Newsom Spanks GOP Talkshow Clown In California Recall Election

California Gov. Gavin Newsom didn't "survive" last night's recall election as so many news outlets are putting it this morning. He delivered an epic smackdown to MAGA talkshow host Larry Elder, with "No" at 64 percent to a piddling 36 percent in favor of ousting the Democrat as of current tabulations. The prototypical blue state, where Democrats outnumber Republicans almost 2 to 1, voted to retain its Democratic governor. BREAKING ... said no one ever.

There are no shortage of bad takes going around this morning. Apparently Democrats are in big trouble, mister, and getting shellacked is actually great news for John McCain the GOP. Take a wildass guess which CNN pundit wrote, "Tuesday night was, weirdly, a very good night for Larry Elder's political future."

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Joe Biden Hauls Sinema, Manchin To Oval Office For Loving, Genial Threat Session

Senator Kyrsten Sinema, the plucky centrist from Arizona, has armed herself with what Axios called “secret spreadsheets" for the negotiations over President Joe Biden's $3.5 trillion budget plan. (Negotiations that will take place in person with Senator Joe Manchin — separately, like they are in trouble at school — and President Joe Biden today!) The spreadsheets are so secret she won't shut up about them as she "strategizes with colleagues about next steps in the budget process." It's not clear yet what exactly she or her advisers on the chamber of commerce want but Sinema is nonetheless bringing an “accountant-like focus" to the proceedings. This implies that all the other Democrats would spend money like they're making a Marvel movie if it wasn't for Sinema's responsible centrism.

Sinema and Joe Manchin, of West Virginia, aren't necessarily aligned on which Democratic priorities they can tolerate. Is increased spending on childcare, health care, education, and the environment really worth raising taxes slightly on corporations and the wealthy? Sinema will just have to refer to her spreadsheets for the answer.

It wasn't that long ago that Donald Trump and the GOP Congress shattered the US piggy bank and surrendered the contents to the wealthiest Americans. The tax scam bill was unpopular and remained so until Americans kind of forgot about how bad they'd been screwed over. This is a common GOP tactic. Meanwhile, Biden and the Democrats' plan is overwhelming popular, but Sinema and Manchin are still trying to nickel-and-dime it to death.

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If *Joe Scarborough* Thinks Dem Plan Doesn't Tax Rich Enough, That Plan Could Use Some Fixin'

The House Ways and Means Committee has turned in its homework for its part of the Build Back Better budget plan, with a plan to increase personal and business taxes, as well as a number of other tax increases, that would rustle up about $2.1 trillion toward Joe Biden's agenda for rethinking the social safety net and moving America away from fossil fuels. That's far short of the $3.5 trillion that had been announced earlier this summer as the spending target, and as the New York Times explains, the Ways and Means plan wusses out by dropping several measures the White House wants, which would have raised taxes on the super-wealthy:

[The] proposal, while substantial in scope, stopped well short of changes needed to dent the vast fortunes of tycoons like Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk, or to thoroughly close the most egregious loopholes exploited by high-flying captains of finance. It aimed to go after the merely rich more than the fabulously rich.

There are things to like in the Ways and Means proposal, like the increase on the top marginal income tax rates for individuals to 39.6 percent, the rate prior to Donald Trump's Big Fat Tax Cuts for Rich Fuckwads. It raises the corporate tax rate to 26.5 percent, less than the 28 percent Biden wanted, but more than the 25 percent Joe Manchin wanted (and all of 'em lower than the 35 percent rate prior to 2017).

The plan also raises the capital gains rate to 25 percent, from the current 20 percent, which is an improvement, but nothing like the tax equalizer Biden called for. Since the obscenely rich make their money off investments, not paychecks, Biden had called for people making over a million dollars a year to pay a capital gains rate of 39.6 percent, just like the top marginal income tax rate. And again, since the super-wealthy don't get their money as paychecks, even raising the income tax rate leaves their real income mostly untaxed.

Happily, the bill is just getting started, and Senate Dems, as well as progressives in the House, may well take a less chickenshit approach to taxing the wealthiest Americans, who already avoid paying anything like the tax rates the rest of us do.

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Rudy Giuliani Not Drunk YOU ARE DRUNK

Rudy Giuliani's having a weird one. Yeah, that is obviously an evergreen statement. But he just needs you to know and understand and acknowledge that HE IS NOT DRUNK. Have we had this conversation before? It sure feels like it. Would we even be mad if Giuliani was drunk? After all, he's not allowed to practice law in New York or DC at the moment, which means he's probably got some time on his hands, and his life has probably never been in a darker place than it is right now, he's broke and under criminal investigation by the office he used to run.

Have 95 drinks, Rudy!

Anyway, this is the Daily Mail's headline:

EXCLUSIVE: 'Yes, I had one scotch': Giuliani says he was NOT drunk during rambling September 11th speech at Cipriani, isn't an alcoholic and denies mocking the Queen: Claims he is the victim of a left-wing smear

This is just an awesome news story. He wasn't drunk, he's not an alcoholic, he didn't make fun of the Queen, and he wasn't touching his penis, officer, YOU WERE TOUCHING YOUR PENIS, OFFICER.

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Just Guess Why This Federalist Lady Won't Get The Vaccine!

Just think of the stupidest thing you can imagine, and that is probably it.

Last week, we brought you a list of all of the very sane things that Ben Domenech of The Federalist said about vaccines ... back in the year 2015, when he was actually talking about the measles. Domenech got very defensive about people bringing that up and, to little avail, tried to pull off the "I still believe those things, but also this is different, for reasons" shuffle. Thus, it is probably a huge coincidence that The Federalist has run several articles this week about how the reason people don't want vaccines is because experts and President Joe Biden and the entire political Left are doing a such bad job of explaining to them why they should.

This has included such hits as:

Why The Expert Class Is Incapable Of Persuading People To Get Vaccinated — The answer? Because they're condescending and because they changed their positions on things like masks once they understood the virus better. If they had immediately understood literally everything about this new virus right off the bat, columnist Emily Jashinsky argues, people might be more inclined to believe them on the vaccines.

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Marco Rubio: Tyrant Joe Biden Won't Let Florida Bogart All The Monoclonal Antibodies

Making sure there's enough of the life-saving treatment to go around? That must be 'partisan payback'!

Kids, it seems that Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Florida) is really mad at Joe Biden about how the federal government is dealing with the surge in new coronavirus cases in states with low vaccination rates. You see, in addition to the coronavirus vaccines that are safe, free, and highly effective at preventing serious cases of COVID-19, medical science also has a pretty effective treatment available that, when given to someone infected with the virus, can often prevent them from needing hospitalization. That would be monoclonal antibody treatments, which are, as CNN helpfully explains, "lab-engineered immune system proteins that kickstart an immune response against an infection."

Now, since the antibody therapies are a good way of keeping people out of hospitals, the governors of some red states, like Ron DeSantis in Florida and Greg Abbott in Texas, have made a point of setting up infusion sites where infected folks can be treated, and that's great because it saves lives.

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Class War

Elizabeth Warren Wants To Break Up Wells Fargo, And She's Not Wrong!

Exactly how much longer do they get to continue screwing consumers?

Earlier this week, Sen. Elizabeth Warren sent a letter to Jerome Powell, chairman of the Federal Reserve, urging him to break up Wells Fargo — that is, take away their ability to do both consumer and investment banking — due to the many problems the bank has had over the last several years. Predictably, this was met with cheers, shrugs, and "fine, but it'll never happen"s. Investors aren't too worried, as the stock has actually gone up over the past several days.

wells fargo stock chart goes from 45 to 46ish

It kind of says a lot about the US that a senator writes a letter detailing two decades worth of consumer scandals a company has found itself mired in, six of which occurred in the last four years, and demanding they be broken up, and the bank's stock actually rises. People have absolutely no belief that these institutions will ever be forced to face consequences for their actions, and, sadly, they're not too misguided.

That being said, Warren makes a hell of a lot of good points — number one being that no consequence so far has forced them to get their act together or remunerate consumers for the myriad ways they had screwed them over the years. This has included such hits as: forcing 800,000 car loan customers to get auto insurance they didn't need, which then led to Wells Fargo repossessing their cars when they couldn't pay; screwing up all of the refunds they were supposed to pay customers for having done that; falsifying clients signatures and other documents; closing customer accounts and then charging them overdraft fees; and recommending investment products to their retail customers without "without having adequate compliance policies and procedures and without providing financial advisors proper training and supervision" for them.

This matter is of urgent importance. Earlier this year, media outlets reported that Wells Fargo is actively working to expand its investment bank, despite the firm's asset cap. Wells Fargo executives are seeking to compete with other giant Wall Street banks by, among other things, "lending to hedge funds looking to ramp up bets"—the same activity that triggered $10 billion in losses among megabanks earlier this year. Given Wells Fargo's woefully inadequate internal controls, the firm cannot be trusted to conduct such risky activities in a safe and sound manner. In addition, I am concerned that Wells Fargo's senior executives are focused on expanding risky investment banking activities instead of remediating consumer harms and improving lax internal controls. The Fed should immediately revoke Wells Fargo's FHC [financial holding company] status to ensure that its leaders focus all of their attention on fixing the bank's numerous, chronic risk-management deficiencies.

Having both a retail banking division and an investment division is not easy to handle without putting consumers at risk, which is why for most of the last century, the Glass-Steagall Act prevented banks from engaging in both consumer banking and investment banking. The law was enacted in the 1930s after the Great Depression, to ensure that consumers didn't get screwed by banks taking the kind of big risks they would if they were focused on investment banking. The kind of risks Wells Fargo is now taking, and which Warren believes are harming customers.

But in 1999, inspired by Citigroup's desire to become a massive conglomerate in spite of Glass-Steagall regulations, three Republicans teamed up and passed the Gramm–Leach–Bliley Act, which effectively eliminated everything in Glass-Steagall that protected consumers.

Here's a little clip I always enjoy of the late John Dingell — a Senator, not a psychic — saying, in 1999, that this could potentially lead to banks becoming ... too big to fail.


While this means that banks now can do both consumer and investment banking, they're supposed to (ideally) have to adhere to certain standards in order to be able to do so. As Warren explains in her letter ... Wells Fargo has not.

Under the Bank Holding Company Act, financial holding companies (FHCs) like Wells Fargo are required to be "well capitalized" and "well managed." When an FHC or one of its depository subsidiaries fails to meet these requirements, the Fed is required to provide notice to the FHC and give the institution on opportunity to correct its deficiencies. If the holding company fails to correct its deficiencies within 180 days, the Fed may require the FHC to "divest control of any subsidiary depository institution," or, if the FHC instead chooses, "to cease to engage in any activity" that is not permissible for a bank holding company. This Fed authority ensures that the size and complexity of a company does not interfere with its ability to provide safe, fair, and transparent core banking services to its customers.

In order to remain "well managed," an FHC must earn at least satisfactory scores on its CAMELS (Capital adequacy, Asset quality, Management, Earnings, Liquidity, and Sensitivity) composite and management ratings used by banking supervisors. These scores are confidential. But past reporting has indicated that Wells Fargo's CAMELS rating was downgraded in 2017, and it is inconceivable that Wells Fargo could have earned an upgraded CAMELS score given the sheer number and ongoing nature of scandalous and unlawful behavior at the bank since then.

In an appearance on MSNBC on Wednesday, Warren briefly addressed the letter, saying, "My question is, if you're not going to break up Wells Fargo this time, tell me when you are?" Which, really, is the whole question. How many times does a bank have to screw consumers before the US government steps in and says, "Hey, we're actually not going to let you do that anymore"?

Now, Warren, notably, thinks we should bring back Glass-Steagall, having worked on the 21st Century Glass-Steagall Act with Republican John McCain in both 2013 and 2017. I also think we should do that. But if we're going to go without it and "trust" the banks to be this big, they should at the very least be prevented from doing the things that made Glass-Steagall necessary in the first place, no?

It's likely this letter will be largely ignored by the Fed and laughed off by Wells Fargo. It shouldn't be. There are going to be consequences no matter what happens, and Wells Fargo being forced to face a few of them is a better outcome than the alternative.

[Elizabeth Warren]

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