A tale of two capitalisms

March 31, 2012

The excellent Joe Nocera wrote this the other day, comparing a responsible, accountable brand of capitalism practiced, as he describes it, by Starbucks, versus the hustling, scorched-earth variety practiced by people like Goldman Sachs.

Kristof, writing in NYT today describes one of Goldman’s (now former) holdings, a sex trafficking website.



Does Election 2012 really come down to just 7 states?

March 31, 2012

Paul Brandhus, founder of the West Wing Report, has a piece up on The Week site arguing that this year’s presidential election hinges on seven swing states–Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Nevada, New Hampshire, Ohio, and Virginia.

Obama won all of those in 2008, Florida and Ohio most narrowly, by 3 and 4 points, respectively. However, as Mr. Brandhus notes, this is a very different environment, in large part because of the Recession. Unemployment rates are higher in three of those states–Colorado, Florida, and Nevada (where it’s over 12 percent). In Ohio and Iowa, they’re down slightly, and they’re unchanged in New Hampshire and Virginia.

One key factor will be minority voting. Brandhus notes Ron Brownstein’s analyses in National Journal, which I have linked to several times, that indicate the size of minority voter turnout will be critical (which may explain the R’s ferocious efforts to supress voter turnout). If Hispanics and African-Americans turn out in force in November, particularly in states like Colorado, Nevada, Florida, and Virginia, and they vote en masse for Obama, the share of the white vote he needs (and is likely to get) shrinks.


What Citizens United has wrought

March 30, 2012

Mind-boggling levels of spending by Super Pacs, most of it funded by a very wealthy few, most of it favoring Republicans, and most of it focused on attack ads.

And most Americans want it banned.


More evidence Barack Obama is a sworn enemy of American business

March 30, 2012

Wall Street reports best first quarter since 1998.

Corporate taxes (not the rates, but what they actually pay as a share of profits) are the lowest in 40 years.
GE, for example, has paid an effective tax rate of 2.3 percent over the last decade. And, heck, one hardy group of corporations has paid zip.

And those profits? They are hitting historic levels, even as productivity grows and wages shrink.

Rough times.


Rough day for Scott Walker

March 30, 2012

First, the Wisconsin Government Accountability Board unanimously ordered a recall election, set for June 5th, after more than 900,000 Wisconsinites signed petitions in support of recalling a Governor who created his state's fiscal problems himself and then used same as an excuse to attack unions and try to savage social spending.

Then a federal judge struck down key parts of the union-busing Act 10 (he upheld others), one of the main accomplishments of Walker’s tenure, and the move that sparked this whole thing to begin with.

AP has a very good summary piece.

It was just two weeks ago the Rs lost their state Senate majority.

And the FBI has been interested in some long-time Walker aides for months now. Bet that gets mentioned once or twice between now and June 5th.

National Journal has a piece about how all this could be a bit of a headache for Willard in the upcoming Wisconsin primary and beyond, even though he has gone out of his way to self-identify as an enemy of organized labor.

As far as the recall, an NBC/Marist survey has Walker training a generic Dem by only 2 points. Other early polling has Walker up in single digits over likely opponents. Former Dane County (Madison and its environs) Executive Kathleen Falk has already jumped in, and former Congressman and current Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, who lost to Walker in the Tea Tide of 2010, joined the race shortly after the recall announcement. Two other Dems are also in. I do worry there could be a mean primary, set for May 8th. Wisconsin unions, the targets of Walker’s jihad, have lined up behind Falk, who has run for statewide office unsuccessfully before. Barrett in the race will doubtless test loyalties and generally complicate matters. I’m checking in with friends back in the Badger State to get a sense of what’s happening. I’ll update you as soon’s I hear something.

I hope Dems can work this out, and not squander an opportunity to make history as well as deliver a black eye to the Brothers Koch:



Foxconn inspection report is released today

March 29, 2012

(Apple photo)

As Apple CEO Tim Cook toured one of Foxconn’s plants, the Fair Labor Association announced it’s findings. Violations of standards for number of hours worked, pay, and “other serious issues in areas such as health and safety, worker integration and communication, treatment of interns, and China‚Äôs social security enrollment . . . .” Some improvements have been made, with others promised. Stay tuned.

Here’s the Association’s release, with a link to the full report at the end.


The glories of Theobroma cacao . . . .

March 28, 2012

It is well-known that chocolate is good for you, but just thought I’d pass along HuffPost’s summary of the many benefits of this magical gift from the gods.

And, of course, there are the wonderful effects of Phenylethylamine.

Pardon, I need my evening indulgence . . . .