Archive for January, 2010

“THINK MANCHURIAN CANDIDATES”

January 22, 2010

Frankenstein’s Supreme Monsters:

We cannot sustain the present form of huge international corporate mega-capitalism.  It is an out of control monster: a willful environmental vampire and oppressor of human rights.  Its rulers and masters make sociopathic decisions on a daily basis.  As they control costs both quality and choice disappear from the marketplace.  They tend to baronies, monopolies, and mini-kingdoms serving the pissant egos of self-styled “giants of commerce.”  They are moribund, sucking ghouls, parasites on the planet and body politic.  They are the great corrupters of mankind and despoilers of the earth.  And five traitors on the United States Supreme Court just waved a magic wand and turned these monsters into legal human beings, confounding our founders and destroying the democratic American Constitution. 

Added: The merger of corporations with the state is Mussolini’s original definition of fascism.  Look it up.

IMPEACH THE SUPREME COURT FIVE!

Supreme Court’s “Radical and Destructive” Decision Hands Over Democracy to the Corporations By Liliana Segura, AlterNet. January 21, 2010.

One expert calls the Citizens United decision “the most radical and destructive campaign finance decision in the history of the Supreme Court.”

“The Supreme Court has just predicted the winners of the next November election,” Sen. Chuck Schumer announced this morning. “It won’t be Republicans. It won’t be Democrats. It will be Corporate America.”

Indeed, in a momentous 5 to 4 decision that the New York Times has called a “doctrinal earthquake,” the U.S. Supreme Court handed down an unprecedented ruling today that gives new significance to the phrase “corporate personhood.” In it, the Roberts Court overturned the federal ban on corporate contributions to political campaigns, ruling that forbidding corporations from spending money to support or undermine political candidates amounts to censorship. Corporations, the Court ruled, should enjoy the same First Amendment rights as individuals.

Writing for the majority, Justice Anthony Kennedy said that the Supreme Court rejects “the argument that political speech of corporations or other associations should be treated differently under the First Amendment simply because such associations are not ‘natural persons.'”

In other words, as Stephen Colbert put it last year, “Corporations are people too.”

On a conference call with reporters following the decision, critics could not overemphasize the enormity of the ruling, whose implications will be visible as early as the upcoming midterm elections. Bob Edgar, head of the watchdog group Common Cause, called it “the SuperBowl of really bad decisions.” Nick Nyhart of Public Campaign called it an “immoral decision” that will make an already untenable mix of money and politics even worse.

“This is the most radical and destructive campaign finance decision in the history of the Supreme Court,” said Fred Wertheimer, President of Democracy 21. “With a stroke of the pen, five justices wiped out a century of American history devoted to preventing corporate corruption of our democracy.” READ MORE: http://www.alternet.org/rights/145322/supreme_court%27s_%22radical_and_destructive%22_decision_hands_over_democracy_to_the_corporations

The Bush-Packed Supreme Court Thinks Corporations Are People Too By Scott Klinger, AlterNet. January 22, 2010.

Corporations now have all the privileges of citizenship, without any of the responsibilities.

This week’s Supreme Court decision in the Citizens United case removes all limits on large corporations to finance and influence federal elections. In its ruling the court reverses a decades-old ruling barring companies from using their general funds to fund political campaigns, and guts pieces of the popular McCain-Feingold campaign finance legislation. In so doing the Court implicitly embraces a 125 year-old precedent in the case of Santa Clara v. Santa Fe, where the Court first developed the legal doctrine of corporate personhood, explicitly granting corporations the same political and civil rights granted to human beings (historian Thom Hartmann discovered that the principle originated with a corrupt court clerk who added it to the case summary, rather than with the court itself).  READ MORE: http://www.alternet.org/rights/145323/the_bush-packed_supreme_court_thinks_corporations_are_people_too

The Supreme Court Just Handed Anyone, Including bin Laden or the Chinese Govt., Control of Our Democracy By Greg Palast, AlterNet. January 22, 2010.

The Court’s decision is far, far more dangerous to U.S. democracy. Think: Manchurian candidates.

In Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, the Supreme Court ruled that corporations should be treated the same as “natural persons”, i.e. humans. Well, in that case, expect the Supreme Court to next rule that Wal-Mart can run for President.

The ruling, which junks federal laws that now bar corporations from stuffing campaign coffers, will not, as progressives fear, cause an avalanche of corporate cash into politics. Sadly, that’s already happened: we have been snowed under by tens of millions of dollars given through corporate PACs and “bundling” of individual contributions from corporate pay-rollers.

The Court’s decision is far, far more dangerous to U.S. democracy. Think: Manchurian candidates.

I’m losing sleep over the millions — or billions — of dollars that could flood into our elections from ARAMCO, the Saudi Oil corporation’s U.S. unit; or from the maker of “New Order” fashions, the Chinese People’s Liberation Army. Or from Bin Laden Construction corporation. Or Bin Laden Destruction Corporation.

Right now, corporations can give loads of loot through PACs. While this money stinks (Barack Obama took none of it), anyone can go through a PAC’s federal disclosure filing and see the name of every individual who put money into it. And every contributor must be a citizen of the USA.

But under today’s Supreme Court ruling that corporations can support candidates without limit, there is nothing that stops, say, a Delaware-incorporated handmaiden of the Burmese junta from picking a Congressman or two with a cache of loot masked by a corporate alias.  READ MORE: http://www.alternet.org/politics/145354/the_supreme_court_just_handed_anyone%2C_including_bin_laden_or_the_chinese_govt.%2C_control_of_our_democracy

Grayson: Fight Now or ‘Kiss Your Country Goodbye’ to Exxon, Wal-Mart By Sahil Kapur, Raw Story. January 22, 2010.

Congressman says of recent Supreme Court ruling removing decades of campaign spending limits on corporations “opens the floodgates for the purchases and sale of the law.”

WASHINGTON — Responding to the Supreme Court’s ruling Thursday to overturn corporate spending limits in federal elections, progressive firebrand Rep. Alan Grayson (D-FL) immediately highlighted a series of moves to “avoid the terrible consequences of the decision.”

“If we do nothing then I think you can kiss your country goodbye,” Grayson told Raw Story in an interview just hours after the decision was announced.

“You won’t have any more senators from Kansas or Oregon, you’ll have senators from Cheekies and Exxon. Maybe we’ll have to wear corporate logos like Nascar drivers.”

Grayson said the Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission ruling — which removes decades of campaign spending limits on corporations — “opens the floodgates for the purchases and sale of the law.”

“It allows corporations to spend all the money they want to buy and sell elected officials through the campaign process,” he said. “It allows them to reward political sellouts, and it allows them to punish elected officials who actually try to do what’s right for the people.”

Fearing this decision before it became official, Grayson last week filed five campaign finance bills and a sixth one on Thursday. Grayson said the bills are important to securing the people’s “right to clean government.”

The bills have names like the Business Should Mind Its Own Business Act and the Corporate Propaganda Sunshine Act. The first slaps a 500 percent excise tax on corporate spending on elections, and the second mandates businesses to disclose their attempts to influence elections. More details are available on the congressman’s Web site. READ MORE: http://www.alternet.org/politics/145339/grayson%3A_fight_now_or_%27kiss_your_country_goodbye%27_to_exxon%2C_wal-mart

THANK GOD, A LITTLE GOOD NEWS!

A Constitutional Amendment to Wrench Control Away from the Corporations by Jan Frel, AlterNet January 23, 2010.

Rep. Donna Edwards and Jamie Raskin assail the Supreme Court’s ruling in Citizens United v. FEC and call for a mass movement of people to support a constitutional amendment.

Congresswoman Donna Edwards and constitutional law professor Jamie Raskin speak out against the Supreme Court’s ruling in Citizens United v. FEC and call for a mass movement of people to support a constitutional amendment. Visit FreeSpeechforPeople.org to learn more and get involved!  READ MORE: http://www.alternet.org/blogs/rights/145361/a_constitutional_amendment_to_wrench_control_away_from_the_corporations/ 

Obama Adopts Volcker’s Solution: If Banks Want Govt. Guarantees, They Have to Close Their Casino Operations By Zach Carter, AlterNet. January 21, 2010.

Obama’s endorsement of Volcker’s plan is truly an extraordinary step forward for economic policy, but there’s a long way to go.

The news that President Barack Obama is finally listening to Paul Volcker is welcome, but the specifics of Obama’s big bank crackdown are not as positive as initial reports had indicated.

For more than a year now, Volcker has been urging policymakers to deliver strong regulatory medicine to revive the weak U.S. financial system. But Obama and other top advisers like Larry Summers and Timothy Geithner have resisted the former Federal Reserve Chairman’s overtures, instead opting for a set of small-bore, technocratic tweaks to a system that is fundamentally broken. (There’s one major exception to this pattern—Obama’s proposal to create a Consumer Financial Protection Agency is a dramatic and critical step for salvaging the American economy, and the President has advocated for it over Geithner’s objections.) Volcker has repeatedly suggested that banks that are too-big-to-fail are simply too-big-to-exist, and has consistently and correctly urged that banks be banned from participating in risky, high-flying securities trading. Today, Obama acknowledged these were good ideas. READ MORE: http://www.alternet.org/workplace/145321/obama_adopts_volcker%27s_solution%3A_if_banks_want_govt._guarantees%2C_they_have_to_close_their_casino_operations

A Rumble with Wall Street … That’s a Fight We Should Welcome Posted by Isaiah J. Poole, Campaign for America’s Future, January 23, 2010.

One of the lessons of Tuesday’s election is that voters don’t want to see their elected leaders capitulating to the very people who brought the economy down. It does not matter whether President Obama’s pronouncement on financial reform this week was prompted by Tuesday’s election disaster in Massachusetts or was a long-building unleashing of his inner populist. What matters is the potential for real White House leadership on changes that must happen if we are to have a stable, growing economy on Main Street. This is the fight for which we have to bandage our wounds and pick ourselves up to win. READ MORE: http://www.alternet.org/blogs/politics/145349/a_rumble_with_wall_street_…_that%27s_a_fight_we_should_welcome

Remember?

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MACHIAVELLI and the BEAST

January 20, 2010
 
Canon Fodder

The Beast Wins.

I must finally admit it.  Religion is necessary.  Machiavelli said it.  Since the majority of the people are ignorant and superstitious, it’s easiest to control and direct them if they share a common value system around which to build action.  Any action taken will look familiar and god will ostensibly attest to its rightness.  It’s a powerful tool for use by the powerful and cynical.

This presupposes that people are ignorant and superstitious and that one cannot do very much about that during the course of a single lifetime.  One can chip away at the edges of the monolithic vacuous ness, possibly erect a structure that others can follow to advance the knowledge project, but finally, one will be defeated by the overwhelming tide of senseless, unreasoning humanity.

The species isn’t really designed to survive; it persists in the complete absorption of its resources to the point of starvation and a fearsome, deadly, entirely avoidable catastrophe.  We are our own worst prophecy; it’s embedded in our bones, wrapped around our DNA and destined to create the wasteland we will all die in.  Have at it cockroaches; it will be your turn soon.

Read Colin Turnbull’s The Mountain People about the Eke tribesman of eastern Africa – of how a whole tribe starved, its members separated into individuals, each clinging shallowly to life, boiling dirt for soup, casting children out at two to fend for themselves when mother’s milk gives out, husbands not helping wives, wives not helping husbands, mothers and fathers and grandparents left to die, each one, separately and alone in the dirt, not even mourned by their own.  Learn how fragile society can be.  Learn how inhuman the majority of humanity actually can be, and often is.

Machiavelli maintains that all human beings are inherently evil.  That’s why we need laws and religion – to keep them in check.  Structure is necessary for peace and prosperity.  Therefore, I must finally admit it: Religion is necessary, but only to control and direct the mob.  It is a tool to control the unreasoning.  Please don’t ask me to believe in it.  – jl.

The Obama Administration seems to concur with me, but apparently translates it into more power, more control.

US Corporations, Private Mercenaries and the IMF Rush in to Profit from Haiti’s Crisis By Benjamin Dangl, Toward Freedom. January 19, 2010.

In the midst of a colossal human disaster, Washington is promoting unpopular economic policies and extending military and economic control over the Haitian people.

US corporations, private mercenaries, Washington and the International Monetary Fund are using the crisis in Haiti to make a profit, promote unpopular neoliberal policies, and extend military and economic control over the Haitian people.

In the aftermath of the earthquake, with much of the infrastructure and government services destroyed, Haitians have relied on each other for the relief efforts, working together to pull their neighbors, friends and loved ones from the rubble. One report from IPS News in Haiti explained, “In the day following the quake, there was no widespread violence. Guns, knives and theft weren’t seen on the streets, lined only with family after family carrying their belongings. They voiced their anger and frustration with sad songs that echoed throughout the night, not their fists.”  READ MORE: http://www.alternet.org/world/145279/us_corporations%2C_private_mercenaries_and_the_imf_rush_in_to_profit_from_haiti%27s_crisis 

Obama Confidant’s Spine-Chilling Proposal to ‘Cognitively Infiltrate’ Conspiracy Theorist Groups By Glenn Greenwald, Salon. January 20, 2010.

Recent paper by Obama adviser Cass Sunstein proposes bizarre methods to stamp out “false conspiracy theories,” including taxing the people who engage in them.

Cass Sunstein has long been one of Barack Obama’s closest confidants. Often mentioned as a likely Obama nominee to the Supreme Court, Sunstein is currently Obama’s head of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs where, among other things, he is responsible for “overseeing policies relating to privacy, information quality, and statistical programs.” In 2008, while at Harvard Law School, Sunstein co-wrote a truly pernicious paper proposing that the U.S. Government employ teams of covert agents and pseudo-“independent” advocates to “cognitively infiltrate” online groups and websites — as well as other activist groups — which advocate views that Sunstein deems “false conspiracy theories” about the government.  This would be designed to increase citizens’ faith in government officials and undermine the credibility of conspiracists. The paper’s abstract can be read, and the full paper downloaded, here. READ MORE: http://www.alternet.org/rights/145229/obama_confidant%27s_spine-chilling_proposal_to_%27cognitively_infiltrate%27_conspiracy_theorist_groups

Astonishing Report: We’re Executing Gitmo Prisoners and Calling It Suicide By Andy Worthington, Andy Worthington’s Blog. January 18, 2010.

The three “suicides” in June 2006 were not suicides at all. The men were killed during interrogations in a secret prison block and the murders were disguised to look like suicides.

It’s hard to know where to begin with this profoundly important story by Scott Horton, for next month’s Harper’s Magazine (available on the web here), but let’s try this: The three “suicides” at Guantánamo in June 2006 were not suicides at all. The men in question were killed during interrogations in a secretive block in Guantánamo, conducted by an unknown agency, and the murders were then disguised to look like suicides. Everyone at Guantánamo knew about it. Everyone covered it up. Everyone is still covering it up.  READ MORE: http://www.alternet.org/rights/145257/astonishing_report%3A_we%27re_executing_gitmo_prisoners_and_calling_it_suicide

Patriot's Dream

Jacques Cousteau: “I hope for the best, although I can’t say why.”

WALL STREET and SEX DOLLS

January 14, 2010

OK, WE KNOW YOU CAME FOR THIS, so we’ve put it up front Department: (We also know it is sexist as hell, but please don’t hurt us. We’re only reporting).

‘She Orgasms When You Touch Her’: The World’s First Sex Robot? By Tana Ganeva, AlterNet. January 14, 2010.

Sadly, humanity has reached 2010 without flying cars or personal-use jetpacks. But not without sex robots.

At AVN Media Network’s recent Adult Entertainment Expo, Douglas Hines of True Companion announced the release of a digitally programmed robot that’s like a real woman, only much better.

“She is anatomically consistent with a real person. She has three inputs, so …. what you can think of … for a woman … she can do,” Hines assures. “But she can do a little more than a woman. Her outside comes in blonde, ginger and brunette. Her inside hosts five different awesome personalities, instead of a single boring one, including Frigid Farah, Mature Martha, Wild Wendy and S & M Susan.

It’s not just about the sex, though. According to the True Companion Web site, “She will also be able to talk, listen, carry on a conversation, feel your touch and be your true friend.” (But it’s also a lot about the sex: “She can also have an orgasm when you touch her!”)  Users can imbue their companions with entirely different personalities or build on existing ones. They can then hook Roxxxy into the True Companions Web site and share new features with other users—yet another characteristic sadly lacking in flesh-and-blood women – by way of a 5-foot-7, 120-pound plastic doll that “has a full C cup and is ready for action.”)

True Companion’s efforts to improve upon human women are hardly new. A staple of sci-fi, the fembot has also become a fixture of expos and some specialty markets (mostly in Japan). (This piece on Designboom.com gives a useful history.)  Among them: Chinese opera robot, “a kind of simulated intelligent robot of person in drama with facial makeups in Beijing opera or other traditional opera mask, who can sing Beijing opera or other traditional opera.” And, Eternal Maiden Actualization (E.M.A.), released by Sega. While it looks like a storm trooper, it also has a “body that can move at the elbows, shoulders, waist and knees and is made to act like a ‘real girlfriend.’ E.M.A. can sing, dance and has a ‘love’ sensor for kissing,” according to Designboom.com.

Unfortunately, E.M.A. doesn’t seem primed for oral, vaginal and anal sex—something Roxxxy appears to have on most other fembots. So, for now those who can afford to spend thousands and thousands to have sex with a moving doll have limited options. Good thing Roxxxy is “Always Turned On and Ready to Talk or Play.” READ MORE:

http://www.alternet.org/sex/145151/%27she_orgasms_when_you_touch_her%27%3A_the_world%27s_first_sex_robot?page=entire

International Workers of the World

LEST WE FORGET; not so long ago:

America Slides Deeper Into Depression as Wall Street Revels by Ambrose Evans-Pritchard The Telegraph/UK

December 2010 was the worst month for US unemployment since the Great Recession began.

The labour force contracted by 661,000. This did not show up in the headline jobless rate because so many Americans dropped out of the system. Wall Street rallied. Bulls hope that weak jobs data will postpone monetary tightening: a silver lining in every catastrophe, or perhaps a further exhibit of market infantilism.

Realtytrac says defaults and repossessions have been running at over 300,000 a month since February. One million American families lost their homes in the fourth quarter. Moody’s Economy.com expects another 2.4m homes to go this year.

Between 1932 and 1934, half the US states declared moratoria or “Farm Holidays”. Such flexibility innoculated America’s democracy against the appeal of Red Unions and Coughlin Fascists. The home seizures are occurring despite frantic efforts by the Obama administration to delay the process.

US house prices have eked out five months of gains, but stalled in October in half the cities. Karl Case of Case-Shiller index says prices may sink another 15pc. “If the 2008 and 2009 loans go bad, then we’re back where we were before – in a nightmare.”

The US economy grew at a 2.2pc rate in the third quarter (entirely due to Obama stimulus). This compares to an average of 7.3pc in the first quarter of every recovery since the Second World War.

Professor Tim Congdon from International Monetary Research said the Fed is baking deflation into the pie later this year, and perhaps a double-dip recession. Europe is even worse.

However, an army of commentators is trying to bounce the Fed into early rate rises. They accuse Ben Bernanke of repeating the error of 2004 when the Fed waited too long. How anybody can see imminent inflation in the dying embers of core PCE, just 0.1pc in November, is beyond me.

Wall Street does not seem to agree with this grim analysis.

This is the same Mr Market that bought stocks in October 1987 when they were 25pc overvalued – exactly as they are today – and bought them at even more overvalued prices in 2007, long after the property crash, Bear Stearns funds imploded, and credit had its August heart attack. The stock market has become a lagging indicator. Tear up the textbooks.

© Copyright of Telegraph Media Group Limited 2010 READ MORE:

http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2010/01/11-7

"Play it again, Sam!"

ABSTRACT: full article link at end.  Probably the most important recent article on the topic, abstracted for essence.  Read the whole article.

Wall Street’s Plot to Wreck America Must Be Revealed By Frank Rich, The New York Times. January 11, 2010.

We know little about the financial WMDs that destroyed our economy. This week’s Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission hearings must shed light on what happened in the meltdown.

The crash precipitated by the 9/15 failure of Lehman Brothers, most are still ignorant about what Warren Buffett called the “financial weapons of mass destruction” that wrecked our economy.

What we don’t know will hurt us, and quite possibly on a more devastating scale than any Qaeda attack. Americans must be told the full story of how Wall Street gamed and inflated the housing bubble, made out like bandits, and then left millions of households in ruin. Without that reckoning, there will be no public clamor for serious reform of a financial system that was as cunningly breached as airline security at the Amsterdam airport. And without reform, another massive attack on our economic security is guaranteed. Now that it can count on government bailouts, Wall Street has more incentive than ever to pump up its risks — secure that it can keep the bonanzas while we get stuck with the losses.

The window for change is rapidly closing. Health care, Afghanistan and the terrorism panic may have exhausted Washington’s already limited capacity for heavy lifting, especially in an election year. The contrary voices of Americans who have lost pay, jobs, homes and savings are either patronized or drowned out entirely by a political system where the banking lobby rules in both parties and the revolving door between finance and government never stops spinning.

It’s against this backdrop that this week’s long-awaited initial public hearings of the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission are so critical. This is the bipartisan panel that Congress mandated last spring to investigate the still murky story of what happened in the meltdown. Phil Angelides, the inquiry’s chairman, said that he will not allow the proceedings to devolve into a typical blue-ribbon Beltway exercise in toothless bloviation.

He wants to examine the financial sector’s “greed, stupidity, hubris and outright corruption” — from traders on the ground to the board room. “It’s important that we deliver new information,” he said. “We can’t just rehash what we’ve known to date.” He understands that if he fails to make news or to tell the story in a way that is comprehensible and compelling enough to arouse Americans to demand action, Wall Street and Washington will both keep moving on, unchallenged and unchastened.

Ferdinand Pecora, the legendary prosecutor who served as chief counsel to the Senate committee that investigated the 1929 crash as F.D.R. took office delivered  indictments, jail sentences and, ultimately, key New Deal reforms — the creation of the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Glass-Steagall Act, designed to prevent the formation of banks too big to fail.

As it happens, a major Pecora target was the National City Bank, the institution that grew up to be Citigroup. Among other transgressions, National City  repackaged bad Latin American debt as new securities that it then sold to easily suckered investors during the frenzied 1920s boom. Once disaster struck, the bank’s executives helped themselves to millions of dollars in interest-free loans. Yet their employees had to pony up salary deductions for decimated National City stock purchased at a heady precrash price.

Trade bad Latin American debt for bad mortgage debt, and you have a partial portrait of Citigroup at the height of the latest housing bubble. The reckless Citi executives of our day may not have given themselves interest-free loans, but they often walked away with the short-term, illusionary profits while their employees were left with shredded jobs and 401(k)’s. Among those Citi executives was Robert Rubin, who, as the Clinton Treasury secretary, helped repeal the last vestiges of Glass-Steagall after years of Wall Street assault. Rubin has never apologized, let alone been held accountable. But he’s hardly alone.

If Citi, among the most egregious of Wall Street reprobates, feels it can get away with business as usual, it’s because it fears no retribution. And it got more good news last week. Now that Chris Dodd is vacating the Senate, his chairmanship of the Banking Committee may fall next year to Tim Johnson of South Dakota, home to Citi’s credit card operation. Johnson was the only Senate Democrat to vote against Congress’s recent bill policing credit card abuses.

Though bad history shows every sign of repeating itself on Wall Street, it will take a near-miracle for Angelides to repeat Pecora’s triumph. Our zoo of financial skullduggery is far more complex, with many more moving pieces, than that of the 1920s. The new inquiry does have subpoena power, but its entire budget, a mere $8 million, doesn’t even match the lobbying expenditures for just three banks (Citi, Morgan Stanley, Bank of America) in the first nine months of 2009. The firms under scrutiny can pay for as many lawyers as they need to stall between now and Dec. 15, deadline day for the commission’s report.

More daunting still is the inquiry’s duty to reach into high places in the public sector as well as the private. The mystery of exactly what happened as TARP fell into place in the fateful fall of 2008 thickens by the day — especially the behind-closed-door machinations surrounding the government rescue of A.I.G. and its counterparties. Last week, a Republican congressman, Darrell Issa of California, released e-mail showing that officials at the New York Fed, then led by Timothy Geithner, pressured A.I.G. to delay disclosing to the S.E.C. and the public the details on the billions of bailout dollars it was funneling to its trading partners. In this backdoor rescue, taxpayers unknowingly awarded banks like Goldman 100 cents on the dollar for their bets on mortgage-backed securities.

Why was our money used to make these high-flying gamblers whole while ordinary Americans received no such beneficence? Nothing less than complete transparency will connect the dots. Among the big-name witnesses that the Angelides commission has called for next week is Goldman’s Blankfein. Geithner, Henry Paulson and Ben Bernanke should be next.

If they all skate away yet again that’s the ticking-bomb scenario that truly imperils us all.

© 2008 The New York Times.

AlterNet is making this material available in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107: This article is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes.

READ THE FULL ARTICLE AT: http://www.alternet.org/workplace/145055/wall_street%27s_plot_to_wreck_america_must_be_revealed

"Excessive regulations" hamper business.

Dear President Obama:

Please pursue the idea of a bank and bonus tax and expand your thinking to directly invest in putting Americans back to work.  A 50 percent tax on bonuses over $1 million could quickly recoup the approximately $120 billion in outstanding TARP funds and with plenty left over for job creation, education and infrastructure improvements.

Wall Street’s unfettered greed is at an all-time high.  Please consider permanent new taxes on these bailed-out banks to raise at least $500 million per year for the PUBLIC GOOD.

Please coordinate such investments in a green policy philosophy that encourages sustainable middle class enterprise, and penalizes corporate monopolistic usury.

Thank you.

Paul Ryan - The Monarchists Are Loose

Obama Received $20 Million from Healthcare Industry in 2008 Campaign by Brad Jacobson Raw Story Tuesday, January 12, 2010.

Almost three times the amount given to McCain.

While some sunlight has been shed on the hefty sums shoveled into congressional campaign coffers in an effort to influence the Democrats’ massive healthcare bill, little attention has been focused on the far larger sums received by President Barack Obama while he was a candidate in 2008.

A new figure, based on an exclusive analysis created for Raw Story by the Center for Responsive Politics, shows that President Obama received a staggering $20,175,303 from the healthcare industry during the 2008 election cycle, nearly three times the amount of his presidential rival John McCain. McCain took in $7,758,289, the Center found.

The new figure, obtained by Raw Story through an independent custom research request performed by the Center for Responsive Politics — a nonprofit, nonpartisan group that tracks money in politics — is the most comprehensive breakdown yet available of healthcare industry contributions to Obama during the 2008 election cycle.

Obama delegate now takes umbrage with healthcare position.

Historian and media critic Norman Solomon, who was also an Obama delegate to the Democratic National Convention, called the president’s transformation on healthcare since taking office “shameful.”

“Overall it’s been a very corporate friendly healthcare approach from Obama as president,” Solomon said in an interview with Raw Story. “Corporate friendly in a way that I believe is injurious to public health.”

He underscored the subtle but substantive change in healthcare language used by Obama and the White House.

Mary Boyle of Common Cause also noted the industry’s success in achieving this goal over the course of the healthcare debate.

“We’ve seen many examples of the healthcare industry’s interests – and we would argue that a lot of it has to do with the money – prevailing over the public interest,” she said. “The fact is, we have this broken system that allows interests that want the most out of government to have the loudest voice and to get that loudest voice by contributing the most money and spending the most money.”

Brad Jacobson is a contributing investigative reporter for Raw Story. © 2010 Raw Story  READ MORE:

http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2010/01/12-9

RIGHTWING PROPAGANDA, RUBBERBAND BALLS

January 7, 2010

Celebrating Cronkite While Ignoring What He Did

GET A NEWSPAPER?

We are fools to allow corporations like FOX, or subversive rightwing billionaires like Pete Peterson and Rupert Murdoch to determine our national information policy, control our public airways, and own our means of civic communication.  We are fools to allow them to continue to distort our national consciousness, or to interfere with our right to meet and discuss and decide as a unified national community.  We are fools to allow them to keep us ignorant and apart. 

Peterson and Murdoch are propagandistic liars, and consistently anti-American.  The co-opted cowardice of all the so-called “real” (read “infotainment”) news organizations, including the major television networks, convinces me that we need a reformed public ownership of uncensored airwaves, subject to strong democratic citizen oversight.

Here’s the latest outrage, hitting newspapers this time:

Conservative Mogul Buying Up Reporters to Promote His Regressive Agenda By William Greider, The Nation.

Pete Peterson, the Wall Street billionaire who wants to loot Social Security, has created a “news network” hooked up to the Washington Post.

He’s baaack — the Wall Street billionaire who wants to loot Social Security. This time, Pete Peterson has invented his own “news network” to promote his right-wing rants about shrinking the only retirement security system available to millions of working people. Peterson styles himself as a patriot saving the nation from fiscal insolvency and has committed $1 billion to that cause (a chunk of the wealth he accumulated at Blackstone Group, the notorious corporate-takeover firm). His efforts might be dismissed as ludicrous — except money does talk in Washington, and Peterson is now buying Washington reporters to spread his dire warnings.

The retired mogul has created a digital news agency he dubs “The Fiscal Times” and hired eight seasoned reporters to do the work there. “An impressive group of veteran journalists,” Peterson calls them. I hope they have shaken a lot of money out of this rich geezer. Because I predict doing hack work for him will seriously soil their reputations for objectivity and independence.

With his great wealth, Peterson could have also bought a newspaper to publish his dispatches, but he did better than that. He hooked up with the Washington Post, which has agreed to “jointly produce content focusing on the budget and fiscal issues.” (This media scandal was first uncovered by economist Dean Baker.) The newspaper is thus compromising its own integrity. It’s like buying political propaganda from a Washington lobbyist, then printing it in the news columns as if it was just another news story. Shame on the Post, my old newspaper. I predict a big stink like the one that greeted the Post when its publisher decided to hold pay-for-access “salons” for corporate biggies.

The first TFT “dispatch” to appear in the Post — “Support grows for tackling nation’s debt” — made no mention of Peterson’s crusade. But it featured the same devious gimmick the financier has been peddling around Washington. Congress should create a special commission of eighteen senators and representatives empowered to to make the “tough” budget decisions politicians are loathe to face — slashing benefits, raising payroll taxes or both. Other members of Congress would be prohibited from changing any of the particular measures, and would cast only an up-or-down vote on the entire package, no amendments allowed.

Supposedly, this would give them political cover. Look, no hands. We just cut Social Security but it wasn’t our fault.  READ MORE:

http://www.alternet.org/media/144961/conservative_mogul_buying_up_reporters_to_promote_his_regressive_agenda

HERE WE GO AGAIN?

A visionary approach committed to the fight against climate chaos would use power to dramatically re-engineer failing industry so that its factories could build the infrastructure of the green economy the world desperately needs, instead of leaving industry unchanged.  Obama took real effort not to nationalize the banks. He could have mandated loans for factories to be retrofitted and new green infrastructure to be built. Instead he declared that the government shouldn’t tell failed banks how to run their businesses.

Imagine if the three huge economic engines — the banks, the auto companies, the stimulus bill — had been harnessed to a common green vision.  By the time Copenhagen rolled around, the U.S. would already have been well on its way to dramatically cutting emissions, poised to inspire, rather than disappoint, the rest of the world.

What will happen as the Democrats face the employment crisis?

Jobs: The One Issue That Can Sink Democrats in November By Robert Reich, Robert Reich’s Blog.

If unemployment is 10 percent or more next November, the Dems are in danger of losing the House and will almost certainly be short of the 60 votes they need in the Senate.

Just about everything you’ll hear coming out of Washington starting now is really about November’s mid-term election. The gravitational pull of the midterms was already apparent last year, as Republicans marched in perfect lockstep to vote against whatever the President and Democrats proposed (Republicans always have authoritarian discipline on their side, which is why they’re Republicans), but you haven’t seen anything yet.

The Democrats have enough votes to enact health care — the hurdle Bill Clinton failed to jump, contributing to the Republican takeover in 1994 — but when it’s enacted, expect the spin machines on both sides to be at full throttle. And because health care legislation won’t be implemented for another three or four years (depending whether the House or Senate versions prevail), Americans won’t be able to test the veracity of these wildly divergent claims. So don’t count on health reform to help Dems next November — nor harm them, either.

Foreign policy is just as unlikely to tip the scales. Sad to say, absent a draft most American families will read about American deaths in Afghanistan much the way they’ve absorbed the U.S. body count in Iraq — as news items rather than personal tragedies. Nor will Iran’s nuclear capabilities, North Korea’s missile launches, Pakistan’s tumult, or Yemen’s terrorists have much electoral effect — unless terrorists commit an atrocity in America or on American travelers. Needless to say, China’s decision about whether and how much to revalue its currency, although important, will affect the votes of about three Americans (and I think I know all of them).

Issue Number One — the overriding concern that will determine more than anything how many seats the Democrats lose next fall — is jobs. If unemployment is 10 percent or more next November, the Dems are in danger of losing the House and will almost certainly be short of the 60 votes they need in the Senate.

But why would employment be 10 percent or above next November? Surely, you say, there are enough signs of recovery that we can count on a lower rate. Don’t be so sure. Here are likely scenarios, with my probabilities:  READ MORE:

http://www.alternet.org/workplace/144954/jobs%3A_the_one_issue_that_can_sink_democrats_in_november

GOT A JOB?

 

Joel Waul, 28, climbs on top of his rubber band ball on the driveway of his home in Lauderhill, Fla., Friday, Oct. 23, 2009. Waul, a 27-year-old who works nights restocking a Gap clothing store, has spent the last six years carefully wrapping and linking and stretching rubber bands of various sizes into the ball shape. The Guinness Book of World Records declared it the world’s largest rubber band ball in 2008. Photo/Alan Diaz

Which brings up the basic question: Why?