Tag Archives: corporate power

A little vulgar, but an important question

And it’s not about Obama specifically; it’s about US policy that increasingly turns away from very serious threats to freedom and democracy. But of course they’re only ideals. So, you know . . .

~Liberty~

Where is Dylan Ratigan?

Neither his website nor his Facebook page show any activity after June 2012.   Many of us remember his infamous “rant heard round the world” on his MSNBC show in  August of 2011, after which nervousness ensued in various quarters. It was full of ugly truths and made plutocracrats across the planet very very uncomfortable. And, I’m sure, angry. Shortly after, Ratigan abruptly announced he was ending the show and said he’d be launching some kind of collaborative activist entity. He put up a website, got on the Twitter and FB, sold his loft in NYC and went – where?

Here is a vid of the rant, and  his own follow-up post about it. The transcript itself is below the fold if you would rather read, but the passion in the video is powerful and I think it’s well worth the three plus minutes of your time.

I picked up most of this at a blog called The Golden Age of Gaia which is, unsurprisingly given the name, a very metaphysical place. (The post is here.)

Dylan Explains his rant:

I’m Mad As Hell. How About You?

August 10, 2011

Yesterday, on TV, I exploded. I spent two minutes giving a primal yell at our political system, demanding the extraction of our money and dignity end. It was my most heartfelt and emotional moment on television, ever.

And the emails poured in. I hit a chord, because it’s something we all feel. Take a look.

With the markets in turmoil and the global financial architecture groaning under the weight of fraud and corruption, it’s a good time to think about what leadership would look like. Believe it or not, we have had good leadership, purpose, integrity, and aligned interests in this country.

In 1961, President John F. Kennedy faced a dilemma — how could he direct our intense competitive passion with the Soviet Union in a direction other than war? The answer was his call for America to beat the Soviets to the moon. Kennedy understood power; if he did not lead us towards peaceful productive competition, that same animus would have turned violent (see this key memo on the real rationale for the space race). So he took the passion and focus of our society, the technology of war and missiles, and turned it into a great mission to explore space. He gave us a shared goal.

But that’s not the full story. Kennedy also demanded we use the finest scientists and engineers to design the rockets, and made sure that the path to the moon was based on the best possible solution to get there. For large rocket boosters, he was open to chemical, nuclear, liquid fuels, or any combination. He did not put a commission of astrologers in charge, and he did not put political cronies with no scientific background in charge of designing the rockets.

Continue reading

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?

I’m “going black” Wednesday

This site, along with hundreds of thousands of sites around the world (millions of sites?), will ‘go black’ at 8:00 a.m. today – and stay down for 12 hours – to protest the proposed U.S. legislation (SOPA/PIPA), which poses a real threat to a free internet and to freedom of speech on the internet. It’s being supported by and lobbied for by some of the world’s largest multinationals, who will benefit financially.

The SOPA legislation purports to provide protection for intellectual property, but is in fact toxic and dangerous. Watch the video here. You can sign the petition here.

See you back here after 8:00 pm tonight.

Newt keeps a straight face. Lessons from Mrs. G the Third?

Gingrich’s characterization of his activities at his own lobbying firm is simply breathtaking. The media should be on the floor and laughing out loud at this one.

Just saw this at The Washington Examiner (new conservative paper in DC, headed by Micahel Barone and Byron York). Good for them. They took a look, stepped back and took another look, and then headlined their story:

Newt Gingrich was a lobbyist, plain and simple.

. . . we know he was paid consultant for drug makers. That’s the first criterion for being a drug lobbyist.

Here’s the second criterion: While some consultants simply provide strategy or advice, Gingrich directly contacted lawmakers in an effort to win their votes.

Three former Republican congressional staffers told me that Gingrich was calling around Capitol Hill and visiting Republican congressmen in 2003 in an effort to convince conservatives to support a bill expanding Medicare to include prescription-drug subsidies. Conservatives were understandably wary about expanding a Lyndon Johnson-created entitlement that had historically blown way past official budget estimates. Drug makers, on the other hand, were positively giddy about securing a new pipeline of government cash to pad their already breathtaking profit margins.

One former House staffer told me of a 2003 meeting Continue reading

Income gap – no comment

h/t mac at Talk & Politics

Bank of America – who’s your Daddy?

I wonder what happened to the Wikileaks expose of Bank of America.

You may recall that shortly after the Wikileaks’ dump of US Military files (Bradley Manning),  Julian Assange promised that documents were coming showing illegal practices at Bank of America. One day later it was breathlessly reported that Assange is a pervert and rapist. Now those documents are yesterday’s news. Nothing’s been released.

You may also remember what  happened to Elliot Spitzer after he became governor? As Attorney General, he was known as The Sheriff of Wall Street where he was feared and loathed. As Governor he had power to hurt them with exposure and regulation. Voila! Another sexual perversion surfaces.

In February, after Assange’s announcement of Wikileak’s planned release – and the subsequent personal smears – this story appeared at their site:

Bank of America using Private Intel Firms to Attack Wikileaks
2011-02-09

In a document titled “The WikiLeaks Threat” three data intelligence companies, Plantir Technologies, HBGary Federal and Berico Technologies, outline a plan to attack Wikileaks. They are acting upon request from Hunton and Williams, a law firm working for Bank of America. The Department of Justice recommended the law firm to Bank of America according to an article in The Tech Herald. The prosed attacks on WikiLeaks according to the slides include these actions:

  • Feed the fuel between the feuding groups. Disinformation. Create messages around actions of sabotage or discredit the opposing organizations. Submit fake documents and then call out the error.
  • Create concern over the security of the infrastructure. Create exposure stories. If the process is believed not to be secure they are done.
  • Cyber attacks against the infrastructure to get data on document submitters. This would kill the project. Since the servers are now in Sweden and France putting a team together to get access is more straightforward.
  • Media campaign to push the radial and reckless nature of WikiLeaks activities. Sustain pressure. Does nothing for the fanatics, but creates concern and doubt among moderates.
  • Search for leaks. Use social media to profile and identify risky behavior of employees.

And TPM has observed that:

. . . the Gitmo files could be Assange’s last hurrah. Wikileaks’ encrypted submission has been broken for more than a year now, which means no new juicy tidbits have been coming in.

It’s too easy.

Government is the problem; spiting our nose edition

“Other than telling us how to live, think, marry, pray, vote, invest, educate our children and, now, die, Republicans have done a fine job of getting government out of our personal lives.”
                                                         — Editorial Page, Portland Oregonian    


A few goodies from Bartcop today. UPDATE: A friend just pointed out the disappearing wallet! I missed it first time.

I’ll bet FOX News thinks these guys are patriots

From the LA Times yesterday:

Koch Brothers now at heart of GOP

The billionaire brothers David and Charles Koch no longer sit outside Washington’s political establishment, isolated by their uncompromising conservatism. Instead, they are now at the center of Republican power, a change most evident in the new makeup of the House Energy and Commerce Committee.

(They pretty much own the committee and played a major role in electing and reelecting its members. Business, after all, is business. If the health of the US doesn’t align with the Koch goals for their energy companies, that’s just unfortunate.)

Nine of the 12 new Republicans on the panel signed a pledge distributed by a Koch-founded advocacy group — Americans for Prosperity — to oppose the Obama administration’s proposal to regulate greenhouse gases. . .

Koch Industries is the country’s second-largest privately run company, a conglomerate of refining, pipeline, chemical and paper businesses. . . .  Last year, Forbes magazine listed the brothers as the nation’s fifth-richest people, each worth $21.5 billion.

This is bad for America and bad for American.

People like the Kochs live behind walls with bodyguards; they don’t live in the same country as us.  The class divide in the US is now greater than that of Egypt. We should be paying closer attention to what’s happening in this increasingly corpratized country. (I’d say ‘our country’ but I’m not so sure of that anymore.)

I really like this part:

When the 85 freshman GOP lawmakers marched into the Capitol on Jan. 5 as part of the new Republican House majority, David Koch was there too.

The 70-year-old had an appointment with a staff member of the new speaker, Rep. John A. Boehner (R-Ohio). At the same time, the head of Americans for Prosperity, Tim Phillips, had an appointment with Upton [Chair: Energy Committee]. They used the opportunity to introduce themselves to some of the new legislators and invited them to a welcome party at the Capitol Hill Club, a favorite wine-and-cheese venue for Republican power players in Washington.

Wasting no time. Wish I could have been there. I have opinions too.

Big Pharma is our friend. The insurance dudes too.

A little something by artist Michael dal Cerro via A Paralell Universe. Says it all.  (from this post, “The Gilded Age on Steroids”)

Get outta my way peasants!

A new reader (and blogger) ScriptorObscura posted this graphic detailing the political history of the Koch family, whose current patriarchs are brothers David and Charles.  (I borrowed it, as did she.*) Their father founded the John Birch Society; they founded Freedom Works, the best financed Tea Party group. The ‘freedom’ they are concerned with of course is for their own money; to them, the rest of society are barely worth notice. That ‘rest of society’ is you. And me. And anyone we’ve ever met.

They don’t like us, they don’t like taxes, they don’t like Social Security or the minimum wage. And taxes – did I say taxes?

They do like Dick Armey though.

(* graphic originated at The Other 98 dot com.)

I can’t leave this alone

And the reason I can’t leave it alone is because it’s important. We should all be disturbed by the unprecedented attack on wikileak’s founder/editor Julian Assange.

I have said before – I am agnostic about him, his actions and his organization. I am, however, not agnostic about the attacks on wikileaks web site and the attempts to silence an inconvenient muckraker, whistleblower – call him what you will, the man is not a criminal.

Glenn Greenwald today:

WikiLeaks has posted to its website only 960 of the 251,297 diplomatic cables it has.  Almost every one of these cables was first published by one of its newspaper partners which are disclosing them (The Guardian, the NYT, El Pais, Le Monde, Der Speigel, etc.).  Moreover, the cables posted by WikiLeaks were not only first published by these newspapers, but contain the redactions applied by those papers to protect innocent people and otherwise minimize harm. 

So when is Joe Lieberman going after those papers?

Image from here, where you’ll also find an ironic statement from Hillary Clinton which includes this:

Courageous journalists across the globe risk their freedom and their lives to provide independent information on government actions and their consequences; report the news from conflict zones; expose crime, corruption and wrongdoing; and reveal human rights violations – all despite efforts, in some cases, by governments and others, to control what people read, hear and think.

And, again:

(It’s still about the banks guys. Wonder when that promised document dump from inside a ‘major US bank’ is coming?)

The realm of the ridiculous

Al Capone. Mugshot information from Science an...

Image via Wikipedia

I guess this is like arresting Al Capone on tax evasion. Julian Assange of wikileaks is now in custody in London and has been denied bail.

Naomi Wolf writes an open letter to Interpol today with one of the all-time great headlines:

Julian Assange Captured by World’s Dating Police

She notes:

I see that Julian Assange is accused of having consensual sex with two women, in one case using a condom that broke. I understand, from the alleged victims’ complaints to the media, that Assange is also accused of texting and tweeting in the taxi on the way to one of the women’s apartments while on a date, and, disgustingly enough, ‘reading stories about himself online’ in the cab.

Both alleged victims are also upset that he began dating a second woman while still being in a relationship with the first.

Of course, the ever alert Chris Matthews, upon hearing of htis for the friggin’ first time last week, sputtered “but this guy’s a rapist! A rapist!” Matthews is great on politics, not so good on anything else.

(It’s still about the banks guys. Wonder when that promised document dump from inside a ‘major US bank’ is coming?)

New boss, same as the old boss

We’re finally crackin’ down on those Wall Street miscreants! Yippeeee! The AG had a press conference yesterday and he said they at the Justice Department were all kinds of proud of ‘Operation Broken Promise’ and have “brought cases against 343 criminal defendants and 189 civil defendants”

Way to go Justice Department, right?

Today, New York Times’ Andrew Ross Sorkin says “I actually called some chief executives after Mr. Holder’s news conference, and not one had heard of Operation Broken Trust.

“That’s because in the two years since the peak” of the financial crisis, the government has not brought one criminal case against a big-time corporate official of any sort.

“Instead, inexplicably, prosecutors are busy chasing small-timers: penny-stock frauds, a husband-and-wife team charged in an insider trading case and mini-Ponzi schemes.”

Yeah, that’ll do it.

Are the banks the real reason?

Two facts. Wikileaks is down – no server at present since Amazon axed them (although they’ll likely find another). And Julian Assange is a sexual pervert* being chased by Interpol (are sexual crimes their beat?)

Scott Ritter

(And by the way, does anyone remember Scott Ritter being branded a pedophile after he spoke out about no WMD in Iraq?)

It’s curious to me that all this happened not when he dumped the war documents or when he got the diplomatic documents out into the public – this is all happening in advance of the leak about a ‘major US bank’.

* The of sexual assault charge isn’t new and I honestly don’t know what the charge is or how solid it is. What IS new is Interpol jumping in.