Monday, May 31, 2010

Thank Someone Today

Memorial Day

~Cy Warman

Gather the garlands rare to-day,
Snow-white roses and roses red;
Gather the fairest flowers of May,
Heap them up on the graves of clay,
Gladden the graves of the noble dead.

Pile them high as the soldiers were
Piled on the field when they fought and fell;
They will rejoice in their new place there
To-day, as they walk where the fragrant air
Is sweet with the scent of asphodel.

Many a time, I've heard it said,
They fell so thick where the battles were,
Their hot blood rippled, and, running red,
Ran out like a rill from the drifted dead
Staining the heath and the daisies there,

This day the friends of the soldiers keep,
And they will keep it through all the years,
To the silent city where soldiers sleep
Will come with flowers, to watch and weep
And water the garlands with their tears.


Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Kwame Kilpatrick Sentenced For Parole Violation

Some people learn the hard way:

Ex-Detroit Mayor Gets 18 Months To Five Years In Prison For Violating Probation
Disgraced ex-Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick was sentenced today to 18 months to five years in prison for violating his probation by not disclosing assets as required under a plea deal.

Judge David Groner slammed Kilpatrick in court today, saying that "your testimony in this court amounted to perjury" and that "the initial 120 days incarceration did nothing to rehabilitate you."

"Probation is no longer an option," Groner said. "That ship has sailed."

TPMmuckraker's full coverage of Kilpatrick is available here.

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Thursday, May 20, 2010

Senate Passes Financial Reform

Today, the Senate passed H.R. 4173, the Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2009 by a 59 to 39 vote.

The bill, as amended: "calls for new ways to watch for risks in the financial system and makes it easier to liquidate large failing financial firms. It also writes new rules for complex securities blamed for helping precipitate the 2008 economic crisis, and it creates a new consumer protection agency."

The House passed its version of the bill on December 11, 2009, by a 223-202 vote.

The Senate bill will now have to be merged with the House version before going on to the President's desk for signing into law.

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Sunday, May 16, 2010

GOP: Bad Drivers

Bad driving isn't the only problem the GOP has. Refusing to admit and accept responsibility, and working towards fixing what they've messed up are more problems they won't work on.

Remarks by The President at DCCC Dinner

St. Regis Hotel
New York, New York
May 13, 2010

"After they drove the car into the ditch, made it as difficult as possible for us to pull it back, now they want the keys back.


"You can't drive. We don't want to have to go back into the ditch. We just got the car out."

Obama: GOP Drove The Country Into A Ditch. 'Now They Want The Keys Back'


" would have been nice to get a little help from the other side of the aisle, just once in a while. You would have thought at a time of historic crisis that Republican leaders would have been more willing to help us find a way out of this mess -- particularly since they created the mess."

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Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Audit The Fed

Tuesday, S.Amdt. 3738, Bernie Sanders' Amendment to S. 3217 (Restoring American Financial Stability Act of 2010), was passed by the Senate in a 96 — 0 vote.

Release: Senate Approves Fed Audit Sanders Amendment to End Fed Secrecy Passes
In a major victory for transparency at the Federal Reserve, the Senate today passed an amendment by Sen. Bernie Sanders to audit the Fed and make the central bank reveal which banks received more than $2 trillion in emergency aid during the financial crisis.

“The Fed can no longer operate in virtual secrecy,” said Sanders (I-Vt.).

Under his amendment, the Government Accountability Office would conduct a top-to-bottom audit of all emergency actions by the Fed since the start of the financial crisis in 2007. The non-partisan research arm of Congress specifically would be directed to investigate apparent conflicts of interest involving the Fed and CEOs of the largest financial institutions in the country.

In addition to the audit, the Fed for the first time would have to reveal by Dec. 1, 2010, the identities of banks and other financial institutions that took more than $2 trillion in nearly zero-interest loans.

Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke repeatedly refused to tell Sanders and others the names of the banks which took the loans.

“Let's be clear,” Sanders said. “When trillions of dollars of taxpayer money are being lent out to the largest financial institutions in this country, the American people have a right to know who received that money and what they did with it. We also need to know what possible conflicts of interest exist involving the heads of large financial institutions who sat in the room helping to make those decisions.”

The Rachel Maddow Show, hosted by Chris Hayes, Washington editor for The Nation:
Senate embraces 'audit the Fed'

May 11: Senator Bernie Sanders explains the scope and expected outcome of his "audit the Fed" amendment which passed the Senate Tuesday in a 96-0 vote. (8:35)

Senate Votes 96-0 to Audit Fed
"We are on the verge of lifting the veil of secrecy on perhaps the most important government agency in the United States of America,” said amendment sponsor Sen. Bernard Sanders, Ind.-Vt., "an agency which has control and spends trillions of dollars. They do it behind closed doors." [. . .]

The audit is the Senate's latest change to legislation that would overhaul the nation's financial regulatory system, making it easier for the government to break up ailing banks and provide a strong, independent consumer agency to help people with credit questions and problems.

The Senate debate is in its second week, with Democratic leaders hoping for a final vote later this week. Still to come are disputes over how to deal with derivatives, the exotic financial instruments that helped spur the 2008 economic collapse, as well as questions about how to deal with government-sponsored mortgage finance titans Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

If the Senate passes the legislation, next it will have to be reconciled with a similar bill that the House of Representatives passed last year, with final compromise terms then having to pass both houses of Congress before President Barack Obama could sign it into law.

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Friday, May 07, 2010

FCC: Third Way On Net Neutrality

FCC statement on 'third way' for broadband
May 6, 2010


Chairman Julius Genachowski
Federal Communications Commission

FCC says it has compromise on key broadband rules
FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski said Thursday that his agency has crafted a compromise in how it regulates high-speed Internet access: It will apply only narrow rules to broadband companies. [...]

So now Genachowski is seeking to redefine broadband as a telecommunications service subject to "common carrier" obligations to treat all traffic equally. Similar rules apply to other networks that serve the public, including roads, electrical grids and telephone lines. But Genachowski said he will refrain from imposing more burdensome mandates that also apply to traditional telecom companies. For instance he would avoid requiring the broadband companies to share their networks with competitors.

The proposal is intended to strike a balance that can satisfy both Internet service providers that oppose new regulations and public interest groups that are demanding greater consumer protections. FCC officials stressed that they intend to regulate only Internet connections, not the online services flowing through them.

FCC to Restore Authority Over Net Neutrality, Broadband Service: Netroots Backlash Cited
The "third way" plan, designed to appease Net Neutrality advocates - while not completely enraging the phone and cable companies - is good in some areas, and bad in others.

It will enable the FCC to enact many important provisions of their celebrated National Broadband Plan, including Net Neutrality and modifying government subsidy of Internet services. However, the new plan explicitly states that the FCC will not try to advance policies that promote more competition and affordability. Genachowski will use a technical process called "forbearance" to strip some of the agency's authority.

FCC seeking to apply narrow rules to broadband
The head of the Federal Communications Commission is pledging to apply only narrow regulations to high-speed Internet access to ensure the agency has adequate authority to govern broadband providers without adopting heavy-handed rules.

FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski said Thursday that the commission will seek to regulate broadband connections as a telecommunications service subject to "common carrier" obligations to treat all traffic equally. But it will refrain from imposing other burdensome obligations.

Update: FCC plans 'third way' to address 'Comcast dilemma,' net neutrality
In regulator-speak, Genachowski's plan says that broadband transmission will be reclassified as a "Title II" service - a telecommunications service of the type subject to close oversight since the FCC was established in the 1930s. Under the Bush administration, the FCC declared broadband offerings to be "Title I" data service, subject to much looser regulation. [ ...]

He says that the new rules would apply only to "the transmission component of broadband access service," and that the FCC will formally promise stay away from rules "that are unnecessary and inappropriate for broadband access service."

In other words, Genachowski is trying to thread a needle. He wants to make plain to the public that regulators can and will enforce reasonable net-neutrality principals against network owners who want to manage the broadband Internet like a private toll road, potentially favoring some people's or companies' traffic over others' in ways that distort the market. At the same time, he wants to signal businesses and entrepreneurs that the FCC will stay away from needless interference in a technology that has been a tremendous engine for growth.

To that end, the Genachowski-led commission also plans to push forward with its visionary National Broadband Plan, which sees wired and wireless broadband networks as the railroad, highway, and telephone networks of the 21st century: essential public services - whoever owns and operates them - that don't just connect the country but that will provide a framework for robust economic growth in the decades ahead. (It's not clear yet whether today's framework will directly affect wireless carriers.)

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Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Ernie Harwell, The Voice Of Tiger Baseball

On September 16, 2009, only a few weeks after being diagnosed with cancer, Ernie Harwell, the broadcasting Voice of the Detroit Tigers for 42 years, gave his farewell to fans:

Ernie Harwell: Tigers legend, Michigan's beloved son
You know how you can tell when a person is from Michigan? If you ask them where they’re from, they’ll hold up their hand, like it was a map of the state, and point to their home town.

But today, you won’t have to ask anything. It should be easy to spot Michiganders, because they’ll be crying.

Ernie Harwell, the broadcasting voice of the Detroit Tigers for more than 40 years, passed away on Tuesday, at the age of 92. As many in the state have noted, Mr. Harwell quite possibly was the most beloved Michigander of all time.

Ernie Harwell: The Definition of Baseball
The world is a little less gracious, a little less gentlemanly tonight. Legendary broadcaster Ernie Harwell is gone, probably talking with baseball fans in heaven above in that beautiful, courtly manner of his, and the voice of our game is momentarily silenced and forever changed.

If Michigan summers could talk, they would sound like Ernie Harwell: Relentlessly sunny and optimistic. I wrote those words last September after one of the greatest baseball voices of our time went public with his battle with cancer and, on this sad evening, I can't say it better than that.
. . .

Meantime, as we observe a moment of silence, I'll leave you with Ernie's beautiful "definition of baseball", as he put it, from the end of his Hall of Fame speech in 1981. Those of you who read this blog regularly or semi-regularly know my affinity for picking out a Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day. Well, today, this is it, and it is perfect:

Good bye, Ernie. Thank you, and God bless you.


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