Friday, February 28, 2014

Friday Cat Blogging

Here is a clever parody of the opening True Detective opening title sequence.

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Thursday, February 27, 2014

Sternad Names Rivera In FEC Report

Disgraced Congressman David Rivera (R) used GOP consultant Ana Alliegro to work as Democratic candidate Justin Lamar Sternad's campaign. Sternad had no political experience or financing to run a congressional campaign. Rivera used Alliegro as a money courier to Sternad's campaign. The Miami Herald reports that Sternad has admitted to Rivera fundraising the campaign mailers in a Federal Elections Commission report.

“The contribution was given to me, in cash, by a third party from Ana Alliegro. I later discovered that Ana Alliegro was working with David Rivera,” Sternad wrote in an amended report that the FEC posted Jan. 30.

Sternad has been found guilty of 15 guilty plea on counts of accepting illegal campaign contributions. His sentencing has been postponed. The Miami Herald reports that Sternad is cooperating with federal investigators. Sternad's attorney Enrique “Rick” Yabor made this statement.

“To those who think this case has gone away: You’re wrong,” said Enrique “Rick” Yabor, an attorney for Sternad, who last month amended three of his FEC reports to note the involvement of Alliegro and Rivera in his 2012 Democratic primary race for Congressional District 26, which stretches from from Key West to Calle Ocho in Miami-Dade County.

Rivera allegedly funded Sternad's Democratic campaign in the hope that Sternad could beat Joe Garcia in the primary. Rivera was at the time receiving a great deal of negative publicity involving other corruption scandals. Rivera has been the subject of investigation by the FBI, IRS, Miami-Dade Police Public Corruption Unit, and Florida Department of Law Enforcement.

It appears the FBI is planning to use Sternad as a witness against Rivera.

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Jets To Brazil - Resistance Is Futile

I lot of Jawbreaker fans were mad when Blake Schwarzenbach embraced his power pop side in Jets to Brazil. I happen to love power pop and Schwarzenbach's songwriting. The two are a perfect combination.

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Hillary Clinton Speaking At the University of Miami

Former Sec. of State Hillary Clinton spoke at the University of Miami. Clinton spoke on social equality. Clinton stressed that there is more work to be done to ensure that people of different ethnicity, religions, and sexual identity are given the same rights as all Americans.

Clinton stressed that America needs to stop subsidizing oil. Clinton stressed the need to move to clean energy. I hope Clinton is sincere. However, Clinton comes from the corporate wing of the Democratic Party.

The funniest part of the Q and A is Clinton being asked about her Twitter bio.

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What Was Alex Sink Thinking? (Updated)

I bet Alex Sink really wishes she could take this quote back.
"We have a lot of employers over on the beaches that rely upon workers and especially in this high-growth environment, where are you going to get people to work to clean our hotel rooms or do our landscaping?"

Alex Sink sees Hispanic people as cleaning maids and landscapers. How about future corporate executives or political leaders. Sink doesn't dream big.

Update: Dave Weigel provides context and the entire quote of Alex Sink's statement. Turns out the outrage over Sink's statement is much ado about nothing. Sink stressed the need for immigrants to have better opportunities. Sink told the story of the child of illegal immigrants who became a high school valedictorian and is now an attorney.

Immigration reform is important in our country. It's one of the main agenda items of the beaches' chamber of commerce, for obvious reasons, because we have a lot of employers over on the beaches that rely upon workers, and especially in this high-growth environment, where are you going to get people to work to clean our hotel rooms or do our landscaping? And we don’t need to put those employers in a position of hiring undocumented and illegal workers.

I believe that the Senate came together in a bipartisan way to forge a solution. It was a very tough negotiation, and Sen. Marco Rubio was a participant in that, and one of the leaders, and members of his own party has even come against him. For every example that you hear, I think about the high school valedictorian -- I believe he lives in this district now. High school valedictorian.

He was brought here when he was a young man, 9 or 10 years old. He didn’t choose to come here. His parents brought him. He was undocumented. And what does he do? How does he get an education? He did everything right. He became an incredible student. He even eventually ended up going to law school and becoming a lawyer. But right now he can't practice law because of his undocumented status. That’s not right. We need to bring these people out the shadows so that they're paying into Social Security, paying into Medicare, paying federal income taxes, so that they're not security issues. But they have to earn their way. So we need immigration reform and I would definitely join with Democrats and Republicans in the House and pass immigration reform as soon as possible.

I'm not the world's biggest Alex Sink fan but I do owe her an apology for not properly fact-checking her statement. Dave Jolly and the Republican Party of Florida should stop accusing Sink of racism.

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Movement on In-State Tuition Rates

Florida state Sen. Jack Latvala is proposing in-state tuition rates for the children of illegal immigrants.

"These children are the children of taxpayers in Florida, who pay our sales tax, who pay our gas tax," Latvala said at a news conference Wednesday at St. Petersburg College's Clearwater campus. "I just think this is a disparity, a discriminatory issue that needs to go away."

State Rep. Ed Hooper appeared with Latvala at a press conference at St. Petersburg College. Hooper voiced approval for Latvala Senate bill. Rep. Jeanette Nuñez is working on a companion bill in the House. House Speaker Will Weatherford has indicated that Nuñez's bill will get a floor vote. The problem appears to be Senate President Don Gaetz doesn't support Latvala's proposed bill.

"I don't know how I explain to them that … we will subsidize families who didn't play by the rules," Gaetz said.

Without Gaetz children of illegal immigrants will not get in-state student rates. These children are being punished for their parents' citizenship status. This policy hampers the economic opportunities for young people that have been in America most or all their lives. These young people identify themselves as Americans. Yet they are denied the education to achieve the American dream.

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Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Two Cow Garage - Stars and Gutters

A great song about dreams disappearing as we get older. Micah Schnabel is a lyrical genius.

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Write A Caption: Rep. Jared Polis

Ladies, meet babe magnet Rep. Jared Polis (D-CO). GQ has offered to give Polis a makeover. I think Polis should stay just the way he is.

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Homophobic Slurs Hurled at Charlie Crist

It is bad when conservative blogger (and no fan of Charlie Crist) Javier Manjarres takes Charlie Crist's side over the Fort Lauderdale Tea Party. Crist did a book signing in Broward County. Manjarres reports that the Fort Lauderdale Tea Party greeted Crist with homophobic slurs.

The group of about twenty, some being associated with the Fort Lauderdale Tea Party, which still camps out on a busy street intersection every Saturday, looking more like homeless Occupy Wall Street protesters than anything else, decided that it was ‘OK’ to yell out, “Charlie, you look like an AIDS victim.”

Manjarres makes a point that political activists on the Left and the Right should heed.

We all disagree with Charlie Crist’s politics. Because Americans have a First Amendment right to do so, some of us use a pen and a keyboard to raise awareness to Crist historic policy flip-flops, while others will prefer to hold up signs on a street corner and protest their disappointment and disagreement with Charlie.

But to yell out offensive remarks like this has no place in politics, let alone society.


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Renewable Energy Fight In Cape Coral

Cape Coral resident Robin Speronis is using solar power and rain water for her home. Special Magistrate Harold S. Eskin told Speronis that she must pay for water service she does not use. Speronis uses waste water for her garden.

“I know how to live off the grid completely and in a sanitary way,” Speronis responded in an email to the action. “That's what seven months in living in the woods taught me. I do have an alternative toilet from my days of living in the woods.”

At issue is Speronis is not paying for waste water.

“This resident provided testimony at the code compliance hearing that she has been living in the home for the past year and using the city’s wastewater system without paying for the service,” said Connie Barron, a spokeswoman for the city.

Speronis intends to fight the Cape Coral city codes. I am interested in how this will play out. The Koch Brothers and ALEC are behind an effort to making solar panel users pay a fee to utility companies.

The solar power industry called the new rule a victory only because power companies in the state were demanding assessments of as much as $100 a month — more than high enough to deter families from considering switching to solar.

Renewable energy is not in the financial interest of the oil industry.

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Quote of the Day

"Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired, signifies in the final sense a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed."

Dwight D. Eisenhower

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Awake the State Palm Beach County and Gainesville Rallies

The progressive organization Awake the State is during a rally in Palm Beach County for the start of the Florida legislative session.

Description: Join us to send an important message to Gov. Scott and his allies in the Tea Party-controlled Legislature that we, the grassroots, are AWAKE and speaking out—calling for budget that invests in restoring the middle class, not more corporate giveaways!

WHERE: Palm Beach County

John Prince Park (pending permit) 2700 6th Ave S

Lake Worth, FL 33461

WHEN: Tuesday, March 4, 5:00 PM

Awake the State will also hold a protest rally that day at the office of Republican State Rep. Keith Perry.

WHERE: Representative Keith Perry's Office - 2440 Southwest 76th Street Gainesville, FL

TIME: Time4:30pm until 7:00pm

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Sunday, February 23, 2014

Revisiting the Financial Crisis: Meeting of the Federal Open Market Committee on September 16, 2008 Part 1

The Federal Reserve has finally released the minutes of the Federal Open Market Committee after Lehman Brothers filed for bankruptcy. William Dudley opened with a briefing on the current economic status. The Fed did an overnight repo (repurchase agreement) to put money back in the market. The stock market ended up losing half its value during the following five months. Dudley was too optimistic about the repos.

To try to have more effect on this issue, this morning we came in much earlier than we normally do—around 8:00 a.m. We did a $50 billion overnight repo. The funds rate at the time was trading at 3¼ percent. I think this means that we are obviously adding way too many reserves for the current maintenance period; but the good news is that, when this maintenance period is over a week from tomorrow, we get a fresh start. So at the current time I think we will see essentially a lot of firmness in the funds rate in the morning and then the funds rate trading down to zero late in the day. Where the funds rate averages relative to the target is going to be somewhat difficult to say. Yesterday, despite the collapse in the funds rate to essentially zero at the end of the day, the funds rate was quite firm relative to the target. I don’t remember the numbers, but it was in the 2½ percent range. We are going to try to hit the target on average, but it is going to be very difficult. In the current circumstances, it probably is more sensible—at least my advice would be—to err on the side of providing enough liquidity to the market rather than trying to be cute and worrying just about the target federal funds rate.

The Fed was buying the repos to give a quick fix to cash strapped financial institutions. The banks would agree to buy to repos back at a greater interest.

According to Bloomberg News, Lehman Brothers used repos to hide the true worth of the investment bank. Lehman was essentially lending money to itself through Hudson Castle Group Inc. This was legal under the law. Lehman pledged the notes to Hudson Castle as collateral to JPMorgan Chase & Co. The notes were essentially worth nothing.

Dudley told the Committee that Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley were at risk. Investors feared that Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley could go under like Lehman Brothers.

Now, the Lehman filing has also intensified the pressure on Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs in a number of respects. The Lehman failure means that investors now view the debt of Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs as having much more risk than it did on Sunday. This means that these firms need bigger liquidity buffers than they had before, and it does have implications for long-term profitability. As a consequence, their share prices fell very sharply yesterday. Morgan Stanley was down about $5 a share, to $32, and Goldman Sachs’s stock was off 18 points, to $135. Morgan Stanley experienced a modest, but not insignificant, pulling back of their counterparties and ate into their liquidity buffer by a measurable degree.

If no one wants to do business with Goldman Sachs or Morgan Stanley than they will quickly run out of money. Banks only keep about ten perfect of their revenue. The rest of the money loaned or invested out. Banks make their money from collecting interest from their various deals. THe problem is this creates a problem for the banks if there is an economic crisis.

Dudley correctly told the committee that AIG presented a bigger crisis to the financial institutions. People that bought to collect on credit default swaps they bought in the event of Lehman Brothers assets failing. Dudley told the Committee that AIG doesn't have the money to repay the on the swaps their clients bought.

Of course, we also have the issue of AIG. The AIG problem is at least starting as a liquidity crisis. The problem with AIG is that the parent company doesn’t have a lot of liquidity resources and doesn’t have easy ability to funnel liquidity up from their subsidiaries because most of the subsidiaries are regulated entities. So AIG is running into two problems: One, they are unable to roll their commercial paper and, two, as their ratings are downgraded—they were downgraded by Moody’s yesterday, I think from AA minus to A minus, but don’t quote me on that—they have to post a lot more collateral against their derivatives exposures and also with respect to their GIC (guaranteed investment contract) business. So AIG is in a situation in which the parent is basically going to run out of money—today, tomorrow, Thursday, or very, very soon. Now we say it’s a liquidity thing, but a lot of times when people look closer at the books they find out that the liquidity crisis may also be a solvency issue. I think it is still a little unclear whether AIG’s problems are confined just to liquidity. It also may be an issue of how much this company is really worth.

What Dudley is actually saying here is that Eurupean banks were freezing out the major American investment banks.

This would reassure people that dollar liquidity was available in Europe throughout the European day. My advice to you is that this is probably a good idea in this environment because we are seeing that the lack of dollar liquidity in Europe is really having a feedback effect on people’s willingness to do business with one other in the broader markets.

The Committee agreed to swap dollars for Euros with the European Central Bank and other parties. Donald Kohn did not want this recorded in the minutes. Ben Bernanke agreed with Kohn.

CHAIRMAN BERNANKE. Why don’t we have discussions with our counterparties—we won’t announce anything today, I would assume?

MR. DUDLEY. No, I think they have to take it up the chain of command, just as we do here. So it’s going to take probably a day.

MR. KOHN. This would come out in the minutes for this meeting.

CHAIRMAN BERNANKE. Right. We’ll announce something.

MR. STERN. But I assume there will be an announcement at some point.

CHAIRMAN BERNANKE. Of course. When would we announce this measure?

MR. DUDLEY. I think it would be after we’ve had a chance—I mean, I think we have a lot of work to do with our foreign counterparties. This was basically raised to me this morning.

Dudley was concerned that the dollar would not be available in Europe. Jeffrey M. Lacker felt that the ECB was attempting to hoard dollars because of the economic crisis. I think both Dudley and Lacker are right.

MR. LACKER. Note here a sense of discomfort with our lending them dollars that they already have and so our serving as a substitute for their mobilizing their own dollar reserves for this purpose. Obviously, the demand could swamp their own reserves, and at that point I would feel differently about this. But my understanding is that the distribution within the European system of central banks is uneven, and in some sense this just provides them with a way to circumvent negotiating how those dollars would be distributed from different central banks to different private-sector banks within their own system. Broadly, I’m uncomfortable with our playing that role.

The short answer is banks all over the world were going to the Federal Reserve for a line of credit.

Bernanke signed off on the Euro swap deal with Europe because he was concerned about the dollar weakening in Europe.

There is another action item I would like to add, given what is happening, which is that there are very significant problems with dollar funding in other jurisdictions—in Europe and elsewhere.

Later in the meeting, Lacker was talking about raising interest rates. On what planet was he living on.

I can support standing pat with the funds rate today. I think that’s a good idea. I think, looking forward, that we will want to raise rates sooner rather than later if core inflation doesn’t moderate.

The Federal Reserve ended up keeping interest rates near zero in response to the great recession. The Federal Reserve ended up dropping interest rates to 1 percent on October 29, 2009.

The labor market was already weak when Lehman filed for bankruptcy. Economist Dave Stockman provides a bleak picture to the Committee. Unfortunately, Stockman thought the unemployment numbers might get better.

The other notable development over the intermeeting period has been the weakness in the labor markets—now not principally in the payroll employment figures. Private payroll employment has been falling pretty sharply but not any faster than we would have thought. But the rise in the unemployment rate is remarkable. Now, some of the 0.4 percentage point increase in the unemployment rate last month could be statistical noise. It wouldn’t be entirely surprising to see it fall back some. But the more than 1 percentage point rise that we’ve had since April is not going to be statistical noise. Some of that increase probably reflects a bigger response to the emergency unemployment compensation program than we previously thought, and we’ve upped our estimates for that to a little less than 0.3 percentage point on the level of the unemployment rate. But even putting that aside, we have experienced a more significant rise in the unemployment rate, and I think that’s consistent with other things that we’re seeing in terms of the labor market data. We’ve seen another appreciable jump in initial claims. Announced job cuts are up. Job openings are down. Survey hiring plans have softened.

Stockman thought there was a chance for the housing market to recover in 2009. Boy, was he wrong.

The three things that are absolutely central to producing that outcome are our projection that we’re going to get a stabilization in housing in 2009—and early in 2009; that there will be some diminishment of the drag on growth from the financial turbulence; and that oil prices flatten out. Of those three, to my mind, the component that probably is most central and most important would be seeing some stabilization in the housing market, not only because this has been a big drag on growth and will also have consequences for household wealth but also because if there’s going to be some clarity and reassurance to financial market participants, it seems as though some end to the housing debacle has to be in sight. We think we are seeing a few glimmers of hope there—however, we thought that on occasion in the past and have been proven wrong. But sales of existing homes have been flat since the turn of the year. Sales of new homes have been flat for several months now. We’ve had a drop in mortgage interest rates that followed the takeover of Fannie and Freddie. Starts have fallen so much now that, in fact, builders are making significant progress in working down the inventory of unsold new homes and even months’ supply has tipped down of late. So we think that some things are looking a little better for us there. As a consequence, we’re expecting to see some bottoming-out near the end of this year or the beginning of next year—but not a sharp recovery. Overall residential investment actually is still a negative for 2009 but less of a negative than it has been this year.

This chart by Business Insider show foreclosures increased in 2009. Banks went into overdrive on foreclosing on homeowners. JPMorgan Chase was forced to pay $13 billion for the illegal mortgage practices of Washington Mutual.

Meeting of the Federal Open Market Committee on September 16, 2008 by Michael Robert Hussey

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Kenn Kweder - Patti Smith

Patti Smith from Kenn Kweder on Myspace.

One of Kenn Kweder's great throw away songs.

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Friday, February 21, 2014

Friday Cat Blogging

A kitty freaks out when he/she sees an iPad. Cuteness ensues.

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Thursday, February 20, 2014

Mat Bors on Stand Your Ground

Comic strip artist Matt Bors did his version of Florida's logo to include "Stand Your Ground."

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The Vaselines - Jesus Wants Me For A Sunbeam

I'm posting this because this song is beautiful.

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Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Chart of the Day

Thomas Oatley is an is an associate professor of political science at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. He wrote an article in the Washington Post. Oatley made this chart that shows the flow of American investment money heading to the tax haven of the Cayman Islands.

President Barack Obama signed the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA) into law in 2010. The United States and the Cayman Islands reached an agreement. Cayman banks must notify the IRA of any U.S. account with more than $50,000. The law won't officially take effect until 2014.

Banks, funds and other financial institutions that fail to comply with FATCA face a 30-percent withholding tax on their U.S. source income, a penalty that could effectively freeze them out of U.S. financial markets.

Investment bankers have an army of tax attorneys. I'm sure they will find a way around FATCA.

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Write A Caption: Alligator Edition

This image is by ABC 7 Sarasota - WWSB. Apparently the gator got itself stuck.

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The Afghan Whigs - Algiers

The Afghan Whigs have released a new album. "Algiers" is the debut single from Do to the Beast. These days the Whigs are only original members Greg Dulli and John Curley. Lead guitarist Rick McCollum was removed from the band due to unspecified personal reasons.

"I respect and have deep admiration for those guys," McCollum says in regards to his departure from the Whigs. "I'm excited to hear what they came up with, but I have to get my personal life back into gear. I have to work on myself, and my personal issues. I want to do stuff on my own, too; my band, Moon Maan, is doing an album. We're brothers, and we're going to have discrepancies, but it's good. It's not like we hate each other; it's a positive thing on all ends."

The video for "Algiers" is a homage to the Clint Eastwood movie High Plains Drifter.

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Meet the Kappa Beta Phi of Wall Street

Journalist Kevin Roose infiltrated the party of the Wall Street secret society Kappa Beta Phi. What Roose found is Wall Street titans gleefully making fun of woman, gays and how they got bailout money after the economy crashed in 2008.

The new inductees to Kappa Beta Phi had to dress in drag. Remember, these are the people Republicans say are too heavily taxed because they are job creators.

Paul Queally, of Welsh, Carson, Anderson, & Stowe, brought Ted Virtue, of MidOcean Partners, for a Q and A that involved telling sexist jokes about Hillary Clinton.

Q: “What’s the biggest difference between Hillary Clinton and a catfish?” A: “One has whiskers and stinks, and the other is a fish”

Queally also told a homophobic joke about former Congressman Barney Frank.

Q: “What’s the biggest difference between Barney Frank and a Fenway Frank?” A: “Barney Frank comes in different-size buns”

Investment banker Warren Stephens sang a reworked version of Dixie on how Wall Street went to the Federal Reserve for money after they blew up the economy.

“In Wall Street land we’ll take our stand, said Morgan and Goldman. But first we better get some loans, so quick, get to the Fed, man.”

The new inductees sang a reworked version of "I Believe" from The Book of Mormom. In this version God was going to give these future Masters of the Universe seven figure bonuses.

“I believe that God has a plan for all of us. I believe my plan involves a seven-figure bonus.”

Roose was discovered recording the dinner party. Alexandra Lebenthal, President & CEO, Lebenthal & Co, LLC, and investor Wilbur Ross attempted to bribe Roose into killing his story.

But the extent of their worry wasn’t made clear until Ross offered himself up as a source for future stories in exchange for my cooperation.

“I’ll pick up the phone anytime, get you any help you need,” he said.

“Yeah, the people in this group could be very helpful,” Lebenthal chimed in. “If you could just keep their privacy in mind.”

There are very powerful people in the financial industry in Kappa Beta Phi. They make jokes about receiving bailout money. The americans that lost their jobs and homes didn't get billions of dollars from the federal government.

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Charlie Crist and Nan Rich Fundraising Numbers

I would rather see Nan Rich as governor. However, her fundraising numbers are lagging. Rich raised $14,423 in January. The Florida Democratic Party gave $50,000 in in-kind contributions to help pay for Rich's staff.

Rival Democratic candidate Charlie Crist raised $374,767 in January.. Crist's PAC "Charlie Crist For Florida" raised $637,300 last month. Crist is killing Rich in fundraising.

The one piece of bright news is a Public Policy Polling shows that Rich could beat Gov. Rick Scott. The numbers have more to do with Scott's high unapproval rating than with Rich. Most Floridians still don't know Rich.

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Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Quote of the Day: Stand Your Ground Edition

"What message are we sending someone? Don't miss? Is that what the 'Stand Your Ground' law means? Don't miss? If you miss, you get off. If you kill a young black man, you go home. That's just troubling."

Benjamin Crump, attorney for the late Trayvon Martin's family.

Crump made note that Michael Dunn fired at the friends of Jordan Davis and missed. Dunn was Dunn guilty on three counts of attempted murder. Dunn shot and killed Davis. The jury was deadlocked on whether to convict Dunn of first degree murder. Dunn's fiancee told authorities that Davis was unarmed.

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Hundred Waters – Down From The Rafters

Hundred Waters is from Gainesville, Florida. They were named by Stereogum as one of the 40 best bands of 2012. Down From The Rafters is a new song. No word on if it will be on their upcoming album.

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Astroturf Charlie Crist Protest

I love how members of the tea party keep needing to get pointers on how to protest from the GOP establishment. RROF South East Regional Director Diana Ramos sent this email out on what signs to use at a protest of a Charlie Crist book signing.

• Charlie Crist: Obama’s Favorite Democrat

• Charlie Crist: Obamacare’s Biggest Fan

• Charlie = Opportunist

• You Can’t Trust Charlie

• Failed Governor

• 3 Parties, 3 Years, Lousy Governor

• Charlie 2010 or Charlie 2014, Which One Do You Believe?”

I actually can't blame the Republican Party of Florida for telling the tea party what the signs should say. You can see tea party sign disasters here, here and here. I have to say this one is my favorite.

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Revisiting the Financial Crisis: the HSBC Florida Connection

HSBC was a major player in the subprime mortgage crisis in 2007. HSBC had debt of $10.5bn because of of the housing crisis. The bad decision making of HSBC shouldn't be surprising. HSBC was arguably the biggest money laundering bank in the world. The scope of the money laundering operations by HSBC are listed in a 339 report by the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Government Affairs. HSBC was involved in money laundering operations to Iran, drug cartels and third party banks dealing with terrorist organizations. No banker for HSBC has been charged by the United States.

Attorney General Eric Holder told Sen. Charles Grassley that HSBC is too big to jail.

Mr. Holder said: “I am concerned that the size of some of these institutions becomes so large that it does become difficult for us to prosecute them when we are hit with indications that if you do prosecute, if you do bring a criminal charge, it will have a negative impact on the national economy, perhaps even the world economy.”

The HSBC Florida Connection

Miami Beach residents Mauricio Cohen Assor and Leon Cohen Levy are a father and son who were sentenced to 10 years for hiding $33 million from a secret hotel sales. In 2000, the Cohens sold the New York Flatotel for $33 million. The Cohens placed the $33 million in the Swiss branch of HSBC Holdings Plc. The Cohens hid the money in a bearer share accounts. Here is the Investopedia definition.

An equity security that is wholly owned by whoever holds the physical stock certificate. The issuing firm neither registers the owner of the stock, nor does it track transfers of ownership. The company disperses dividends to bearer shares when a physical coupon is presented to the firm.

The bearer share accounts was a way that HSBC used to not keep track of the Cohens' money. The Cohens used friends and family members to pretend they owned shares of the stock. The stock was registered to the Panamanian company Blue Ocean Finance Ltd., and Whitebury Shipping Time Sharing Ltd., a BVI bearer share company.

In April of 2007, HBUS executive Claude Mandel, the Relationship Manager, removed Mauricio Cohen's name from the Whitebury account. Mandel attempted to covert the Whitebury account from a BVI to a Bahamian bearer share corporation. The catch was Cohen would have to declare ownership. Transcripts show that Cohen would not do that.

Despite Mr. Mandel’s insisting that his bearer shares would need to be registered, Mr. Cohen convinced Mr. Mandel to check if he could convert Whitebury into a Panamanian bearer share corporation. Mr. Cohen indicated again that he did not want to put names on the shares; when Mr. Mandel said that the shares would need to state the names, Mr. Cohen said: “But, I can’t put that, otherwise I have to declare them in the United States? I can’t do that, I don’t want to declare… otherwise, I have to close the accounts with you and go to Geneva.”

There is much more on HSBC to I plan on writing about in the future. The banking practices of HSBC and other financial institutions show that the financial crisis of 2008 didn't happen by accident. Greed and recklessness played a huge role in the crash of 2008.

U.S. Vulnerabilities to Money Laundering, Drugs, and Terrorist Financing: HSBC Case History by Michael Robert Hussey

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Dubious Rubio Talks To TMZ (A Lot)

Sen. Marco Rubio may not have time to write legislation or find co-sponsors for his dubious anti-poverty proposal. Rubio does have time to talk to TMZ about Justin Bieber. Rubio is one of many members of Congress who has an addiction to media cameras.

Rubio also talked to TMZ about the Kardashians.

One of my senators spends more time talking to TMZ than writing legislation.

Rubio also called into TMZ to discuss hip hop.

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Rabbit Island

The island of Okunoshima, in Japan, is known as Rabbit Island to tourists. The female tourist was swarmed by a huge number of rabbits trying to get whatever tasty treats were in her bag. Judging by how fat these rabbits are it's safe to say they aren't missing any meals.

Update: Buzzfeed has pictures of Rabbit Island. It looks like these bunnies get lots of treats from the tourists.

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Monday, February 17, 2014

LCD Soundsystem - All My Friends

This is from the KCRW sessions.

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Krystal Ball On Why Hillary Clinton Shouldn't Run

The transcript of Ball's commentary.

It is clear now that we have two economies: one for a thin slice of educated elite and one for everyone else. That is the moment we are in now. So I ask you, does Hillary Clinton sound to you like the right person for this moment?

In a time when corporations have hijacked our politics enabling them to reap all the profit without feeling any compunction to do right by their workers, is someone who sat on the rabidly anti-union board of Walmart for six years the right person to restore worker’s rights?

In a time when we are still reeling from a global financial disaster brought on by foolhardy bank deregulation, is someone who recently took $400,000 to give two speeches at Goldman Sachs the person we need to wrest control of the asylum back from the banking inmates?

Keep in mind that at those paid speeches, Clinton wasn’t giving tough love to these masters of the universe. On the contrary, she said that “the banker-bashing…was unproductive and indeed foolish.” Of course, it was her husband, former President Bill Clinton, who did much of the deregulating that got us into trouble including ending the Glass-Steagall prohibitions on mixing traditional banking with speculative investment banking.

More to the point though, in a time when we badly need to be inspired, rallied, and made to believe that America can once again be true to the American dream, we desperately need someone who is mission driven. We need someone who is clearly passionate, who is living and breathing and feeling in their bones the plight of the worker and the middle class, and who is unafraid to stand up to the Wall Street titans. That person is not Hillary Clinton. It is Elizabeth Warren.

Hysterically, Bill O'Reilly defends Clinton from Ball. O'Reilly's reason is that Clinton would help the corporations that hide tax money overseas.

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The Less Than Tough Life of Pam Bondi

University of Florida student Matt Schneider wrote a great op-ed on how Pam Bondi bragged to UF students about all the easy breaks in life. That must make the students working full-time jobs and looking at years of student loan debt feel great.

“When I was in college, I didn’t know what I wanted to do,” she said. “I wasn’t even sure I wanted to practice law … When I was in law school, I did a certified legal internship at the state attorney’s office, and my dad conspired with Bill James, who was the state attorney at the time because my dad was so worried I didn’t want to practice law. And so I did this internship at the state attorney’s office, and when you’re certified, you can try jury trials when you’re in law school, so I had four jury trials when I was in law school. Never wanted to do anything else.”

There is also this comment by Bondi.

"I don’t think I’ve ever made a resume in my life."

That is probably because Bondi never had to.

Read Scheider's piece. It points out how one of the most powerful office holders in Florida is disconnected with the hardships many Floridians have to endure.

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Quote of the Day: Ted Nugent Edition

"What’s A Feminist? Some Fat Pig Who Doesn’t Get It Often Enough?"

Ted Nugent, on VH1′s Behind the Music Remastered.

I usually ignore Nugent. I'm pointing this out since Mitt Romney sought Nugent's endorsement. Iff Romney wants to appear on the news talk shows then I see no reason of pointing out the stupidity of Romney linking himself to Nugent.

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Sunday, February 16, 2014

Rage Against The Machine - Killing In The Name

The performance is from the 1993 PinkPop Festival.

"Some of those that work forces are the same that burn crosses."

The song is very timely with the recent "Stand Your Ground" deaths.

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Senate Republicans Don't Heart Ted Cruz

According to Bob Woodward, fellow Republicans in the Senate can't stand him.

Fellow Senate Republicans avoid Cruz at a policy lunch every week, Woodward said. "Witnesses have told me he goes in there and he sits alone," Woodward added. "People will only sit next to him when there are no other available seats. ... He's isolated."

Woodward says that Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell doesn't think highly of Cruz.

"McConnell ... thinks that Cruz is literally the most selfish senator he's ever seen in his years there," Woodward told CBS' Bob Schieffer.

Cruz is the man the tea party is talking about being President. Exactly how would Cruz get legislation passed?

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View of Tampa From Space

Via Bay News 9: a view of Tampa from the International Space Station.

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Mike Bennett Still Hearts Voter Suppression

Mike Bennett, Supervisor of Elections, for Manatee County, and Republican commissioners has eliminated voting locations. It will comes as no surprise the the majority of voting stations were eliminated in a Democratic leaning district.

Democratic County Commissioner Michael Gallen's District 2, which includes most of Palmetto and central/east Bradenton, has the largest percentage of closed polling places.

"I do have concerns about the closings of the precincts, especially in District 2, where 50 percent will be closed," said Gallen.

During his time in the Florida Senate, Bennett publicly advocated for making voting more difficult. Bennett also brought up a racial component by mentioning "Africans."

“Do you read the stories about the people in Africa? The people in the desert, who literally walk two and three hundred miles so they can have the opportunity to do what we do, and we want to make it more convenient? How much more convenient do you want to make it?” he said. “Do we want to go to their house? Take the polling booth with us?”

“This is a hard-fought privilege,” he added. “This is something people die for. You want to make it convenient? The guy who died to give you that right, it was not convenient. Why would we make it any easier? I want ‘em to fight for it. I want ‘em to know what it’s like. I want them to go down there, and have to walk across town to go over and vote,” he said.

We might want to make voting easier because we are America. For the record: Politifact ruled that Bennett's statement that Africans have to "walk two and three hundred miles" to vote is a pants on fire lie. Bennett vows to ad more voting sites if there are long lines during the 2014 election. I'm not counting on it.

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Quote of the Day

"This jail is full of blacks and they all act like thugs.… This may sound a bit radical, but if more people would arm themselves and kill these fucking idiots when they’re threatening you, eventually they may take the hint and change their behavior."

Michael Dunn, accused killer of Jordan Davis.

Dunn fired ten shots at the car Davis and his friends were driving in. Dunn went back to his hotel room, ordered pizza, drank rum and walked his dog. Dunn never notified the police of the shooting. The quote is notible because Davis is black and Dunn is white.

No gun was ever found on Davis or his friends. Dunn's own fiance testified that she did not see a gun. Yet Dunn's attorney's argued self-defense. The shooting happened over a dispute over rap music playing in the car Davis was in.

The jury came to a mistrial. The Stand Your Ground law has made it legal for white people to kill blacks.

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Friday, February 14, 2014

Education Endorsement For Alex Sink

The Pinellas Classroom Teachers Association has officially has endorsed Alex Sink for Florida's congressional District 13.

“As a teacher, I want a representative in Congress that will take my voice and the voices of my students and fellow teachers to Washington to fight for us, and that’s why Alex Sink has my vote” said Dale Koning, a classroom teacher and registered Republican. “Investing in our children should not be a partisan issue, and Alex Sink has built her career on bringing Republicans and Democrats together to tackle the challenges facing our community . I support Alex because she’s the only candidate in this race with a bipartisan record of fighting for students, teachers, and our schools.”

“With her years of experience as a business leader and as Florida’s Chief Financial Officer – and a proven record of fighting for public education – we are proud to endorse Alex Sink and are confident Alex will take the voices of teachers, students and parents to Washington,” said Kim Black, President of the Pinellas Classroom Teachers Association. “Alex understands that supporting Pinellas County schools, colleges, and Universities is an investment in the future of our community and the economic growth of our state. We are confident Alex will be a passionate and effective advocate for Pinellas schools and families.”

“I am honored to receive the endorsement of the Pinellas County Classroom Teachers Association,” said Alex Sink. “As the mother of two children who attended public school here in Florida, I know firsthand the importance of working to strengthen and improve our schools. One of the most important investments we can make to grow our economy for middle class families is in the education and future of our children. We need to bring Republicans, Democrats and Independents together to focus on issues that matter like improving our schools and supporting our teachers -- it’s these bipartisan, results oriented values I’ve practiced my entire life and it’s these values that I’ll bring to Congress.”

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Quote of the Day

"The Tom Perkins system is: You don't get to vote unless you pay a dollar of taxes. But what I really think is, it should be like a corporation. You pay a million dollars in taxes, you get a million votes. How's that?"

Tom Perkins, billionaire venture capitalist.

I disagree with Perkins' views on voting. In his defense, he showed integrity in refusing to doctor Hewlett-Packard's SEC 8-K filing. This led to a criminal investigation on HP HP chairwoman Patricia Dunn.

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Charlie Crist Voter Suppression Ad

Damn. This is a great ad. Say what you will about Charlie Crist being opportunistic. (You won't get any argument from me.) But Crist delivers a powerful speech about the right to vote on the University of Florida campus. I hope the ad draws more attention to the voter suppression tactics of the Rick Scott administration.

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Friday Cat Blogging

Two young children meet a beautiful Maine Coon. Cuteness ensues.

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Thursday, February 13, 2014

Wingnut of the Day: Erick Erickson

Via Amanda Marcotte: Erick Erickson thinks the imaginary liberal media wants to have nasty sex with President Barack Obama.

But now, you’d rather have cocktails (pun absolutely intended for a good portion of you “journalists”) with the President, jealously size up the competition in the First Lady, and wish you too could be a mistress when you see France’s President and whoever the gal of the week is for him.

This is the same Erick Erickson who discussed goat sex on Twitter.

It makes me cringe just to write about Erickson's tweets. Erickson has no problem talking about man and goat sex on social media. I have never blogged and thought to myself, "I need more goat fucking in my blog posts." What rationale person thinks like this. Erickson makes more sexual references in his post.

But you journalists have such erections for everything Barack Obama does, you can’t even summon outrage to report fairly on the latest b.s. from the administration over Obamacare. Is it any wonder so many people have stopped trusting you?

For a straight guy against gay marriage Erickson sure thinks about dick a lot.

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Kenn Kweder - Suicide

The happiest song about suicide that I ever heard.

Kenn Kweder is a Philadelphia music who has played the scene since the early seventies. Members of many Philly bands got their start playing for Kweder.

Bonus track: Man On the Moon is with his best backing band the Secret Kids.

Man On The Moon from Kenn Kweder on Myspace.

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Sen Don Gaetz Backs Medical Marijuana Bill

Florida Senate President Don Gaetz has announced that he will support medical marijuana. This means medical marijuana will get a vote in the Senate.

“As a father myself, I am unwilling to require these parents to be criminals in order to get treatment for their children,” he said. “As the father of Rep. Matt Gaetz, I am proud of my son for his political courage in fighting for these families as they fight for their children’s lives.”

Gaetz's son, Rep. Matt Gaetz, is the sponsor of House Bill 843. The text of the bill.

An act relating to cannabis; amending s. 893.02, F.S.; revising the definition of the term "cannabis" for purposes of the Florida Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act and applicable to certain criminal offenses proscribing the sale, manufacture, delivery, possession, or purchase of cannabis, to which penalties apply; providing an effective date.

Translation: marijuana prescribed for medical purposes will no longer be a criminal offense under the bill.

There are problems facing HB 843. House Speaker has given no indication that he would support the bill. Gov. Rick Scott would most likely veto the bill. Scott and Weatherford were both against the ballot initiative making medical marijuana legal. Sen. Don Gaetz was against the ballot initiative. His support of his son's bill is a big step in making medical marijuana legal. The ballot initiative is still the most likely way to make medical marijuana legal. The ballot language.

Allows the medical use of marijuana for individuals with debilitating diseases as determined by a licensed Florida physician. Allows caregivers to assist patients’ medical use of marijuana. The Department of Health shall register and regulate centers that produce and distribute marijuana for medical purposes and shall issue identification cards to patients and caregivers. Applies only to Florida law. Does not authorize violations of federal law or any non-medical use, possession or production of marijuana.

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Quote of the Day: Karl Rove Edition

"Frankly, Rand Paul spending a lot of time talking about the mistakes of Bill Clinton does not look like a big agenda for the future of the country."

Karl Rove, on Rand Paul's political strategy for the 2016 presidential election.

You know when I agree with Karl Rove that must mean Rand Paul's obsession with Bill Clinton's sex life is a political loser.

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Nan Rich Goes on the Offensive Against Crist

Democratic candidate for governor, Nan Rich, is fundraising off of Charlie Crist's professed love of Jeb Bush The Rich campaign sent sent out this email from Buddy MacKay.

Did you hear or read what Charlie Crist recently said about Jeb Bush? Itâs hard to believe â but, sadly, itâs true.

When a radio host asked Charlie Crist if Jeb Bush would be a good president Crist said âYeah, I think he probably would. He made a great governorâ¦â (Click here to read the story.)

I canât understand how Crist, or any real Democrat, could think that Bushâs policies -- policies that hurt our public schools, the environment, and especially the middle class â made him a âgreatâ governor.

Frankly, it was frustrating for me to watch Jeb Bush undo so much of the good that Lawton Chiles and I worked to achieve as the last Democratic Governors of Florida.

I want a real Democrat in Tallahassee because I believe that staying true to Democratic principles is the right path for Florida. That is why I'm standing with Nan Rich, and I hope you will too.

It is time for Rich to go on the attack against Crist. It is the only chance Rich has to win the primary. Rich has to make Crist undesirable to Democratic voters.

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Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Bill Nelson On Florida Voter Suppression

Sen. Bill Nelson calls the Rick Scott administration for voter suppression on the floor of the Senate. Scott appointed Secretary of State Ken Detzner. The result has been Detzner frustrating both Republican and Democratic Supervisors of Elections officials. The long lines of the 2012 election made Florida a joke. Detzner declared mission accomplished during his listening tour.

On restoring early voting times: "When you look at the turnout, which was larger than it was in 2008, that obviously speaks to the point that people were satisfied with the current law. People responded, reacted and turned out in greater numbers."

Florida voters were anything but satisfied. Now Detzner will not allow the the Reitz Union on the University of Florida campus to be used as a voting site. According to the Center for Research and Information on Civic Learning and Engagement, President Barack Obama easily won the youth vote by 67 percent to 30 percent. The youth vote helped Obama win Florida. The Republican controlled state legislature wrote the language that no educational facility can be used for early voting. This was merely to suppress the youth vote. Republicans have gave up on trying to win the youth vote.

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Tuesday, February 11, 2014

The Beta Band - Dry The Rain

This song was made famous from the scene in High Fidelity.

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Pensacola Ordinance Could Kill Homeless People

Via Crooks and Liars: a Pensacola, Florida ordinance could make homeless people freeze to death. Under the ordance, homeless people are not even allowed to have blankets or a sleep bag when they sleep. This is incredibly cruel and people. The elected officials of Pensacola should be a shamed of themselves.

Here is the ordinance.


WHEREAS, the City Council of the City of Pensacola, Florida hereby finds that in order to provide for, secure and promote the aesthetics, sanitation, public health, and safety of its citizens, it is necessary and in the public interest to adopt an Ordinance prohibiting in part and regulating the conduct of camping on public property, as defined, within the city limits.


SECTION 1. Section 8-1-22 of the Code of the City of Pensacola, Florida is hereby created to read as follows:

Sec. 8-1-22 Camping prohibited; exceptions

(1) For purposes of this section “camping” is defined as:

(a) Cooking over an open flame or fire out-of-doors; or

(b) Bathing in public for purposes of personal hygiene; or

(c) Sleeping out-of-doors under one of the following circumstances:

(i) Adjacent to or inside a tent or sleeping bag, or

(ii) Atop and/or covered by materials such as a bedroll, cardboard, newspapers, or

(iii) Inside some form of temporary shelter

(2) Camping is prohibited on all public property, except as may be specifically authorized by the appropriate governmental authority.

(3) Camping is prohibited on all property in the City used for residential purposes; provided, however that camping is permitted on such property with permission and consent of the property owner.

(4) An individual in violation of this ordinance, who has no private shelter, shall be advised of available shelter in the City of Pensacola or Escambia County, in addition to any penalties of law.

SECTION 2. In any word, phrase, clause, paragraph, section or provision of this ordinance or the application thereof to any person or circumstance is held invalid or unconstitutional, such finding shall not affect the other provision or applications of the ordinance which can be given effect without the invalid or unconstitutional provisions or application, and to this end the provisions of this ordinance are declared severable.

SECTION 3. All ordinances or parts of ordinances in conflict herewith are hereby repealed to the extent of such conflict.

SECTION 4. This ordinance shall take effect on the fifth business day after adoption, unless otherwise provided pursuant to Section 4.03(d) of the City Charter of the City of Pensacola.

Activist Father Nathan Monk has started a petition to end the ordinance. Monk is asking people to email these elected officials.

Write the council:,,,,,,,,

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Write A Caption: Morning Joe

Via Daily Kos: the team of Morning Joe are sad because they are forced out of denial on Chris Christie's role in the BridgeGate scandal. Daily Kos blogger Billionaires for Wealthcare notes how painful it is for Mika Brzezinski and Joe Scarborough to come out of their conventional wisdom bubble and face reality.

Reading the headline that Christie never read the statement attacking Wildstein's high school record, Brzezinski asked incredulously, and with dejection in her voice, "how is the possible".

Scarborough jumped in, "there's no way he didn't see it". He went further, saying he didn't believe Christie's claims that he didn't know about the traffic nightmare when it was occurring. He twisted himself into a pretzel saying Christie wasn't behind the traffic jam, but Christie had to know the world's busiest bridge had turned into a parking lot.

Scarborough is still trying to defend Christie but his heart just doesn't seem to be in it. The good news is Christie still has the gang at Fox and Friends backing him.

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Monday, February 10, 2014

Quote of the Day: Dubious Rubio Edition

"You know why I never answer that question? If I tell you that I haven’t, you won’t believe me. And if I tell you that I did, then kids will look up to me and say ‘Well I can smoke marijuana because look how he did. He did alright so I guess I can do it, too.’ And the bottom line is, it is a substance that alters your mind. Now when I was 17 and 18, 16, I made dumb decisions as is. I didn’t need the help of marijuana or alcohol to further that."

Sen. Marco Rubio, dodging questions by the National Journal on if he ever smoked marijuana.

That is the kind of straight talk (or lack of) that makes me love writing about Dubious Rubio.

Update: Miami Herald political reporter Marc Caputo isn't buying Rubio's rambling answer.

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Revisiting the Financial Crisis: Predatory Lending

According to a Wall Street Journal article, former Federal Reserve Governor Edward Gramlich proposed in 2000 to crack down on predatory lending in the subprime mortgage industry. Chairman Alan Greenspan shot down the proposal.

"I would have liked the Fed to be a leader" in cracking down on predatory lending, Mr. Gramlich, now a scholar at the Urban Institute, said in an interview this past week. Knowing it would be controversial with Mr. Greenspan, whose deregulatory philosophy is well known, Mr. Gramlich broached it to him personally rather than take it to the full board.

"He was opposed to it, so I didn't really pursue it," says Mr. Gramlich, a Democrat who was one of seven Fed governors.

Predatory lending was very real. Washington Mutual Bank was bought by JP Morgan Chase. The United States District Court for the Central District of California ruled against JP Morgan Chase.

The first formal complaint was filed against Washington Mutual Bank on January 6, 2012 by the Kenneth Eade Law Firm. Washington Mutual was eventually purchased by JP Morgan Chase. The complaint alleges that Washington Mutual Bank issued both a traditional mortgage and a home equity line of credit in order to finance a customer's Southern California home purchase. In 2008 both loans fell into foreclosure, and the owner's request for a short sale was denied.

After JP Morgan Chase took ownership of Washington Mutual, the bank attempted to collect approximately $250,000 additional dollars from the home equity line of credit. The delinquency also negatively affected the customer's credit score. According to anti-delinquency statutes in California, a bank is prohibited from collecting on money mortgages after a foreclosure has occurred. The suit alleges that JP Morgan Chase is in violation of the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act as well as the California Consumer Legal Remedies Act.

JP Morgan Chase was trying to quickly collect cash from homeowners. In Florida, the defunct David J. Stern law firm attempted to foreclose on homeowners with forged documents.

JP Morgan Chase bought Washington Mutual so they could sell the bad mortgages as mortgage-back securities. The problem was JP Morgan Chase didn't tell investors that the mortgage-backed securities were toxic. JP Morgan Chase was forced to agree to a $13 billion settlement with the state of New York. $4 billion of the money went for relief to homeowners.

New York Attorney General Schneiderman had less than kind words for JP Morgan Chase.

“Since my first day in office, I have insisted that there must be accountability for the misconduct that led to the crash of the housing market and the collapse of the American economy,” said Attorney General Schneiderman, co-chair of the RMBS working group. “This historic deal, which will bring long-overdue relief to homeowners around the country and across New York, is exactly what our working group was created to do. We refused to allow systemic frauds that harmed so many New York homeowners and investors to simply be forgotten, and as a result we’ve won a major victory today in the fight to hold those who caused the financial crisis accountable.”

Goldman Sachs bought derivatives that bet on the housing market crashing. Goldman Sachs sold to their investors bad mortgage-backed securities.

Sen. Carl Levin questioned CEO Lloyd Blankfein about about Goldman Sachs betting against investments they are selling.

Levin reads internal emails of Goldman Sachs sale force telling each other that Timberwolve was a "shitty deal" for their clients.

An internal email shows that Goldman Sachs knew they making money betting against their clients.

The predatory lending placed homeowners at risk. The mortgages were then bundled up into toxic mortgage-backed securities that hurt such investors as pension funds. Alan Green span did nothing about this when he had the chance in 2000.

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Sunday, February 09, 2014

Quote of the Day

A fantastic point. Maybe these Christian football players believe that Jesus and the disciples played touch football.

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Highway To Hell - Bruce Springsteen

This is fucking unbelievable. Bruce Springsteen paid tribute to the late Bon Scott by forming the former AC/DC classic in Scott's hometown of Perth. This is the perfect cover for Springsteen's ragged voice.

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Charlie Crist Say Jeb Would Make a Good President

This will drive progressives crazy. Democratic candidate for Governor, Charlie Crist, told radio host Michael Smerconish that Jeb Bush would make a good President.

SiriusXM host Michael Smerconish: “Would Jeb [Bush] make a good president?”

Former FL Governor Charlie Crist: “Yeah, I think he probably would. He made a great governor, in my humble opinion. He’s a good man…I don’t agree with him on everything…but when I saw him as Governor [of Florida] when I was Attorney General—and they’re elected separately in Florida—we had a lot of hurricanes, and Jeb Bush did a great job protecting our beautiful Florida during that [time].”

I don't miss Jeb and don't want to see him ever become President. Crist invoke Jeb's name during a recent visit to Morning Joe.

“Jeb Bush said it better than I can say it,” Crist said. “He said today’s Republican Party is perceived as being anti-women, anti-immigrant, anti-minority, anti-gay couples, anti-environment, anti-education. I mean, pretty soon, there’s nobody left in the room.”

I doubt Bush hearts Crist after his leaving of the Republican Party. Crist is making a political calculation that Floridians really love all things Jeb. Crist is running to the left to prove he's a Democrat and professing a man crush on Jeb. I have no idea if this political calculation will work. However, I doubt Crist cares what I think.

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The Horribe Tech Services of Deloitte

I wrote about auditing scandals involving Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited. I questioned why the Federal Reserve of New York renew the contract with Deloitte after auditing scandal with Adelphia Communications Corp. and companies based in China.

Apparently, government agencies updating their technical services have trusted Deloitte that has proved to be a grave error.

In 2003, the California court system hired Deloitte to connect the computer systems.

Officials hired Deloitte and another firm in 2003 to create a statewide case management system, connecting 58 county courts, as well as appellate courts. By 2010, Deloitte was running the entire job, and the contract had been amended 102 times, ballooning in cost to $310 million from $33 million, according to a state audit.

Worse, the cost to install the software had been wildly underestimated. The total price tag soared to a projected $1.9 billion, so expensive that the courts could not afford to put the system into operation.

The integrated computer system was to be called the California Court Case Management System. The California's Judicial Council ended the contract with Deloitte. The financial loss to California taxpayers is estimated to be $2 billion. Even if the system was installed it would soon be outdated. The worst part was reimbursed for $16 million when the contract was ended.

Deloitte once again had problems with in California in 2013. The state's unemployment website Employment Development Department was backlogged with 300,000 claims.

Now lawmakers want answers. The Assembly is setting up a hearing to determine what went wrong with a system that cost taxpayers $110 million, almost double the original estimate.

Some blame the EDD's slow response to the problem that created the massive backlog of claims. Others are pointing fingers at a familiar name around the halls of Sacramento: Deloitte Consulting.

State employees warned government officials that the system set up by Deloitte would not be ready. Their warnings were ignored. EDD was forced to admit to the Assembly Insurance Committee. CBS Sacramento reported as many as 600 people didn't receive payment on their unemployment claims.

Deloitte set up the unemployment claim system for Florida's Department of Economic Opportunity. Many people were not able to log into the system.

The main contractor of the project, Deloitte Consulting, won the bid to modernize Florida’s unemployment compensation system by beating out nine other firms. In early 2011, the company negotiated with Florida that it could do all the work for $39.8 million and finish by December 2012, a deadline it blew — badly.

As contracts go, this wasn’t a big one for Deloitte Consulting, a U.S. company that’s part of an international British conglomerate better known as Deloitte & Touche. Since 2007, Deloitte Consulting has won $283.4 million in contracts with Florida agencies. Gov Rick Scott has been rather unresponsive to complaints about the glitches in the unemployment website. One reason maybe it is because the lobbyist for Deloitte is Brian Ballard. Mr. Ballard served as Co-Chair of Governor-Elect Rick Scott's Inaugural Committee. Scott was a guest at Ballard's Super Bowl party. Don't expect Scott to say to end Deloitte's contract any time soon.

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Rick Scott Uses Back Entrance For Christie Fundraiser

There was this interesting tidbit from The New York Times on Chris Christie's recent political problems. This involves Gov. Rick Scott.

His aides refuse to disclose the location of his fund-raising appearances, and the Republican candidates for whom he is raising money seem reluctant to stand beside him in public. In Florida a few weeks ago, Gov. Rick Scott was driven into the back entrance of an event with Mr. Christie, to avoid gathered reporters and demonstrators.

Scott would rather get a root canal than speak to the media. You can ask Scott about the minimum wage, the technical failures of the state unemployment website or if he supported Congressional Republicans shutting down the government. Scott will avoid giving a straight answer and flee from reporters. Scott certainly doesn't want to face reporters and answer question on the Bridgegate scandal.

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Friday, February 07, 2014

Beru Revue - Be Careful Tonight

Be Careful Tonight from Beru Revue on Myspace.

I really love Beru Revue and I advice you to check out their music.

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Ken Detzner Suppresses Early Voting at University of Florida

:"I just can't understand why they feel the need to be so restrictive about where people are allowed to vote ... This is strategic. They're worried about young people voting."

Lori Edwards, Polk County Supervisor of Elections.

Edwards was speaking on Secretary of State Ken Detzner denying the University of Florida student union being used as a early voting site. Detzner gave this reason.

"The Reitz Union is a structure designed for, and affiliated with, a specific educational institution," says an advisory opinion from Maria Matthews, director of the state Division of Elections, which is run by a Scott appointee, Secretary of State Ken Detzner. "The terms 'convention center' and 'government-owned community center' cannot be construed so broadly as to include the Reitz Union."

The Republican controlled state legislature reject having "educational facilities" as voting sites. Edwards is right. Republicans have given up on young voters and simply want to suppress the vote.

State Senator Jeff Clemens sent this letter.

I write you to express my concern with a misinterpretation of statute from a bill that passed through the Florida legislature last session, as it relates to voting at community centers.

The bill we passed, which later was signed into law by the governor, was very clear in stating that a "government-owned community center" is an acceptable location for early voting...

The Reitz Union is government-owned, as the University of Florida is a public insitution founded and funded by the state of Florida. The Reitz Union is also (a) community center, obviously.

There is no ambiguity in the statute, nor is there any in the public nature or purpose of the Reitz Union. The statute is crystal clear, straightforward and with no room for misinterpretation.

As a member of the Senate Ethics and Elections Committee that formulated this bill, I ask that you immediately re-evaluate your unlawful decision to not allow voting at the Reitz Union..."

Sadly, the complaints of Clemens will fall on deaf ears.

We need stronger fedral voting laws to stop this kind of voting suppression.

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Friday Cat Blogging

A fascinating documentary of a lioness and a female leopard living together in the wild. Apparently, they were abandoned as cubs and raised together by farmers.

Mandla the leopard was injured by another leopard shortly after she was born, while Tamu the lioness was abandoned by her mother. Picked up by farmers, the two played and grew up together but were dropped back into the wild shortly after turning two. After being reintroduced into the wild, the two cubs realised not just their freedom but also the fears and solitary gains of being left to fend for themselves. As cubs, their fates were closely linked and defied the law of the savannah for the time being. Inevitably, hunger drives them apart as it brings out the innate nature of the different species: Mandla is resourceful while Tamu is nonchalant; Mandla hunts alone but Tamu hunts with a clan; and Mandla guides while Tamu follows and observes.

Unfortunately, nature breaks up the friendship of Mandla and Tamu.

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Alex Sink Endorsements

The Alex Sink campaign announced the endorsements of 40 Pinellas County small businesses.

Salon 131, Mandi Tucker;

Shield Insurance, Gordon Chernecky;

Reel Deal Outdoors Inc., Keith Burden;

Monitors & More, Kirk Smith;

Joe's Produce, Choon Hee Tou;

All Florida Fire, Daniel Beauchesne;

Barkley Insurance Agency, Joe Barkley;

Domain Home Gallery, Michael Mcloe;

QFC Cleaning & Supply Company, Jack Stringfellow;

Home Trust Real Estate Group, Jim Mayes;

Coleman Insurance Agency, Dave Coleman;

JA Vassel Art & Antiques Gallery, John A. Vassel;

Time Systems, Barry Rubin;

El Cap Restaurant, Mary Jean Bonfili;

Russel property Group, Toni Russell;

ConceptBait, Frank Clemente;

Playbook Public Relations, Sally Dee;

Bella Brava, Robert Sanderson & Dice Craig;

The Body Electric Yoga, Jenny Miller;

Your Neighborhood Realty Inc, Brian Longstreth;

Providence Printing Inc., Linda Norris;

World Power & Water, Frank Wells;

Olde Bay Cafe, Walt Wickman;

Tudor Doctor, Richard Russo;

Scarr Insurance Group, Barry Scarr;

Lawrence Floriani MD LLC., Larry Floriani;

Institute For Creative Arts; Bill Coleman;

The Cookie Cutter, Joanne Kennedy;

Musical, Karen Donnelly;

DDA Development, Bowen Arnold;

Haypennie Jewelers, John Grim;

Kally K's, Nora & Alex Mihopoulos;

Gone To The Dogs, Greg Phillips;

Bayprint, Al Karnavicius;

M. Williams Jewelers, Melvin Williams;

James Kennedy Law, James Kennedy;

Salon GW, Gregory Brady;

The Alden Suites, Gary Renfrow;

Long Term Care Advisors; Eric Green;

Tampa Bay, Kristine Marshall.

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Thursday, February 06, 2014

Rob Ford Dancing

Mayor Rob Ford by decree declared Feb. 6 Bob Marley Day. Ford got into the spirit by dancing. Rob Ford is the gift that keeps on giving.

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Broadcast - Corporeal

A friend of mine just got me to listen to Broadcast and I really am grooving to this song

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Republican War on Women Continues Against Sandra Fluke

The Maine Republican Party posted this image of Sandra Fluke on their Facebook page. It has since been taken down.

"Can't afford birth control," the post read. "Paid $1740 filing fee to run for Congress."

The Republican Party wonders why people are accusing them of having a war on women. The Bangor Daily News grabbed the screen shot.

Sandra Fluke is running for the State Senate in California. The only reason the Maine Republican Party weighed in is because they wanted to bash Sandra Fluke for standing up for female reproductive rights.

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Tea Party Nation Accuses First Lady of Slavery

Tea Party Nation blogger David DeGerolamo makes the outlandish claim that Michelle Obama is trying to make slaves out of American children.

One of the tenets in George Orwell's 1984 was "slavery is freedom". Michelle Obama yesterday told our children that higher education is freedom. According to CNNMoney:

"The average debt load for the class of 2012 was $29,400, according to a report released Wednesday by the Institute for College Access & Success' Project on Student Debt."

People also get loans from banks. I don't imagine that Mr. DeGerolamo is going to accuse Jamie Dimon of trying to make Americans slaves anytime soon.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren proposed low interest rate student loans through the Federal Reserve System. President Obama signed into law student loan reform. Republicans wanted to raise the interest rates on student loans. Republicans blocked legislation that would stop an increase in student loan interest rates.

WASHINGTON — Senate Republicans on Tuesday blocked consideration of a Democratic bill to prevent the doubling of some student loan interest rates, leaving the legislation in limbo less than two months before rates on subsidized federal loans are set to shoot upward.

Along party lines, the Senate voted 52 to 45 on a key procedural motion, failing to reach the 60 votes needed to begin debating the measure. Senator Olympia J. Snowe, the moderate Republican from Maine who is retiring, voted present.

I wonder how many posts on Tea Party Nation we can find that took the Republicans to task for trying to increase student loan interest rates. What is even more ridiculous is a tea party blogger accusing Michelle Obama of trying to force children into slavery. However, this tea party blogger

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