Sunday, May 20, 2012

More Mean Funnies

"Mitt Romney once lost $2 billion. Then he found it in another pair of pants."

-- David Letterman

"President Obama and Mitt Romney both gave commencement speeches over the last few days. Obama was like: 'You can be whatever you want to be.' Romney was like: 'I can be whatever you want me to be.'"

-- Jimmy Fallon

"I'm actually – I'm not familiar with precisely, exactly what I said. But I stand by what I said, whatever it was. And with regards to – I'll go back and take a look at what was said there."

Until next week, when I'll say whatever I think you want to hear and then I'll stand by that until I have to stand by something else I said.

-- Me

Jamie Dimon, still Master of the Universe

Perhaps he has added 'Master of the Putzes' to his many titles and professional distinctions. Then again, maybe it's the customers and shareholders of JPMorgan Chase that are the larger schmucks.

It’s official. Just as he was voted in for a second term as Class A New York Fed director in February 2010, Jamie Dimon was reelected chairman and CEO of JPMorgan Chase yesterday afternoon. He got to keep his $23 million pay package, too. All without breaking a sweat.

This means that at each of three of the top five bank-holding companies dominating U.S. derivatives exposure, loans, assets, and deposits, the same man holds the chairman and CEO positions—at Goldman Sachs, Wells Fargo, and JPM Chase.  (Bank of America and Citigroup separated those roles.). If the stock buckles under another “discovery,” shareholders can take comfort in blaming themselves, not Jamie Dimon.
At the shareholders meeting there was no mention of the details behind the “mistake” that cost the bank $2 billion, just that it “should never have happened.” (The Titanic shouldn’t have sunk either.) Most shareholders had already voted before the loss became public anyway. Ultimately, 91 percent of them approved Dimon’s pay, and 60 percent voted for him to retain both executive positions. This makes the timing of the loss announcement, if not suspicious, then, self-serving -- or self-inflicted.

If you haven't watched the HBO docu-drama Too Big to Fail, (based on the book by Andrew Sorkin), I heartily recommend doing so at your earliest opportunity. Here's the trailer:

Bill Pullman -- the President of the United States in Independence Day -- plays the far-more-MVP Dimon in this flick. It's both comical and pathetic to watch the once (Hank Paulson, played by William Hurt) and future (Tim Geithner, played by Billy Crudup) Secretaries of the Treasury kowtow, grovel, and prostrate themselves before Dimon.

One of the movie's best lines comes after Geithner (Crudup) describes a conversation with Dimon (Pullman): "I told him we need his help. And I asked him very politely not to [expletive] with us today."

Art imitates life imitating art. In real life, Geithner avoids any harsh language in suggesting, as politely as possible, that Dimon may want to reconsider his service on the same regulatory body that is responsible for policing his even-bigger-now-than-it-was-then TBTF bank.

No public response yet from the MotU. But I bet I can guess what the private one was: something along the lines of "STFU, MoFo".

The nicest thing that can be said about Jamie Dimon is that he may not be as evil as Mark Zuckerberg -- who got married yesterday following the failure of his company's IPO (not for him and a few others, but for everybody else). Congratulations, Mark and Priscilla. Y'all aren't moving to Singapore too, are ya?

Update: In quite possibly the worst conclusion ever leapt to in all of recorded history, Loren Steffy, business writer for the Houston Chronicle, argues that Chase's $2 billion dollar derivatives trading loss is why Elizabeth Warren should not be running for the US Senate.

Sunday 'We Mean Business' Funnies

Emphasis on 'mean' (adj).

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Lissa Squiers for Congress

Personally speaking, this is the most important race in Harris County.

I have said this a time or two before, but it bears repeating as the early voting period gets started: there are three people running in the Democratic primary for Congressional District 7 for the right to square off against John "Doesn't Keep His Word" Culberson in November. One of the two men is an oil and gas attorney with Clinton administration connections, but whose campaign is managed and funded by Republicans and Republican interests (where have we heard of that elsewhere?). One of the more odious things this man's campaign has undertaken is to revisit local Democratic clubs and organizations to persuade them that their co-endorsement of his candidacy and one of his challengers should be revoted in his favor.

What's even worse is that he has occasionally succeeded in this venal tactic.

The other gentleman runs a global defense/security company (remember Blackwater? Like that). Until recently his website proclaimed in large letters at the top "Blue Dog Democrat".

The third person is Lissa Squiers, who has spent all of her time for the past several years engaging the community on the part of childhood education, womens' rights, gay rights, ... you name it. (Well, she names it all in her statement below.)

She has lived Democratic causes and fought Democratic battles while the two men made money and hired expensive consultants -- again, some of them Republican -- and decided to run for office.

Once again my friend Neil and I see eye-to-eye on this choice. Here is Lissa's appeal to the Democrats of CD-07, asking for your vote.

As a candidate for political office I meet a lot of people.  Every one of these people has the same basic needs, and underneath everything else, they are saying they want a good life for themselves and their children.   Every family benefits when people are healthy and educated.  Every community benefits when they have good roads and bridges and schools and first responders.  Every business benefits when people and families and communities are strong.  No one ever says they don’t want these things.

The next logical step is where we differ:  what’s good for people is what’s good for business.   That’s what I believe and that’s what liberal Democrats believe.  Centrists and ‘moderates’ in both parties believe the opposite.  They say that what’s good for business is what’s good for people.  Both of my opponents for Congressional District 7 have made a lifetime and a business out of this opposite approach.  But the economy and Occupy Wall Street and current reality for the majority of Americans shows us this doesn’t work – catering to corporations has given us nothing but a few scraps of their leftover lunch and a big mess to clean up.

I believe in equality:  Voting equality.  Women’s equality.  Wage equality.  Education equality.   Social equality.  Marriage equality.  Religious equality.   Racial equality.  Healthcare equality.  These things are our God-given, inalienable rights.   If I am honored with the opportunity to represent Congressional District 7 in Washington, my votes and acts and policies will come from these beliefs.   These things are good for people and good for communities.  Healthy people and healthy communities create and support healthy businesses and a healthy American economy.

My work in the community in education, juvenile justice, religious and voting rights, women’s rights and union rights are extensive and come from the heart.  As a Texan and Houstonian, my family’s history and future are here.  I hope you will vote in the upcoming Democratic primary to choose candidates that will support the equality and rights that are necessary to let Americans create the American Dream that we are all capable of.  I would be honored to receive your vote for Congressional District 7.  As a woman, as a mother, as a Texan, I know that 2012 is the year for the changes we need to take America forward.  And as a Democrat, I know that 2012 is the year that we make better lives for all, not just the privileged few.

So the choice is clear. And that holds true even if you're a Republican or a Blue Dog (not that there's a dime's worth of difference, mind you).