Wednesday, January 27, 2016

(First Ever Negative Crude Oil Price in ND - Paying Them To Take It Away!)  Hillary Cannot Lead System Change  (Right Wing Is Pissed At Trump? May Stamp Feet and Take Money to Cancun?)  Plutocracy Calls Out Nuclear Option?  (Wall Street Stealers)

The leader of an armed occupation at a federal wildlife refuge in Oregon and others were arrested on Tuesday after shots were fired during a traffic stop, leaving one person dead and another wounded, the FBI said.

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Need a financial crystal ball?

Especially during this oil glut and still too much free money chasing every bad derivative deal (to the eventual bailing out of them by taxpayers)?

You can't do better than Stacy, Max and Nomi Prins.

Don't even try.

And hang onto your (underpants)!

No one likes policy discussions.


Unless they are the policies concerning whether you'll have any money to spend in the future.

Not a day passes that I don’t get a call from the media asking me to compare Bernie Sanders’s and Hillary Clinton’s tax plans, or bank plans, or health-care plans.
I don’t mind. I’ve been teaching public policy for much of the last thirty-five years. I’m a policy wonk.

But detailed policy proposals are as relevant to the election of 2016 as is that gaseous planet beyond Pluto. They don’t have a chance of making it, as things are now.

The other day Bill Clinton attacked Bernie Sanders’s proposal for a single-payer health plan as unfeasible and a “recipe for gridlock.”

Yet these days, nothing of any significance is feasible and every bold idea is a recipe for gridlock.

This election is about changing the parameters of what’s feasible and ending the choke hold of big money on our political system.

I’ve known Hillary Clinton since she was 19 years old, and have nothing but respect for her. In my view, she’s the most qualified candidate for president of the political system we now have.

But Bernie Sanders is the most qualified candidate to create the political system we should have, because he’s leading a political movement for change.

The upcoming election isn’t about detailed policy proposals.

It’s about power – whether those who have it will keep it, or whether average Americans will get some as well.

A study published in the fall of 2014 by Princeton professor Martin Gilens and Northwestern’s Benjamin Page reveals the scale of the challenge.

Gilens and Page analyzed 1,799 policy issues in detail, determining the relative influence on them of economic elites, business groups, mass-based interest groups, and average citizens.

Their conclusion: “The preferences of the average American appear to have only a minuscule, near-zero, statistically nonsignificant impact upon public policy.”

Instead, lawmakers respond to the moneyed interests – those with the most lobbying prowess and deepest pockets to bankroll campaigns.

It’s sobering that Gilens and Page’s data come from the period 1981 to 2002, before the Supreme Court opened the floodgates to big money in its “Citizens United” and “McCutcheon” decisions. Their study also predated the advent of super PACs and “dark money,” and even the Wall Street bailout.

If average Americans had a “near-zero” impact on public policy then, their impact is now zero.

Which explains a paradox I found a few months ago when I was on book tour in the nation’s heartland:  I kept bumping into people who told me they were trying to make up their minds in the upcoming election between Sanders and Trump.

At first I was dumbfounded. The two are at opposite ends of the political divide.  But as I talked with these people, I kept hearing the same refrains.

They wanted to end “crony capitalism.” They detested “corporate welfare,” such as the Wall Street bailout.

They wanted to prevent the big banks from extorting us ever again. Close tax loopholes for hedge-fund partners. Stop the drug companies and health insurers from ripping off American consumers. End trade treaties that sell out American workers. Get big money out of politics.

Somewhere in all this I came to see the volcanic core of what’s fueling this election.

If you’re one of the tens of millions of Americans who are working harder than ever but getting nowhere, and who understand that the political-economic system is rigged against you and in favor of the rich and powerful, what are you going to do?

Either you’re going to be attracted to an authoritarian son-of-a-bitch who promises to make America great again by keeping out people different from you and creating “great” jobs in America, who sounds like he won’t let anything or anybody stand in his way, and who’s so rich he can’t be bought off.

Or you’ll go for a political activist who tells it like it is, who has lived by his convictions for fifty years, who won’t take a dime of money from big corporations or Wall Street or the very rich, and who is leading a grass-roots “political revolution” to regain control over our democracy and economy.

In other words, either a dictator who promises to bring power back to the people, or a movement leader who asks us to join together to bring power back to the people.

You don’t care about the details of proposed policies and programs.

You just want a system that works for you.

- Robert Reich
January 26, 2016

As Sanders Slams Wall Street Elite, Clinton Ditches Iowa To Fetch Their Checks

Sanders Puts Block on Obama's Big Pharma Nominee for FDA

A Confederacy of Dunces:  The Democratic Establishment’s Assault on Sanders Begins

Bernie Sanders Refuses to Melt
by Bill McKibben

Bernie Sanders keeps refusing to run the way that the pundits think he should - that's what makes this primary so interesting and perhaps a turning point in American politics.

You could see it last night in the Democratic town hall. Before they let, you know, sensible people ask questions, there was CNN moderator Chris Cuomo. Cuomo, of course, wanted to know if Bernie Sanders was going to "bring back the era of big government." This is exactly the kind of frame that pundits have been trying to put on American politics for about as long as I can remember, which is at least back to the Carter era.

This question is supposed to be a kind of kryptonite that causes Democratic politicians to sweat and turn pallid and immediately explain that no, they're for efficient government or some such. It's the kind of question that turned Bill Clinton into a triangulating centrist who cut welfare to the bone and elevated corporate power with a series of disastrous trade agreements. Everyone in Washington knows that "big government" is always bad.

But Bernie wasted no time in saying that he was going to bring back the era when government helped care for people. He thinks government should help people go to college and pay for their medical care, which is what big government does in every other industrialized country in the world. He even - in an ad released earlier in the day - dared to advocate that people who have spent their lives working might deserve the chance to relax and be grandparents at the end of the day.
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By the way, friends, among other currently occurring events, Cruz is out.

Alan Grayson's taking him to court to "prove it!"

So, the owners are now in a formal panic.

Who'da thunk candidates from Cuba would provide problems for the ownership?
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Imagine having so much money that your bought-and-paid-for-legally policies can poison major American cities (and minor!).

Now imagine how upset you'd get when confronting a candidate whom you always were able to control to your financial benefit not being so willing now to bend to your commands anymore?

From our fount of wisdom at No More Mr. Nice Blog:

"Power Line" 's Steven Hayward is also fed up:

... isn’t it time we got rid of the Bush family in politics for good? Look, George H.W. Bush is a very decent man, but his political malpractice in the White House - squandering the Reagan legacy on purpose - opened the door for Bill Clinton. George W. Bush is another decent man, with much to recommend him, but he left the Republican Party even more demoralized than his dad, and for similar reasons. Now Jeb may be responsible for killing off the most electable conservative candidate in the field and leaving us with Trump.

No more Bushes, please. Let’s clear all of our fields of every Bush we can find, and drench the dirt with Roundup (before the EPA bans it) so they never come back.
Look, it pains me to defend a Bush, but, folks, what the hell did you expect to happen this year?

You got the campaign finance laws of your dreams from carefully chosen corporate bootlickers on the Supreme Court, one result of which is that anyone who can raise a lot of money can stay in a presidential race forever, so it was all but inevitable that the presidential field would include at least one old bull with far more fundraising ability than voter appeal. If it hadn't been Jeb, it would have been Mitt Romney. Do you think he would have approached this campaign in a dainty, respectful manner? Mitt Romney, the guy whose well-funded "death star" destroyed the campaigns of Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich four years ago? Yes, maybe he would have directed his fire at Trump as well. (Not that attacks on Trump have done any good.) But do you think he would have sat idly by while a little pissant like Marco Rubio racked up good poll numbers?

The amusing thing about all this is what it says about other issues on which Republicans have strong opinions. Republicans say free markets invariably lead to excellent outcomes. Well, the GOP presidential contest is an awfully free market. How's that working out? And Republicans also say that the best deterrent to crime is widespread ownership of guns by private citizens, because, in the event of a crime, those citizens will use their weapons in a safe and responsible way, killing and injuring only the people who deserve it. Well, the Republican presidential field is a big mess of people all firing their campaign weapons every which way, but the bad guy is somehow unscathed and a lot of the so-called good guys seem to be mortally wounded. Maybe professional policing isn't such a bad idea.

The Republican Party didn't want to do anything collectively to stop Trump. Its candidates won't sacrifice their ego trips to make his nomination less likely. Republicans have been telling us for years that Ayn Rand is right about selfishness being virtuous. Jeb and the rest of the also-rans are just embodying that philosophy, and these are the results.
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Check out:  Citizens Against Plutocracy

Plutocracy:  A country or society governed by the wealthy few. “America, today, is much closer to a plutocracy than a democracy.” Join the revolt against the plutocrats: Write-in Bernie or vote Green – 2016Don’t PANIC! Please keep reading.

On Peaceful, Political Revolution: Sanders has openly called for one, proving he’s the only candidate who grasps the peaceful but forceful revolt needed to overthrow plutocracy. To learn why our political revolution must be bigger – and longer lasting – than Bernie’s presidential campaign, read the “Revolution” page (above) which explains this revolutionary effort.

Senator Sanders
Senator Sanders
Bernie or Bust:  A pledge to write-in Bernie Sanders or vote for the Green Party candidate that 39,000+ have taken so far. Why? Keep reading.

Mission:  While we intend to vote for Bernie in the Democratic primaries, we also aim to sign up at least 1,000,000+ American citizens pledged to write-in Senator Bernie Sanders for President or vote Green in the general election of 2016 before the primaries begin in February. Why?

Rationale: Bernie is the underdog, and he’s going to be vastly outspent by Secretary Clinton. 96% of the time, the candidate spending the most money wins a race. If he’s going to secure the Democratic nomination, leverage and insurance will be needed. 1,000,000+ voters pledged to write-in Senator Sanders will be a compelling argument for some Democratic primary voters.  Bloomberg Politics reports, “in Iowa and New Hampshire, with four-fifths of likely Democratic voters in both states saying they think Clinton is destined to be the nominee.”

A write-in campaign is designed to undermine that “destiny.” Call it arm twisting, call it “breaking eggs,” call it compellence; we call it leverage on Democratic primary voters and insurance against corrupted super delegates “pledged” to another candidate before one primary vote is cast. A write-in strategy is an innovative idea to help a candidate secure a party’s nomination. We are convinced that if this strategy is not employed, there is very little possibility Senator Sanders will secure the nomination.

The risk: Unlike Gore vs Bush vs Nader in 2000, Democratic primary voters will have the choice next year to unite the broad, American liberal/progressive left behind Senator Sanders or risk putting another Republican in the White House. The Bernie or Bust campaign puts the burden of unity on them. Q & A Two on the FAQ page above addresses concerns about putting the Executive Branch under control of the Republican half of the political duopoly. #SheepNoMore


Tactic: The total number of pledged voters will be conveyed to Democratic Party voters, and they will be discouraged from dividing the liberal-progressive, American left in the general election.  The pledge is also an important role serving to remind super delegates that if they rob Senator Sanders of the nomination, a million or two voters will not support any other candidate than Bernie Sanders in the general election next year.

Please join the thousands of citizens to date by employing BOTH of these two, simple steps:

1) Take the voter pledge (click HEREand vitally important, please

2) Commit yourself to quickly finding at least just two more people to take the pledge.  14% of Democrats will not vote for Hillary, but we need your help finding them to take the pledge. Time is of the essence. Please use your email to ask people you know, friends, neighbors, relatives (but no one from work), etc. to take the Bernie or Bust pledge before or while asking people in social media and follow up until you know two people have taken the pledge. If every pledge-signer recruits just two more citizens who recruit two more every day, we’ll have over 1,000,000 pledge-takers in less than a month. That’s all you need to do to make this grassroots pressure effective: take the pledge and recruit two more citizens. (We will send pledge-takers a reminder email with suggestions for Facebook or Twitter messaging to make it easy as possible.)

There is not “plenty of time” for pledge-takers to find two people to take the Bernie or Bust pledge who also find two more people, etc. etc, please take a few minutes to get this off your “things to do” list today, tomorrow, as soon as possible. That’s all you need to do to make this grassroots pressure effective:  pledge and recruit two citizens.  The pledge numbers need to get over a million in three months. This amount of leverage requires use of this simple “power of two” depicted here:
Power of two
 Power of Two
Be the medium:  If you understand the importance of using grassroots, revolutionary tactics to help shape major-party, primary campaign outcomes, please do more. Click the SHARE tab for suggestions. Do as much as you want to do to help Senator Sanders become the next President of the United States. In other words, from time to time when you have time, be the medium. Share this URL around the Internet: If you forget and use citizens against plutocracy dot com, that will work too. 
Thank you! 
To the media:  Do your job. This is a revolution! Cover it as one. 
Why Senator Sanders? While we do not agree with every vote Bernie has taken as a member of Congress, we believe that he’s the only revolutionary candidate opposed to plutocracy and the “best bet” for winning the election in 2016. Sanders is running on a “radical idea,” telling the truth
Revolt Beyond Bernie:  We seek political power for the sane majority, who are opposed to government of, by and for the wealthy. Bernie Sanders is not responsible for what we do but, we can help him fight battles – especially against the DNC – like few others can. For more, see the REVOLUTION tab above. 
A Historic Candidate:  Bernie Sanders would be the first Jewish American President, the first socialist American President, the first American President elected on a platform calling for a political revolution and at 75, the oldest elected American President.

75 is the new 60! Sanders’ form of socialism is “100% American.”Bernie will win the general electionDon’t believe the professional “chatterers.” Bernie is shedding his “dark horse” status, and “…the next President of the United States will be Bernie Sanders.” ~Eric Zuesse.  Bill Curry, a former counselor to Bill Clinton, predicts that Senator Sanders will take the nomination from Hillary.
Sheepdog for Secretary Clinton? The knock on Senator Sanders from some on the left is that his role will be to corral progressives, like a sheep dog, “to herd and be herded like sheep back into the Democratic fold….” If next year’s primaries follow the path of previous primaries, that will likely be the case; but to us, that prospect is unacceptable. Therefore, the write-in Bernie Sanders strategy. For elaboration on this point, see the REVOLUTION link at the top of this page. 
If this pledge is too radical or scary for you, please sign our petition urging Senator Warren and the members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus to publicly endorse Senator Sanders for President. 
Frequently Asked Questions:  Click the FAQ page above.
Revolt Against Plutocracy logo
Revolt Against Plutocracy logo
A Facebook-rooted Revolution. We launched this campaign from our Facebook page. A comment found here is worth bearing in mind: “The Republicans, Fox “News” and Rupert Murdoch want Hillary to win the nomination so that they can crucify her in the Presidentials (sic). (So much history, so much scandal, so many unanswered questions, so much to criticize.) They DO NOT want to face Bernie in the Presidential [election] because they know, when Bernie talks, people listen – REALLY listen. 
They know that Bernie will annihilate them in the Presidental [election]. He can’t be bought. He can’t be intimidated, [and] he can’t be tamed by corporate America. He can’t be silenced. He has all the momentum now and is gaining momentum exponentially. 
There are people following him from all over the world, and millions more will follow him in the lead up to him taking the White House. Bernie is a once-in-a-generation WORLD leader. Be prepared for FOX and Murdoch to wage a vicious campaign depicting him as a radical who will destroy your country. Murdoch destroyed our Australian Democratic Prime-Minister and Treasurer even though they guided us through the Global Financial Crisis with a triple-A credit rating from the World Bank and International Monetary Fund, we avoided a recession … and our Treasurer Wayne Swan was awarded “World’s Best Treasurer” at a ceremony in Washington in 2011.

At the same time Murdoch waged a media war in Australia and tore them down with a relentless “ECONOMIC IRRESPONSIBILITY” campaign. SERIOUSLY! Be prepared to fight and spread the word. I cannot emphasise how destructive they will be. Rupert Murdoch will NOT want Bernie to get to the Presidential [Campaign], because someone like Bernie – who is not at all enamoured [of] obscene wealth – scares Rupert Murdoch to death.  So please do everything that you can to help him win. Bernie fights for you, please fight for him
~Aleta Langdon. Australia. 

Stock Buybacks and the Wall Street Sharktank:  “A Whole Lotta Stealin’ Goin’ On”

Let’s say you lend your brother-in-law, Pauli, 5,000-bucks so he can get his fledgling construction business off-the-ground. Then, you find out a week later that ‘good-old Pauli’ has shot the wad playing the horses at Long-acres and buying cocktails for his loafer-friends at Matt’s Mad Dog tavern? Would you feel like you’d been ripped off?

Sure you would. But when some slick corporate fraudster pulls the same scam, no one even raises an eyebrow.

What am I talking about?

I’m talking about the way that corporate bosses are allowed to take the hard-earned money from Mom and Pop investors and divide it among their freeloading shareholder friends via stock buybacks. You see, buybacks have been driving the market higher for the better part of six years, and every year the amount of cash diverted into this swindle gets bigger and bigger. According to Research Affiliates:

“In 2013, S&P 500 companies ….spent $521 billion on buybacks. In 2014 that amount rose to $634 billion and moved higher still to $696 billion when total repurchases by all publicly traded companies in the U.S. market are included.” ("Are Buybacks an Oasis or a Mirage?" Research Affiliates)
And, here’s more from an older article at the "Wall Street Journal:"

“Last year, the corporations in the Russell 3000, a broad U.S. stock index, repurchased $567.6 billion worth of their own shares — a 21% increase over 2012, calculates Rob Leiphart, an analyst at Birinyi Associates, a research firm in Westport, Conn. That brings total buybacks since the beginning of 2005 to $4.21 trillion — or nearly one-fifth of the total value of all U.S. stocks today.” (“Will Stock Buybacks Bite Back?" "Wall Street Journal")
Whatever the exact figure may be, we’re talking serious money here, something in the neighborhood of a half trillion dollars per year. And it’s all being used for the sole purpose of jacking stock price so voracious CEOs and their shareholders can make a killing. Not one dime of this money is going into expanding operations, hiring more employees, Research and Development or improving productivity. The lone objective of this farce is to inflate stock prices to Hindenburg proportions in order to line the pockets of filthy-rich one percenters.

And that’s just the half of it.

P.S. As I notice I've lost a few followers lately, I want to apologize for emphasizing essays/points of view that must have upset them.

I've treasured each and every one of my readers and feel the blows.

I also feel that we should welcome differing opinions in order to more subtly define our own.

That is what I've been attempting.


rjs said...

you probably didn't lose any followers, Suze...Google wiped out everyone who was following with twitter, OpenID, etc...henceforth, they're only accepting followers with a google account...

Cirze said...

You're the man, RJ.


You've made me feel much better.

Love you.

rjs said...

well, Suze, i was gonna say what do you need all those other followers for when you got me, but i figured i better tell it to you straight...

Cirze said...

Ah, yes.

And when I get down to one, at least I'll know you're still faithful?


rjs said...

yep, ‎semper fidelis

Cirze said...

Can't ask for more than that.

I guess I can retire now.

rjs said...

retire? hey, you're just hitting your stride...

Cirze said...

you devil you