Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Think OWS is Behaving Badly? Look at What The Elite 1% Are Up to - Banks May Have Illegally Foreclosed On Nearly 5,000 Military Members

 Think OWS is Behaving Badly? Look at What The Elite 1% Are Up to - Banks May Have Illegally Foreclosed On Nearly 5,000 Military Members

Even those people putting their lives on the line for their country may not be safe from the American foreclosure crisis.

Ten lenders are reviewing close to 5,000 foreclosures of homes belonging to active-duty service members in an attempt to discover if they were carried out improperly, according to data from the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, cited by the Financial Times. The OCC's report is based on projections prepared by the lenders and and their consultants. Bank of America said it is reviewing 2,400 foreclosures of homes belonging to active-duty service members and Wells Fargo said it's looking at nearly 900 cases. Citigroup is reviewing 700 foreclosures, the bank said.

The Servicemembers Civil Relief act aims to protect active-duty members of the military from financial difficulty, including through measures that restrict foreclosures on properties owned by active-duty military members. Still, as the OCC data indicates, thousands of active-duty members of the armed forces have lost their homes while fighting abroad.

Bank of America and Morgan Stanley reached deals with the Justice Department earlier this year, agreeing to pay more than $20 million to settle claims that they foreclosed on more than 175 active-duty service members without court orders.

They're not the only ones. JPMorgan Chase also admitted to illegally foreclosing on the families of 27 active-duty military members earlier this year and has very publicly attempted to give the families back their homes or compensate them for damages if the house was sold.

The bank also agreed to pay $27 million in cash to about 6,000 active-duty service members who were overcharged on their mortgages, Bloomberg reports.

Illegal foreclosures have affected service members like U.S. Army Sgt. James Hurley who lost his house to foreclosure while he was serving in Iraq. Tim Collette said in June that he had been negotiating with JPMorgan Chase since 2008 to save his house from foreclosure while his son was serving in Iraq.

Though illegal foreclosures may be some of the most egregious examples of lenders mistreating service members, banks have wronged members of the military in other ways. An October lawsuit claims that 13 banks and mortgage companies charged hidden and illegal fees from veterans trying to refinance their homes.

These foreclosure victims are the ones conservatives are telling to get off their lazy asses and get a job or three jobs. Don't bother conservatives with concerns about economic justice, for them that phrase just just another word for communism. Imagine how easily it would be to solve most of America's problems if the elite and their conservative lap dogs were not in the way of progress and justice.

Conservative Republican Sam Brownback knows who is supposed to make sacrifices in tough times, the mentally ill. Sam might be the dumbest and most malicious piece of human garbage in Kansas - ‘Compassionate Conservative’ Kansas Gov. Brownback Proposes Ending Funding For State Mental Hospital.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Police and Politicians Across America Spend Tax Dollars To Shut Down Ist Amendment: Millions Spent To Evict Camps, While Cutting Shelter Funds


Police and Politicians Across America Spend Tax Dollars To Shut Down Ist Amendment: Millions Spent To Evict Camps, While Cutting Shelter Funds

As cities around the country have swept Occupy Wall Street camps from their plazas and parks in recent weeks, a number of mayors and city officials have argued that by providing shelter to the homeless, the camps are endangering the public and even the homeless themselves.

Yet in many of those cities, services for the homeless are severely underfunded. The cities have spent millions of dollars to police and evict the protesters, but they've been shutting down shelters and enacting laws to prohibit homeless from sleeping overnight in public.

In Oakland, Atlanta, Denver and Portland, Ore., there are at least two homeless people for every open bed in the shelter system, according to the most recent data from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. In Salt Lake City, Utah, and Chapel Hill, N.C. -- two other cities that have evicted protesters from their encampments -- things are better but far from ideal. In Chapel Hill, according to the HUD study, there are 121 beds for 135 homeless people, and in Salt Lake City, 1,627 for 1,968.

Heather Maria Johnson, a civil rights attorney at the National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty, said most cities in the U.S. lack adequate affordable housing, emergency or transitional housing, or other social services for people who are either homeless or are in danger of losing their homes. "This was true before the current economic crisis and remains true today, particularly in areas that have cut social services due to budget concerns," Johnson said.

According to HUD, job losses and foreclosures helped push more than 170,000 families into homeless shelters in 2009, up nearly 30 percent from 2007. Of course, those are some of the same problems that have inspired people to protest.


After Atlanta's Mayor Kasim Reed forcibly evacuated Occupy Atlanta from a public park, protesters moved into a homeless shelter. As it turned out, the shelter had been tied up in court battles with the city for a few years, and the city had planned to close it. The shelter was scheduled to be shut down a few days after the protesters moved in, but that date has since been postponed indefinitely and protesters have taken up the shelter's cause.

Local stakeholders -- including city officials, the local business development group Central Atlanta Progress, Emory University and other business interests -- have been trying to boot the Task Force homeless shelter from its home as it sits on a valuable piece of real estate.

The fight between the shelter and its opponents goes back at least to 2008. In a recent court case, the task force that runs the shelter contended that Emory University had been trying to rid their area of the shelter for years. Emails released in court show that officials from Emory approached major private donors to the task force to make their case against the shelter, and that they talked with investors about foreclosing on it. And in recent weeks, the shelter has fought the city to prevent local authorities from turning off their water.

Some point out that the media has been paying more attention to the shelter's troubles since the protesters' arrival. Earlier this month, the county told a local TV station that tuberculosis had broken out at the shelter. Protesters told HuffPost that they thought these claims were bogus.

One protester, Tim Franzen, said he'd been living in the shelter for weeks and had yet to see signs of anyone getting sick. He described the claim as an attempt to smear the Occupation and the shelter.

So did Shab Bashiri, another protester. "The city wants to shut it down with absolutely no alternative," she said. According to Bashiri, the protesters had not only been "occupying" the shelter but had also been sleeping outdoors in areas where homeless people stay.

The shelter is the largest in the southeast, housing more than 1,000 people on some nights. "The city doesn't have the infrastructure to deal with 1,000 people," Franzen said. "So where would they go? We don't know."

Atlanta has been flagged as one of the worst cities nationally in which to be homeless and has the widest income gap between rich and poor.

Many protesters argue that the city should fund the shelter with the money they've spent on dealing with the protest. The mayor's office reports they spent nearly $500,000 in just two weeks dealing with Occupy Atlanta, most of it on overtime pay for police. Maurice Lattimore, who helps run the shelter, said $500,000 could fund the shelter easily for two years. He noted that the city hasn't put any money into the shelter's coffers since the court battle began three years ago.

The Atlanta mayor's office did not respond to a request for comment.


In Portland, Ore., Mayor Sam Adams said despite his support for the Occupy movement's principles, the Portland camp was getting dangerous. After the eviction, the mayor pointed to the presence of homeless people and people with mental illnesses. Nearby businesses had been pressuring him with claims that homeless residents were scaring away customers.

Judas James, a member of Occupy Portland who is himself homeless, said the protesters have tried to help homeless people who sought shelter with them by providing food, medical attention, tents and blankets.

"If there was money there for them, these people could be taken care of," James said. "It's hard because we want everyone to be safe, and we just don't have the resources to help them with it."

If the city were to take care of them using the money they've spent to pull down tents and clean up the park, it would amount to nearly $850,000, according to data from Mayor Adams' office.

Adams has acknowledged that the Occupy Portland movement has highlighted the city's homelessness problem, and said he supports a lot of the protesters' positions.

The city has invested $13 million towards relieving homelessness in the past five years and has devised a long-term plan to combat the problem. Yet, in an attempt to climb out of a budget hole of over $3 billion, Oregon has slashed its funding for social services by more than $73 million.

Amy Ruiz, a spokesperson for the mayor, wrote in an email that "providing social services and maintaining peace are not mutually exclusive. The City must, and does, do both." Ruiz pointed out that several nonprofit organizations, which receive money from state and local governments, had moved several dozen homeless people out of the Occupy camps into shelters, motels and other "lower-impact, and safer, camps."

Ruiz said more than 20 outreach workers representing at least seven organizations reached out to the homeless at the encampments before shutting them down.

Dennis Lundberg, an outreach worker, told Adams that the camp was doing more harm than good to Portland's street youth, who preferred the camp to the shelter system because they could reap the benefits of free meals without submitting to the sorts of rules imposed by the shelters.


In October, Denver Mayor Michael Hancock came out in support of new legislation that would ban homeless people from sleeping in public places overnight.

"We only have one downtown," Hancock said at the time. "We cannot afford to lose our city core. If people don't feel safe going downtown, that is a threat to the very vitality of our downtown and our city."

A couple weeks later, Hancock said he didn't want to allow protesters to set the precedent for sleeping in tents in the public parks. This was a prelude to Denver sending in riot police to evict the protesters.

Johnson, the civil rights attorney with the NLCHP, said the organization has noticed a nationwide increase in laws that criminalize homelessness, including laws that prohibit sleeping, sitting or storing belongings in public spaces, even when there is insufficient shelter space.

She argued these criminalization measures cost far more to municipalities than providing adequate shelter to people. Citing studies conducted in 13 cities and states, she said that it costs on average $87 per day to jail someone, compared to $28 per day to house them in a shelter. "With state and local budgets stretched to their limit, it's profoundly irrational to waste taxpayer money on these expensive criminalization policies," she said.

According to Revekka Balancier, the communications director of the homeless outreach program Denver Road Home, the city's homeless shelters are at capacity every night, and many have long waiting lists. And she noted that the city's homeless population is growing. A report from 2009 found that 10,604 people were living on the streets and in area shelters on the night the survey was conducted. By 2011, that number had increased by 6.5 percent, to 11,377.

Not to worry Americans can still camp out in front of retail outlets to buy cheap crap. So we do have some freedoms left. Funny how you can get in tons of trouble in America for being homeless, but the too big to fail banks can get rich stealing billions from the government and the American people. To date I don't think one billionaire thief has been evicted from his home or pepper-sprayed.

US Senate To Vote On Bill That Will Allow The Military To Arrest Americans On American Soil And Hold Them Indefinitely

Friday, November 25, 2011

Reports Show Fannie And Freddie Were Not Root Cause Of Financial Crisis

Chart shows that the loans Fannie and Freddie were making were largely not high-risk

Reports Show Fannie And Freddie Were Not Root Cause Of Financial Crisis

The New York Times published a piece by Reuters' BreakingViews.com that attacked the Dodd-Frank financial reform law for not sufficiently regulating Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, which the piece suggested were central causes of the economic crisis. This claim echoes a right-wing talking point, but as economic experts -- including Nobel Prize-winning economist and Times columnist Paul Krugman -- have explained, it has no basis in reality.
Times Piece Suggested Fannie, Freddie Were Central Causes Of Economic Crisis

New York Times Piece: Lax Mortgage Lending Was "Central" To Financial Crisis, But Financial Reform Law Did Not Focus On Fannie And Freddie. From a July 18 piece by Reuter's BreakingViews.com published by The New York Times:

    A year after passage of the Dodd-Frank act, the $10.5 trillion American mortgage market remains in limbo. One big reason is that the law scarcely touches Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and the Federal Housing Administration -- the government-run lenders that dominate the home loan market.

    The consequences of lax mortgage lending were central to the crisis that Dodd-Frank was intended to make unrepeatable. 

(Say it is not so - the supposed liberal New York Times published a disapproved urban myth as fact)  - Reports Reject Claim That Fannie And Freddie Were Root Cause Of Financial Crisis
    David Min: Fannie And Freddie "Did Not Buy Enough" High-Risk Mortgage-Backed Securities "To Be Blamed For The Mortgage Crisis." In a report about the causes of the housing crisis, David Min, the Associate Director for Financial Markets Policy at the Center for American Progress, wrote that while "Fannie and Freddie were responsible for some actual high-risk loans, primarily through their purchases of high-risk private-label securities for their investment portfolio as well as through purchases of actual high-risk loans for their core securitization business," the "actual high-risk activity by Fannie and Freddie was neither sufficient in volume nor did it come at the right time to persuasively argue that the two mortgage finance giants drove the surge in actual high-risk lending we saw in the 2000s." Min also wrote that Fannie and Freddie "did not buy enough of [high-risk mortgage-backed securities] to be blamed for the mortgage crisis." From Min's July 2011 report:
        It is of course well known, including by their regulator, the Federal Housing Finance Agency, that Fannie and Freddie were responsible for some actual high-risk loans, primarily through their purchases of high-risk private-label securities for their investment portfolio as well as through purchases of actual high-risk loans for their core securitization business. Yet as Wallison knows, this actual high-risk activity by Fannie and Freddie was neither sufficient in volume nor did it come at the right time to persuasively argue that the two mortgage finance giants drove the surge in actual high-risk lending we saw in the 2000s.
        Did Fannie and Freddie buy high-risk mortgage-backed securities? Yes. But they did not buy enough of them to be blamed for the mortgage crisis. Highly respected analysts who have looked at these data in much greater detail than Wallison, Pinto, or myself, including the nonpartisan Government Accountability Office, the Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies, the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission majority, the Federal Housing Finance Agency, and virtually all academics, have all rejected the Wallison/Pinto argument that federal affordable housing policies were responsible for the proliferation of actual high-risk mortgages over the past decade.
        Indeed, it is noteworthy that Wallison's fellow Republicans on the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission -- Bill Thomas, Keith Hennessey, and Douglas Holtz-Eakin, all of whom are staunch conservatives -- rejected Wallison's argument as well.
        This is why neither Wallison nor Pinto try to make the argument that the federal government was responsible for the proliferation of actual high-risk lending that occurred in the past decade, as such a claim would be quickly rejected as ridiculous. Instead, what Wallison and Pinto do--the key to their argument--is to expand the definition of "high risk" and "subprime" to include new categories of loans not ordinarily understood to be high risk. This expansion of "high-risk" lending is essential to the Wallison/Pinto argument that the mortgage crisis was caused by federal affordable housing policies. [Ritholtz.com, The Big Picture, 7/13/11]

Conservatives want to blame anyone but the private sector. The private sector they helped deregulate for thirty years because they claimed DEREGULATION is always a good thing.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

To Protect and Serve? Occupy Wall Street and the hijacking of the First Amendment.

To Protect and Serve? Occupy Wall Street and the hijacking of the First Amendment.

A funny thing happened to the First Amendment on its way to the public forum. According to the Supreme Court, money is now speech and corporations are now people. But when real people without money assemble to express their dissatisfaction with the political consequences of this, they’re treated as public nuisances and evicted.

First things first. The Supreme Court’s rulings that money is speech and corporations are people have now opened the floodgates to unlimited (and often secret) political contributions from millionaires and billionaires. Consider the Koch brothers (worth $25 billion each), who are bankrolling the Tea Party and already running millions of dollars worth of ads against Democrats.

Such millionaires and billionaires aren’t contributing their money out of sheer love of country. They have a more self-interested motive. Their political spending is analogous to their other investments. Mostly they want low tax rates and friendly regulations.

Wall Street is punishing Democrats for enacting the Dodd-Frank financial reform legislation (weak as it is) by shifting its money to Republicans. The Koch brothers’ petrochemical empire has financed, among many other things, candidates who will vote against environmental protection.

This tsunami of big money into politics is the real public nuisance. It’s making it almost impossible for the voices of average Americans to be heard because most of us don’t have the dough to break through. By granting First Amendment rights to money and corporations, the First Amendment rights of the rest of us are being trampled on.

This is where the Occupiers come in. If there’s a core message to the Occupier movement it’s that the increasing concentration of income and wealth poses a grave danger to our democracy.

Yet when Occupiers seek to make their voices heard—in one of the few ways average people can still be heard—they’re told their First Amendment rights are limited.

The New York State Court of Appeals along with many mayors and other officials say Occupiers can picket—but they can’t encamp. Yet it’s the encampments themselves that have drawn media attention (along with the police efforts to remove them).

A bunch of people carrying pickets isn’t news. When it comes to making views known, picketing is no competition for big money .

Yet if Occupiers now shift tactics from passive resistance to violence, it would spell the end of the movement. The vast American middle class that now empathizes with the Occupiers would promptly desert them.

But there’s another alternative. If Occupiers are expelled from specific geographic locations the Occupier movement can shift to broad-based organizing around the simple idea at the core of the movement: It’s time to occupy our democracy.

This post originally appeared at RobertReich.org. Reprinted here for educational purposes.

Robert Reich is Professor of Public Policy at the Goldman School of Public Policy at the University of California at Berkeley.

I am afraid because of a few bad apples and the hyping of those bad apples by far Right extremists in the media like the anti-American Fox News, it might be best for OWS to move on to less public demonstrations. They have a great message, like this - The Average Bush Tax Cut For The 1 Percent This Year Will Be Greater Than The Average Income Of The Other 99 Percent. They should not let that message get lost in all the unhinged attacks against them.

Monday, November 21, 2011

The richest 20 percent of Americans own more than 80 percent of the country’s wealth

Occupy the Agenda

YOU have to wonder: Could Mayor Michael Bloomberg and police chiefs around the country be secretly backing the Occupy Wall Street movement?

The Occupy protests might have died in infancy if a senior police official had not pepper-sprayed young women on video. Harsh police measures in other cities, including a clash in Oakland that put a veteran in intensive care and the pepper-spraying of an 84-year-old woman in Seattle, built popular support.

Just in the last few days, Bloomberg — who in other respects has been an excellent mayor — rescued the movement from one of its biggest conundrums. It was stuck in a squalid encampment in Manhattan’s Zuccotti Park: antagonizing local residents, scaring off would-be supporters, and facing months of debilitating snow and rain. Then the mayor helped save the demonstrators by clearing them out, thus solving their real estate problem and re-establishing their narrative of billionaires bullying the disenfranchised. Thanks to the mayor, the protests grew bigger than ever.

I watched in downtown Manhattan last week as the police moved in to drag off protesters — and several credentialed journalists — and the action seemed wildly over the top. Sure, the mayor had legitimate concerns about sanitation and safety, but have you looked around New York City? Many locations aren’t so clean and safe, but there usually aren’t hundreds of officers in riot gear showing up in the middle of the night to address the problem.

Yet in a larger sense, the furor over the eviction of protesters in New York, Oakland, Portland and other cities is a sideshow. Occupy Wall Street isn’t about real estate, and its signal achievement was not assembling shivering sleepers in a park.

The high ground that the protesters seized is not an archipelago of parks in America, but the national agenda. The movement has planted economic inequality on the nation’s consciousness, and it will be difficult for any mayor or police force to dislodge it.

A reporter for Politico found that use of the words “income inequality” quintupled in a news database after the Occupy protests began. That’s a significant achievement, for this is an issue that goes to our country’s values and our opportunities for growth — and yet we in the news business have rarely given it the attention it deserves.

The statistic that takes my breath away is this: The top 1 percent of Americans possess a greater net worth than the entire bottom 90 percent, according to an analysis by the Economic Policy Institute.

A new study by Michael I. Norton of Harvard Business School and Dan Ariely of Duke University polled Americans about what wealth distribution would be optimal. People across the board thought that the richest 20 percent of Americans should control about one-third of the nation’s wealth, and the poorest 20 percent about one-tenth.

In fact, the richest 20 percent of Americans own more than 80 percent of the country’s wealth. And the poorest 20 percent own one-tenth of 1 percent.

It would be easier to accept this gulf between the haves and the have-nots if it could be spanned by intelligence and hard work. Sometimes it can. But over all, such upward mobility in the United States seems more constrained than in the supposed class societies of Europe.

Research by the Economic Mobility Project, which explores accessibility to the American dream, suggests that the United States provides less intergenerational mobility than most other industrialized nations do. That’s not only because of tax policy, which is what liberals focus on. Perhaps even more important are educational investments, like early childhood education, to try to even the playing field. We can’t solve inequality unless we give poor and working-class kids better educational opportunities.

The Occupy movement is also right that one of the drivers of inequality (among many) is the money game in politics. Michael Spence, a Nobel Prize-winning economist who shares a concern about rising inequality, told me that we’ve seen “an evolution from one propertied man, one vote; to one man, one vote; to one person, one vote; trending to one dollar, one vote.”
If the average American is feeling a powerless it is because despite legally having the same one vote as each of people like the right-wing billionaire Kock brothers, they can and do buy the legislation they want. Democrayc has almost become an illusion in the U.S. because the 1% have an agenda, that agenda is acted upon. What is good for the average American worker has become just so much background noise.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

National Rifle Association Radio Smears Occupy Movement With White House Shooting

National Rifle Association Radio Smears Occupy Movement With White House Shooting

Sorry Fox and Friends, in the race to gin up political controversy following the arrest of suspected White House shooter Oscar Ramiro Ortega-Hernandez the National Rifle Association's (NRA) Cam and Country was the clear winner. Maybe it's time to send a Fox News talent scout to check out their operation.

Wednesday evening, hours before Fox and Friends attempted to smear the Occupy movement by referring to Ortega-Hernandez as the "Occupy shooter," NRA radio host Cam Edwards was using the White House shooting to attack gun control groups.  Not surprisingly neither Fox and Friends or Cam and Company had their facts straight.

Edwards spent the beginning of yesterday's show interviewing PJ Media contributor Bob Owens and asked him about a recent blog post in which Owens reported that Ortega-Hernandez "was suspected of being at Occupy DC."

After complaining about press coverage of an anti-Obama protester that showed up to an August 2009 Obama rally with an AR-15 rifle, Cam suggested that Ortega-Hernandez shows gun control groups are ignoring "left-wing insurrectionists".

    EDWARDS: I noticed that even the gun control groups like Violence Policy [Center] and others, they love to talk about the right-wing insurrectionists, but when a guy who has been hanging out at Occupy DC is now accused of taking a shot at the White House, I don't see anything in their timeline about those crazy left-wing insurrectionists.

    OWENS: Well, of course not. And being one of the crazy right wing insurrectionists that Media Matters has cited on more than one occasion, I'm not surprised at all. They have a message and a narrative that they have been working on for years and years and they aren't going to let a little thing like a fact get in the way of that narrative.

But there's simply no evidence linking Ortega-Hernandez to Occupy DC. While there were reports that the Secret Service searched the Occupy tents on Monday, the Washington Post reported Wednesday afternoon that investigators "have found no connection between him [Ortega-Hernandez] and the Occupy protesters." Speaking on Fox and Friends, Michelle Malkin offered her thoughts on Ortega-Hernandez saying, "the guy was just completely off his rocker and had nothing to do with any coherent sense of political ideology."

Edwards references the Insurrectionism Timeline that is maintained by the Coalition To Stop Gun Violence, not the Violence Policy Center. It's ridiculous to ask them to add Ortega-Hernandez based on Edwards own imagined connection between Ortega-Hernandez and left-wing politics.

As for Owens' inclusion in Media Matters research on violent and insurrectionist rhetoric, we'll let Owens words speak for themselves:

Bob Owens: "Go To Your Congressman's Office... If You're Willing To Do The Time For The Crime, Have A Swing At Him." In a March 24, 2010 post on his blog, PJ Media (formerly Pajamas Media) contributor Bob Owens suggested that assaulting members of Congress was an acceptable form of protest:

    No matter what you think of Obamacare and the craven ideologues that passed it, is totally unacceptable to threaten their relatives or friends and put them in danger.

    Go to your Congressman's office and scream at him in the most colorful language possible. Hang him in effigy at protests. If you're willing to do the time for the crime, have a swing at him.

    Better yet, throw a shoe... after all, the left values such behavior as a form of "vigorous dissent," and will no doubt ask for any charges against you to be dropped.

    Perhaps one day stronger action will be required if Progressives continue to trample on our liberties in their blind quest for power. But that time is not now. [Confederate Yankee, 4/24/2010]

Bob Owens: "I Pray For Peace. But I Prepare For War." In a July 31, 2010, post, Owens wrote:

    Our would-be ruling class has abandoned the principles that founded this nation. They are attempting to establish a state of affairs where the people serve the government and the government determines your success or failure. Corruption no longer matters. Sovereignty no longer matters. The rule of law no longer matters.

    They have won in a bloodless coup.

    Or so they would like you to think.

    Whether they actually win or not depends upon how much you love your family and your nation and the principles that made this nation great. Our founders themselves believed in the right of revolt, and knew better than any of us that governments must be replaced from time to time. They were wise enough to provide us with a constitutional framework that will outlast any government, including this one. We can dispose of this government, and restore the Constitution that has served us and the rest of the world so well for so long.

    We stand at the brink.


    The question for you, my fellow Americans, is simple.

    Will you fight, or will you surrender your liberties?

    I pray for peace.

    But I prepare for war. [Confederate Yankee, 7/31/10]

Bob Owens On Media Matters Employees: "I Hope They Do Feel Threatened."  In an August 3, 2010, blog post titled "Closer to Midnight," Owens suggested political allies conduct a "serious review of our capacity for violence" and wrote that he hoped Media Matters employees "feel threatened":

    Propagandists for the elitists at Media Matters seem troubled by A Nation on the Edge of Revolt [an Owens blog post].

    They portray it as a threat when "Conservative media figures openly discuss armed revolution."I have not yet been swayed to the point of view that an armed conflict is inevitable, TN_NamVolunteer.

    But we are close enough that one would be wise to prepare for a possible conflict, just as one would prepare for any coming storm. [Confederate Yankee, 8/3/2010]
As a gun owner and someone who supports the general right to have a firearm for home protection, The NRA continues to be a huge embarrassment to gun owners. The NRA are generally insecure assclowns who like to talk tough - this is supposed to prove their manliness. The NRA sees anti-gun conspiracies everywhere when there are none. They went on a gun buying spree after Obama was elected because he was supposedly going to take everyone's gun. Obama has not passed one  - repeat not one - restrictive gun law.

Staten Island cop bragged of being a gangsta on MySpace

Paramilitary Policing of Occupy Wall Street: Excessive Use of Force amidst the New Military Urbanism

GOP Senate Candidate Josh Mandel Wants To Frack Ohio State Parks Now

Mitt Romney refused to help decorated Iraq war veteran become a cop

Friday, November 18, 2011

Republicans Say Americans Are Lazy. Something Obama Never Said

Republicans Say Americans Are Lazy. Something Obama Never Said

GOP State Rep: Obama ‘Enables’ ‘Lazy’ Americans By Extending Unemployment Benefits | Conservatives have pounced on President Obama for the completely false story that he called Americans “lazy.” But one Iowa Republican is publicly agreeing with the disparaging characterization Obama never made. State Rep. Josh Byrnes doesn’t think all Americans are lazy — just the 14 million who are unemployed. And he blames Obama for the problem, writing:

    I might have to partially agree with President Obama on this one. I don’t think Americans as a whole are lazy, but we have some pockets of Americans that appear lazy. Ironically, the president has helped enable some of these pockets by doing things like extending unemployment benefits.

Byrnes also says people who are out of work could find jobs if they wanted to, but are simply too proud: “There are jobs out there and I think the problem is that some people think some of these jobs are beneath them.”

In other words this freak thinks Americans would rather loose their homes, have no money, hope they can get a few dollars a day in food with food stamps all to avoid work. There are lazy Americans out there. Some of them are like Byrnes collect a pay check but never do any actual work for the American people. Republicans have tried to mangle Obama's speech to make it look like he said something he never did - Lazy Lying Republicans – Obama Calls U.S. Corporatists ‘Lazy,’ GOP Falsely Claims He Was Referring to All Americans and here Perry Ad Distorts Obama ‘Lazy’ Comment

“Can you believe that? That’s what our president thinks is wrong with America? That Americans are lazy? That’s pathetic,” Perry says in the spot that’s airing in Iowa and New Hampshire. 

The only problem: the full context of Obama’s remarks made Saturday during a meeting of CEOs in Honolulu indicates he wasn’t suggesting that at all.

Boeing CEO James McNerney asked Obama about his thinking on the perception by some countries of “impediments to investment” in the U.S.

Obama replied that “we’ve been a little bit lazy” about actively trying to attract private foreign investors to U.S. soil — referring broadly to American government and business sectors, not the American people themselves.

Perry and other right-wing conservatives are lying once again. That should tell America a lot about the real integrity of the "values" party.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Proto-fascist Conservatives At Big Government Don't Know What A Correction, Retraction, Or An Apology Is

Andrew Breitbart's Editor Doesn't Know What A Correction, Retraction, Or An Apology Is

On Tuesday we noted that Andrew Breitbart's site, Big Government, published a completely false, malicious, and debunked claim that an activist connected to Occupy Savannah had been murdered inside the activists' camp. The foolish and unsupported claim, made by the site's editor-in-chief, was used as a way to demonize the movement and portray it as inherently dangerous.

The facts regarding Savannah were never in doubt, except to Big Government's Mike Flynn: An Occupy activist, and musician, was killed in Savannah over the weekend. But the shooting, reportedly in connection with an attempted robbery, took place nearly ten miles from the protest site and had nothing to do with the Occupy movement.

The local press and police in Savannah made the point perfectly clear. But Flynn decided to publish a right-wing fairy tale about how the Savannah victim had been  lured to his death by the treacherous Occupy movement.

After Media Matters called the Breitbart blogger out for his ugly behavior, Flynn finally published an "update." Here it is, in full:

    Savannah police have now clarified this morning to Big Government via telephone that the shooting of Occupy Savannah activist Jonathan Brazell is being investigated as an ordinary robbery, due partly to the fact that it occurred at a significant distance from the protest site itself.

In other words, nothing Flynn reported about the shooting was accurate. Nothing. And none of the heartless, partisan conclusions he tried to make were valid. None of them.
But note what's missing from Flynn's humiliating update; any sense or remorse for recklessly grabbing onto the news of a random killing, abusing the facts, and trying to turn a tragic death into a partisan event. It boggles the mind. Of course, the entire post should immediately be retracted.

Yet not a word of regret from Flynn on Breitbart's site.

The only silver lining from the Breitbart-sponsored train wreck still posted at Big Government is reading the comment section, and particularly some notes from people who describe themselves as friends of Brazell, as they rightfully denounce Flynn's deplorable behavior.

They're worth reading:

    It was NOT at an Occupy location. The police have no leads and no information. How dare you use someone's death for your advantage. This article should be retracted immediately.


    It's disgusting that the tragic death of an incredible individual has been used to support the very thing he protested. So petty...


    I highly suggest that you do your own reporting instead of assuming you know all the facts. This man was NOT killed at an OWS protest. This was a completely separate incident and had nothing to do with the Occupy Movement. This is a politically motivated alteration of a story and it should be retracted immediately.


    I personally am calling upon Mike Flynn to retract this blog entry and apologize to me, Jonathan's family, his fraternity, and everyone whose lives Jonathan touched with his music and his friendship.


    Thank you for showing your true colors about how you could care less about the value of a human life and more about your ridiculous opinions.

This pathetic episode really does highlight the very dark, abhorrent, and irresponsible nature that's so prevalent on Breitbart sites.

Andrew Breitbart's sites are at the for front of the Anti-American proto-fascist movement on the internet. They have nothing to lose by printing lies because they are all about creating the Big Lie. Most of the political violence committed in the USA is done by conservatives. The Oklahoma City bombing being the most note worthy example.

Some other news:

At Web censorship hearing, Congress guns for "pro-pirate" Google

Jack Abramoff To Newt Gingrich: You’re Corrupt

Mitt Romney's aides erased email records before he left office

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Ayn Rand and Their God That Failed

Ayn Rand and Their God That Failed

In a congressional hearing room on Thursday, former Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan, one of the most influential civil servants of the past century, saw his stock plummet—and his entire career lose its moorings. More important, the ideological battle over economic theory and the role of government in markets—a fight that has played out in the current presidential campaign—took a historic turn.

With members of the House oversight and government reform committee blasting Greenspan for his past decisions that helped pave the way for the current financial crisis, he acknowledged that his libertarian view of markets and the financial world had not worked out so well. "You know," he told the legislators, "that's precisely the reason I was shocked, because I have been going for 40 years or more with very considerable evidence that it was working exceptionally well." While Greenspan did defend his various decisions, he admitted that his faith in the ability of free and loosely-regulated markets to produce the best outcomes had been shaken: "I made a mistake in presuming that the self-interests of organizations, specifically banks and others, were such as that they were best capable of protecting their own shareholders and their equity in the firms."

In other words, whoops—there goes decades of Ayn Rand down the drain.

Democrats on the committee made Greenspan eat ideological crow. And after the hearing, Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein of California released letters Greenspan had written to legislators in 2002 and 2003 that now cast the former chief banker as out of touch with financial reality.

Back then, Feinstein was pushing for regulating financial instruments known as derivatives—particularly those called swaps. In 2000, Republican Senator Phil Gramm, then the chairman of the Senate banking committee, had used a sly legislative maneuver to pass a bill keeping swaps free from federal regulation. (Lobbyists for financial firms had helped to write the bill.) The swaps market subsequently exploded, as financial firms bought and sold swaps as insurance to cover their trading in subprime securities and other freewheeling financial products. In a nutshell: the rise of unregulated swaps enabled the growth of the shaky subprime securities at the heart of the current financial crisis. Greenspan was an ardent supporter of keeping swaps virtually unregulated.

In 2001, Enron, having gone crazy with energy derivatives, collapsed—after the firm had manipulated the California electricity market, costing residents of Feinstein's states billions of dollars. Following that fiasco, Feinstein decided the derivatives market needed to be reined in. As The Wall Street Journal reported in 2004, "When she telephoned Mr. Greenspan for support, he declined, telling her the proposal threatened the multitrillion dollar derivatives industry, which he considers an important stabilizing force that diffuses financial risk."

In September 2002, Greenspan, Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill, Securities and Exchange Commission chairman Harvey Pitt, and Commodity Futures Trading Commission chairman James Newsome wrote a letter to members of Congress to note their opposition to legislation that would regulate derivatives. They wrote:

    We believe that the [over-the-counter] derivatives markets in question have been a major contributor to our economy's ability to respond to the stresses and challenges of the last two years. This proposal would limit this contribution, thereby increasing the vulnerability of our economy to potential future stresses....

    We do not believe a public policy case exists to justify this governmental intervention. The OTC markets trade a wide variety of instruments. Many of these are idiosyncratic in nature....

    While the derivatives markets may seem far removed from the interests and concerns of consumers, the efficiency gains that these markets have fostered are enormously important to consumers and to our economy.

Greenspan and the others urged Congress "to be aware of the potential unintended consequences" of legislation to regulate derivatives.

They got it exactly wrong. Swaps and derivatives ended up undermining, not bolstering, the economy.

Feinstein was not convinced by Greenspan's argument, and she continued to press for legislation to regulate swaps. And Greenspan continued to resist. In a June 11, 2003 letter—also signed by the new Treasury secretary. John Snow, the new SEC chairman, William Donaldson, and CFTC chairman Newsome—Greenspan praised derivatives and called them an essential part of the economy:

    Businesss, financial institutions, and investors throughout the economy rely upon derivatives to protect themselves from market volatility triggered by unexpected economic events. This ability to manage risks makes the economy more resilient and its importance cannot be underestimated. In our judgment, the ability of private counterparty surveillance to effectively regulate these markets can be undermined by inappropriate extensions of government regulations.

They were asserting that government regulation undercuts market-driven self-regulation. But as events have demonstrated, unregulated swaps did not protect Big Finance firms; they weakened the entire financial industry in the United States and overseas.

In a November 5, 2003 letter, signed only by Greenspan, the Fed chair again took a shot at Feinstein's proposal to control derivatives. He noted that "enhanced market discipline" would address concerns about the manipulation of markets.

Before the oversight committee, Greenspan said that he had been "partially" wrong to believe that swaps did not need regulation. But he did seek cover by claiming he had not been alone in screwing up: "The Federal Reserve had as good an economic organization as exists. If all those extraordinarily capable people were unable to foresee the development of this critical problem...we have to ask ourselves: Why is that? And the answer is that we're not smart enough as people. We just cannot see events that far in advance."

But not everyone got it wrong. In the late 1990s, regulators at the CFTC wanted to regulate swaps. Gramm, Greenspan and others—including senior members of the Clinton administration—did not. Following the Enron debacle, Feinstein took a run at this. But Greenspan and Bush administration officials said no. And it was not an issue of smarts; it was a matter of ideology.

In fact, it was always a matter of ideology for Greenspan, a libertarian champion. In 1963, writing in Rand's "Objectivist" newsletter, he noted, "It is in the self-interest of every businessman to have a reputation for honest dealings and a quality product." Regulation, he maintained, undermines this "superlatively moral system." Self-governance by choice, he said, would be more effective than governance through government. Regulation, Greenspan maintained, was the enemy of freedom: "At the bottom of the endless pile of paper work which characterizes all regulation lies a gun."

Well, it turns out that at the bottom of the system that Greenspan oversaw for years, there was nothing but a pile of bad paper. And testifying to the House oversight committee, Greenspan, one of the more ideological Washington players of the past few decades, essentially said that Ayn Randism had let him—and the entire world—down. It was truly a God that failed.

Ayn Rand had originally wanted to call her brand of economics just plain laissez-faire capitalism. As the regulations set in place starting in the 1930s were striped away in the U.S. move toward libertarian or laissez-faire capitalism, the risks and the recession became more severe. We didn't have a warning? How about the savings and loan crisis of the Regan years. capitalism is a great system, but only if regulations are in place to protect consumers and investors against the historical tendency toward irresponsible behavior and irrational markets.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Anti-American Propaganda Outlet Fox News Still Doesn't Know Public Sector Jobs Hit Harder In Recession

Anti-American Propaganda Outlet Fox News Still Doesn't Know Public Sector Jobs Hit Harder In Recession

Fox again attacked Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) for noting that "it's very clear that private-sector jobs have been doing just fine. It's the public-sector jobs where we've lost huge numbers." But Reid is right: Since the Recovery Act took effect, the private sector has gained more than 1.5 million jobs, while the public sector has lost more than 500,000.

But Reid Is Right: Since Stimulus Passed, Private Sector Has Gained Over 1.5M Jobs, Public Sector Has Lost Over 500,000

Since July 2009, When Stimulus Began To Take Effect, Private-Sector Jobs Have Grown By Over 1.5 Million While Public Sector Jobs Have Fallen By Over 500,000. From PoliticalCorrection.org, a project of Media Matters Action Network: see chart above.

Fox Previously Attacked Reid For Accurate Statement

Fox Figures Mocked Reid's Claim, Falsely Claimed It Was Untrue. In October, several Fox figures attacked Reid's claim. On his Fox Business show, Eric Bolling claimed, "Public-sector jobs have increased by 160,000 since President Obama took office." On her Fox News show, On the Record host Greta Van Susteren said, "If [Reid] truly thinks ... that private-sector jobs have been doing just fine, I'm thinking to myself, where in the world has he been?" [Media Matters, 10/20/11]

Why does conservative right-wing billionaire Rupert Murdoch and Fox News President Roger Ailes hate America and keep feeding America right-wing propaganda instead of the facts? Having journalistic integrity would interfere with their agenda of promoting Anti-Americanism in U.S. culture.

Iran's Nukes: Old Lies in New Bottles

 The UN’s International Atomic Energy Agency’s (IAEA) long awaited, much ballyhooed report on Iran’s nuclear activities has been thunderously greeted here as conclusive evidence that Iran is working on nuclear weapons.

Both Tehran and a 2007 US combined intelligence assessment deny such claims.

[Dolphin-class Israeli submarine, capable of launching cruise missiles carrying nuclear warheads] Dolphin-class Israeli submarine, capable of launching cruise missiles carrying nuclear warheadsThere’s little new in this report, and a lot of déjà vu. We read the old story floating around since 2002 about a mysterious laptop stolen from Iran and passed to US intelligence. It allegedly contains scientific material about explosive compression methods to trigger a nuclear explosion, and designs to shrink nuclear warheads to fit in missile nosecones.

The UN and western powers say this stolen computer’s contents conclusively proves Iran has violated the UN’s non-proliferation treaty, to which Tehran is a signatory. Israel and its American partisans are raising a hue and cry about an impending nuclear attack on the Jewish state by Iran’s “crazy” leaders. Republicans are baying for war against Iran.

The US and UN also claim a Russian scientist who supposedly worked on Iranian nuclear weapons explosive technology defected and revealed all to western intelligence.

But it now transpires that the scientists actually worked in Russia on explosive technology to produce industrial diamonds, not weapons. Remember “Curveball,” the key Iraqi defector whose phony claims were the basis for the US invasion of Iraq? Well, welcome Russian scientist, “Curveballski II.”

Last week, Israel launched a new missile capable of delivering a nuclear warhead anywhere in Iran and Pakistan. Israel’s German-supplied submarines lie off Iran’s coast, ready to launch nuclear-tipped cruise missiles.

Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel’s prime minister, again claimed last week that Iran was about to deploy nuclear weapons and threatened war. But Israel’s respected former Mossad intelligence chief, Meir Dagan, warned striking Iran would be a “stupid idea.”

In 1992, Natanyahu claimed Iran would have nuclear weapons in 3-5 years. Shimon Peres, now Israel’s president, insisted Iran would have nukes by 1999.

In 1995, the New York Times claimed Iran was only 5 years from nuclear weapons. In 1998, US Defense Secretary Don Rumsfeld claimed Iran was fielding a nuclear-armed ICBM that could hit the United States.

And so it has gone, a steady drumbeat of false claims.

This war hysteria comes on the heels of US charges of an alleged Iranian plot to kill the Saudi ambassador in Washington, a claim laughed at by many Mideast experts.

In fact, it’s possible the US FBI mixed up Iranians: the plot’s alleged mastermind may not have been a member of Iran’s elite military forces at all but of the violently anti-Tehran People’s Mujahidin, which Washington still calls a terrorist organization even though it is now in bed with the pro-Israel Republican hard right and Israel.

The IAEA tried to buttress its shaky claims against Iran by insisting, “nine other nations came to the same conclusion about Tehran’s covert nuclear efforts.” We heard the same refrain from Washington over its false claims about Iraq’s non-existent weapons.

When Bush 43 and conservatives lied the nation into war in Iraq ( while bungling victory in Afghanistan) it worked. Many Americans fell for the lies and thought those who were against it were unpatriotic. It turns out the war mongers were the ones being unpatriotic, but hey the lies worked once, maybe with enough repetition the lies will work again.

Friday, November 11, 2011

What Liberal Media - Herman Cain Could Be a Sexual Predator and The Press Avoids the Issue

Sexual Harassment Versus Sexual Assault: How the Mainstream Media Keep Screwing Up the Herman Cain Story

Yesterday’s New York Times once again reports on “sexual harassment accusations” against Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain. But nonconsensual and forced groping is not harassment--it’s sexual assault. Plain and simple. We don’t know what happened between Cain and these women, but the content of the allegations is clear: they allege harassment and, more seriously, assault.

Sexual assault, according to the National Center for Victims of Crime, includes “when someone touches any part of another person's body in a sexual way, even through clothes, without that person's consent.”

Sexual harassment, according to the Equal Opportunity Employment Commission, is a broader category, that includes “unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature” that “affects an individual's employment, unreasonably interferes with an individual's work performance or creates an intimidating, hostile or offensive work environment.”

On Monday, the Times reported that accuser Sharon Bialek put “a face and a name for the first time to accusations of sexual harassment” after alleging that Cain “ran his hand up her skirt, ‘reached for my genitals’ and pulled her head toward his crotch.”
Each clause of that accusation alleges sexual assault. And the Times is far from alone in missing this. The Washington Post noted that Bialek “accused Cain of groping her and trying to force her into a sexual act” and then went on to describe her as the “first woman to publicly accuse Herman Cain of sexual harassment.” Again: no mention of assault.

The media wall of obfuscation does have some cracks: The Wall Street Journal referred to the “stream of accusations of sexual assault;” and the Times did quote Robert D. Lipman, a lawyer who represents victims of sexual harassment and assault, in an online article as describing Bialek’s accusations as “more of a sexual assault.”

The story nonetheless continues to be one overwhelmingly framed as being about sexual harassment. Yet in a separate article on a series of incidents in Brooklyn, the Times describes unwanted groping as “assaults.” Refusing to call sexual assault by its name is a means of denying its existence or limiting it to cases of out-and-out rape.

But if conservatives ignore sexual assault, they boldly deny the very existence of sexual harassment, as Dahlia Lithwick points out; dusting off the Clarence Thomas playbook, set to assassinate the character of all accusers, and something more. (Cain, unsurprisingly, has already channeled Thomas’ charge of a “high-tech lynching.”) We have entered the “era of gender harassment denialism. The harassment skeptics claim that harassment, like racism, used to exist but is now over. Twenty years ago, when charges were leveled at Clarence Thomas, supporters of the accused refused to take the accuser seriously. Now supporters of the accused refuse to take the accusation itself seriously. We have gone from not knowing what sexual harassment is to not believing it still happens.”

This is a two-step process to rob victims of justice: first, the very notion of sexual harassment is belittled as the self-serving and greedy complaints of humorless women. Then, when sexual assault allegations arise, they are downgraded to this “harassment” category that conservatives have declared to be meaningless.

As Emily Hauser writes at Feministe, “Every woman I know can tell a story of harassment or assault...Sexual threat or violence, or fear of same, is a constant in the lives of all women and girls. Full stop.” Ignoring sexual assault and downplaying sexual harassment is an attack on women. This is about more than the (allegedly predatory) clown named Herman Cain, and the mainstream media’s language should take that into account.

We've seen this time and time again. A conservative is exposed as a pervert, a predator, certainly someone lacking common decency and values and Republicans turn on the victims instead of the perpetrator. What kind of values do conservatives stand for. Apparently some of humanity's darkest values.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Shocker a Republican Speaks Commonsense - Gingrich Admits Deregulation Of Wall Street In The ’90s Was ‘Probably A Mistake’

Shocker a Republicans Speaks Commonsense - Gingrich Admits Deregulation Of Wall Street In The ’90s Was ‘Probably A Mistake’

Several of the GOP’s 2012 presidential hopefuls have called — loudly and often — for the repeal of the Dodd-Frank financial reform law, which is aimed at preventing a repeat of the 2008 financial crisis. But with the possible exception of Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN), no one has been more adamantly in favor of ditching Dodd-Frank than Newt Gingrich.

Gingrich claims that Dodd-Frank is “killing the banking industry,” and says that job creation will be sparked by simply repealing the bill and letting Wall Street go right back to the same shenanigans that led the nation into the Great Recession. But during an interview today with ABC News’ Jake Tapper, Gingrich admitted that the 1990s repeal of the Glass-Steagall Act — the firewall between commercial and investment banks — was “probably a mistake”:

    TAPPER: One question I want to ask has to do with your call to repeal the Wall Street reforms, Dodd-Frank. I don’t think a lot of Americans would understand why anyone would want to repeal regulations that happened after this calamity on Wall Street. If you disagree with those regulations that were imposed, do you agree at least that there should be some new reforms or regulations?

    GINGRICH: Sure, there should be very decisive reforms. I think, in retrospect, repealing the Glass-Steagall Act was probably a mistake. We should probably reestablish dividing up the big banks into a banking function and an investment function and separating them out again.

The repeal of Glass-Steagall led to the creation of mega-banks like Citigroup and JP Morgan Chase that combine traditional lending with risky investment banking. Many economists believe that the repeal led to the financial crisis of 2008. “As a result [of the repeal], the culture of investment banks was conveyed to commercial banks and everyone got involved in the high-risk gambling mentality. That mentality was core to the problem that we’re facing now,” said Nobel Prize winning economist Joseph Stiglitz.

Though he had resigned by the time the final blow was dealt to Glass-Steagall in 1999, Gingrich was instrumental in picking it apart. In fact, the New York Times noted in 1998 that, during a failed attempt to repeal Glass-Steagall, Gingrich “scurried through the afternoon to line up the necessary votes” in favor of repeal.

Reinstating Glass-Steagall would require breaking up the biggest banks, a step much further than Dodd-Frank embraced ....

Because of the repeal of Glass-Steagall we had 12 too big to fail banks before the Wall Street meltdown or Great Recession. Guess how many there are now. Seven. Anyone think our economy is better off with what amounts to corporate socialism. Every conservative running for president, with the exception of Newt ( and he may get so much heat for this from the conservative base he retracts his statements) is against reinstating Glass-Steagall and dividing the banks into smaller competitive enterprises. Republicans in Congress are adamantly opposed to creating a more competitive capitalistic system for the big banks.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Is Obama a Socialist? Big Banks made more profit in the first 2½ years of the Obama administration than they did during the entire Bush administration, industry data show.

Is Obama a Socialist? Big Banks made more profit in the first 2½ years of the Obama administration than they did during the entire Bush administration, industry data show.

The largest banks are larger today than when Obama took office and are returning to the level of profits they were making before the depths of the financial crisis in 2008, according to government data. Wall Street firms — either independent companies or the high-flying trading arms of banks — are doing even better. They’ve made more profit in the first 2½ years of the Obama administration than they did during the entire Bush administration, industry data show.

    ....A recent study by two professors at the University of Michigan found that banks, instead of significantly increasing lending after being bailed out, used taxpayer money to invest in risky securities to profit from short-term price movements. The study found that bailed-out banks increased their returns by nearly 10 percent as a result.

    ....“The too-big-to-fail banks got bigger profits and avoided failure because of trillions of dollars of loans directly from the Federal Reserve,” said Linus Wilson, assistant professor of finance at University of Louisiana at Lafayette. “Today their profits are boosted by lower borrowing costs because their managers and creditors expect a Fed lifeline when markets get jittery.”

    Banks have also benefited from the massive increase during the recession in unemployment insurance, which is a joint federal and state program. Increasingly, banks offer debit cards to the unemployed to collect their benefits. These debit cards carry a range of fees that bolster bank bottom lines.
Those wacky conservatives claim Obama is a socialist or a martian or whatever. One thing is certain is that if he is a socialist he is the worse ever. he has turned Marxism upside-down helping the trend that started with Ronnie Reagan, redistributing income upward to the wealthy. Could the reality be that Obama is, at least on economic issues, to the Right of Reagan.

Subprime Loans, Foreclosure, and the Credit Crisis. What Happened and Why? - A Primer

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Are Republicans Purposely Sabotaging The Economy To Help Their Election Prospects

Are Republicans Purposely Sabotaging The Economy To Help Their Election Prospects

The US economy gained 104,000 private sector jobs last month, but lost 24,000 public sector jobs, resulting in a net total of 80,000 new jobs—fewer than expected and well below what the country needs to get out of the Great Recession.

This is by now a depressingly familiar story. In the past year, 1.6 million private sector jobs have been created. But since the recession began in December 2007, more than 500,000 public sector jobs have been lost. Half of those jobs have disappeared since January 2011, after Republicans (who ran on improving the economy in 2010) took control of the House of Representatives. States have cut 49,000 jobs and localities have cut 210,000 jobs since the beginning of the year. Contrary to what Republicans might tell you, these are “real” jobs lost by real people, who pay taxes, spend money, provide for their families and perform vital public services. When they suffer, the economy suffers too.

“This is the worst time to push government workers into the ranks of the unemployed,” notes blogger Mike Konczal of the Roosevelt Institute. “With slack capacity, a high number of unemployed people, and negative real interest rates, we can’t afford a war against government workers.”

Yet this war against government workers has been going on for quite some time. Conservatives have long tried to “starve the beast” of government and have actively demonized public employees for decades. Yet the real job losses for public sector employees accelerated in 2010, when President Obama, in a nod to conservative orthodoxy, declared a three-year freeze on nondefense discretionary spending and a freeze on federal pay, and did not renew badly needed aid for state and local governments after the stimulus ran its course.

After the 2010 election, the Bowles-Simpson commission recommended cutting an additional 10 percent of the federal workforce, which would have resulted in 200,000 more lost jobs, even though federal jobs are at their lowest per capital level since 1962. By that time, Republicans were actively rooting for public sector job losses. “If some of those jobs are lost, so be it,” John Boehner said in February 2011. “We’re broke.” Yet somehow Republicans found the money to propose massive tax cuts for the richest corporations and wealthiest Americans.

What kind of nut would hope for more and more unemployed Americans and do everything they could to stop job creation - conservative wing-nuts apparently. Conservative Republican presidential candidate Michele Bachmann famously declared, in a stunning moment of honesty, that she hoped unemployment would remain high because it would help get her elected.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Occupy the Koch Brothers - and Stop the American Nightmare

Occupy the Koch Brothers - and Stop the American Nightmare

The very name of a Washington conservative conference this weekend is the height of subterfuge. It's called the "Defending the American Dream" conference, which is not about defending the actual American dreams of most Americans (the focus of our own "Take Back the American Dream" conference), sponsored by Americans for Prosperity, which is not an organization that promotes what is needed for broad American prosperity.

This actually is the latest effort by the billionaire Koch brothers, founders and key funders of Americans for Prosperity, and their corporate and political allies to hijack our democracy and pillage our economy. It's their attempt to perpetuate an American nightmare of continued income inequality and a government held hostage to the whims of elites. It is thus a perfect target for the latest Occupy-style protest.

The Other 98% and Health Care for America Now are sponsoring a "Koch Brothers Guerrilla Drive-In" Friday evening at the Washington Convention Center, where the conference is being held. The plan is to have an outdoor showing of a documentary on how the Kochs are using their fortune to pursue their grotesque mangling of American democracy.

The conference itself brings together many of the players in and elements of their grand scheme. For example, there is James O'Keefe, the person who dressed up as a pimp in a scheme to get damaging video footage for his scurrilous slander of the group ACORN, doing a lecture on "investigative journalism." There's Grover Norquist on a panel on "pro-growth tax reform." (He's lately been championing Texas Gov. Rick Perry's "flat tax" plan, which would allow the wealthy to slash their tax payments and would explode the federal deficit, forcing Norquist's longtime shrink-government-and-drown-it-in-the-bathtub objective.) There's Kansas Republican Rep. Mike Pompeo, a member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, on a panel on the Environmental Protection Agency's "job-crushing regulatory assault"; he will be speaking on behalf of the Koch brothers, his leading campaign contributor, and the oil and gas industry, his biggest source of campaign cash. At least two Republican presidential candidates, Mitt Romney and Herman Cain, are also scheduled to appear.

No conservative conference is complete without the deification of Ronald Reagan, and there will be plenty of that going on at the Friday night "Tribute to Ronald Reagan" dinner, which will be followed by a screening of "Atlas Shrugged." (No, I am not making this up.)

But what makes this conference significant is not the tired repetition of right-wing bumper-sticker slogans, the over-the-top characterizations of Obama administration policy or the pathetic preening of presidential candidates to show off how extreme they can be. It is the very real damage that the Koch brothers and the forces that this conference is assembling are doing to our economy and to the 99 percent of us for whom the American dream of economic security is becoming increasingly out of reach.

Consider what the Koch brothers have actually been "defending":

    Their $45 million effort to buy control of Congress. That's the amount of money Forbes magazine says Americans for Prosperity spent in the 2010 elections. That money helped Republicans control the House with the most extreme group of conservatives elected in modern history. With this group firmly in control, every effort by the Obama administration to move legislation to revive the economy has been thwarted and previous successes in health care and financial reform have come under unrelenting attack. The stream of anti-regulation, anti-labor legislation passed by the Tea Party-besotted House is pretty much lifted straight from the Koch brothers legislative agenda.

    The destructive efforts of the American Legislative Exchange Council to co-opt state and local governments. Rather than promoting state and local governments as entities that are particularly equipped to respond to the public interest because of their proximity to the people, ALEC mounts campaigns that leave state and local governments facilitating private greed rather than serving the public good. In August The Nation's Lisa Graves explained that "of all the Kochs’ investments in right-wing organizations, ALEC provides some of the best returns: it gives the Kochs a way to make their brand of free-market fundamentalism legally binding." Examples include legislation that allows energy companies to avoid fines for polluting, that push privatization of public education, and that prevent states and localities from regulating the rogue behavior of financial institutions.

    ALEC's efforts to suppress voter turnout. The Koch brothers' fingerprints are all over the efforts by various Republican governors and legislatures to pass voter ID laws that use trumped-up allegations of voter fraud to deliberately disenfranchise voters most likely to oppose their agenda. "It was ALEC’s draft legislation that inspired a spate of recently passed voter ID laws that, if allowed to stand, are expected to marginalize the impact of students and people of color at the polls in Texas, South Carolina, Wisconsin, Tennessee and Kansas," Adele Stan reported for the AFL-CIO blog. Patrick Caldwell at the American Prospect wrote that "the rules are often configured specifically to favor the Republican base at the expense of excluding likely Democrats."

    Their assault on public workers. Scott Walker won the governorship of Wisconsin and the ability to execute his attack on public workers there with the help of $43,000 in direct contributions from the Koch Industries political action committee and indirectly through the $1 million that Koch's PAC gave to the Republican Governors Association. The Kochs are also major supporters of Ohio Gov. John Kasich, who earlier this year credited "the strong support" of Americans for Prosperity for his now faltering attempt to strip Ohio state workers of their bargaining rights.

    The dominance of extremist candidates in the 2012 presidential race. Koch bothers money can be found in the pockets of at least three of the most extreme Republican presidential candidates: Minnesota congresswoman Michele Bachmann, Texas Gov. Rick Perry and, especially, Herman Cain. Rachel Maddow reported that the Cain connections include a campaign manager from the Wisconsin chapter of Americans for Prosperity, a now ex-spokesperson from another Americans for Prosperity affiliate, and the economic advisor who came up with Cain's infamous "9-9-9" tax plan, who was a member of Americans for Prosperity's advisory board. This is no surprise, because, as the Associated Press has reported, Cain has historically been a shill for the Americans for Prosperity legislative agenda. The Kochs have said they will pour at least $200,000 into the 2012 presidential campaign. "At least" is the operative phrase; expect the Kochs to funnel millions of dollars into the 2012 campaign through a variety of channels, most of which—thanks in part to the Supreme Court's Citizens United ruling—will be unrestricted and largely untraceable.

    Their ability to violate the law with impunity, and to punish those who hold them accountable. A Bloomberg Markets magazine investigation published in October calls it "the Koch method," in which employees of the brothers' oil and gas companies "were shown by their managers how to steal and cheat." The stealing and cheating, according to Bloomberg, ranged from not paying royalties for oil extracted from federal land to bribing foreign officials to win contracts—and firing the company compliance officer who discovered the bribes and called them to the attention of top corporate officials. "For six decades around the world, Koch Industries has blazed a path to riches -- in part, by making illicit payments to win contracts, trading with a terrorist state, fixing prices, neglecting safety and ignoring environmental regulations. At the same time, Charles and David Koch have promoted a form of government that interferes less with company actions," the magazine wrote.

Unregulated, unaccountable corporations. Extremist elected officials who disdain the concept of a government serving the common good. Workers stripped of the ability to negotiate collectively for fair pay, working conditions and benefits. Hundreds of millions of corporate dollars drowning out the voices of working-class and middle-class people. Voters forced to jump over ever-higher obstacles to vote for candidates who represent them, assuming those candidates can even get on ballots. This is the Koch brothers' dystopia. What they are defending is indefensible

A century or so ago was the age of the Robber Barons. One of the few good things about the Great Depression is it lessened quite a bit of the political power of the very wealthy over the average American. Today's Robber barons, exemplified by the Koch brothers, are back with a vengeance. They have more money, thus more power than ever. perhaps the craziest part of this return to the Gilded Age is that many working glass Americans support the wealthy taking power from the average worker. This has always been democracy's weakness, the money and power of a few zealots can use democracy to undermine it.