The President's Weekly Address:
... The transcript is here.
David Ingram of Reuters: "Two big cases addressing marriage rights for gays and lesbians are on track to reach the U.S. Supreme Court as soon as this year, keeping the focus on an issue President Barack Obama reignited with his endorsement this week."
Edward Wyatt of the New York Times: "Soon after lawmakers finished work on the nation's new financial regulatory law, a team of JPMorgan Chase lobbyists descended on Washington. Their goal was to obtain special breaks that would allow banks to make big bets in their portfolios, including some of the types of trading that led to the $2 billion loss now rocking the bank."
Peter Eavis & Susan Craig of the New York Times: "Every big bank has risk controls. Teams of executives are assigned to manage and review trades to ensure the bank’s safety and health. Yet trading debacles happen with surprising regularity. Last year, losses at two big institutions rocked the financial world. MF Global went out of business after making an ill-timed bet on European debt. Before that, a UBS trader in London lost the firm $2.3 billion. The 2008 financial crisis was the result of major risk miscalculations that brought down several big financial institutions, including Bear Stearns, Lehman Brothers and the American International Group."
It just shows they can't manage risk -- and if JPMorgan can't, no one can. -- Simon Johnson, former chief economist for the International Monetary Fund.
Daniel Wagner of the AP: "JPMorgan is the largest bank in the United States and was the only major bank to remain profitable during the 2008 financial crisis. That lent credibility to its tough-talking CEO, Jamie Dimon, as he opposed stricter regulation in the aftermath. But Dimon's contention that the $2 billion loss came from a hedging strategy that backfired, not an opportunistic bet with the bank's own money, faced doubt on Friday, if not outright ridicule."
Ben Protess, et al., of the New York Times: "While the [$2BB] loss [JPMorgan Chase experienced] is not a huge threat to a bank as large and powerful as JPMorgan, whose shares tumbled 9.3 percent on Friday, it is a stark reminder that the banking system remains vulnerable to market shocks more than three years after the financial crisis. It has heightened concerns that big banks continue to make risky financial bets that could threaten the economy. ...
JPMorgan has lost, in this one set of transactions, five times the amount they claim financial regulation is costing them. -- Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) ...
... Nelson Schwartz & Jessica Silver-Greenberg of the New York Times: JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie "Dimon's reputation and possibly his influence have been cut down to size. The trading loss disclosed late Thursday is a rare misstep by a man who prides himself on having his fingers on the pulse of his 270,000-employee company, and it suggests his vaunted confidence edged toward hubris." ...
... Here are some videos of Dimon complaining about regulation & the Volcker Rule.
... New York Times Editors: "... the loss also occurred because of a continued lack, nearly four years after the crisis, of rules and regulators up to the task of protecting taxpayers and the economy from the excesses of too big to fail banks; and, yes, of protecting the banks from their executives' and traders' destructive risk-taking.... JP Morgan, like the nation's other big banks, is still engaged in activities that can provoke catastrophic losses.... Mitt Romney has called for repealing Dodd Frank. That may win him Wall Street cash, but it is profoundly dangerous."
Dan Eggen & Sandhya Somashekhar of the Washington Post: "President Obama’s endorsement of same-sex marriage is energizing Christian conservative support for Mitt Romney in a way that the likely GOP nominee has so far not been able to do on his own, according to religious leaders and activists. Pastors in Ohio, North Carolina, Florida and other swing states are readying Sunday sermons inveighing against same-sex unions, while activist groups have begun laying plans for social media campaigns, leaflet drives and other get-out-the-vote efforts centered on the same-sex marriage issue. Romney could benefit from a strong turnout among evangelicals and other social conservatives, many of whom remain skeptical of his commitment to their causes."
Jeffrey Jones of Gallup: "A majority of Americans, 60%, say President Barack Obama's newly announced support for same-sex marriage will make no difference to their vote. Twice as many say it will make them less likely to vote for Obama as say more likely, though roughly half of the 'less likely' group are Republicans who probably would not support Obama anyway."
Mitch Weiss of the AP: "Once a bright spot for President Barack Obama, North Carolina is now more like a political migraine less than four months before Democrats open the party's national convention in Charlotte. Labor unions, a core Democratic constituency, are up in arms. Democratic Gov. Bev Perdue isn't running for re-election; Democrats say she was likely to lose. The state Democratic Party is in disarray over an explosive sexual harassment scandal. Voters recently approved amending the state constitution to ban gay marriage.... And unemployment in the state remains persistently high.... Now traditional Democratic Party groups are threatening huge protests in part because they're deeply uncomfortable that the convention is being held in one of the least union-friendly states. And thousands of Democrats across the country are calling for the convention to be relocated because of the gay-marriage vote."
Not Bringing the Scissors Today. Ashley Parker of the New York Times: "Mitt Romney's commencement address Saturday at Liberty University, the evangelical institution in Virginia founded by Jerry Falwell, comes on the heels of President's Obama's announcement Wednesday that he supports same-sex marriage. But in a conference call with reporters Friday, Romney campaign aides said ... Mr. Romney would not overtly wade into the issue of same-sex marriage. 'Marriage isn't the focus of the speech, but he will mention the fact that marriage is an enduring institution, which deserves to be defended,' one aide said." ...
... Update. Philip Rucker of the Washington Post reports on Romney's speech at Liberty.
Steve Benen catches Romney in 20 lies this week. (CW: The funniest one, to me, is his repeated insistence that Syria is Iran's route to the sea -- funny because Iran & Syria don't even share a border & Iran has hundreds of miles of coastline. Maybe if Romney hadn't let Ric Grenell go, Grenell would have updated Romney's stupid stump speech.)
Charles Blow: "There was a malicious streak at the core of the high-school boy in these accounts. Romney's muddled and confusing explanation and half-apologies only reinforce concerns that there is also something missing from the core of the man: sincerity and sensitivity. Targeting the vulnerable is an act of cowardice. The only way to vanquish cowardice is to brandish courage. Romney refused to do so."
Beth Reinhard of the National Journal: As Massachusetts governor, Romney's evolving record on anti-gay bullying got worse, not better, as he repositioned himself to run for president.
Right Wing World
New York Times Editors: "Mr. Broun owes an apology to history."to
Dana Milbank compares Richard Mourdock, who beat out Sen. Dick Lugar in the Indiana primary to Keith Judd, the federal inmate "who won 41 percent of the ballots against President Obama in West Virginia’s Democratic presidential primary."
New York Times Editors: "For more than a year, House Republicans have energetically worked to demolish vital social programs that have made this country both stronger and fairer over the last half-century. At the same time, they have insisted on preserving bloated military spending and unjustifiably low tax rates for the rich. That effort reached a nadir on Thursday when the House voted to prevent $55 billion in automatic cuts imposed on the Pentagon as part of last year’s debt-ceiling deal, choosing instead to make all those cuts, and much more, from domestic programs."
Tim Ghianni of Reuters: "Tennessee teachers can no longer condone so-called 'gateway sexual activity' such as touching genitals under a new law that critics say is too vague and could hamper discussion about safe sexual behavior. Governor Bill Haslam's office Friday confirmed that he had signed the bill, which stirred up controversy nationwide and even was lampooned by comedian Stephen Colbert." CW: in related news, the state's top sociologists, psychiatrists and other members of the scientific community have remarked on the anomaly that the state's adult legislators are more interested in sex than are teens. A Vanderbilt University bacteriologist has recommended testing the water in the drinking fountains at the capitol building in Nashville. "There's something wrong with these people," she said.
Jason Stein & Patrick Marley of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: "A filmmaker released a video Thursday that shows Gov. Scott Walker saying he would use 'divide and conquer' as a strategy against unions. Walker made the comments to Beloit billionaire Diane Hendricks, who has since given $510,000 to the governor's campaign -- making her Walker's single-largest donor and the largest known donor to a candidate in state history.... In the 2010 campaign, Walker won the support of Operating Engineers Local 139, a union that represents about 9,000 heavy equipment operators in Wisconsin. The union is not endorsing anyone in this year's recall election. Terry McGowan, the union's business manager, said the union gave its 2010 endorsement only after getting assurances Walker would not pursue right-to-work legislation.... But he added that divide and conquer is a phrase that is anathema to those in the labor movement. 'It means turning worker against worker,' he said." Via Charles Pierce.
** New York Times: "Louis H. Pollak, a federal judge and former dean of two prestigious law schools who played a significant role in major civil rights cases before the Supreme Court, including the landmark Brown v. Board of Education desegregation case, died on Wednesday at his home in Philadelphia. He was 89."
New York Times: "Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg on Friday sharply criticized the Brooklyn district attorney, Charles J. Hynes, over his handling of child sexual abuse cases among the borough's large ultra-Orthodox Jewish community."
AP: "An Israeli envoy will submit a letter to the Palestinian president regarding the possibility of substantive peace talks, said officials from both sides Saturday. The modest exchange is the highest-level communication between the two sides in months."
Guardian: "Chicago police have been accused of intimidating protesters ahead of the Nato conference next week. A video posted to YouTube appears to show officers saying they would 'come looking for' protesters after a traffic stop in the city." Includes video.
Washington Post: "Facebook co-founder Eduardo Saverin has given up his U.S. citizenship, a move that will reduce his taxes when Facebook goes public in the coming weeks. Saverin, who was born in Brazil and moved to the U.S. in 1992 and has been a U.S. citizen since 1998, has decided to become a resident of Singapore."