Friday, November 26, 2010

Boo Hoo!!! Alan Grayson Is Leaving - Freddy Krueger Outed "Growth Industries of the Future" (Luxury Products for Rich)

(If throwing a contribution Pottersville2's way won't break your budget in these difficult financial times, I really need it, and would wholeheartedly appreciate it. Anything you can afford will make a huge difference in this blog's lifetime.)

The great unwashed must remain blind to the ever-increasing national wealth. And especially to how almost none of this wealth lands in our bank accounts.*
I take Alan Grayson's defeat at the polls personally. And so should you as he was an advocate for us (US). He is one of my political heros: brilliant, empathetic and willing to engage the other side intellectually anytime, anywhere. His departure is a tragedy for our Congress. But it isn't the first one this year. There's no doubt that he was not only despised by his enemies, but that they spent an unbelievable amount of money in order to get rid of him as the following conversation attests (emphasis marks added - Ed.):

"There's not any doubt about it. The people's business is not being done. There's enormous influence by lobbyists and by special interests," he says. "And the other side has completely sold out to them."

And you'd better not lecture him on civility in politics.

One of Grayson's most talked-about moments came in a floor speech he gave in the midst of the health care debate in September 2009. He presented what he called the "Republican Health Care Plan." That plan, he said, was "Don't get sick ... if you do get sick, die quickly." Grayson says he was just telling the truth — something he feels doesn't happen enough in Congress. "What I was exposing is something that is sort of a deep truth," he says. "The Republicans:

a.) don't have a way to help people, and

b.) aren't interested in doing it. And that's true whether you're talking about health care or virtually any important issue."

Some have called Grayson uncivil. He sees it as being blunt.

"I simply tell the truth, I'm not trying to be uncivil. What I do is I tell the truth and sometimes it's a hard truth. Sometimes the truth hurts," he says.

Grayson's comments have been a lightning rod for Republicans and conservative news commentators. He says he's received death threats — even his 5-year-old has been threatened — and has needed a constant police presence at his home for months.

Despite all that, he says, it's been worth it. "We have saved countless lives. There are 100,000 people in my district alone who will get health coverage because we passed health care for all Americans," he says. "Those people will now live. How can anybody say it's not worth it?"

'Taliban Dan'

Before winning the House seat in 2008, Grayson had a long career as an attorney. He'd never been elected to office and says he learned a lot in two years. One of the biggest takeaways, he says, is that Congress is largely dysfunctional.

"There's not any doubt about it. The people's business is not being done. There's enormous influence by lobbyists and by special interests," he says. "And the other side has completely sold out to them."

Grayson says he always resisted the influence of those lobbyists. "A good description of what happened in my case is that they couldn't buy me, so they decided to destroy me with negative ads [during the midterm campaign] that people in my district saw an average of 70 times," he says.

Grayson responded with a controversial ad of his own. It called his opponent "Taliban Dan" and repeated clips in which Webster appeared to say about his wife "she should submit to me." Although the spot was roundly criticized, Grayson says he was justified in running it.

"We had to do it because, in my case, he ducked every debate we were scheduled to have. And the result of that is that we had no way to communicate his record except for the fact that we could run ads that people called negative ads," he says. "And it's unfortunate that the system leaves no other possibility."

Grayson says the ad was a last resort. "The average voter in Orlando saw that ad twice. The average voter in Orlando saw 70 ads calling me, an incumbent Congressman, a liar, a national embarrassment, a loudmouth, a dog and an evil clown," he says. "So I don't think that my opponents or anyone in the media for that matter — none of whom ever came to my defense — can lecture me on civility in politics."

Despite the criticism, he's determined to stay upbeat as he says goodbye to Washington: "Life is beautiful. It is hard for me to believe that someone like me — who worked my way through college at Harvard by, among other things, cleaning toilets and by working as a night watchman on the midnight shift — somehow, someone like me could end up in Congress."

From one of my new favorite sources Still Ironic, we find a serious discussion of the Nightmare (we are experiencing) Under Plutonomy. Read it and let them know about your appreciation. (Emphasis marks added - Ed.)

In nightmare under plutonomy, Freddy Krueger is played by Ajay Kapur, a superstar global strategist at Deutsche Bank. He’s an as-yet unconvicted douchebag. Freddy/Ajay made a name for himself at Citigroup, owner of a bank that screws the American public for a living. (Hence, the need for a douchebag, presumably.)

Freddy/Ajay wrote two cheeky memos* to super wealthy Citigroup clients that said in so many words: the world of the super wealthy is the only world that matters. And if the super wealthy play their cards right, they won’t have to interact with anyone who isn’t as super wealthy as they are. According to Freddy/Ajay, US economic growth is controlled by only 100K people. A cup of water in the Great Lakes. The economic growth is largely consumed by them, too. And this will continue, indefinitely. At least until the people who don’t count — the remaining 99+% of us nonsuper wealthy, evidently barely conscious most of the time — wake up and decide to revolt. Most likely using violence.

Not much difference between life on Elm or under plutonomy. Which is the economic form of plutocracy, illustrated in these pages some weeks back. To recap, take Pluto the dwarf-planet-that-once-was and Pluto the Disney dog with boomerang ears, put them in a bag, and shake them up good. Don’t forget to add in the passionate Pluto-is-so-a-planet folks and the folks that now insist Neptune’s not a planet either. What you have when everything shakes out is rule by imaginary-dwarf-and-probably-rabid canines. Or, as the dictionary so mulishly maintains, rule by the rich.

Is plutonomy on the tips of everyone’s tongue? Are the media discussing this issue? Have people stopped holding tea parties and blaming imaginary demons and started confronting extreme income inequality, a danger to our democracy that’s actually real?

In fact, there are some alert citizens out there . . . . Including Bill Moyers who recently delivered his “Welcome to the Plutocracy” speech.

But few of us have been paying much attention to what plutonomy signifies. Freddy/Ajay makes this point: our ignorance is key. The great unwashed must remain blind to the ever-increasing national wealth. And especially to how almost none of this wealth lands in our bank accounts. Even if our labor produces it. You can almost hear the whooshing of dead Franklins passing us by. And landing in the bank accounts of the super wealthy. To pay for luxury goods and services. These, Freddy/Ajay says, are the growth industries of the future.

And what consumes our attention: Looking for work. Finding a second job to pay for the kids’ education. Stretching the food budget. Putting off dental care. Figuring out how to pay off a mortgage that outstrips the value of the house. And my personal favorite, deciding which bills to stuff in the old desk drawer.

Living Lies tells the hard truth* also. Give it a listen (emphasis marks added - Ed.).

. . . after decades of reducing spending and reducing costs by reducing labor expense we have eliminated the ability of our population to consume what we produce. Yet we maintain an economy that is based on the ability and willingness of consumers to spend.

Under the self-serving theories of Wall Street we pursued policies that encouraged consumers to continue spending despite flat or declining median income. We accomplished this miracle by giving the consumers money under the guise of credit cards, other plans of consumer credit, and of course using their homes as ATM machines, fueling a meteoric rise in debt that could never be repaid.

Somehow we have managed to be surprised or at least act surprised when the time came for a credit crisis. The income that was once available for taxation and tax revenues has simply been converted to corporate income that is somehow not taxed at all.

In a nutshell that is the reason for the recession, and that is the reason government has no money. By shifting ownership from the average Joe who has no choice but to pay taxes, to the top Aristocracy who pay little or no taxes, we have cut off our noses to spite our faces. The demand that the average American pay for this shift of income and wealth, tax free, to the Aristocracy with fewer services and higher taxes is now on the table --- unless it involves allowing yet another private enterprise being allowed to interpose itself and add to the bloat to take profit from a cost stream that was already too high. In my opinion you might just as well wave a red flag in front of an enraged bull.

Somehow we accepted the notion that allowing banks and non-financial institutions to get involved in the creation of money for the lending process was a good idea. Somehow it was acceptable that rates of interest that were previously regarded as crimes could be legal. Somehow we consented to plans which allowed the creation of industries that were unthinkable and unacceptable.

Much of our prison system is now privatized, supported by lobbyists who want and get laws criminalizing behavior in order to keep prisons full, thus receiving about $40,000 per year per inmate. Somehow we thought it was a good idea to add private insurance companies to the delivery of medical care and yet we are surprised that the addition of a new layer of private enterprise seeking profit has resulted in higher costs.

What it reminds one of after a while is that Mamet play that continually restarts and the characters don't know that the audience has seen the plot already. Or even that the Wall Streeters really think they are that much smarter than people who have just been watching their criminal shenanigans closely. Cause it's almost laughable. Almost. (Not even close.) From the Wall Street Journal Online we see the light at the end of the tunnel on "inside information" (emphasis marks added - Ed):

Federal authorities, capping a three-year investigation, are preparing insider-trading charges that could ensnare consultants, investment bankers, hedge-fund and mutual-fund traders, and analysts across the nation, according to people familiar with the matter. The criminal and civil probes, which authorities say could eclipse the impact on the financial industry of any previous such investigation, are examining whether multiple insider-trading rings reaped illegal profits totaling tens of millions of dollars, the people say. Some charges could be brought before year-end, they say.

The investigations, if they bear fruit, have the potential to expose a culture of pervasive insider trading in U.S. financial markets, including new ways non-public information is passed to traders through experts tied to specific industries or companies, federal authorities say.

One focus of the criminal investigation is examining whether nonpublic information was passed along by independent analysts and consultants who work for companies that provide "expert network" services to hedge funds and mutual funds. These companies set up meetings and calls with current and former managers from hundreds of companies for traders seeking an investing edge. Among the expert networks whose consultants are being examined, the people say, is Primary Global Research LLC, a Mountain View, Calif., firm that connects experts with investors seeking information in the technology, health-care and other industries.

"I have no comment on that," said Phani Kumar Saripella, Primary Global's chief operating officer. Primary's chief executive and chief operating officers previously worked at Intel Corp., according to its website.

In another aspect of the probes, prosecutors and regulators are examining whether Goldman Sachs Group Inc. bankers leaked information about transactions, including health-care mergers, in ways that benefited certain investors, the people say. Goldman declined to comment.

Independent analysts and research boutiques also are being examined. John Kinnucan, a principal at Broadband Research LLC in Portland, Ore., sent an email on Oct. 26 to roughly 20 hedge-fund and mutual-fund clients telling of a visit by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

"Today two fresh faced eager beavers from the FBI showed up unannounced (obviously) on my doorstep thoroughly convinced that my clients have been trading on copious inside information," the email said. "(They obviously have been recording my cell phone conversations for quite some time, with what motivation I have no idea.) We obviously beg to differ, so have therefore declined the young gentleman's gracious offer to wear a wire and therefore ensnare you in their devious web." The email, which Mr. Kinnucan confirms writing, was addressed to traders at, among others: hedge-fund firms SAC Capital Advisors LP and Citadel Asset Management, and mutual-fund firms Janus Capital Group, Wellington Management Co. and MFS Investment Management.

SAC, Wellington and MFS declined to comment; Janus and Citadel didn't immediately comment. It isn't known whether clients are under investigation for their business with Mr. Kinnucan.

The investigations have been conducted by federal prosecutors in New York, the FBI and the Securities and Exchange Commission. Representatives of the Manhattan U.S. Attorney's office, the FBI and the SEC declined to comment.

Another aspect of the probe is an examination of whether traders at a number of hedge funds and trading firms, including First New York Securities LLC, improperly gained nonpublic information about pending health-care, technology and other merger deals, according to the people familiar with the matter.

Some traders at First New York, a 250-person trading firm, profited by anticipating health-care and other mergers unveiled in 2009, people familiar with the firm say.

. . . Key parts of the probes are at a late stage. A federal grand jury in New York has heard evidence, say people familiar with the matter. But as with all investigations that aren't completed, it is unclear what specific charges, if any, might be brought. The action is an outgrowth of a focus on insider trading by Preet Bharara, the Manhattan U.S. Attorney. In an October speech, Mr. Bharara said the area is a "top criminal priority" for his office, adding: "Illegal insider trading is rampant and may even be on the rise." Mr. Bharara declined to comment.

Expert-network firms hire current or former company employees, as well as doctors and other specialists, to be consultants to funds making investment decisions. More than a third of institutional investment-management firms use expert networks, according to a late 2009 survey by Integrity Research Associates in New York.

The consultants typically earn several hundred dollars an hour for their services, which can include meetings or phone calls with traders to discuss developments in their company or industry. The expert-network companies say internal policies bar their consultants from disclosing confidential information.

Generally, inside traders profit by buying stocks of acquisition targets before deals are announced and selling after the targets' shares rise in value.

The SEC has been investigating potential leaks on takeover deals going back to at least 2007 amid an explosion of deals leading up to the financial crisis. The SEC sent subpoenas last autumn to more than 30 hedge funds and other investors. . . . Some subpoenas were related to trading in Schering-Plough Corp. stock before its takeover by Merck & Co. in 2009, say people familiar with the matter. Schering-Plough stock rose 8% the trading day before the deal plan was announced and 14% the day of the announcement.

Merck said it "has a long-standing practice of fully cooperating with any regulatory inquiries and has explicit policies prohibiting the sharing of confidential information about the company and its potential partners."

Transactions being focused on include MedImmune Inc.'s takeover by AstraZeneca PLC in 2007, the people say. MedImmune shares jumped 18% on April 23, 2007, the day the deal was announced. A spokesman for AstraZeneca and its MedImmune unit declined to comment.

Investigators are also examining the role of Goldman bankers in trading in shares of Advanced Medical Optics Inc., which was taken over by Abbott Laboratories in 2009, according to the people familiar with the matter. Advanced Medical Optics's shares jumped 143% on Jan. 12, 2009, the day the deal was announced. Goldman advised MedImmune and Advanced Medical Optics on the deals.

A spokesman for AstraZeneca and its MedImmune unit declined to comment. In subpoenas, the SEC has sought information about communications—related to Schering-Plough and other deals—with Ziff Brothers, Jana Partners LLC, TPG-Axon Capital Management, Prudential Financial Inc.'s Jennison Associates asset-management unit, UBS AG's UBS Financial Services Inc. unit, and Deutsche Bank AG, according to subpoenas and the people familiar with the matter.

Representatives of Ziff Brothers, Jana, TPG-Axon, Jennison, UBS and Deutsche Bank declined to comment.

Among hedge-fund managers whose trading in takeovers is a focus of the criminal probe is Todd Deutsch, a top Wall Street trader who left Galleon Group in 2008 to go out on his own, the people close to the situation say. A spokesman for Mr. Deutsch, who has specialized in health-care and technology stocks, declined to comment.

Prosecutors also are investigating whether some hedge-fund traders received inside information about Advanced Micro Devices Inc., which figured prominently in the government's insider-trading case last year against Galleon Group hedge fund founder Raj Rajaratnam and 22 other defendants.

Fourteen defendants have pleaded guilty in the Galleon case; Mr. Rajaratnam has pleaded not guilty and is expected to go to trial in early 2011.

My idol (the all-seeing driftglass) has delivered the ultimate panegyric (or would that be eulogy?) for the Sunday Morning Mouse Circus and its adoring audience.

No one does it better, and as an addition to my promoting of the exposure of the true nature and goals of Glenn BecKKK by Rachel Maddow, it couldn't be more fitting for my readers.

According to the collective wisdom of the Wise Men of the Mouse Circus, it turns out, Barack Obama will have to -- just have to! -- move to The Center, both substantively and symbolically, if he wants to get re-elected.

Shocking, I know.

He'll have to -- just have to! -- lower the top marginal tax rates.

He'll have to -- just have to! -- lower corporate taxes.

Then: Moar! Palin!

Because she's so Sincere!

Sure, she's also a vicious and utterly unqualified grifter, but she's so Real!

And we point cameras at her obsessively because you can never spend too much of America's mainstream political bandwidth huffing stupid straight from the bag.

Enjoy the memories! Suzan __________________

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