were estimated to be $440,000.  Impacts at the San Juan Ridge Mine site would also include potential dumping into sensitive creeks and habitat for rare wildlife species, as well as a more complex hydrologic system, and thus EIR costs may be higher.

The San Juan Ridge Taxpayers Association will provide more information as to our concerns when a formal Notice of Preparation of an Environmental Impact Statement is made available by Nevada County in the coming weeks.


The San Juan Ridge Taxpayers Association (SJRTA) is a membership organization representing taxpayer interests on the San Juan Ridge of Nevada County, CA since 1974. The SJRTA membership includes taxpaying residents and non-resident landowners of the San Juan Ridge and other local concerned citizens.

RIP George McGovern, You Were the Better Man

How liberal am I?

I’m so liberal that I’m proud to have voted for George McGovern in 1972, when he lost that election to Richard Nixon in the worst drubbing in US history (McGovern won only Massachusetts and the District of Columbia).

I’m so liberal that I think we should still dig up Richard Nixon and put him in jail where he belongs.

It’s a tad premature, but RIP George McGovern … you’re a great American.

History has left no doubt who was the better man:

Family: Former Sen. George McGovern ‘no longer responsive’

By Isolde Raftery, NBC News

The family of ex-U.S. Sen. George McGovern says the 90-year-old is “no longer responsive” in hospice care.

His daughter Ann McGovern told The Associated Press that her father is “nearing the end” and appears restful and peaceful. She says it’s a blessing that she and other family members are able to be with him.

McGovern was the Democratic presidential candidate who lost to President Richard Nixon in 1972 in a historic landslide, winning only 37.5 percent of the popular vote and carrying only Massachusetts and the District of Columbia in one of the worst defeats in U.S. history.

Despite the devastating loss, McGovern’s legacy as one of the most liberal candidates of the last half century looms large among politicians of the Baby Boom generation.

Read full article here.

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