They all gotta go!
Every single one who voted against their country's best interests.
The Facebook Fallacy - For all its valuation, the social network is just another ad-supported site. Without an earth-changing idea, it will collapse and take down the Web. . . The daily and stubborn reality for everybody building businesses on the strength of Web advertising is that the value of digital ads decreases every quarter, a consequence of their simultaneous ineffectiveness and efficiency. The nature of people's behavior on the Web and of how they interact with advertising, as well as the character of those ads themselves and their inability to command real attention, has meant a marked decline in advertising's impact. ]
By Carl Gibson
21 May 12
emember when police beat Tea Party activists with batons, raided homes without warrants, unjustly arrested and strip-searched Tea Party protesters, or attacked and intimidated journalists covering Tea Party rallies?
Me neither. But, then again, the Tea Party took to the streets in favor of higher profits and less regulations for the richest 1 percent, whose ranks they hope to but will never join. The media is more than happy to inflate their crowd estimates, and police are more than happy to let pro-status quo protests take to the streets undisturbed. The Tea Party has since phased out street protests to take over a major political party and make it bend to their every radical whim.
While it hasn't yet taken over a major party, the Occupy movement has successfully exposed the oppressive fascist police state that has reared its ugly head in the past year. If you want to see what tyranny looks like, consider what happened to the estimated 75,000 protesters who took on the military-industrial complex at last weekend's NATO summit in Chicago, after the mayor revoked protesters' attempts to lawfully assemble.
- A night before protests even begun, the Chicago Police Department raided an activist's home and arrested several on unproven allegations of terrorist activity, all without a valid warrant.
- At the front of a police line surrounding a NATO gathering, police suddenly started beating unarmed protesters with batons in an eerie video resembling police at Egypt's Tahrir Square.
- While covering the protests, credentialed journalists were attacked by police who used bicycles as weapons.
- After a day of covering the protests, three livestreamers were surrounded by Chicago police at gunpoint and had their car and property impounded without cause.
But the oppression isn't coming from just the police. The federal government is now openly embracing totalitarian tactics in suppressing political dissent, including unwarranted surveillance, denial of due process rights, and even psychological warfare:
- FBI agents pressured a group of anarchists in Ohio to blow up a bridge on May Day, going so far as to pick out a target and provide the explosives. They were held without bond after their arrest. White supremacists in Florida planning an actual terrorist attack at a May Day protest were outed by state police, and ignored by federal law enforcement. Their bond was set at $500.
- The Department of Homeland Security assembled almost 800 pages of documents detailing possibly unconstitutional monitoring of the Occupy movement, and collaboration with city governments.
- Congress voted down an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act that would have prohibited the federal government from detaining American citizens indefinitely, without trial, based on pure suspicion. They did so exactly one day after US District Judge Katherine Forrest struck down NDAA detention provisions as unconstitutional.
Congress also passed a law allowing protesters to be arrested on felony charges anywhere there is secret service protection, and is actively seeking to lift a ban on the use of propaganda on American citizens.
- The Supreme Court ruled in a 5-4 decision to allow invasive and humiliating strip searches for any arrest, no matter the charge (like protesting).
So why the violent police oppression and government suppression of rights? As Dan Rather stated on Bill Maher's program, "Big business is in bed with big government."
A great portion of the federal government is sponsored by big corporations, so naturally, nearly every act of Congress and the Supreme Court is done so with the ultimate goal of deregulating industry and maximizing corporate profits at the expense of citizen and consumer rights. These puppets of industry occupying our government will discredit and crack down on anyone trying to stop, delay, or reverse the process by any means necessary.
In 1963, JFK famously said our nation was "... founded on the principle that all men are created equal, and that the rights of every man are diminished when the rights of one man are threatened." The historic street demonstrations of 2012 will be meaningless unless citizens use the power of the vote this year to remove the worst offenders from office. They can start with the Representatives and Senators who voted NO to due process rights.
(Carl Gibson, 25, is co-founder of US Uncut, a nationwide creative direct-action movement that mobilized tens of thousands of activists against corporate tax avoidance and budget cuts in the months leading up to the Occupy Wall Street movement. Carl and other US Uncut activists are featured in the documentary "We're Not Broke," which premiered at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival. He currently lives in Old Lyme, Connecticut. You can contact Carl at email@example.com, and listen to his online radio talk show, Swag The Dog, at blogtalkradio.com/swag-the-dog.)
Dennis to the rescue?
And you might want to practice saying, "Defense from what?"
22 May 12
he North Atlantic Treaty Organization is not a benevolent organization. NATO is not about the North Atlantic and it's not about our collective defense.
NATO is a cost-sharing organization that finances aggressive military action. By hiding behind the claim that the organization provides for 'common defense,' NATO allows us to wage wars of choice under the guise of international peacekeeping. The most recent example was the unconstitutional war in Libya where NATO, operating under a United Nations mandate to protect civilians, instead backed one side in a civil war and pursued a policy of regime change.
Today, NATO leaders are meeting in Chicago to discuss the future of Afghanistan. The talks are being billed as discussions of plans to end the war. The war in Afghanistan is not ending. These talks are simply about financing the next phase of the war.
The Strategic Partnership Agreement between the U.S. and Afghanistan commits us to the country for at least another decade, despite public support for the war being at an all-time low. The United States will pay for half of the estimated $4.1 billion per year cost of supporting 352,000 Afghan army and police officers. Afghanistan's contribution will be $500,000. The rest will be financed by our 'NATO partners.' It is not surprising that support for the war among NATO members is waning, with France threatening to pull out its troops by the end of this year.
Our participation in NATO comes at a great financial cost to the U.S. We contribute the majority of funds for NATO's common budget, including 25% of the military budget. Between fiscal years 2010 and 2012 alone, we contributed more than $1.3 billion to NATO's military budget. We also incur significant costs through the deployment of our forces in support of NATO missions. According to The Atlantic, the war in Libya cost the United States $1.1 billion.
NATO was originally founded to provide a strategic counterbalance to the Soviet Union. Its founding purpose no longer exists, but NATO continues to circumvent the authority of the United Nations and to provoke other nations. NATO is an anachronism. Instead of trying to bolster the organization, we should begin serious discussions to dismantle it.
Paul Krugman hands Mittens (and Legs (Jamie) Di(a)mon(d)) their hats.
About time someone in authority did. (Thanks for the Pottersville plug, Paul!)
By Paul Krugman
May 20, 2012
Sometimes it’s hard to explain why we need strong financial regulation — especially in an era saturated with pro-business, pro-market propaganda. So we should always be grateful when someone makes the case for regulation more compelling and easier to understand. And this week, that means offering a special shout-out to two men: Jamie Dimon and Mitt Romney.
I’ll come back shortly to the troubles at JPMorgan Chase, the bank Mr. Dimon runs. First, however, let me talk about Mr. Romney, whose remarks about those troubles were so off-point that they constitute a teachable moment.
Here’s what the presumptive Republican presidential nominee said about JPMorgan’s $2 billion loss (which may actually have been $3 billion, or $5 billion, or more, but who’s counting?): “This was a loss to shareholders and owners of JPMorgan and that’s the way America works. Some people experienced a loss in this case because of a bad decision. By the way, there was someone who made a gain.”
What’s wrong with this statement? Well, suppose that someone — say, Jimmy Stewart in the movie “It’s a Wonderful Life” — runs a bank that takes in deposits and invests the money in various ways. And suppose that one of those investments is a risky bet on some complex financial instrument, with Mr. Potter, the evil plutocrat, on the other side.
If Jimmy Stewart’s bet pays off, we’re in Romneyworld: he’s made money, Mr. Potter has lost money, and that’s that. But suppose Jimmy Stewart loses his bet. If the bet was big enough, he no longer has enough assets to pay off his depositors. His bank collapses, probably in a chaotic bank run that takes down the whole town’s economy as collateral damage. Mr. Potter makes money on the deal, but so what?
The point is that it’s not O.K. for banks to take the kinds of risks that are acceptable for individuals, because when banks take on too much risk they put the whole economy in jeopardy — unless they can count on being bailed out. And the prospect of such bailouts, of course, only strengthens the case that banks shouldn’t be allowed to run wild, since they are in effect gambling with taxpayers’ money.
Incidentally, how is it possible that Mr. Romney doesn’t understand all of this? His whole candidacy is based on the claim that his experience at extracting money from troubled businesses means that he’ll know how to run the economy — yet whenever he talks about economic policy, he comes across as completely clueless.
Anyway, it goes without saying that Jamie Dimon is no Jimmy Stewart. But he has, in a way, been playing Jimmy Stewart on TV, posing as a responsible banker who knows how to manage risk — and therefore the point man in Wall Street’s fight to block any tightening of regulations despite the immense damage deregulated banks have already inflicted on our economy. Trust us, Mr. Dimon has in effect been saying, we’ve got this covered and it won’t happen again.
Now the truth is coming out. That multibillion-dollar loss wasn’t an isolated event; it was an accident waiting to happen. For even as Mr. Dimon was giving speeches about responsible banking, his own institution was heaping on the risk. “The unit at the center of JPMorgan’s $2 billion trading loss,” reports The Financial Times, “has built up positions totaling more than $100 billion in asset-backed securities and structured products — the complex, risky bonds at the center of the financial crisis in 2008. These holdings are in addition to those in credit derivatives which led to the losses.”
And what was going on as these positions were being accumulated? According to a fascinating report in Sunday’s Times, the reality behind JPMorgan’s facade of competence was a scene all too reminiscent of the behavior that brought down firms like A.I.G. in 2008: arrogant executives shouting down anyone who tried to question their activities, top management that didn’t ask questions as long as the money kept rolling in. It really is déjà vu all over again.
The point, again, is that an institution like JPMorgan — a too-big-to-fail bank, not to mention a bank whose deposits are already guaranteed by U.S. taxpayers — shouldn’t be engaged in this kind of speculative investment at all. And that’s why we need a return to much stronger financial regulation, stronger even than the Dodd-Frank regulations passed back in 2010.
Will we get that kind of regulation? Not if Mr. Romney wins, obviously; he wants to repeal Dodd-Frank, and in general has made it clear that he would do everything in his power to set us up for another financial crisis. Even if President Obama is re-elected, getting the kind of regulation we need will be an uphill struggle. But as Mr. Dimon’s debacle has just demonstrated, that struggle remains as necessary as ever.
And Europe doubles down on a civilization-losing strategy?
Tuesday, 22 May 2012
Paul Krugman, Krugman & Co.
I guess we knew this was coming, but in the face of the French and Greek election results and the broader evidence that Europe's economic strategy is an utter failure, the usual suspects are, you guessed it, doubling down.
Simon Wren-Lewis, an economics professor at Oxford, has looked on in horror as the Dutch have agreed on completely unnecessary austerity measures, as a way of showing their commitment to Europe's totally misguided fiscal pact. "Towards the end of April the Dutch conservative coalition government collapsed when the far-right party refused to discuss further budget cuts," Mr. Wren-Lewis wrote on his blog on May 7. "The prime minister resigned. And yet a few days later other parties rallied round to give their support to a similar package of austerity measures, which now have majority support in parliament."
British Prime Minister David Cameron vowed "no going back" on his failed austerity strategy in a speech after the elections.
And Jens Weidmann, president of the German central bank, vowed to destroy the euro. O.K., that's not what he said in so many words, but that's the implication of his op-ed in the Financial Times on May 7.
The meat is at the end: "Monetary policy in the euro zone is geared towards monetary union as a whole; a very expansionary stance for Germany therefore has to be dealt with by other, national instruments," Mr. Weidmann wrote. "However, this also implies that concerns about the impact of a less expansionary monetary policy on the periphery must not prevent monetary policy makers' taking the necessary action once upside risks for euro zone inflation increase.
Delivering on its primary goal to maintain price stability is the prerequisite for safeguarding the most precious resource a central bank can command: credibility."
Let's parse this. "A very expansionary stance for Germany therefore has to be dealt with ..." I'm pretty sure is code for saying that Germany will try to prevent any inflationary impact of low European Central Bank rates with fiscal contraction. Austerity for all! (And no help for peripheral economies in the form of above-normal German inflation.)
And then, a declaration that the E.C.B. will tighten to prevent any "upside risks for euro zone inflation" — even if the southern economies are facing deflation.
Put it together, and it's a declaration that all of the burden of "internal devaluation" — the need to bring costs and prices in Spain and others down relative to the core — will be borne by deflation in the south.
This won't work, of course; it's a prescription for catastrophic failure of the euro.
What is Mr. Weidmann thinking?
My guess is that he isn't — or at least that there's no model there, just a series of central bankerish catch-phrases strung together, in a way that fails to reveal the underlying impossibility of the strategy.
All in all, nothing learned, and no willingness to reconsider.
Sounds like they're retiring tomorrow and moving to Switzerland (or the Scandinavian countries) ASAP to me.