tagged w/ Banksters
My honeymoon with the Democrats has long since passed. Our relationship has turned sour, and I'm in no mood to marry again.
March 20, 2010 |
My honeymoon with the Democrats has long since passed. Our relationship has turned sour, and I’m in no mood to marry again.
Anyone who has ever gone through a divorce or marital separation knows how traumatic it can be. Marriages are supposed to be forever, but then life intrudes. First, the blissful honeymoon when it’s unthinkable to be apart from the loved one. Then the middle doldrums when spine-tingling doubts arise followed by flimsy excuses to oneself, self-rationalisations, for the other’s bad behaviour. Love weakens but loyalty remains. (For some of us, constancy is stronger than lust.) We soon grow accustomed to abuse, insults, betrayals and infidelity to the marriage vows. After all, where would we go, what would we do, if we freed ourselves from the bondage of a bad relationship? It’s too terrifying to think about, so we don’t.
That’s pretty much where my liberal friends and I are today with the Democrats and Obama administration spiralling out of control and showing every sign of wanting to do us harm before it flames out. We, like battered husbands and bruised wives, feebly grab at straws of hope. The straws are real, too. There may be only an inch of difference between Republicans and Democrats but real people in a real world live by that inch. For example, north of Los Angeles, where I live, an Obama-reinvigorated Environmental Protection Agency is seriously probing a toxic scandal in the mainly Latino hamlet of Kettleman where carelessly dumped corporate chemicals may have led to babies being born with facial disfigurements. The Republicans wouldn’t have bothered. That’s no small thing for the people concerned. And Obama appointed a known workers’ friend in Hilda Solis as secretary of labour in place of Bush’s Elaine Chao who never saw a union she didn’t despise. In other words, our Harvard professor in the White House has done something.
But the fact remains he is a war president with blood on his hands like Lyndon Johnson – only without LBJ’s guts and arm-twisting talent. Obama leads a dysfunctional, cowardly and bribable Democratic party establishment, personified by his mean-minded economic gurus Larry Summers and Tim Geithner, and his frazzled secretary of state the war-loving Hillary Clinton. The few Democratic politicians who stand up for sanity – against the war, for a public health option – are like Florida’s Alan Grayson and Ohio’s Dennis Kucinich – marginalised by the media and their own colleagues as lunatics or, in Rahm Emanuel’s immortal phrase, “retarded”.
In a bad marriage, if we’re lucky, a sad, angry, unwelcome realism takes over and an existential fear invades our soul. But we do not want to be alone in a loveless world. A divorce often means being cast out into psychological darkness, exile from the “mainstream”, the loss of (and even abuse from) friends, a terrifying sense of isolation and inadequacy. So, stuffing our ears and blinding our eyes to our own victimisation, we recommit to the relationship. We continue to deny, deny, deny. Life goes on, diminished and undignified. Soul-suicide.
But now I want a divorce from the Democrats, the “party of the people” versus the Republicans who with a few honorable exceptions are the party of cruelty. Are there some good Democrats? You bet. Are they outnumbered by callow, fearful Democrats? You bet.
I don’t care that at the moment there’s nowhere to go and hardly anybody to cheer for.
Like the Tea Partiers I’ve had it up to here. But as a taker of GI Bill, social security and Medicare benefits, and as a child of the New Deal which put my unemployed mother and father to work, I know that only big government, as dangerous as it can be, can help pull us all out of the shit – yes, the same government that by deregulating and bailouts pushed us into it. (I wonder how many populists, screaming about “socialist” government, are only too happy to take their portion of federal money as I am.)
I wish I could get behind Ralph Nader or the Green party or Cynthia McKinney or even Ron Paul for his antiwar stance. But having just split from my heart’s desire – the Democrats – I’m in no mood to marry up again. I’m caught in a vise between a lingering wish to be “effective”, not “waste my vote”, and a Huckleberry Finn itch to light out for unknown territory.My honeymoon with the Democrats has long since passed. Our relationship has turned... more
Joe Bageant: Americans Are "Hope Fiends" Because Honestly Looking at the Present Situation Would Destroy Just About Everything We Hold As Reality | | AlterNetAn awareness of class makes clear who is screwing whom. That's why American capitalism's official line is that we are a "classless society."
March 1, 2010 |
Near midnight and I am making tortillas on an iron skillet over a gas flame. Some three thousand miles to the north, my wife and dog nestle in sleep in the wake of a 34-inch snowstorm, while the dogs of Ajijic are barking at the witching hour and roosters crow all too early for the dawn. While my good Mexican neighbors along Zaragoza Street sleep.
Yet here I am awake and patting out tortillas, haunted by the empire that I have called home most of my life.
I like to think that, for the most part, I no longer live up there in the U.S., but southward of its ticking social, political and economic bombs. Because the US debt bomb has not yet gone off, Social Security still exists, and the occasional royalty check or book advance still comes in, allowing me to remain here. And so long as America's perverse commodities economy keeps stumbling along and making lifelike noises, so long as the American people accept permanent debt subjugation -- I can drink, think and burn tortillas. Believe me, I take no smugness in this irony.
There is a terrible science fiction-like awe in the autonomous American economic monolith, in the way that it provides for us, feeds on us and keeps us as its both its lavish pets and slaves. The commodity economy long ago enslaved Americans and other "developed" capitalist societies. But Americans in particular. The most profound slavery must be that in which the slaves can conceive of no other possible or better world than their bondage. Inescapable, global, all permeating, the commodities economy rules so thoroughly most cannot imagine any other possible kind of economy.
It comes down to owning stuff, and that the stuff we own also owns us (as anyone paying rent for a storage locker can attest). Transmogrified by industrial materialism, we have become what we own. More specifically, what we are observed by the rest of our society as owning. In the commodified society of industrial materialism, owning is being. So much so, that politicians bandy the term "ownership society" about, not only without causing the public to gag, but to cheers. Even liberals who claim to dislike the term don't want to be in a "We don't own shit society."
Early modern capitalism was more or less understandable, if not always pleasant. One can see why a pre-industrial world that had owned less would embrace owning a bit more. Who gave a damn if it came from Adam Smith's "unseen hand," the hand that was taking care of the already rich, who in turn managed the order of the world as seen through the lens of aristocratic and bourgeoisie English commerce. "If we work our guts out Nellie, we can buy a pork knuckle every Sunday. And a featherbed, if you get my drift. Woo Hoo!"
Enter the reign of the bourgeoisie, self-appointed and self-interested middlemen to anything and everything. The sheer complexity of the industrial revolution and associated finance was a dog that could fatten many fleas.
When the bourgeoisie did not get what it felt was a good cut of the action from the monarchies, it raised hell, sometimes enough to cause revolutions. If they won, as they did in America, they took credit for establishing democracy. If they lost, they fobbed it off as a "people's revolution," leaving the working slobs, the actual producers of wealth, to face the king's hangmen.
Even when "the people" occasionally win one of those "people's revolutions", we never really win. Not in the end. For instance, here in Mexico, contrary to what we've seen in Zapata movies, there has never been a successful people's revolution in terms of lasting and real egalitarian reform. Just armed struggle, and many promises of reform, always to be abandoned after the revolution. They were subsequently wiped out by the politically potent urban middle class, in league with traditional elites, such as the haciendados and corporatists. The bourgeoisie never gives up its profitable connections to the elites. Same as in America. The bourgeoisie lives at the pleasure of the elites.
However, in the people's revolutions it was mainly "the people" who got killed. So they get naming rights. The people own their revolution only in death. Just as in the U.S., the elites here and the business classes get everything else and rent it back to us as mortgages or whatever.
You can argue that people have always screwed other people for a buck, or a drachma or a shekel. You will win with that argument every time. However, the real issue is about how many people got screwed and how hard by how few. Under 250 years of capitalism, the rising take from the ongoing screw job has grown astronomical. Enough to buy every political tub-thumper in Washington and a Supreme Court. Enough that if the elite cartels on Wall Street rip 300 million Americans for trillions, leaving them squinting at the fine print on their eviction notices, they cannot do jack about it. Except pay the next ransom demand for their credit . On their credit cards. Then sign their children into future debt slavery.An awareness of class makes clear who is screwing whom. That's why American... more
Join AlterNet's collective investigative project into the bubble barons who got obscenely rich as they destroyed our economy. Help hold them accountable with Citizen Journalism.
February 24, 2010 |
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A century ago, the robber barons at the helm of the U.S. economy were easily identifiable titans of industry: Andrew Carnegie of Carnegie Steel, John D. Rockefeller of Standard Oil, financier and steel magnate J.P. Morgan. It was easy to draw the link between the robber barons' brutal business practices and their immense wealth; it was clear that these businessmen were, quite literally, robbing the American people in the course of amassing their fortunes.
The influence of today's super-rich is significantly harder to trace. Much of their wealth is managed in opaque Wall Street investment vehicles and byzantine corporate structures. They are less likely to slap their names on their ventures, and their profitable relationships with the most destructive segments of our economy are hidden behind layers of corporate control. In our post-industrial economy, they amass wealth not by producing things with actual value, but rather by riding waves of speculation, such as the housing bubble, to dizzying heights of wealth.
Today's super-rich are not robber barons, but bubble barons: they extract their fortunes from intensifying cycles of imaginary wealth creation and destruction, live at a far remove from their businesses, and evade accountability in the public spotlight. The robber barons stood behind their economic crimes; the bubble barons, for the most part, do not.
Beginning today, AlterNet and LittleSis.org are partnering in an investigation of these bubble barons -- a select group of American multi-billionaires who saw astronomic gains in wealth during the housing bubble, and who so far have evaded all accountability in the midst of the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression. Who are they? Where did their wealth come from? Where has it gone? How do they exercise their influence?
To find out, we need your help: Click here to sign up with LittleSis.org and join AlterNet's investigation of America's bubble barons. (E-mail email@example.com if you have any questions.)
Once you sign up, you'll receive instructions about how you can help with our research. You will also receive instructions on how to use LittleSis, a platform for collaborative research on influential Americans, which we like to call an "involuntary facebook."
We've identified 67 "bubble barons" (also listed below) to target with this investigation. All are worth $2 billion or more, and all have ties to the industries that benefited most from the housing bubble: real estate and finance. Some, such as New York mayor Michael Bloomberg, have enjoyed increases of over 400 percent on what were substantial fortunes in the pre-bubble years. Others, such as former Enron trader John Arnold, are newly minted billionaires.
Following the bubble barons' money will be a key component of our investigation; naturally, this will entail a closer look at their charitable and political activities. Bloomberg, for one, supports public health initiatives through his family foundation. George Soros is a well-known funder of progressive causes through his Open Society Institute. The Koch brothers, on the other hand, are prominent backers of conservative organizations.
All of these fortunes were built on the illusion of a sound economy -- an illusion that came crashing down for most of the country in 2007 and 2008, as record numbers of Americans lost their homes to foreclosure and saw their jobs disappear.
But the illusion didn't come crashing down for the bubble barons. The U.S. government came to their rescue, in the form of massive, taxpayer-funded Wall Street bailouts and a monetary policy that rewards wealth, above all -- the bubble barons, above all. While Americans struggle under the burden of double-digit interest rates on mortgages and credit cards and see their savings accounts eek out gains measured in basis points, the bubble barons are essentially getting paid unprecedented amounts to sit on their money, simply because they have lots and lots of it.
More at the link above:Join AlterNet's collective investigative project into the bubble barons who got... more
The Obama Brand: Feel Good While Overlords Loot the Treasury and Launch Imperial Wars | Media and TeThe following is an adapted excerpt from Chris Hedges' book, Empire of Illusion: The End of Literacy and the Triumph of Spectacle (Nation Books, 2009) that first appeared in Tikkun magazine.
Barack Obama is a brand. And the Obama brand is designed to make us feel good about our government while corporate overlords loot the Treasury, armies of corporate lobbyists grease the palms of our elected officials, our corporate media diverts us with gossip and trivia, and our imperial wars expand in the Middle East. Brand Obama is about being happy consumers. We are entertained. We feel hopeful. We like our president. We believe he is like us. But like all branded products spun out from the manipulative world of corporate advertising, this product is duping us into doing and supporting a lot of things that are not in our interest.
What, for all our faith and hope, has the Obama brand given us? His administration has spent, lent, or guaranteed $12.8 trillion in taxpayer dollars to Wall Street and insolvent banks in a doomed effort to re-inflate the bubble economy, a tactic that at best forestalls catastrophe and will leave us broke in a time of profound crisis. Brand Obama has allocated nearly $1 trillion in defense-related spending and the continuation of our doomed imperial projects in Iraq, where military planners now estimate that 70,000 troops will remain for the next fifteen to twenty years. Brand Obama has expanded the war in Afghanistan, increasing the use of drones sent on cross-border bombing runs into Pakistan, which have doubled the number of civilians killed over the past three months. Brand Obama has refused to ease restrictions so workers can organize and will not consider single-payer, not-for-profit health care for all Americans. And Brand Obama will not prosecute the Bush administration for war crimes, including the use of torture, and has refused to dismantle Bush's secrecy laws and restore habeas corpus.
Brand Obama offers us an image that appears radically individualistic and new. It inoculates us from seeing that the old engines of corporate power and the vast military-industrial complex continue to plunder the country. Corporations, which control our politics, no longer produce products that are essentially different, but brands that are different. Brand Obama does not threaten the core of the corporate state any more than did Brand George W. Bush. The Bush brand collapsed. We became immune to its studied folksiness. We saw through its artifice. This is a common deflation in the world of advertising. So we have been given a new Obama brand with an exciting and faintly erotic appeal. Benetton and Calvin Klein were the precursors to the Obama brand, using ads to associate themselves with risqué art and progressive politics. This strategy gave their products an edge. But the goal, as with all brands, was to make passive consumers confound a brand with an experience.
Obama, who has become a global celebrity, was molded easily into a brand. He had almost no experience, other than two years in the Senate, lacked any moral core, and could be painted as all things to all people. His brief Senate voting record was a miserable surrender to corporate interests. He was happy to promote nuclear power as "green" energy. He voted to continue the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. He reauthorized the Patriot Act. He would not back a bill designed to cap predatory credit card interest rates. He opposed a bill that would have reformed the notorious Mining Law of 1872. He refused to support the single-payer health care bill HR 676, sponsored by Reps. Dennis Kucinich and John Conyers. He supported the death penalty. And he backed a class-action "reform" bill that was part of a large lobbying effort by financial firms. ///More at the link above:The following is an adapted excerpt from Chris Hedges' book, Empire of Illusion:... more
The short answer is, we don’t. But that does not mean we leave the hop or stay at home.
It is very important for the life and health of our crumbling and mostly artificial democracy that all American voters participate in civil life actively and aggressively, I might even say viciously. This is regardless of the superficial nature of American politics.
Because even if and when we have huge voter turnouts, the rich, connected and powerful turn the dials on the machinery of government to get what they want any way.
To some extent, elections are theater, no matter who wins or loses. The rich, the powerful, the connected and the entire Patrician class understand this dynamic intimately. They always have. They always will. Their knowledge of how power works gives them a lifetime of staying above the fray that the rest of us are destined to suffer.
Elections, no matter what they are about or what issues are involved are public salve on private wounds that will never completely heal. The powerful will always be the powerful and to some extent they will always be above the will of the people.
Lots of money and lots of “position” power allow Patricians to literally live in a different world than you and I. They know this and that is why money and social connections are so important. These things can literally buy citizenship in an Amerika that you and I know very little about; it is the Amerika of the elites.
It is Skull and Bones, it is Harvard and Princeton and Penn and Vassar and Smith College and Stanford and Yale. It is elite country clubs, membership in the best social groups, teenage sons and daughters of the elites “summering” overseas to get “enculturated”.
It is an MBA from the Wharton School of Business or Yale or Harvard and then a high paying job on Wall Street after graduation. It is learning how to manipulate federal regulations and oversite of financial dealings. It is learning how to hide money in overseas accounts so as not to pay a fair share of taxes.
It is not serving in the Armed Forces (it would be beneath a Patrician to do that) and at the same time insisting that the U.S. Armed Forces be continually used as a thug or a heavy in overseas protections of Patrician holdings and emerging market deals. Let working class kids fight and die, let working class kids become disabled veterans. Patricians do not do such things.
It is the complete domination of all government agencies and structures by these “special” people.
They make belonging to the Republican or Democratic Party a joke. Neither Party runs anything. The elites in both Parties run everything. That is the sad truth of how things work in Amerika, which is actually much more real than America.
There are no real rules of any substantive nature for these people. It has been that way for them since childhood. They count on that to get what they want. Money can buy anything. They know that too.
So where does that leave you and me; out in the cold? Not exactly. The people can stage bloodless revolutions too. It is not simply the aristocracy that can arrange a silent coup. Dubya came close but he got caught. We won’t.
Lets take a look at the news and see what I am saying here.
First off, let me say that I grew up in Republican politics in Philadelphia, PA. My grandfather was a Republican ward leader in that city for decades. My family is still involved in GOP politics in that city.
I am actively involved in Democratic Party politics where I live now, in Northern Virginia. But Party affiliation aside, you need to know that American politics really has little to do with party politics. It really has to do with money and connections. It has more to do with bloodlines and school affiliation and other such things than you could ever imagine. It really is that simple.
More at the link:The short answer is, we don’t. But that does not mean we leave the hop or stay... more
Mr. Cheney, while you and those around you were being kept safe during the Vietnam War, I was fighting in Vietnam. I wasn't fighting for you. If I had known who you were, I would have thrown you in a well in a New York minute. Like generations before me, I hoped my own children wouldn't have to sleep in mud day after day and see their friends blown apart beside them. Now I have to listen to your endless whining about how Americans should think nothing about how important it is to be safe, safe, of course, because we are sending the children we fought to protect out to die for us. If I have to be kept safe in my old age, seeing our kids and grandkids die, many of them husbands, parents, it just isn't worth it. If real killing and dying has to go on to really protect America, something some of us aren't so sure is the case, I will go right now, but I am dragging your bloated hulk with me.
Alot of us who fought in Vietnam will go. We deserve it. We were supposed to build a world for our children and grandchildren to grow up in and we failed. We elected crooks, we took too much and gave too little and we had our head in the sand while our freedoms were taken away from us.
People like Cheney, Bush, Rove, Limbaugh, Reagan, Ginrich, Ashcroft, Rice, Delay and Lott told us the world owed us a living. Too many of us believed you and mortgaged our future to pay for a party we were never invited to anyway. We have nothing left but our kids and you are asking for them too. I say no. We are going to pay our own way. We aren't like you.
We have it coming. When it was time to come home from war and build a better society, we, instead, let cheap crooked politicans take over. We stayed out of politics. It was too dirty for us, beneath our honor. What took over, of course, was a generation of phony heroes, Bush the "war fighter" whose service records are classified for a century and an endless series of lying war profiteers, war mongers, torturers and scumbags.
I want every stinking one of them with me. They can walk in front. I will keep them moving. This is what boots are for. With Cheney, nobody would ever stand behind him anyway, if he had a gun in his hand.
What I find most offensive is that we can fight war after war because we have soldiers who have no other job than to be in the military. They are trapped, the jobs they should have were shipped overseas, the money to build a real economy wasted on phony wars and our kids are supposed to die around the world, not saving us from tyranny but working for thieves and cowards.
More sickening still, we lie to our kids, call them heroes, give them medals, make up imaginary enemies for them to hate and manipulate them by telling them how scared all of us are and how grateful we are for them keeping us safe.
We could have taught them better but we were too busy shopping, watching the "big game" and telling war stories down at the Legion hall.
Don't fight for me. Don't defend me. I don't want anyone captured, questioned, tortured or killed in my name. Don't put anyone on trial in a military kangaroo court so I can fly to Paris for a weekend without some malcontent with a box cutter getting in my face. I am an American. I will deal with it myself, thank you very much.
The worst thing a parent can do is outlive one of their children. I know this first hand. Many American parents know this first hand. Simply because we have become a generation of cowardly bloated former yuppies is no reason for us to glue ourselves to Fox News waiting for the daily terrorism outlook.
More at the link above:Mr. Cheney, while you and those around you were being kept safe during the Vietnam... more
The network news media cheered when Obama called for restrictions on CEO pay or bonuses that, according to reporters, exemplify the Wall Street “greed” that toppled the American economy.
But when $42 million in cash compensation packages were announced on Christmas Eve for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac executives, the networks couldn’t muster any anger toward the highly connected groups. Although Fannie and Freddie were two government-sponsored enterprises whose excessive risk taking contributed significantly to the housing crisis, the networks barely reported the story at all.The network news media cheered when Obama called for restrictions on CEO pay or... more
Scrooge would be proud. Even Mr. Potter, the greedy banker in “It's A Wonderful Life,” didn't think of this. The bankers whose disastrous and incompetent speculations were subsidized by taxpayers through gargantuan bailouts, were foreclosing churches while they were celebrating their giant holiday bonuses.
(read all about it at link)Scrooge would be proud. Even Mr. Potter, the greedy banker in “It's A... more
How? For starters, you could move your money to a small bank.
This video explains how the value added tax is a fraud using the climate fraud to steal tax money from the citizens of many countries. It seems we are being bled dry and have been convinced to increase our own bleeding in the name of saving the Earth by greedy bankers.This video explains how the value added tax is a fraud using the climate fraud to... more
Father in murder-suicide had lost job, couldn't sell home, detective says - Latest News - Kentucky.cThis man was a builder and couldn't find work. He lived in a $400,000 home and his daughter was handicapped. We can thank the banksters and the bailouts for this one.This man was a builder and couldn't find work. He lived in a $400,000 home and... more
Because the Wall Street Banksters own Congress. You can't fire your boss or tell him what to do, silly.Because the Wall Street Banksters own Congress. You can't fire your boss or tell... more
Not mine, how about you?
Banks expect to tighten terms on credit cards in response to a new law that aims to protect consumers from sudden rate hikes, the Federal Reserve said Monday.
A quarterly survey by the Fed found that many banks expect to increase rates, reduce credit limits and raise annual fees for both prime borrowers – those with sound credit histories _as well as more risky "non-prime" borrowers, who have tarnished credit. Banks also expected to raise minimum credit scores for non-prime borrowers, the Fed said.
Banks already have been pushing through rate increases in anticipation of the new rules. Because of that, the House recently approved legislation to speed up the law's effective date and have the provisions take effect immediately, although prospects are dim for Senate passage.
Most of the new credit card provisions are slated to take effect on Feb. 22.
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2009/11/09/credit-card-rates-banks-p_n_351162.htmlBanks expect to tighten terms on credit cards in response to a new law that aims to... more
The following is a letter sent on Tuesday by Jake DeSantis, an executive vice president of the American International Group’s financial products unit, to Edward M. Liddy, the chief executive of A.I.G.The following is a letter sent on Tuesday by Jake DeSantis, an executive vice... more
Was it to incredible to believe what we said in our last post about baby Bush and his family being detained by US Military Forces to prevent them to fly to Paraguay? Was it to incredible to believe what we said in our last post about baby Bush and his... more
Criminal mafia, jewish lobby and Vatican-religions (that are all the same). Eliminating physical money, all the bills earned thru crime will become worthless.Criminal mafia, jewish lobby and Vatican-religions (that are all the same).... more