Monday, April 7, 2014

(Pay the Girls Well, They'll Take the Blame) Somebody's Gotta OUT This Madman (And This (Another) Fraudulent Jobs Report)


Charles Keating, conman behind 80's S&L scam dies at 69.

Behind the Scenes of Charles Keating’s Sexist Financial Empire

He’d taken a small-time institution in Orange County - Lincoln Savings & Loan of Irvine, Calif. - and, using newly unfastened federal rules, parlayed the S&L into a juggernaut. He poured depositors’ money into speculative real estate, junk bonds, hastily built housing tracts and high-yield bling. In just three years, Lincoln’s assets roared from $1 billion to nearly $4 billion and then onto $6 billion or more, depending on who was counting. Keating went on to use his federal-insured institution like a personal ATM, taking his huge family on European jaunts, buying rare carpets from the Holy Land, and collecting politicians like they were pedigree cats.

Yet, he spent decades cultivating a different side of his public persona. He was the man who’d headed up a drive to purge sexually explicit material from Cincinnati’s newsstands. In the 1950s, he had formed Citizens for Decent Literature, partly to shut down Larry Flynt’s Hustler magazine and club. That group grew to 300 chapters around the country and lifted the profile of the morally righteous Keating to the point where President Richard Nixon appointed him to head an anti-pornography commission.

. . . When I arrived on the scene many years later, Keating had already been tried on securities fraud, his trial attended by some of the 23,000 customers whom he had gulled. While he was serving a 10-year sentence, I arrived in Scottsdale, Ariz., site of the S&L’s parent company American Continental Corp. I was set to interview seven women who had worked for him . . .

They proudly admitted they had been hired for their good looks. Keating had spied one young woman from his limousine as she was crossing the parking lot. “She was very pretty and perfect like a model,” said a top secretary, Jackie Weaver. Never mind that the boss didn’t know anything about her intellect, her administrative skills or even whether she could type. He just pointed to her and said I want her, Weaver recalled.

. . . The woman who was spotted in the parking lot earned $100,000 the year she turned 24. “Basically, the shorter the skirt, the bigger the bonus,” Suzan Klumker told me. One year, 10 secretaries received clothing allowances of $5,000 and blew it all by shopping at Gucci’s and I. Magnin’s across the street. On casual Fridays, members of the blond squad wore miniskirts or shorts with crop-tops, lace anklets and high heels. “It was so weird to see these (scantily clad) women walking around,” said the former public relations manager, Trisha Johnson.

. . . At one point, Keating invited a plastic surgeon inside his firm to make a presentation. Later, the surgeon performed liposuctions, breast augmentations and other procedures on the women — all for a discount arranged. “It became an office joke,” said a blond.

If any of the women seemed bothered by the sexual undertow in the hyper-efficient office, they didn’t say a word. After all, Keating was such a devout Catholic that he donated more than $6 million to the saintly Mother Teresa, flying her around the country in his personal jet.

He had hired respected economist Alan Greenspan, later chairman of the Federal Reserve, to say that Lincoln S&L’s managers were “expert” and their investments not harmful to the public at all. Keating was so well-thought of that he essentially bribed five U.S. senators – including a decorated war hero and a former astronaut — to pressure regulators to kill their investigation.

But while women were flooding into offices he also trained a generation of young female professionals to outfox regulators. In that respect his protégé Judy Wischer was his crowning achievement, and Keating’s right hand woman. She too had been blond and 22 when she joined him in 1972, and proved to be so proficient with numbers that Keating took her under his wing. “She knew accounting,” one woman said admiringly, “and everything else Judy needed to know, Charlie could teach her.”
Every big con needs its runners but Wischer was the only one who could stand up to Keating and some of his plans, the secretaries all agreed. Wischer was the model for Charlie’s Angels and she showed them what to do and how to act. “In order to bring someone, especially a woman, out of the minor leagues when they have just been promoted, we let them fire somebody,” she once said. “Suddenly, they know they’re not playing by the same rules anymore.”

Rules bend the higher you rise, and the desert air plays tricks with the mind. Wischer hadn’t always backdated documents, borrowed unsecured loans, and moved assets from one subsidiary to another … but at some point, she became part of the scheme.
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The "I think that I'm such a good little bad boy" smirk he's constantly displaying seems to me the signal indicator of a practiced con man (reminiscent of Dubya's in his early days of triumph).

But there again . . . don't all recipients of Social Security money received as children (due to losing a parent to unfortunate early death) want to deny that benefit for everyone else?


Because he certainly does.

Kind of makes the case for knowing whom you're voting for, doesn't it?

And if you're wondering why the Ayn Randian financial wonder boy has so little facility with economics, just consult his undergraduate education at a third-rate school for economics (and political science). Oh, and in all his self-important years in Congress (since 1998), he's sponsored two bills that passed: one renamed a post office, and the other lowered the excise tax on arrow shafts. Wonder Boy! Will they ever cease?

Saturday, April 05, 2014

Ryan's Paymasters Will Never Let Him Give Up Trying To Enslave Ordinary Americans - Really

Wednesday the House Budget Committee approved Paul Ryan's latest Ayn Rand Budget, which cuts trillions in healthcare spending and repeals the Affordable Care Act. "His budget," reports Hospital CFO, "would make significant changes to Medicare, reducing program spending by $129 billion over the next 10 years. Starting in 2012, it would convert Medicare to a premium support program, under which beneficiaries would receive funds from the government with which they could purchase either traditional Medicare coverage or private health plans."

A report from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP), a nonpartisan policy organization, reports that "Some 69% of the cuts in House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan’s new budget would come from programs that serve people of limited means."

While Ryan claims to want to strengthen Medicare, the CBPP report said $2.7 trillion of the cuts will come from Medicaid and at least 40 million Americans would become uninsured by 2024. None of the popular parts of the Affordable Care Act would survive the Republicans' meat cleaver. He's says they're too expensive and have got to go.

The committee vote to approve Ryan's drastic budget was 22-16. All the Republicans voted for it and all the Democrats voted against it. Several Republicans not on the committee said they will vote against it next week when the full House takes it up.

Walter Jones (R-NC) said he will oppose any budget with foreign aid in it and is one of the few Republicans who agrees with the Democrats that Ryan's scheme to convert Medicare into a partially privatized insurance system would be a catastrophe for American seniors. Other likely Republican "no" votes next week include Jack Kingston (R-GA), Justin Amash (R-MI), Tim Huelskamp (R-KS), Raúl Labrador (R-ID), Tom Massie (R-KY), and Rick Crawford (R-AR). These are the Republicans on the Budget Committee"

• Paul Ryan (WI-01), Chairman
• Tom Price (GA-06), Vice-Ch'man
• Scott Garrett (NJ-05)
• John Campbell (CA-45)
Ken Calvert (CA-42)
• Tom Cole (OK-04)
• Tom McClintock (CA-04)
• James Lankford (OK-05)
• Diane Black (TN-06)
• Reid Ribble (WI-08)
• Bill Flores (TX-17)
• Todd Rokita (IN-04)
• Rob Woodall (GA-07)
• Marsha Blackburn (TN-07)
• Alan Nunnelee (MS-01)
• Scott Rigell (VA-02)
• Vicky Hartzler (MO-04)
• Jackie Walorski (IN-02)
• Luke Messer (IN-06)
• Tom Rice (SC-07)
• Roger Williams (TX-25)
• Sean Duffy (WI-07)
Meanwhile, House Democrats have been furious about Ryan's slash-and-burn Austerity approach to programs that provide services and benefits to the middle class and those least able to afford the cuts. Barbara Lee (D-CA) pointed out yesterday was the 46th anniversary of the death of Martin Luther King, and that Ryan's Godless budget cuts are “exactly the opposite of what Dr. King stood for.”

Ryan's adolescent ideas, straight from his favorite school girl Ayn Rand novel, have already failed in Europe; he wants to implement them here anyway. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), who would become Budget Chairman if Nancy Pelosi removed Steve Israel as head of the DCCC and allowed the Democrats to win back the House in November, said that the Ryan cuts approved by the Republicans on the committee "tells the American public exactly what Republicans in Congress would do to the country if they have the power to impose their will."

"It's the budget that ransacks the future of America's children," House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) said during a press briefing in the Capitol. "Education is the best investment that a person, a parent, a country can make in its future... This is key to employment, to growth, to innovation and for the success of our economy.

"I view the Ryan budget as an ideological manifesto," she added.
Other Democrats piled on.

Rep. Chris Van Hollen (Md.), senior Democrat on the House Budget Committee, said the Ryan plan would cut $18 billion in early education programs, $89 billion in K-12 programs and $205 billion in higher education initiatives over the next decade, versus the levels established by December's budget deal between Ryan and Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA).

Rep. George Miller (D-CA), ranking member of the Education and Labor Committee, said the GOP budget would eliminate more than 170,000 spots for early education benefits - "and it gets worse every year after that," he added.

"These are the exact children that we know, if they have an opportunity in early childhood education, they will do much better in school, they're more likely to graduate, they're more likely to get a job, they're less likely to go to jail and they're more likely to earn a higher income than children who don't get that opportunity," Miller said.

"Clearly they [Republicans] don't care about these children."
President Obama doesn't think so either. In his weekly address to the nation this morning, he contrasted his own budget with the Ryan document. "[T]he budget I sent Congress earlier this year," he said, "is built on the idea of opportunity for all. It will grow the middle class and shrink the deficits we’ve already cut in half since I took office. It’s an opportunity agenda with four goals. Number one is creating more good jobs that pay good wages. Number two is training more Americans with the skills to fill those jobs. Number three is guaranteeing every child access to a great education. And number four is making work pay - with wages you can live on, savings you can retire on, and health care that’s there for you when you need it." He has a very different view of what Ryan presented on April Fool's Day.

This week, the Republicans in Congress put forward a very different budget. And it does just the opposite: it shrinks opportunity and makes it harder for Americans who work hard to get ahead.

The Republican budget begins by handing out massive tax cuts to households making more than $1 million a year. Then, to keep from blowing a hole in the deficit, they’d have to raise taxes on middle-class families with kids. Next, their budget forces deep cuts to investments that help our economy create jobs, like education and scientific research.

Now, they won’t tell you where these cuts will fall. But compared to my budget, if they cut everything evenly, then within a few years, about 170,000 kids will be cut from early education programs. About 200,000 new mothers and kids will be cut off from programs to help them get healthy food. Schools across the country will lose funding that supports 21,000 special education teachers. And if they want to make smaller cuts to one of these areas, that means larger cuts in others.

Unsurprisingly, the Republican budget also tries to repeal the Affordable Care Act - even though that would take away health coverage from the more than seven million Americans who’ve done the responsible thing and signed up to buy health insurance. And for good measure, their budget guts the rules we put in place to protect the middle class from another financial crisis like the one we’ve had to fight so hard to recover from.

Policies that benefit a fortunate few while making it harder for working Americans to succeed are not what we need right now. Our economy doesn’t grow best from the top-down; it grows best from the middle-out. That’s what my opportunity agenda does - and it’s what I’ll keep fighting for.
Did you know Blue America has a special page set up for the sole purpose of defeating Paul Ryan. This isn't to "send him a message" by electing some Blue Dog with values not so different from his in some backward red district.

This page is dedicated to defeating him and replacing him with a progressive Democrat, Rob Zerban. Rob on Ryan's budget: "Ryan and his Republican colleagues fail to honestly account for their own policies. Free trade deals that have hollowed out our manufacturing industry, giveaways to Wall Street that have let billionaires accumulate all the benefits of our economy - these are the things that cause poverty, not food stamps or early education programs.

I agree with the New York Times that Ryan's report distorts the facts and that his ideas are ‘small and tired.' As the Times says, ‘most successful programs, including the (earned income) tax credit, Medicaid and food stamps, have been those that are carefully designed, properly managed and well-financed.’

I am a shining example of how smart programs can work. My single mother raised us in poverty, and we needed federal nutrition programs to have enough to eat. I needed Pell Grants and Stafford Loans to go to college, but I used all that help to get an education, and then build two successful businesses and employ dozens of people. The truth is that many of these programs are extremely successful, but years of budget cuts, free trade deals, refusal to increase the minimum wage, and giveaways to Wall Street resulted in the Great Recession and driven more and more people into poverty.”

_ _ _ _ _ _ _


This is not a madman speaking.

Although he is a very angry man.

And what's driven a mild-mannered former Reagan Treasury official mad?

April 5, 2014

Another Fraudulent Jobs Report

Paul Craig Roberts

The March payroll jobs report released April 4 claims 192,000 new private sector jobs.
Here is what John Williams has to say about the claim:
“The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) deliberately publishes its seasonally-adjusted historical payroll-employment and household-survey (unemployment) data so that the numbers are neither consistent nor comparable with current headline reporting.  The upside revisions to the January and February monthly jobs gains, and the relatively strong March payroll showing, reflected nothing more than concealed, favorable shifts in underlying seasonal factors, hidden by the lack of consistent BLS reporting.  In like manner, consistent month-to-month changes in the unemployment rate or labor force simply are not knowable, because the BLS cloaks the consistent and comparable numbers.”
Here is what Dave Kranzler has to say: “the employment report is probably the most deceptively fraudulent report produced by the Government.”
As I have pointed out for a decade, the “New Economy” jobs that we were promised in exchange for our manufacturing jobs and tradable professional service jobs that were offshored have never shown up.
The transnational corporations and their hired shills among economists lied to us. Not even a jobs report as deceptive and fraudulent as the BLS payroll jobs report can hide the fact that Congress, the White House, and the American people have sat sucking their thumbs while corporations maximized profits for the one percent at the expense of everyone else in the United States.
Let’s look at where the alleged jobs are. The BLS jobs report says that 28,400 jobs were created in March in wholesale and retail sales. March is the month that Macy’s, Sears, JC Penny, Staples, Radio Shack, Office Depot, and other retailers announced combined closings of several thousand stores, but more retail clerks were hired.
The BLS payroll jobs report claims 57,000 jobs in “professional and business services.” Are these jobs for lawyers, accountants, architects, engineers, and managers? No. The combined new jobs for these middle class professional skills totaled 10,400. Employment services accounted for 42,000 of the jobs in “professional and business services” of which temporary help accounted for 28,500.
“Education and health services” accounted for 34,000 jobs or which ambulatory and home health care services accounted for 28,000 of the jobs.
The other old standby, waitresses and bartenders, accounted for 30,400 jobs. The number of Americans dependent on food stamps who cannot afford to go out to eat or to purchase a six-pack of beer has almost doubled, but the demand for restaurant meals and bar drinks keeps rising.
There you have it. This is America’s “New Economy.” If the jobs exist at all, they consist of lowly paid, largely part-time employment that fails to produce enough income to prevent the food stamp rolls from doubling.
Without growth in consumer income, there is no growth in aggregate consumer demand. Offshoring jobs also offshores the income associated with the jobs, resulting in the decline in the domestic consumer market. The US transnational corporations, pursuing profits in the short-run, are destroying their long-run consumer base.
The transnational corporations are also destroying the outlook for US universities, as it makes no sense to incur large student loan debt when job prospects are poor. The corporations are also destroying US leadership in innovation as US corporations increasingly become marketeers of foreign-made goods and services.
As I predicted in 2004, the US will have a third world work force in 20 years.
The unemployment figures are as deceptive as the employment figures. The headline unemployment rate of 6.7% does not include discouraged workers.
When discouraged workers are included among the unemployed, the US rate of unemployment is 3.4 times higher than the announced rate.
How many times has John Williams written his report? How many times have I written this article? Yet the government continues to issue false reports, and the presstitute financial media continues to ask no questions.
The US, once a land of opportunity, has been transformed into an aristocratic economy in which income and wealth are concentrated at the very top.
The highly skewed concentration at the top is the result of jobs offshoring, which transformed Americans’ salaries and wages into bonuses for executives and capital gains for owners, and financial deregulation, which produced financial collapse and the Federal Reserve’s bailout of “banks too big too fail.” The trillions of dollars of new money created by the Federal Reserve has produced massive inflation of stock prices, making owners even richer.
Sooner or later the dollar’s value will suffer as a result of the massive creation of new dollars. When that occurs, the import-dependent American population will suffer a traumatic drop in living standards. The main cost of the bank bailout has yet to hit.
As I write I cannot think of one thing in the entire areas of foreign and domestic policy that the US government has told the truth about in the 21st century. Just as Saddam Hussein had no weapons of mass destruction, Iran has no nukes, Assad did not use chemical weapons, and Putin did not invade and annex Crimea, the jobs numbers are fraudulent, the unemployment rate is deceptive, the inflation measures are understated, and the GDP growth rate is overstated. Americans live in a matrix of total lies.
What can Americans do? Elections are pointless. Presidents, Senators, and US Representatives represent the interest groups that provide their campaign funds, not the voters. In two decisions, the Republican Supreme Court has made it legal for corporations to purchase the government. Those who own the government will decide what it does, not those who vote.
All Americans can do is to accept the serfdom imposed on them or take to the streets and stay in the streets despite being clubbed, tasered, arrested, and shot by the police, who protect the power structure, not the public.
In America, nothing is done for the public. But everything is done to the public.

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