Category Archives: Plutocrats

Once, America believed in its workers: oh, those were the days alright

Bill put these up today.

ROMNEY: “I’m concerned when I watch a president cow-tow to the union bosses by putting in place those union stooges at the NLRB. I’ve taken on union bosses before. I’m happy to take ‘em on again.”

THE PREZ: “The values at the core of the union movement – those don’t change. Those are the values that have made this country great. So when I hear some of these folks tryin’ to take collective bargaining rights away, trying to pass so called ‘right to work’ laws for private sector workers that really mean the right to work for less and less and less – when I hear some of this talk I know this is not about economics, this is about politics. I keep on hearin’ these same folks talk about values all the time. You want to talk about values? Hard work – that’s a value. Lookin’ out for one another, that’s a value. The idea that we’re all in it together and I’m my brother’s keeper and sister’s keeper, that’s a value!

I expect a Tea Party congress critter will soon demand that the Kenyan-Muslim-Commie “Labor Day” in September be cancelled or renamed. I suggest Oligarch Observance Day.

I’ve posted this before. Today is a good day to post it again. From 1981:

What YOU Can Do on May Day

POSTED BY ORHAN

May Day is an international day of celebration to honor the labor movement. This year the Occupy movement has made a call for mass action—the May First General Strike (#M1GS): a day without the 99%. Over 115 US cities have organized in solidarity with this call to action.

A general strike is a way to build and demonstrate the power of the people. It’s a way to show this is a system that only exists because we allow it to. If we can withdraw from the system for one day we can use that day to build community and mutual aid. We can find inspiration and faith—not in any leaders or bosses but in each other and in ourselves.

If you are inspired by the day of action but don’t live near any organized events you can still take part. If you can’t strike, take the first step. We can work to shift the balance of power back into the hands of the people little by little in our everyday lives.

Here are some examples to get you thinking:

  1. Move Your Money: If you haven’t already, May Day is as good as any to move your money out of a national, corporate bank into a local bank or credit union. Support your local community and break up the “too big to fail” Wall Street banks that threaten our economic system. Learn more about moving your money here: www.moveyourmoneyproject.org
  2. Have a Potluck: Share a meal with others and and talk about subsidized agriculture and factory farming or make a meal with friends to serve to local homeless people a la Food Not Bombs.
  3. Start a Personal/Community Garden: On May Day, start or pledge to start a personal or community garden. Growing our own food means independence from corporate farms. This is one more way to take your self out of a system bent on keeping us complacent.
  4. Have a Free Store/FairGet together and share your unwanted items with others. As they say, one man’s trash is another man’s treasure. You could be helping someone who was about to go out and buy a (fill in your item here) anyway.
  5. Ride your bike to work/carpool with friends: Ride your bike or arrange a carpool to work. When you do this you are lessening our country’s dependency on outdated, unclean energies.
  6. Screen a Movie: Invite your friends or neighbors over to watch a documentary. After, have a discussion about how it relates to your values or the ideas of Occupy. You can watch political documentaries online at the following links for free:
    http://http://crimethinc.com/movies/

    http://topdocumentaryfilms.com/category/politics/

    http://www.documentarytube.com/category/political-documentaries
    http://freedocumentaries.org/
  7. Have a Skill Share: Give a free class to share your skills and knowledge. This could be as simple as giving a knitting demonstration or as complex as teaching someone a new language.

We have the power in our hands to change the course of our day to day realities if we are willing to participate and reach out to our neighbors and communities. In the words of Steven Biko, ”the greatest weapon in the hands of the oppressor is the mind of the oppressed.” Big business should not be in control of us, we are the many and they are the few.

(Source)

Don’t forget to look for actions in your area here or here.

May Day 2012: a real Labor Day

POSTED BY ORHAN

ImageSpring is in the air, and you know what that means–that’s right, Occupy Wall Street is back, bigger and better than ever! Although actions have been ongoing for several weeks, the first major action will be the worldwide General Strike called for May 1st. From OccupyWallSt.org:

May 1st, also known as International Workers’ Day, is the annual commemoration of the 1886 Haymarket Massacre in Chicago, when Chicago police fired on workers during a General Strike for the eight-hour workday. In many countries, May 1st is observed as a holiday. But in the United States, despite the eventual success of the eight-hour-workday campaign, the holiday is not officially recognized.

Now, in response to call-outs from Occupy Los Angeles, Occupy Chicago, Occupy Oakland, and other General Assemblies and affinity groups, the Occupy Movement is preparing to mobilize a General Strike this May 1st in solidarity with struggles already underway to defend the rights of workers, immigrants, and other communities who are resisting oppression. Dozens of Occupations in cities and towns throughout the United States, Canada, and Australia have already endorsed May Day.

To quote the Confederación Nacional del Trabajo, who recently called for a national General Strike in Spain on March 29th to protest labor reforms:

For the CNT, the strike on March 29 must be only the beginning of a growing and sustained process of mobilization, one which includes the entire working class and the sectors that are most disadvantaged and affected by the capitalist crisis. This mobilization must put the brakes on the dynamic of constant assaults on our rights, while laying the bases for the recovery and conquest of new social rights with the goal of a deep social transformation.

I’ll be at the NYC action; hope to see you there! I’ll post links and updates as they become available.

The national security state: go along now; nothing to see here

A tidy little depository

There is an astonishing and superbly researched in-depth story at Wired Magazine about the one million square foot facility now under construction in Utah for the National Security Agency.

It’s very disturbing. And it’s in full view (well, not exactly full view – the photograph accompanying the story is by “Name Withheld”, suggesting that such stories have consequences) to any media organization that cared to look. Few do.

A project of immense secrecy, it is the final piece in a complex puzzle assembled over the past decade. Its purpose: to intercept, decipher, analyze, and store vast swaths of the world’s communications as they zap down from satellites and zip through the underground and undersea cables of international, foreign, and domestic networks. The heavily fortified $2 billion center should be up and running in September 2013. Flowing through its servers and routers and stored in near-bottomless databases will be all forms of communication, including the complete contents of private emails, cell phone calls, and Google searches, as well as all sorts of personal data trails—parking receipts, travel itineraries, bookstore purchases, and other digital “pocket litter.” It is, in some measure, the realization of the “total information awareness” program created during the first term of the Bush administration—an effort that was killed by Congress in 2003 after it caused an outcry over its potential for invading Americans’ privacy.

So much for the outcry and so much for Congress. The NSA moves forward under its own gargantuan authority and can barely be challenged any more.

Your tax dollars at work suckers.

Why I’m so proud to be a Floridian

They don’t even bother to hide what they’re doing anymore. They’re for sale to whoever comes up with the check. Gimme the money, I’ll pass you a nice new law. More here.

When Bruce speaks, a lotta people listen

Haven’t been paying much attention in recent years to popular music. I do notice when something happens (RIP Clarence et al) but don’t generally pay a lot of attention when soemthing new is published.

Here’s what The Guardian has to say about Bruce Springstein’s new album, Wrecking Ball.

Indeed, [the album] is as angry a cry from the belly of a wounded America as has been heard since the dustbowl and Woody Guthrie, a thundering blow of New Jersey pig iron down on the heads of Wall Street and all who have sold his country down the swanny. Springsteen has gone to the great American canon for ammunition, borrowing from folk, civil war anthems, Irish rebel songs and gospel. The result is a howl of pain and disbelief as visceral as anything he has ever produced, that segues into a search for redemption: “Hold tight to your anger/ And don’t fall to your fears … Bring on your wrecking ball.”

Springsteen plunges into darker, richer musical landscapes in a sequence of breath-taking protest songs – Easy Money, Shackled and Drawn, Jack of All Trades, the scarily bellicose Death to My Hometown and This Depression with Tom Morello of Rage Against the Machine – before the album turns on Wrecking Ball in search of some spiritual path out of the mess the US is in.

I may have to borrow a dime for this one. Here’s a cut.

Why the Kochs aren’t Soros (or Gates or Buffet for that matter)

The right-wing in America likes to demonize George Soros, calling him a “commie, socialist and climate fraud” (no clear how one can be a communist and a socialist, but . . . ), is the left’s equivalent of the Koch Brothers, the Bradleys, the Sciafe’s, the Olins, i.e., the big donors to right-wing think tanks and media.

Soros indeed supports many liberal organizations because he is a liberal. He has also been one of the world’s biggest private donors to efforts to end Russian communism, end the USSR and help former communist nations creat open democratic governments. Activities, I must admit, easily confused with being an actual communist. To be fair, here’s a link to a Free Republic blog that lists where the money goes (no dollar amounts – that’s hard); they only list American organizations.

Big time funders, right and left, have that in common – they are big time donors. There’s a very important distinction between Soros and the Kochs – motive is discernibly different. I cannot identify how any of George Soros’ donations promote,  protect, or add to, his personal wealth. Something that absolutely cannot be said about the Kochs. I can’t find, even in Free Republic’s incomplete Soros list, any evidence of self-interest.

Between 1979 and 2011, Soros gave away over $8 billion to human rights, public health, and education causes. He played a significant role in the peaceful transition from communism to capitalism in Hungary (1984–89),[7] and provided Europe’s largest-ever higher education endowment to Central European University in Budapest.[9] Soros is also the chairman of the Open Society Institute.

Soros seems to be putting hiis money behind voting rights, free speech (the real kind), democracy, human rights, open societies,  . . . where’s the connection to a friendlier environment for him to increase his wealth?

You gets whay you pays for. And climate skeptics pay.

Mouthpieces are a dime a dozen. But they do get busy and quite obedient when the pay is really good. Like $8.6 million. From a single donor. Ever hear of the Heartland Institute? They are a right-wing think tank whose mission is to “cast doubt on climate science”. They’ve been around for a while, doing the dirty, making the world safe for fossil fuels, the ‘free market’ and the extraction industries. But a rash of newly leaked memos and reports – in a world of curtains to hide behind, that’s how we get our information now – gives us a glimpse of what’s behind that curtain . Who funds Heartland?

Most eyes will probably fall first on the “Anonymous Donor” who, the documents show, personally funded Heartland’s “climate change projects” to the tune of $8,602,267 between 2007 and 2011. The largest donation came in 2008 when “he” donated $3.3m – the same year that Heartland began its annual climate change conferences which have attracted just about every prominent climate sceptic since. This mystery donor has apparently pledged a further $1m for “climate change projects” during 2012.

That’s ‘personally funded’. A man. One person. Until now information about their funding had been sparse. The story in The Guardian doesn’t name anyone, but they hint rather nakedly that the wampun comes from  one of those famous American Libertarian brothers, whose ’causes’ usually align well with the growth of their personal wealth. (To be polite, Koch Industries makes some proper token public donations.

Click the chart for a clearer version.

From Greenpeace - IRS data

Of course, they get a little help from their friends.

Many of the Republican Senate candidates are signatories of the Koch Industries’ Americans For Prosperity No Climate Tax pledge and the FreedomWorks Contract From America.

Heartland is also committed to creating an alternate science curriculum in K-12 classrooms – which would be cool, eh? Combined with the ‘creationism’ curriculum, we could produce an entire generation scientifically illiterate.  (Now that’s the way for a world power to stay on top!)

So, we have an anonymous millionaire donor – whose agenda and/or vested interest we know not – funding an effort to discredit the teaching of climate science in schools? How can that ever be justified or considered democratic, let alone judged to be in the pupils’ best interests?

But the dropping of jaws doesn’t end there. Next up, we learn that Heartland paid a team of writers $388,000 in 2011 to write a series of reports “to undermine the official United Nation’s IPCC reports”. Not critique, challenge, or analyse the IPCC’s reports, but “to undermine” them. The agenda and pre-ordained outcome is clear and there for all to see.

The leaked documents are here.

Kingmaker: A legend in his own mind

Really. He said this on Fox and Friends today:

Appearing on Fox and Friends Monday, Donald Trump wasted no time in giving himself credit for Mitt Romney‘s landslide victory in the Nevada caucus.

“There was a lot riding on that particular race in Nevada and it was interesting, because the numbers were much, much greater than you thought,” Trump gloated. “And a lot of people are giving me credit for that. And I will accept that credit.”

Still believe in The Heritage Foundation?

Will the apologists for our emerging American oligarchy try to talk their way around even this?

According to the Heritage Foundation’s 2012 Index of Economic Freedom, the United States has an economic freedom score of 76.3, which makes the United States rank tenth out of one hundred seventy-nine ranked countries. Hong Kong ranks first, with an economic freedom score of 89.9.

For those who don’t know, here‘s who they are:

Heritage’s stated mission is to “formulate and promote conservative public policies based on the principles of free enterprise, limited government, individual freedom, traditional American values, and a strong national defense”.

They think we’re not doing so well.  And in case you didn’t know, here’s who they are:

Heritage is primarily funded through donations from private individuals and charitable foundations. Businessman Joseph Coors contributed the first $250,000 to start The Heritage Foundation in 1973. Other significant contributors have included the conservative Olin, Scaife, DeVos and Bradley foundations.

In 2007, Heritage reported an operating revenue of $75.0 million dollars. As of February 2011, Heritage reported 710,000 supporters.[28] Heritage Foundation is also a part of the Koch Foundation Associate Program.[29]

Those are family foundations, very very conservative family foundations that provided much of the funding for the anti-Clinton crusade of the 90’s: the eternal Paula Jones lawsuit, the fake Whitewater ‘scandal’ – even personal financial support for the public accusers around the Monica Lewinsky scandal.

They are also drivers of a new American oligarchy.  Putin would love them.

The American aristocracy? Royalty? Plutocracy?

We have a political aristocracy in America that is increasingly becoming hereditary as well. We scold Syria and belly laugh over North Korea, but we’re in the game too (this is my own very incomplete list, but check out Oligarch Kings for more on the subject).

Anyway, lookee:

  • Senator Prescott Bush
  • his son, Congressman and President GHW Bush
  • his son, Governor and President GW Bush
  • his brother, Governor Jeb Bush
  • Governor and President Bill Clinton
  • his wife, Senator and Sect’y of State Hillary Clinton
  • Governor and Presidential candidate George Romney
  • his son, Governor and Presidential candidate Mitt Romney
  • Congressman and perennial Presidential candidate Ron Paul
  • his son, Senator Rand Paul
  • US Ambassador to England, Joseph P. Kennedy
  • his son, Senator and President John F. Kennedy
  • his brother, Attorney General and Senator and Presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy
  • his brother, Senator Ted Kennedy
  • his son, Congressman Patrick Kennedy
  • assorted other Kennedys in State offices
  • NY Governor Mario Cuomo
  • his son, NY Governor Andrew Cuomo (married ot RFK’s daughter)
  • California Governor Pat Brown
  • his son, 2-time California Governor Jerry Brown

(Of course, there were the Adamses, father and son, in the early 1800’s and the 20th Century Roosevelts – although their relationship was very distant.)

So, who am I missing?

The Chaplin adds two more 19th century names:

  • President William Henry Harrison
  • his grandson, President Benjamin Harrison

One of the most interesting things about these people is that many of them are interrelated, i.e., one family to another.

Memories . . . Citizens United: the early days

Was reminded of this bit of history at Hullabaloo today. (It’s from here.) Remember Alan Grayson, the one-term gajillionaire firebrand rabble-rouser Democratic FL Congressman? The one who regularly took to the floor of the House to chew up and spit out the special interests?  The one who caused thousands of lobbyists to develop gastro intestinal disease? Yeah, that one. (video below)

He was one of the first victims of an unrestricted opening of the spigots of corporate money in a congressional race. According to a Politico article late in the campaign in 2010, almost 20% of all of the independent expenditures in House races in the entire country were deployed against Alan. His district was flooded with an unrelenting radio and television smear campaign by the corporations who didn’t appreciate his hard work on behalf of consumers and workers. The average person in Orlando saw 70 negative ads against Grayson– $2 million of which was paid for by the Koch Brothers, $2 million by the health insurance industry and another million from the NRCC. The cash that flowed into the district from the Chamber of Commerce and Rove’s band of cutthroats was a direct response to Alan’s reform efforts on the House Financial Services Committee and because he was the most effective national Democratic spokesperson in Congress. The DCCC, of course, offered him no help whatsoever in defending his seat. [Dems didn’t want to fool with the banksters either – who would have financed their campaigns?)

The Ouch Award: and the winner is . . .

. . . Maureen Dowd who – in likening campaign efforts by the patricians H.W. Bush and Mitt Romney to appear as just ‘regular guys’ – penned this:

It’s like watching little boys in Topsiders trying to act all gangsta.

If you can win Jeopardy, I’m aboard with ya’

Elizabeth Warren and Richard Cordray

Wow. Here‘s a story from Business Insider, via Raw Story about that devil Obama appointed to head the new Consumer Financial Protection Agency. Until I read this, about the only thing I knew about Richard Cordray was that he was not Elizabeth Warren.

So who is he?

We’ve written a lot about him at Business Insider. Partly because, no matter what side of the aisle you’re on, there’s no denying he’s incredibly impressive. Cordray is an undefeated, five-time Jeopardy! champion (he won $45,303), has a masters in economics from Oxford University, and was also editor-in-chief of the University of Chicago Law Review.

After law school he clerked for Supreme Court for a Reagan appointee, and represented the U.S. government before the Supreme Court there three times — once for George H.W. Bush and twice for Bill Clinton. That was all before running for AG of Ohio (a swing state) as a Democrat.

So what’s the problem with Cordray? There are two, one is an old Washington problem, and the other is purely Wall Street’s:

  1. Republicans said they would never support anyone to head the CFPB — Period —that is, unless the White House made serious changes to the agency. (Politico)
  2. He doesn’t just go after Wall Street Institutions. He goes after individual executives as well.

So he makes it personal – something we’ve all been yearning for:

Knock ’em dead Richard. Go in there and stand up for us! And Godspeed.

You’ve no doubt heard by now, but . . .

. . . I’m not one to miss any opportunity to gloat when it involves Donald Trump. The uber vulgarian will not be ‘moderating’ the NewsMax debate.

“It is very important to me that the right Republican candidate be chosen to defeat the failed and very destructive Obama administration, but if that Republican, in my opinion, is not the right candidate, I am not willing to give up my right to run as an Independent candidate,” Trump said in a statement. “Therefore, so that there is no conflict of interest within the Republican Party, I have decided not to be the moderator of the Newsmax debate.”

That ‘conflict of interest’ thing didn’t occur to him until the RSVPs (the ones politely declining his invitation) started rolling in.

Oh jeez, this is just embarrassing

A few of the grownups in the GOP campaign, Jon Hunstman and Ron Paul, declined an invitation from the ever vulgar Donald Trump to play in his Debate Game, which he has cooked up with Newsmax (they think we might need a military coup if Obama doesn’t shape up. Ya know?) because he finds this politikin’ thing gets his picture in the paper a lot.  And he thinks he’s an important national voice, he does.

In turning the invite down, Paul’s campaign said “The selection of a reality television personality to host a presidential debate that voters nationwide will be watching is beneath the office of the Presidency and flies in the face of that office’s history and dignity(Pitch perfect Mr. Paul! Good for you.)

Mr. Trump scoffed. He puffed up his chest and said that was fine with him because, after all

“Few people take Ron Paul seriously and many of his views and presentation make him a clown-like candidate,” Trump said. “I am glad he and Jon Huntsman, who has inconsequential poll numbers or a chance of winning, will not be attending the debate and wasting the time of the viewers who are trying very hard to make a very important decision.”

He also said:

. . . Ron Paul has a zero chance of winning . . .my poll numbers were substantially higher than any of his poll numbers, at any time, and when I decided not to run, due to the equal time provisions concerning my hit show The Apprentice, I was leading the Republican field.”

I hope the rest of the candidates get some sense and say ‘no thanks’ too. Otherwise, the world is Donald Trump’s show and we’re all contestants.

Mom, apple pie, the flag and OWS

I just picked this up from Bartcop, where someone else picked it up from a facebook post. There was no link.

  • In the 1930s and 40s factory workers, miners, and laborers demonstrated for better and safer working conditions.
  •  They were first ignored, then mocked, then violent conflict erupted. Even the US army was called to “maintain order”. A number were killed. The result was the union movement.
  •  In the 1950s and 60s, blacks demonstrated for equal rights. They were first ignored, then mocked, then shot, beaten, attacked with dogs and fire hoses, some were killed. But the result was civil rights/anti discrimination laws.
  • In the 1960s and 70s there were demonstrations against the Vietnam War. First ignored, then mocked, then the clubs, fire-hoses and bullets came out. But the result was the war ended!
  • Today we have financial inequality and corporate abuse. Some chose to demonstrate,. They were at first ignored, then mocked, and now the violence has begun. I believe that the result will be that the people will prevail!

I’d add that it took street marches, protests and violence for over 30 years until women got the right to vote in 1920. Later,  mountains of anti-discrimination legislation resulted from the feminist protest movement of the 70’s.

That’s the way stuff happens. That’s the way we were born as a nation.

First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.                                                                                  – Mohandas Ghandi

“$$$$$$$$” they said. And that was that.

There’s an interesting comment thread going on at The Erstwhile Conservative that has moved into a discussion of how tribal we are and what are the possibilities for electoral reform to fix our broken government.

Jim Wheeler and I were chatting about things like redistricting . I’d just said that I was not hopeful we’d ever be able to repair what’s broken in our government. And this came out:

Ironically though, I think it’s the venerable First Amendment that will ultimately stand in the way, and render us helpless against the poisonous effect of corporate money and obscene levels of lobbying. That’s one of the reasons I’m not hopeful.

I think that’s true – that sacred instrument that has protected our speech for nearly 250 years is finally the weapon being used to destroy our institutions and ultimately our government. Whatever is left once they finish the dirty job, it’s not likely to include a right to free speech.

Income gap – no comment

h/t mac at Talk & Politics

Zuccotti Park raided

POSTED BY ORHAN

NYPD raided Zuccotti Park at 1 AM this morning and cleared it. They destroyed all property, including the library. There were 70+ arrests.

Give them money and they will spend

It would cost $600 billion to simply give $2,000 to each of 300,000,000 Americans. If we confined it to just those who make under half a mil, say, we’d each get a bunch more. Now that would be a stimulus by golly. Narrow it further so that all the six billion ends up in the hands of adults and we’d be beating down the barn doors in a heartbeat. Instant demand! More jobs to meet the demand! GDP up! More revenue flowing into state and federal coffers!

Spend! Work! Grow! That would work, and we’re printing money anyway . . .

Note: Dr. Black (a real economist!) at Eschaton has been advocating this novel solution for a few years now. Perhaps they should have listened to him.

Speaking of Glenn Beck

. . . which I was, if you count saying (two posts below) that he doesn’t matter anymore. Anyway, speaking of Glenn . . .

// Goldline, a company that used endorsements from Glenn Beck and other conservative icons to sell hundreds of millions of dollars to consumers, has been charged with theft and fraud in a 19-count criminal complaint filed Tuesday by local officials in California.

. . . marks the latest in a series of allegations leveled against the gold dealer, which pioneered the practice of weaving its sales pitches into broadcasts by popular conservative political personalities — including two former presidential candidates — to sell hundreds of millions of dollars worth of gold every year.

The complaint alleges that Goldline “runs a bait and switch operation in which customers, seeking to invest in gold bullion, are switched to highly overpriced coins by using false and misleading claims,” according to a statement released by the consumer affairs division of the Santa Monica City Attorney’s office.

I grabbed this little something from Goldline’s website; I’m sure Beck’s lawyers are screeching their outrage even now, insisting it be taken down – even though I thought I once heard Glenn say that Jesus wanted us to buy from Goldline.

They haz met the enemy, and they iz them

Lookee here.

Members of Congress had a collective net worth of more than $2 billion in 2010, a nearly 25 percent increase over the 2008 total, according to a Roll Call analysis of Members’ financial disclosure forms

Why Occupy Wall Street? Here’s why.

The surprise $5.00 debit card fee banks recently imposed on their customers is going away.  Bank of American, Sun Trust, JP Morgan Chase and others are now trying to tiptoe off the front pages.

We have listened to our customers very closely over the last few weeks and recognize their concern with our proposed debit usage fee,” David Darnell, the bank’s co-chief operating officer, said in a statement.

JPMorgan Chase & Co and Wells Fargo & Co last week decided to cancel test programs, while SunTrust Banks Inc and Regions Financial Corp said on Monday they would end monthly charges and reimburse customers.

For most Americans, the fee was a step too far from those ‘job creators’ who earlier wallowed in ugly, amoral behaviors screwing not just us but each other, and sent us into a four year trailspin of a recession that could take as long as a decade to repair.

This time, I think those ‘bankers’ peeked out their windows and were a bit frightened by what they saw.  So I’ll call this a victory for Occupy Wall Streeters around the nation and around the world.

Thomas Friedman (forever the inspiration for the wartime Friedman Unit, or the F.U. for short), reminds us this week about one Citigroup transgression for which they’ve just been fined $285million (chump change these days), a transgression emblematic of the duplicitous and amoral behavior that hurt us all so badly.

. . .  with one hand, Citibank sold a package of toxic mortgage-backed securities to unsuspecting customers — securities that it knew were likely to go bust — and, with the other hand, shorted the same securities — that is, bet millions of dollars that they would go bust.     

According to the SEC complaint:

. . . Citigroup exercised “significant influence” over choosing which $500 million of the $1 billion worth of assets in the deal, and the global bank deliberately chose collateralized debt obligations, or C.D.O.’s, built from mortgage loans almost sure to fail. According to The Wall Street Journal, the S.E.C. complaint quoted one unnamed C.D.O. trader outside Citigroup as describing the portfolio as resembling something your dog leaves on your neighbor’s lawn. “The deal became largely worthless within months of its creation,” The Journal added. “As a result, about 15 hedge funds, investment managers and other firms that invested in the deal lost hundreds of millions of dollars, while Citigroup made $160 million in fees and trading profits.”

For decades we’ve let them indulge in the worst form of crony capitalism without the rule of law that should govern such institutions. Unbridled greed took hold. And it’s been destroying capitalism. It is anti-capitalist.

Friedman goes on:

. . . .what happened to us? Our financial industry has grown so large and rich it has corrupted our real institutions through political donations. As Senator Richard Durbin. . .  bluntly said in a 2009 radio interview, despite having caused this crisis, these same financial firms “are still the most powerful lobby on Capitol Hill. And they, frankly, own the place.”       

Our Congress today is a forum for legalized bribery. One consumer group using information from Opensecrets.org calculates that the financial services industry spent $2.3 billion on federal campaign contributions from 1990 to 2010, which was more than the health care, energy, defense, agriculture and transportation industries combined.

We can’t afford this any longer.

Indeed we cannot. We now stand witness to the destruction of what it took us 250 years to build.

I don’t see anyone with power stepping up, leaving it up to the people.  And, no matter the tired 1960’s stereotypes the right is so enthralled with, that is why we have Occupy Wall Street.

Actual. Good. News.

One down – far too many to go. Story here.

 

How is this healthy for a nation? It isn’t. It’s destructive.

We need to fix this or it’ll ruin us.

WASHINGTON — The top 1 percent of earners more than doubled their share of the nation’s income over the last three decades, the Congressional Budget Office said Tuesday . . .

In this report, the budget office found that from 1979 to 2007, average inflation-adjusted after-tax income grew by 275 percent for the 1 percent of the population with the highest income. For others in the top 20 percent of the population, average real after-tax household income grew by 65 percent.

By contrast, the budget office said, for the poorest fifth of the population, average real after-tax household income rose 18 percent.

And for the three-fifths of people in the middle of the income scale, the growth in such household income was just under 40 percent.

‘splains a lot now, doesn’t it

from chrispiasck

Cafferty mirrors Santorum? Santorum mirrors Cafferty?

I enjoy Jack Cafferty’s rants on CNN, but see them only on youtube these days as one needs to pass through the Blitzer to get to Cafferty. Listen to what he said this week:

If you refuse to believe your car is leaking oil, the car will break. And the cost will be high.

Something our Civil War didn’t change . . .

In the 1860’s, the South had largely ignored the Industrial Revolution – they didn’t need all those fancy new machine things because they (the ruling class and aristocracy) owned many people to do the work. (And those poor whites? They were invisible.)

Then the slaves were freed – and the South found it was dirt poor. That was 150 years ago. But look . . .

Percentage of people in poverty in last 12 months

 

Zuccotti Park

POSTED BY ORHAN

Whatever happens now to the grand experiment in authentic democracy that is #OccupyWallStreet, much has been achieved.

For those who experienced the hierarchy-free and consensus-based direct democracy of the General Assemblies, saw and lived the little anarchist society, based on mutual aid rather than personal profit, built with love and sweat on a tiny strip of land–we no longer believe another world is possible, we know it. For us normal existence under capitalism–existence for the accumulation of wealth and power–no longer holds any fascination; like the mummy exposed to fresh air, it disintegrates, leaving only emptiness.

#OccupyWallStreet is under attack, and its physical manifestation will not stand. It is under attack by the Right; by the Liberal establishment–ostensibly Left–to whom #OWS is as dangerous as it is to the Right; by the political class, obsolete when a people think and decide for themselves; and most of all, by the corporate elites who stand above Left and Right, pulling the puppet-strings in the shadow-play called American politics.

So tomorrow, we keep going. Howard Zinn wrote the following lines for moments like these, and they never seemed more meaningful:

What we choose to emphasize in this complex history will determine our lives. If we see only the worst, it destroys our capacity to do something. If we remember those times and places—and there are so many—where people have behaved magnificently, this gives us the energy to act, and at least the possibility of sending this spinning top of a world in a different direction.

And if we do act, in however small a way, we don’t have to wait for some grand utopian future.

The future is an infinite succession of presents, and to live now as we think human beings should live, in defiance of all that is bad around us, is itself a marvelous victory.

Update: Friday morning from the NY Times:

The cleanup of the Lower Manhattan park that has been occupied by protesters for nearly a month was canceled Friday shortly before it was supposed to begin, averting a feared showdown between the police and demonstrators who had vowed to resist any efforts to evict them from their encampment.

The announcement was made by the Bloomberg administration around 6:20 a.m., about 40 minutes before workers were scheduled to enter Zuccotti Park, which has been the home base for the Occupy Wall Street demonstrators angered by what they see as an unfair and corrupt financial system.