Prank Phone Call Reveals the Real Wisconsin Governor

Governor Scott Walker in Wisconsin gets totally pranked and reveals a lot.  No, it’s not about the money. It’s about busting the unions and he’ll lie if he has to.  From Yves Smith, the author of Econned and a blogger extrordinaire  at naked capitalism :

The Beast’s “David Koch” Speaks to Wisconsin Governor Walker

I was alerted about and listened to this recorded phone conversation between a caller claiming to be David Koch and Walker a couple hours ago and did not post it then over concern that might not be real. However, the governor’s office has issued a press release attempting to defend the governor’s half of the conversation. Per reader Doug Smith, who pinged me about the official statement:

Here’s the press release from Walker’s office:

The Governor takes many calls everyday. Throughout this call the Governor maintained his appreciation for and commitment to civil discourse. He continued to say that the budget repair bill is about the budget. The phone call shows that the Governor says the same thing in private as he does in public and the lengths that others will go to disrupt the civil debate Wisconsin is having.

I listened to the full tape. Walker said nothing at all that would indicate his appreciation for civil discourse. For example, at one point he describes a gambit under consideration where he’d invite the 14 Senators to join him in a conversation. Walker says ‘not a negotiation, a conversation’. Then he goes on to describe the purpose of this conversation: if they can get the 14 into a room, the law may support the notion that the session has officially begun — at which point, even if the 14 leave again, the quorum for the session would be there and the Republicans can move forward with votes even in the absence of the 14 Dems. Walker says, he’d be happy to have the 14 ’scream at him for an hour’ if he could accomplish this legal tactic.

Civil discourse? Not a whiff of that in anything Walker said when he thought he was speaking to Koch.

Oh, at one point after “Koch” suggested Walker bring a baseball bat to the possible meeting, Walker did say “I’ve got on in my office. A Slugger”.

You can listen below:



Why Isn’t Wall Street in Jail? | Rolling Stone Politics

The headline says it all.

Why Isn’t Wall Street in Jail?

Financial crooks brought down the world’s economy — but the feds are doing more to protect them than to prosecute them

via Why Isn’t Wall Street in Jail? | Rolling Stone Politics.

It’s all about cronyism and revolving-door regulation.  There’s no way the feds can compete with the money the banks put out there, so probably the only way to stop this kind of crookedness is to keep the banks from getting so big in the first place.  We used to have laws about that – antitrust, Glass-Steagall, etc.

It’s Nice to Advise the King

Follow-up to my post Fox, Hen House, Economic Advisors on appointing GE boss Jeff Immelt to advise President Obama. So Obama begins enforcing new environmental rules, but GE gets an exemption.  How convenient. As Mel Brooks used to say, It’s good to be the king. I think it’s pretty nice to just be the king’s advisor.

Last month, the Obama EPA began enforcing new rules regulating the greenhouse gas emissions from any new or expanded power plants.

This week, the EPA issued its first exemption, Environment & Energy News reports:

The Obama administration will spare a stalled power plant project in California from the newest federal limits on greenhouse gases and conventional air pollution, U.S. EPA says in a new court filing that marks a policy shift in the face of industry groups and Republicans accusing the agency of holding up construction of large industrial facilities.

According to a declaration by air chief Gina McCarthy, officials reviewed EPA policies and decided it was appropriate to “grandfather” projects such as the Avenal Power Center, a proposed 600-megawatt power plant in the San Joaquin Valley, so they are exempted from rules such as new air quality standards for smog-forming nitrogen dioxide (NO2).

There’s something interesting about the Avenal Power Center:

The proposed Avenal Energy project will be a combined-cycle generating plant consisting of two natural gas-fired General Electric 7FA Gas Turbines with Heat Recovery Steam Generators (HRSG) and one General Electric Steam Turbine.

Maybe GE CEO Jeff Immelt’s closeness to President Obama, and his broad support for Obama’s agenda, had nothing to do with this exemption. But we have no way of knowing that, and given the administration’s record of regularly misleading Americans regarding lobbyists, frankly, I wouldn’t trust the White House if they told me there was no connection.

On the upside, at least Job Czar Immelt is creating jobs!

“Change”: I don’t think this word means what they think it means.

From the Huffington Post:

Hmmm. This isn’t exactly confidence inspiring.

Tim Geithner’s new nominee for number two at the Treasury Department, Neal Wolin, played a key role in drafting legislation in the late 1990s deregulating the banking system, a former Treasury Department official confirms to us.

We aren’t going to fix the mess in banking (and the economy) by turning to the same cast of characters whose lack of vision and deregulatory ideology got us into the mess.

Forget the Swine flu, the real epidemic is corruption and greed.

In the past I’ve mentioned Simon Johnson’s article on “The Quiet Coup”.  It’s worth another look.  The real epidemic that’s going to wipe us out isn’t swine flu or  any other virus.  Instead it’s a viral idea.  An idea that people in positions of power hold in this country.  Namely, the idea that they got where they are due solely to merit.  And since they believe they got where they are by merit, then they must be good people. And then they conclude that whatever is in their personal best interest must also be good. It’s rationalization of greed, corruption, and avarice.  Nothing less.

A few data points to consider:

  1. Our secretary of treasury, Tim Geithner, was confirmed despite admitting to being a tax cheat.  Even when he was caught by the IRS and informed that his “interpretation” of the tax laws was errroneous, he paid only the absolutely legal minimum.  He refused to pay back the back taxes that were beyond the statute of limitations.  Apparently it’s only wrong if you get caught and publicized in Timmy’s book.  That doesn’t bode well for the Timmy designing a derivatives regulatory regime, does it?
  2. From NewsDaily and other sources:
    Stephen Friedman, chairman of the New York Federal Reserve Bank‘s board of directors, resigned on Thursday amid questions about his purchases of stock in his former firm, Goldman Sachs.
    What did he do?  He “quit” (the revolving door is open) a job at Goldman Sachs to take a position replacing Tim Geithner as President of the New York Federal Reserve Bank.  For those not familiar, the NY Fed is supposed to regulate Goldman Sachs.  So did Friedman put his Goldman stock in a blind trust? No. Did he sell it and seperate himself from Goldman? No.  Instead he not only continued to own stock in the firm he is supposed to regulate (and that has profited by the billions from bail-out programs, including those of the Fed).  He not only continued to own stock, he bought more.  Later in the same article Friedman is quoted as saying what he did was “in compliance with the rules”.  Of course it was. That’s because even later in the same article we discover that he was granted a waiver of the rules.  He sounds absolutely indignant that people think he has a conflict of interest and that we question his motivation.
  3. From Reuters today:
    Private equity fund The Carlyle Group will pay a $20 million penalty to settle its role in a probe of investment firms that hired politically connected people to help them get chosen to manage New York state’s pension fund, the state’s attorney general said on Thursday.
    Of course it wasn’t just the NY state pension fund, it was pension funds in at least 36 states.  Carlyle Group is one of the largest private private equity and investment mgt firms in the world.  One of it’s prime methods is to employ former top political people (ex-Presidents of US, ex-Secretaries of State, ex-Prime Ministers of UK, etc).  Then magically, the firm’s owned companies get big government contracts. Surprise!  In this latest episode, Carlyle bribes “employs” people who make campaign contributions to the politicos who are on the boards of the ublic pension funds.  Then, magic, the funds find that Carlyle is an excellent investment manager and should be hired.

Bankers as Royalty

Arianna Huffington has a very good read today about why bankers continue to get preferential treatment at the expense of Main Street. Here’s just an excerpt:

Just this week, the bankers and their lobbyists — who you might have reasonably thought would be the political equivalent of lepers in the halls of power these days — have kneecapped substantive bankruptcy reform in the Senate, helped pull the plug on a government-brokered deal with Chrysler, and tried feverishly to throw up a roadblock in the way of credit card reform in the House.

You heard me right. America’s bankers — those wonderful folks who brought us the economic meltdown — are still being treated as Beltway royalty by those in Congress.

According to Sen. Dick Durbin, the banks “are still the most powerful lobby on Capitol Hill. And they frankly own the place.”

When it comes to reforming our financial system, we are truly through the looking glass. I mean, since when did it become “to the vanquished go the spoils”? How do the same banks that have repeatedly come to Washington over the last eight months with their hats in their hands, asking for billions to rescue them from their catastrophic mistakes, somehow still “own the place”?

But the banks continue to be rewarded for their many failures.

How did banking get so screwed up?

One of the best articles I’ve found on how the banking industry & Wall St got so screwed up that they could take down the world’s economy. It’s very long, but an easy and engaging read – you don’t have to be an economist to understand it.  Warning to the sensitive: it’s from Rolling Stone, so some of language is a bit salty.  Check it out here at: The Big Takeover.

Wall St and Uncle Sam