Thanks to Occupy Wall Street, in the State of the Union this week President Obama struck some of his most populist themes yet. He wants to tax millionaires, bring back manufacturing and prosecute the big banks. He touted his Wall Street reforms saying the big banks are "no longer allowed to make risky bets with customers deposits" and "the rest of us aren't bailing you out ever again."
But are we safe from the next big bank bailout? Many experts are dubious and Wednesday the consumer advocacy group Public Citizen decided to test the theory in the most direct way possible. They used the administrative law process to formally petition the nation's top bank regulators to move swiftly to break up Bank of America (BofA) asserting in their petition: "The bank poses a grave threat to U.S. financial stability by any reasonable definition of that phrase."
While volunteer after volunteer from each of Wisconsin's 72 counties marched into the state's election board to deposit over one million signatures for the recall of Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, Walker was nowhere to be found.
At the hour petitions were being deposited on January 17, Mother Jones revealed that Walker was scheduled to attend a high-dollar fundraiser in the heart of the New York's financial district at 339 Park Avenue -- the towering headquarters for global financial giant CitiGroup. The $5,000 per couple fundraiser was hosted by none other than Maurice "Hank" Greenberg, former CEO of AIG.
Thousands of websites across America have gone dark this week in protest of supposed anti-piracy bills in Congress.
I first noticed when I went to MichaelMoore.com to see how he was covering the Wisconsin protests, but his site was black with an eerie image of a mouse-controlled light that revealed the message "This site has gone dark today in protest of the U.S. Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) in the U.S. House of Representatives and the PROTECT IP Act (PIPA) in the U.S. Senate... We need to kill these bills to protect our right to free speech, privacy and prosperity."
So many signatures were delivered demanding the recall of Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker and other state officials, that one scribe dubbed it the "greatest popular democracy movement in Wisconsin history." Over 30,000 volunteers collected over 1.9 million signatures and delivered them to the state's nonpartisan elections board on January 17.
Volunteers exceeded all expectations, delivering 1 million petitions for the recall of Scott Walker, an amount equivalent to 46 percent of the votes cast in the last gubernatorial race. Never had so many, in the history of the United States, petitioned for the recall of a governor.
The petition drive to recall and remove Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker has surpassed all expectations, collecting over one million signatures in just 60 days.
Petitioners were only required to collect 540,000 by law. They far exceeded this number, making a successful legal challenge of the recall highly unlikely. This is the largest recall in U.S. history. Volunteers also gathered over 845,000 signatures to recall Lieutenant Governor Rebecca Kleefisch, as well enough signatures for four of the state senators who voted for Walker's collective bargaining bill in March 2011, adding hundreds of thousands more petitions to a pile estimated to weigh over one ton.
The Governor was not immediately available for comment. At the moment the recall petitions were being filed, he was the guest of Citibank on Wall Street at a high-dollar recall fundraiser.
While Mitt Romney came out ahead in New Hampshire, his front-runner status will soon be under the gun by some very deep pockets backing Newt Gingrich.
As previously reported by CMD, over $3 million dollars worth of ads cut by a Super PAC controlled by Mitt Romney's former aides, dropped Gingrich like a stone in Iowa. Gingrich sank from an overconfident front runner, who told ABC's Jake Tapper "I will be the nominee" on December 1, to an embittered candidate who placed fourth in Iowa a short time later.
After ineffectually whining about being totaled by Mitt Romney's "negativity" in the Iowa primary, Newt Gingrich may have decided that revenge is sweeter. A pro-Gingrich Super PAC is preparing to unleash a barrage of negativity on South Carolina voters.
Newt Gingrich's Baggage
The new Super PACs dominating the air wars in Iowa and New Hampshire were unleashed by the Citizens United revision of the First Amendment to allow individuals and corporations to give unlimited amounts of money to influence U.S. elections. Super PAC spending cannot be directly coordinated with a candidate, but provides candidates with an avenue for negative attack ads that they do not have to put their name on. (Numerous groups are calling for amending the Constitution to overturn the decision.)
The most omnipresent ad by the pro-Romney "Restore Our Future" Super PAC led with the line "You know what makes President Obama happy? Newt Gingrich's baggage." It then went on to detail a scorching list of allegations, including that Gingrich was paid $30,000 an hour by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, two organizations that "helped cause the financial crisis."
"I've been Romney-boated," Gingrich complained to the press in Iowa, referring to the ad campaign in 2004 launched by the group, Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, that helped sink presidential candidate John F. Kerry. According to the Campaign Media Analysis Group, 45 percent of all TV ads in Iowa have been attack ads against Gingrich, including this no-hold-barred attack by Ron Paul's campaign. (Note that Paul does not hesitate to put his name right on the ad.)
The pro-Mitt Romney Super PAC massively outspent the candidate's official presidential campaign on advertising, reportedly spending $7 million to the candidate's official $5 million so far. While Romney dodged responsibility for the negative ads, Gingrich put is succinctly: "It's very hard to run $3.5 million of negative ads and pretend it's not yours and not have people think you're being dishonest."
"The Man that Destroyed Us"
Now, a pro-Gingrich Super PAC is getting ready to unleash a world of harm on the Romney campaign. According to the New York Times, billionaire casino owner Sheldon Adelson has cut a $5 million check to the "Winning Our Future" Super PAC. Adelson has long been a Gingrich supporter.
Winning our Future just released a devastating 30 minute film, When Mitt Romney Came to Town, in advance of the South Carolina primary ten days away. The Super PAC has reserved more than $3.4 million in advertising time in the state to air clips of the movie as ads.
The ads and the film claim that as CEO of Bain Capital, a venture capital firm, Romney bought American businesses simply to shut them down. Romney describes his tenure at Bain as one in which he created "100,000 jobs." But the ad characterizes Romney and Bain "as group of corporate raiders ... more ruthless than Wall Street" and intones, "For tens of thousands of Americans, the suffering began when Mitt Romney came to town." A woman put out of work by Bain, characterizes Romney as "the man who destroyed us," a potent message in a country that currently has 25 million unemployed or underemployed citizens.
Gingrich characterized Romney and Bain as "rich people figuring out clever legal ways to loot a company," but Gingrich of course has his own private equity supporters including Blackstone Group and KKR & Co. according to the Boston Globe.
As for the truth of the matter, an old Bain prospectus obtained by the Los Angeles Timesshows a stunning 88 percent average annual rate of return under Romney's leadership. But did the firm earn this money by creating jobs or destroying them? The Washington Post recently gave Romney three Pinocchios for his unsubstantiated job claims.
Last week, tragedy was averted when savvy security at Deutsche Bank (DB) in Frankfurt, Germany, spotted a suspicious package and sequestered a letter bomb intended for the DB CEO. This was the second time Deutsche Bank was attacked in this manner. In 1989, their CEO was killed by a bomb later traced to violent extremists in Germany's Red Army Faction.
On the one-year anniversary of an important American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) meeting in Washington D.C., Wisconsin's public safety officers gathered to prepare for the next stage in the fight for labor rights.
Some 250 police and firefighters signed recall petitions, loaded up on maps and assignments and to listened to guest speakers at a "Recall Walker" gathering at Madison's South Central Federation of Labor. Mark Sanders, President of the Ohio Association of Professional Firefighters, was there to pass the torch and Harold Schaitberger, National President of the International Association of Professional Firefighters (IAFF), was there to reminded the crowd about the critical role ALEC played in the Wisconsin and Ohio uprisings.