Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Systemically Dangerous Institutions: Bank Revolt In Full Swing! BoA Tries To Stop Customers From Withdrawing Their Funds - Prosecute the Wall Street Mafia! Obama Speaks About Jobs In NC

I had believed (and written about for years) before that infamous (September 2008) Not-So-Dumbya/Goldman-Sachs' John Paulson angst-ridden TV broadcast about the "absolutely necessary or we'll shoot ourselves right now!" Wall Street bailout that when people finally figured out the long-term financial ramifications of what they had allowed to happen to themselves and their country through the "leadership" of goons (due to the MSM-led touting of the integrity of the rightwing power structure) that there would be people in the streets taking action against the banks and all the rest of the culprits.


It's on!

R.E.M. Supports OccupyWallStreet - So Does Every Single Blue America Candidate... But Conservatives Of Both Parties HATE It

[Contributions joyfully accepted and humbly acknowledged!]

From my buddy at Eye On Miami, we learn the difference between the Tea Party and OWS, and this will be on the test (and eventually the history books):

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

The Difference Between the Tea Party and Occupy Wall Street, Occupy Miami and Everywhere Else? Fear 

The Occupy Wall Street'ers around the nation and the world have presented an awkward situation for the Tea Party, now primarily institutionalized as a wing of the GOP. Lawrence Lessig, a Harvard University Law professor, made an interesting comment on the NPR Diane Rehm show yesterday (carried locally on WLRN): that the Tea Party had started out as a movement to end business as usual and to demand improvement in the operation of government but had quickly dissolved to represent the extremist wing of the GOP that wants to eliminate government, regulations, enforcement altogether.

The Tea Party has not made the leap, at least on the institutional level, to question the role of corporate power and authority. That is the bedrock of the OWS'ers protests. Where the OWS'ers tie politics and elections to the abuse of corporate wealth and authority, the Tea Party is silent. Indeed, billionaires like the Koch Brothers (whose profits depend on lax regulatory authority regarding clean air and clean water) are substantially funding the Tea Party, elected officials and its candidates.

Why? Because they are afraid. "Tea Party voters are more likely to fear change and harbor negative attitudes toward immigrants," reads an August AP report of a 4,500 telephone poll conducted with registered voters in North Carolina and Tennessee and presented to the annual conference of the American Sociological Conference. "Tea Party supporters also overwhelmingly viewed President Obama as "not at all" like them and 66 percent of conservatives who support the tea party movement say he is not a Christian.

While there are plenty of OWS'ers who are protesting the policies of President Obama, there are none to observe hating Obama or fearing him. Fear is a great fault line of any economic upheaval. It is proven time and again throughout history. It has also been one of the great achievements of the radical right that now dominate the GOP: the messages of fear have been carefully cultivated through Fox News and its commentators, as well as the entire panoply of paranoid talk show hosts on radio and TV. Fear pulls ratings and voters.

Occupy Wall Street, Miami and elsewhere grasp that "the only thing to fear is fear itself", the words of FDR during the depth of the Depression. It took the Second World War to ignite the US economy, but we are far past that now: our economy is already exhausted by the costs of wars on multiple fronts. We should not be afraid to confront the costs of Reconstruction.
And who said Eye on Miami wasn't on fire today? Not I as they point us toward the stellar ProPublica, which exposes the insider loans given to one of the banks that was failing badly before it was given over $50 million by the taxpayers through TARP. Tell us once again, Ben, how necessary this expenditure was. Probably as necessary as paying off AIG so that Goldman Sachs and all the European banks could be paid before they went belly up.

U.S. Century Bank rocketed into being in 2002, with investors pouring in $30 million over three months. Four years later, the Miami-based bank boasted assets of more than $1 billion, had consistently shown a profit, and had won plaudits from banking analysts such as BauerFinancial and glowing reviews from The Miami Herald and other local media.

In 2009, as the financial crisis hit, the bank received a vote of confidence from the federal government when it won a $50.2 million loan under the federal Trouble Assets Relief Program, or TARP - money earmarked for healthy banks. It was the most TARP money given to a single Florida bank.

"This represents an important recognition for U.S. Century Bank as it acknowledges our strength, stability and good standing as a strong and healthy financial institution," said Ramon Rasco, the bank's chairman in a press release announcing the TARP loan.
In fact, U.S. Century was ailing when it received the TARP loan. Today, U.S. Century teeters on the edge of collapse as it operates under an extraordinary consent order, issued in June by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation. Sweeping in scope, the consent order demands an overhaul including changes in top executives, a review of all loans, implementation of a program to guard against money laundering, and an increase in the bank's capital.

The rise and fall of U.S. Century, while certainly more extreme than most banks, exemplifies the fast-and-loose banking culture that led to the financial crisis, which continues to drag down the U.S. and world economy. It also epitomizes both the failure to regulate the banking sector during the pre-crisis boom years and the slipshod approach to the bailout that followed the bust.

Above all, it's about losers and winners. The losers are taxpayers and local residents grappling with the ill effects of suburban sprawl. The winners appear to be a group of wealthy and politically connected businessmen who created a bank that served as their own corporate ATM, funneling tens of millions of dollars to ventures in which they had a stake.

"Insider loans" - loans to directors or officers of the bank - at their peak exceeded 94 percent of U.S. Century's total equity capital. While high levels of insider lending are not uncommon in the early years of a bank startup, at U.S. Century they continued for years. Many of these loans were for speculative real estate projects, some of which are now defunct or gravely troubled

Compared to all commercial banks in the United States, U.S. Century was in the top 7 percent for insider loans as a proportion of total loans, according to an analysis of insider lending from 2005 through June 2011 done for ProPublica by banking analyst Trepp LLC. During 2005, the bank had one of its most prolific periods of insider lending; it was in the top quarter of one percent, ranking 20th out of 7,954 commercial banks in the nation at that time.

Remember, Remember the 5th of November: BANK TRANSFER DAY

Together we can ensure that corrupt crony-capitalist banking institutions will ALWAYS remember the 5th of November! If the 99% removes our funds from major banking institutions to non-profit credit unions on or by this date, we will send a clear message to the 1% that conscious consumers won't support companies with unethical business practices. ... Read More

Matt Taibbi from Rolling Stone joined the OWS'ers and declared his support:

I’ve been down to “Occupy Wall Street” twice now, and I love it. The protests building at Liberty Square and spreading over Lower Manhattan are a great thing, the logical answer to the Tea Party and a long-overdue middle finger to the financial elite. The protesters picked the right target and, through their refusal to disband after just one day, the right tactic, showing the public at large that the movement against Wall Street has stamina, resolve and growing popular appeal.
But… there’s a but. And for me this is a deeply personal thing, because this issue of how to combat Wall Street corruption has consumed my life for years now, and it’s hard for me not to see where Occupy Wall Street could be better and more dangerous. I’m guessing, for instance, that the banks were secretly thrilled in the early going of the protests, sure they’d won round one of the messaging war.
Why? Because after a decade of unparalleled thievery and corruption, with tens of millions entering the ranks of the hungry thanks to artificially inflated commodity prices, and millions more displaced from their homes by corruption in the mortgage markets, the headline from the first week of protests against the financial-services sector was an old cop macing a quartet of college girls.
That, to me, speaks volumes about the primary challenge of opposing the 50-headed hydra of Wall Street corruption, which is that it’s extremely difficult to explain the crimes of the modern financial elite in a simple visual. The essence of this particular sort of oligarchic power is its complexity and day-to-day invisibility: Its worst crimes, from bribery and insider trading and market manipulation, to backroom dominance of government and the usurping of the regulatory structure from within, simply can’t be seen by the public or put on TV.
There just isn’t going to be an iconic “Running Girl” photo with Goldman Sachs, Citigroup or Bank of America – just 62 million Americans with zero or negative net worth, scratching their heads and wondering where the hell all their money went and why their votes seem to count less and less each and every year.
No matter what, I’ll be supporting Occupy Wall Street. And I think the movement’s basic strategy – to build numbers and stay in the fight, rather than tying itself to any particular set of principles – makes a lot of sense early on. But the time is rapidly approaching when the movement is going to have to offer concrete solutions to the problems posed by Wall Street. To do that, it will need a short but powerful list of demands. There are thousands one could make, but I’d suggest focusing on five:
1. Break up the monopolies. The so-called “Too Big to Fail” financial companies – now sometimes called by the more accurate term “Systemically Dangerous Institutions” – are a direct threat to national security. They are above the law and above market consequence, making them more dangerous and unaccountable than a thousand mafias combined. There are about 20 such firms in America, and they need to be dismantled; a good start would be to repeal the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act and mandate the separation of insurance companies, investment banks and commercial banks.
2. Pay for your own bailouts. A tax of 0.1 percent on all trades of stocks and bonds and a 0.01 percent tax on all trades of derivatives would generate enough revenue to pay us back for the bailouts, and still have plenty left over to fight the deficits the banks claim to be so worried about. It would also deter the endless chase for instant profits through computerized insider-trading schemes like High Frequency Trading, and force Wall Street to go back to the job it’s supposed to be doing, i.e., making sober investments in job-creating businesses and watching them grow.
3. No public money for private lobbying. A company that receives a public bailout should not be allowed to use the taxpayer’s own money to lobby against him. You can either suck on the public teat or influence the next presidential race, but you can’t do both. Butt out for once and let the people choose the next president and Congress.
4. Tax hedge-fund gamblers. For starters, we need an immediate repeal of the preposterous and indefensible carried-interest tax break, which allows hedge-fund titans like Stevie Cohen and John Paulson to pay taxes of only 15 percent on their billions in gambling income, while ordinary Americans pay twice that for teaching kids and putting out fires. I defy any politician to stand up and defend that loophole during an election year.
5. Change the way bankers get paid. We need new laws preventing Wall Street executives from getting bonuses upfront for deals that might blow up in all of our faces later. It should be: You make a deal today, you get company stock you can redeem two or three years from now. That forces everyone to be invested in his own company’s long-term health – no more Joe Cassanos pocketing multimillion-dollar bonuses for destroying the AIGs of the world.
To quote the immortal political philosopher Matt Damon from Rounders, “The key to No Limit poker is to put a man to a decision for all his chips.” The only reason the Lloyd Blankfeins and Jamie Dimons of the world survive is that they’re never forced, by the media or anyone else, to put all their cards on the table. If Occupy Wall Street can do that – if it can speak to the millions of people the banks have driven into foreclosure and joblessness – it has a chance to build a massive grassroots movement. All it has to do is light a match in the right place, and the overwhelming public support for real reform – not later, but right now – will be there in an instant.
- This story is from the October 27, 2011 issue of Rolling Stone.
From Matt’s blog:
I was on Imus in the Morning today, talking about the Wall Street protests. Check it out here.
And how about the ultimate fix?

Bill Black, Dylan Ratigan & David DeGraw on the Destruction of the Rule of Law

October 18, 2011

When it comes to prosecuting the lead players involved in the fraudulent financial activities that have led to the destruction of our economy, the Obama Administration, loaded with Wall Street campaign contributions and led by major financial firm operatives such as Tim Geithner and Bill Daley, has delivered empty rhetoric and minimal action.

In the absence of leadership on this critical issue, it may come down to a new proposed OccupyWallStreet Department of Justice Working Group to restore the rule of law. The proposed group will feature members such as Bill Black, a man who has a strong track record of successfully prosecuting and jailing bankers during the S&L crisis.

In this video, David DeGraw joins Bill Black on the Dylan Ratigan Show to discuss the “epidemic of fraud” and the people who need to be held personally responsible for the destruction of our economic system.

We the 99% Demand a Totally Different Federal Budget

99% Budget

Here's a picture worth a thousand demands.  Make a pie chart of your ideal federal budget.  Compare it with the actual budget.  Compare it with everyone else's.  Edit it.  Link to it.  Facebook it.  Tweet it. 

We don't have just one demand, because all the wrong things are being funded.  Check it out.  Set it straight.
Make your own budget: View others':

Obama Stands Up to Cantormania

Obama's never going to be the kind of president I want. I knew that - from carefully studying his uncomfortably corporatist record in the Senate - when I voted for him in 2008. And, despite pressure, Blue America never endorsed him or raised a dime for his campaign, not in 2008 and, certainly not during this campaign. Obama was in Asheville, North Carolina yesterday, a Democratic stronghold and he was talking smack about conservatives.

It would have been a great opportunity - one he would never in a trillion years consider - to show another side of bipartisanship. He could have talked about how conservative Republican Patrick McHenry (who just had Asheville put into his district) and how conservative Blue Dog Democrat Health Shuler (the current Representative for that city) have been obstructing his plans for a better America.

Shuler, like McHenry, is a corporate whore, who takes his campaign cash and his walking orders from Wall Street. The Obama of my long-dead dreams would have endorsed progressive Democrat and Asheville City Councilman Cecil Bothwell. Sure, I know... patently absurd. How many Democratic presidents ever campaigned against conservatives in their own party? Do you know? You might be surprised at the answer.

That said, a "C' or a "D" is always better than a flat out "F," which would be a good description of the policies of Romney, Perry, Gingrich or any of the minor vanity candidates running for the Republican nomination. As Steve Benen pointed out yesterday, Obama is smart to offer to put his jobs program up against the Republican Party's "jobs" program as often as possible.

Here's some of the back-and-forth from the President's appearance yesterday in Asheville:

THE PRESIDENT:  We should be talking about jobs.  When you hear what’s going on out in the country, when you take the time to listen, you understand that a lot of folks are hurting out there.  Too many people are looking for work.  Too many families are looking for that sense of security that’s been slipping away for the past decade, now.

Here in North Carolina, you’ve got thousands of construction workers who lost their jobs when the housing bubble  burst.  Some of those construction workers are here today.  They’ve got experience.  They’ve got skills.  All they want is to be back on the job site doing what they do best.  (Applause.)

And there is plenty of work to go around.  In this airport right here in Asheville, you’ve got a runway that needs to be widened and repaired.  You’ve got a taxiway that’s in the wrong spot - which means that planes sometimes get too close together.  So we could be doing some work right here at the Asheville Airport that would help boost tourism, help to boost the economy here, put people to work right now.  (Applause.)

But it’s not just here in Asheville.  All across the state, you’ve got highways that need to be built.  You’ve got bridges that need to be fixed.  You’ve got schools that need to be modernized.  (Applause.)  And that’s what America used to do best.  We used to build things - built the Transcontinental Railroad; built the Golden Gate Bridge; the Hoover Dam; the Grand Central Station. 

There’s no reason why we should sit here and watch the best highways and the newest airports being built in China.  We should be building them right here in the United States of America.  (Applause.)  Right here in North Carolina.  (Applause.)

Now, our problems were a long time in the making–- we’re not going to solve them overnight.  But there are things we can do right now to put people back to work - right now.  There are things we should do right now to give the economy the jolt that it needs.  So that’s why I sent Congress the American Jobs Act.  (Applause.)

AUDIENCE:  Thank you!

THE PRESIDENT:  Keep in mind-- keep in mind, Asheville, this is the kind of bill containing the kinds of proposals that in the past have received support from Democrats and Republicans.  It’s completely paid for-- by asking our wealthiest citizens, folks making more than a million dollars a year, to pay their fair share.  (Applause.)

Independent economists-- not my economists, but independent economists-- have said this jobs bill would create nearly 2 million jobs.  That’s not my opinion.  It’s not the opinion of folks who work for me.  It’s the opinion of people who evaluate these kinds of things for a living.  It says this bill will help put people back to work and give our economy a boost right away.

But apparently none of this matters to the Republicans in the Senate-- because last week they got together to block this bill.  They said no to putting teachers and construction workers back on the job.  They said no to rebuilding our roads and our bridges and our airports.  They said no to cutting taxes for middle-class families and small businesses when all they’ve been doing is cutting taxes for the wealthiest Americans.

AUDIENCE:  Booo --

THE PRESIDENT:  They said no to helping veterans find jobs.
Essentially, they said no to you-- because it turns out one poll found that 63 percent of Americans support the ideas in this jobs bill.  (Applause.)  So 63 percent of Americans support the jobs bill that I put forward; 100 percent of Republicans in the Senate voted against it.  That doesn’t make any sense, does it?


THE PRESIDENT:  No, it does not.

Now, it turns out that the Republicans have a plan, too.  I want to be fair.  They call-- they put forward this plan last week.  They called it the “Real American Jobs Act.”  The "real one"-- that’s what they called it-- just in case you were wondering.  (Laughter.)  So let’s take a look at what the Republican American jobs act looks like.  It turns out the Republican plan boils down to a few basic ideas:  They want to gut regulations; they want to let Wall Street do whatever it wants.

AUDIENCE:  Booo --

THE PRESIDENT:  They want to drill more.


THE PRESIDENT:  And they want to repeal health care reform.

AUDIENCE:  Booo --

THE PRESIDENT:  That's their jobs plan.

So let’s do a little comparison here.  The Republican plan says that what’s been standing in the way between us and full employment are laws that keep companies from polluting as much as they want.  On the other hand, our plan puts teachers, construction workers, firefighters and police officers back on the job.  (Applause.)

Their plan says the big problem we have is that we helped to get 30 million Americans health insurance.  They figure we should throw those folks off the health insurance rolls; somehow that's going to help people find jobs.

AUDIENCE:  Booo --

THE PRESIDENT:  Our plan says we’re better off if every small business and worker in America gets a tax cut, and that's what’s in my jobs bill.  (Applause.)  Their plan says we should go back to the good old days before the financial crisis when Wall Street was writing its own rules.  They want to roll back all the reforms that we’ve put into place.


THE PRESIDENT:  Our plan says we need to make it easier for small businesses to grow and hire and push this economy forward.  (Applause.)

All right, so you’ve gotten a sense-- you got their plan, and then we got my plan.  My plan says we’re going to put teachers back in the classroom; construction workers back to work rebuilding America, rebuilding our schools-- (applause)-- tax cuts for small businesses; tax cuts for hiring veterans; tax cuts if you give your worker a raise.  (Applause.)  That's my plan.

And then you got their plan, which is let’s have dirtier air, dirtier water.

AUDIENCE:  Booo --

THE PRESIDENT:  Less people with health insurance.

AUDIENCE:  Booo --

THE PRESIDENT:  All right so, so far at least, I feel better about my plan.  (Laughter and applause.)  But let’s admit I’m a little biased.  So remember those independent economists who said our plan would create jobs, maybe as many as almost 2 million jobs, grow the economy by as much as 2 percent?  So one of the same economists that took a look at our plan took a look at the Republican plan, and they said, well, this won’t do much to help the economy in the short term - it could actually cost us jobs.  We could actually lose jobs with their plan.

So I’ll let you decide which plan is the real American Jobs Act.  (Applause.)

AUDIENCE MEMBER:  Obama's plan!

AUDIENCE:  Four more years!  Four more years!

THE PRESIDENT:  Look, I appreciate the “four more years,” but right now I’m thinking about the next 13 months.  (Applause.)  Because, yes, we’ve got an election coming up, but that election is a long ways away, and a lot of folks can’t wait.  A lot of folks are living paycheck to paycheck.  A lot of folks are living week to week.  You’ve got kids right now who’ve lost their teachers because at the local level you ended up having layoffs.  You’ve got bridges right now that are crumbling and deteriorating.  So we don’t have time to wait.  And we’ve got a choice right no - right now.

And here's the lockstep Republican response with his fatuous defense of the 1% - a veritable Thomas Burke, if a less eloquent one - of the day:

Cantor makes a great target for Democrats; he's as repulsive a political figure as you can find without going to someone like Paul Broun, Mean Jean Schmidt or Steve Womack wiping drool off their chins. In his column about the Kvetchocracy Sunday, Krugman never calls out Cantor by name but one has to believe he had him - or maybe him and Ryan - in mind when he was writing the column. These are the people for whom Cantor and Ryan (not to mention Rahm Emanuel and Harold Ford) are shilling for:
Read it all, friends.

And organize!

Are they lining up yet in your neighborhood?


squatlo said...

Suzan, I found your site via Sir William's blog at Un-Original Thoughts, and love it! Shall place it on my blogroll as soon as I find my way home, hope you'll come over once in a while. BTW, love the Lewis Black quote!

Suzan said...

Thank you, kind sir.

I've read you in many places and have always enjoyed your comments.

I'll add you to my blogroll too.

Thanks again!