So, Who’s Destroying America Today?

The Koch Brothers Left a Confidential Document at Their Last Donor Conference—Read It Here

In the annals of comic-book supervillians, no evil genius is so inept that they leave behind their secret membership roster when they flee their caves, but apparently that lesson was never learned by the super-rich Koch Brothers.

Mother Jones has the list and has done the legwork to itemize who these people are. I would say it is fascinating reading, but it also is stomach turning.

(Mother Jones)

Good one! Target takes this crime seriously.

Target says…

We take this crime seriously. It was a crime against Target, our team members, and most importantly, our guests. We’re in this together, and in that spirit, we are extending a 10% discount – the same amount our team members receive – to guests who shop in U.S. stores on Dec. 21 and 22. Again, we recognize this issue has been confusing and disruptive during an already busy holiday season. We want to emphasize that the issue has been addressed and let guests know they can shop with confidence at their local Target stores.”

Gee, you mean we guests are invited to spend more money at the security sieve?

[One of the banks interviewed] has issued a grand total of more than 120,000 debit and credit cards to its customers, but my source told me the tiny bank had not yet heard anything from the card associations about specific cards that might have been compromised as a result of the Target breach. My source was anxious to determine how many of the bank’s cards were most at risk of being used for fraud, and how many should be proactively canceled and re-issued to customers.

Let’s see: 40M cards – 120,000 =39,880,000 more cards to go. That’s still more than 10% of the country affected by the security breach and no one is doing anything about it.

The bank wasn’t exactly chomping at the bit to re-issue the cards; that process costs around $3 to $5 per card, but more importantly it didn’t want to unnecessarily re-issue cards at a time when many of its customers would be racing around to buy last-minute Christmas gifts and traveling for the holidays.

But more importantly, note that your date security is worth about $3-$5 and the banks don’t want to spend it.

Do you really think that anyone is going to do anything about data security on their own? Not likely. I’d say Congress ought to pass a law, but they did: it protects every corporate entity, but not you. You still have to change all your accounts, PIN numbers, bill paying, etc., at your own cost. Have fun with that, Guests.

(Krebs on Security)

Christmas came early this year

This is the award-winning actor Stacy Keach reading the tweets—verbatim—that JPMorgan Chase received when it inexplicably decided that the best PR move they could make was to let the Twitterverse ask one of their executives for financial advice.

Matt Taibbi reports on what ensued with gusto and relish, and it is a remarkable thing that JPM gave him for Christmas, really quite generous of them to present one of their thieving crooks’ head on a pike for our pleasure. And again, I’m left wondering if anyone has put a mirror under Eric Holder’s nose to see if he is still amongst the breathing.

(Rollingstone via Crooks and Liars)

The Master of the Universe

And this is just one bank:

JP Morgan Chase, the largest U.S. bank, has reached a tentative $13 billion deal with the Justice Department in a settlement of a wide-range of issues related to the sale of bad mortgages, according to several media reports.


By comparison, JPMorgan earned about $21.3 billion in 2012.

Now imagine if your little fuck-up took over half of the profit out of your employer’s bottom line, how long do you think you’d be at your desk before security showed up with two cardboard boxes, a cheese sandwich and a roadmap?

JP Morgan Chase is headed by boy wonder Jamie Dimon. After Obama won the 2008 presidential election, many speculated that Dimon would serve in the Obama Administration as Secretary of the Treasury.

Here’s the thing: Jamie Dimon will never suffer any consequences for this spectacular fail, his calls will always be returned, he will always have a roof over his head, unlike the thousands or millions of people his bank stole life savings from.

(USA Today)

Everything you need to know about Mary Jo White as the SEC Commissioner

No’bama’s nomination of Mary Jo White to lead the SEC (head banking regulator) was just approved by the GOP-dominated Senate Banking Committee 20-1; no filibuster, no snide remarks. Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, was the only member to object. Her nomination now goes to the full senate.

Meanwhile, Richard Cordray’s nomination to continue as director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau remains in limbo.

Ah, Corporate America!

It’s an ATM receipt from a bar in Puerto Rico:

An ATM at a bar called El Ocho de Blanco in the Puerto Rican capital of San Juan returned a receipt with the message “we hate fags” written in English at the bottom, sparking an uproar among the island’s LGBT community this week, as a picture of the receipt burned through social media and the blogosphere.

And of course, now the ATM company is claiming that they were hacked, which, you know, makes one feel really great about ATM security.


Living Dead AG Eric Holder…

…takes some time out from his busy day of defending the President’s ability to drone kill us all, to say that banks that are too big to fail are too big to prosecute, too:

Criminal charges against a bank — something that could threaten its existence — may also endanger the national or global economies in the case of the largest ones, because of their size and interconnectedness. That has “made it difficult for us to prosecute” some of those institutions, Holder said today at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing.

“That is a function of the fact that some of these institutions have become too large,” Holder told lawmakers. “It has an inhibiting impact on our ability to bring resolutions that I think would be more appropriate.”

Can someone please, Please, PLEASE hold a mirror up under his nose to see if he is breathing? Sweet Jeebus, what does it take to get him to prosecute?


When Union Busting Goes Bad

Hostess Brands Inc., makers of the ubiquitous Twinkies, Ding Dongs and Wonder Bread, is going out of business. The management claims it is because the associated workers’ unions would not accept a pay cut, and not enough scabs crossed the picket lines to keep production going:

Hostess Brands Inc. had earlier warned employees that it would file to unwind its business and sell off assets if plant operations didn’t return to normal levels by 5 p.m. Thursday. In announcing its decision, Hostess said its wind down would mean the closure of 33 bakeries, 565 distribution centers, approximately 5,500 delivery routes and 570 bakery outlet stores in the United States.

The Irving, Texas-based company had already reached a contract agreement with its largest union, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters. But thousands of members in its second-biggest union went on strike late last week after rejecting in September a contract offer that cut wages and benefits. Officials for the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers International Union say the company stopped contributing to workers’ pensions last year.

He denied that the decision to shut down could be a last ditch negotiation tactic to get the union back to the table.

[CEO Greg] Rayburn, who first joined Hostess earlier this year as a restructuring expert, had earlier said that many workers crossed picket lines this week to go back to work despite warnings by union leadership that they’d be fined.

“The problem is we don’t have enough crossing those lines to maintain normal production,” Rayburn told Fox Business.

And that last paragraph is the tell.

What’s interesting in the article is that it barely mentions any other factors that might be involved, like price increases of ingredients or that the demand for these “treats” has dropped in what is a highly competitive market segment.

Which is cold comfort to all those people who are losing their jobs. We are sure Rayburn will be feted as a principled Job Creator and move onto another gig.

Update 1: Gawker notes that: Out of 18,500 individuals employed by Hostess, only 5,000 belong to the bakers’ union. The strikes began on Nov. 9, when the company imposed a contract that would cut workers’ wages by 8 percent. The Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers International Union (BCTGM) said the contract would also cut benefits by 27 to 32 percent.

Update 2: Fortune has an article from August that is interesting; essentially Hostess got “Bained”:

“… Within a month of taking over, Rayburn had to preside over a public-relations fiasco. Some unsecured creditors had informed the court that last summer — as the company was crumbling — four top Hostess executives received raises of up to 80%. (Driscoll had also received a pay raise back then.) The Teamsters saw this as more management shenanigans. “Looting” is how Hall described it in TV interviews.

Rayburn announced that the pay of the four top executives would go down to $1 for the year, but that their full salaries would be reinstated no later than Jan. 1 (2012). Hostess pays Rayburn $125,000 a month, according to court filings. At the same time Rayburn became CEO, Gephardt’s son Matthew, 41, the COO of the Gephardt Group, was put on the Hostess board as a $100,000-a-year independent director.


What the hedge funds want is some degree of capitulation from a union whose members will otherwise lose thousands of jobs in liquidation. If the hedge funds don’t get it, they’ve concluded, the company isn’t worth saving.”