Thursday, February 4, 2016

$3M Raised in 24 Hours After Iowa for BERNing  (Carson's Grift)  Why the Stock Market Is Screaming  (Going Down Without Lehman Pause)  Middle Class Suicides Rational  (Flint Water Poisoned Purposely?)  Remaking American Democracy

Bernie Sanders raised $3 million through online fundraising in the 24 hours after the Iowa caucuses Monday night, according to campaign aides. $1 million was raised in just 90 minutes after Sanders gave his speech.
“It’s been our best day ever,” Sanders communications director Michael Briggs told the Washington Post, adding that 4 in 10 donations came from supporters who had not previously contributed to the campaign.

Throughout the campaign, Sanders has proven to be a small dollar donation juggernaut, managing to match rival Hillary Clinton’s efforts. The Sanders campaign has $28 million on hand, compared with Clinton’s $38 million. He was the first candidate, on either side, to reach one million online contributions back in September. In the first month of 2016, he raised a whopping $20 million dollars — a rate four times as much as he averaged in the last quarter of 2015.

Much of Sanders’ largest fundraising hauls have come after major face offs with either the Clinton campaign or dust ups with the Democratic National Committee. In December, the campaign claimed it raised more than $1 million after being locked out of their voter files. In January, after Chelsea Clinton entered the campaign trail on behalf of her mother for the first time only to aggressively go after Sanders’ past opposition to increased gun control, his supporters rushed to contribute nearly $1.5 million into his campaign’s coffers in one day.

Calling his 49.6 percent finish to Clinton’s 49.9 percent in the Iowa caucuses a “virtual tie,” Sanders has shifted his focus to New Hampshire. In the latest poll of New Hampshire Democrats, taken January 31 to December 2, Sanders holds a dominating 33 point lead over Clinton. In the University of Massachusetts-Lowell/7 News poll released Wednesday, Sanders takes 63 percent support, while Clinton garners 30 percent. Sanders has maintained an over 20 point lead over Clinton in several of the latest polls of the Granite State.
_ _ _ _ _ _ _

Viewed correctly as a front designed to transfer money from rubes to various marketing executives, the Carson “campaign” was a massive success.
On conventional terms, Ben Carson’s cosplaying as a candidate for the Republican presidential nomination was a failure, with the 9% of the Iowa caucus vote almost certainly the peak. On its own terms, however, it was highly successful:
In the final three months of 2015, the Carson campaign paid:  $4,769,922.68 to Eleventy Marketing Group. Eleventy Marketing Group’s president is Ken Dawson, who is also Carson’s chief marketing officer.

$2,871,229.50 to TMA Direct. TMA’s president and CEO is Mike Murray, who is also Carson’s senior advisor for grassroots marketing.

$1,256,436.09 to Communication Manager Source, which is run by Joanne Parker, wife of the aforementioned Dean Parker.

$138,666.06 to Vita Capital. Vita Capital’s CEO is Dean Parker.

That’s over $9 million siphoned directly to companies owned by Carson staffers, out of a total of $27 million spent by the campaign in that time. A great deal of the campaign’s expenditures went to marketing, which completes the cycle by bringing even more money into the Carson campaign.

From the Rude Pundit:

. . . it's time for us to parse the exhaustingly meaningless exercise in fake democracy. You have to wonder why there aren't mass suicides among the reporters who have been forced to live in the desolate winter hellscape of Iowa for weeks. You have not known despair until you have been surrounded by plowed corn or wheat fields, filled with dried dirt and patches of snow. It isn't quaint. It isn't charming. It's fucking depressing when gray dirt meets gray sky.

So, sure, you can either caucus or go on a killing spree. What did we learn? Well, other than that rabid religious twat mites will vote for whatever crazed fucker jacks off to Jesus hardest, we learned that a caucus's winner can be determined by the toss of a goddamn coin. It would have been more fair to put up photos of Sanders and Clinton and let a monkey toss shit at one and declare the other the winner. Otherwise, the Rude Pundit isn't going to justify this overwrought spectacle by searching for any meaning in the results. Yeah, it was fun to see Donald Trump act like he had just been punched repeatedly in the balls.

Yeah, it's great that young people turned out to caucus for Bernie Sanders. Yeah, Chris Christie oughta feel like shit. But, really, all this pretense to believing that Iowa tells us anything other than which asshole is gonna feel awfully fuckin' smug for a week or so is a gigantic waste of time and effort. If you wanna learn anything, look at what the candidates said in victory and pseudo-victory. . . Enjoy some uncut batshit:  "While Americans will continue to suffer under a president who has set an agenda who is causing millions to hurt across this country, I want to remind you of the promise of scripture. Weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning. Iowa has proclaimed to the world, morning is coming. Morning is coming. From day one this campaign has been a movement. For millions of Americans to organize, to rally, to come together." The word "joy" is not what comes to mind when the Rude Pundit thinks of Ted Cruz. "Ferret rape" and "child beating" seem more appropriate.

. . . Rubio's speech was even more pathetic than Donald Trump's brief "Well, shit" admission of loss. The demi-senator from Florida acted like he had been asked to prom by the hot captain of the football team. He said, "For months, for months they told us we had no chance. For months they told us because we offer too much optimism in a time of anger, we had no chance. For months they told us because we didn't have the right endorsements or the right political connections, we had no chance. They told me that we have no chance because my hair wasn't gray enough and my boots were too high. They told me I needed to wait my turn, that I needed to wait in line. But tonight, tonight here in Iowa, the people of this great state have sent a very clear message."

Dude, you came in third. Apparently, pride is one of those sins that you can just forget about whenever it's convenient.

Well, it's on to New Hampshire and more fuckery. You can bet, though, that you will have never seen political savagery like Trump going after Rubio and Cruz for the next week. He will be dining on their viscera by Saturday's debate, which, you can also bet, he won't be skipping.
_ _ _ _ _ _ _

Hillary? I don’t know if I can hold my nose tight enough to vote for her,” said Davis, a retired technical book editor.
She said Clinton has lived “a lifetime…on the edge of scandal and corruption. She has “a warmongering attitude, an undisguised hunger for power and a smug sense of entitlement that it’s her turn and that we owe it to her to put her in office.”
But if Clinton is the Democratic nominee, Al Humphrey, Davis’s spouse, plans to cast his ballot for “a ‘healthy’ candidate,” such as the Green Party’s nominee.

A retired college professor and psychotherapist, Humphrey said Clinton is “beholden to the political-industrial-military establishment. As a result, we the people are being bled to death. It’s slow, so we do not notice it; but it is fatal.”

Humphrey, an Air Force veteran “who became politically active after discharge in protesting our war in Viet Nam,” said he hoped that “not voting for the lesser of two evils will result in the birth of a third party and, or, with the election of a Republican, a triggering of a tipping point in the whole system, bringing about a revolt and real change revolution.”

Humphrey said “Clinton exemplifies a power mad politician. She is narcissistic, and thus utilizes lies to protect herself in an attempt to gain more control and power. She has a grandiose sense of entitlement.

“She lacks the capacity for empathy. This makes her very dangerous. The voters of the U.S. need to begin to identify psychological pathologies and eliminate such persons from political leadership.”

Embry, a longtime local Democratic activist, also said Clinton is not the leader Sanders is. “But I get extremely tired of other Democrats telling me I’m stupid for supporting Bernie, and that his ideas are ‘too radical,’ ‘too far-fetched.’ I’m tired of half-assed measures coming from bought-and-paid-for politicians.”

She added, “I was burned by the ‘progressives’ over the health care fight, but not again. In my opinion, if Clinton gets the nomination, then the GOP wins. She has too much baggage, which she’s accumulated on her own; it’s nobody else’s fault.”

. . . “My gut instinct says Sanders will sweep the election if the Millennials vote,” Thomasson said. “I base this on the crowds our Kentucky Bernie events are attracting. At the two parades in which I have participated so far, no other presidential candidate had a presence. This suggests no other front runner resonates with the grassroots folks like Bernie.”
Rennison favors Sanders over Clinton because “she is tied to Wall Street too much. She flip-flops too much. I’m not saying people can’t learn and change their minds. But it seems that when she changes her views, it’s politically motivated. It’s like she’s just changing to get votes. ”

Rennison said Sanders has been consistent on issues since the 1970s when he was an unsuccessful third-party candidate for governor and for U.S. senator in the Green Mountain State.

In 1981, also running as an independent, Sanders won the first of his four terms as mayor of Burlington, Vermont’s largest city. He was elected to Congress in 1990 and served in the House until the voters elevated him to the Senate in 2006. He won a second term in 2012.

“He’s held the same values all along,” Rennison said. “His views don’t change. He directly relates to working people.”

Rennison and about a half dozen other Local 816 members attended the organizational meeting of “Kentucky for Bernie Sanders—Purchase Area,” in Murray last summer.

Since, the group has grown from about 60 members to close to 100, according to Thomasson. They are undaunted by the fact that they live in one of the most crimsoned corners of the Red State Bluegrass State.

. . . The group recently hosted “Bernstock,” a combination fund-raiser and concert at a Paducah bar.

Thomasson, who helped start the local Sanders group, confessed she “was a Hillary zealot” in the 2008 presidential primary season. “I donated to her campaign and worked her phone banks.”

She was “Ready for Hillary” this time. Then “along came this old Jewish guy who had been slugging away at injustices for 40 years, and I hadn’t even heard about him. And he really cared.

“Wow, I got really active on Facebook and educated myself on the real differences between Clinton and Sanders. They may be few, but those few are glaring.”

. . . “I don’t trust her judgment,” Embry said. “I don’t trust that she will rein in abuses on Wall Street, don’t trust her to protect Americans from more foreign trade agreements.

. . . Davis is even tougher on Clinton. “Her narcissism is toned-down Donald Trump. I have always wanted to vote a woman into the presidency — we are way past due — but not this woman.

“I have never voted for a Republican, but a vote for her is very closely the same in terms of big money, the war machine, and the same old government-as-usual of the wealthy. I am not able to connect with her and to see or hear her makes me feel uneasy, worried.

“If Hillary succeeds as the Democratic nominee, I’ll be damned if I vote for her and damned if I don’t. It’s a horrible choice, one I hope I don’t have to make, and one I cannot commit to at this time. I feel sickened just to think of it.”

Yet Davis “will vote for Bernie with great confidence and dedication.” She said that “with him we will finally have a voice. He is goodness, honesty, and dignity, a leader who will help us put ourselves on a more sustainable path with a firm acknowledgement of the global climate crisis and the hope to lessen the economic inequality that has all but stolen our future.

“I admire and trust him; he is a once in a lifetime candidate. His platform is exactly as I have always hoped to have in a president. He makes me happy and safe just to hear him speak. I could not wish for better.”

Thomasson said Sanders “is a straight arrow. [Clinton]… meanders and changes her tune. He has no major skeletons in his closet while she seems like a lightning rod for questionable activity.”

Thomasson said if Clinton wins the Democratic nod, “there would be absolutely no joy in it for me, mainly because there is no hope of reining in Wall Street and the banksters if she becomes president. Telling them to ‘cut that out’ just won’t do the trick.”
OTowner says
It’s not our responsibility as voters to bend to the will of the DNC: quite the opposite: it’s THEIR responsibility to act as our representatives. Hillary does not represent much of anyone who is left of center (the political compass puts her in line with John McCain and George W. Bush). I will not support her if she is the nominee; instead, I will direct all of my energy toward making the Green Party more viable, since the Democrats are apparently intent on abandoning the Left completely…unless common sense takes hold very soon and actual Democracy is permitted. 
I won’t support Hillary because I don’t support a war with Iran, fracking, Wall street corruption, Monsanto, the TPP, favors for arms manufacturers, for-profit prisons and turning a blind eye to climate change. Hillary stands for all of those things. The planet can’t survive for more years of conservative insanity! I haven’t left the party, it’s leaving all of us; millions liberal Progressives, as they embrace the wealthy corporate class instead.
_ _ _ _ _ _ _

To name just one example:  Democrats can’t ignore the failure of President Obama’s foreclosure prevention program to stop the accelerating decline of America’s cities and the growth in poverty just because he is a member of their party. They continue to ignore the collateral damage done to the victims of Wall Street’s uncharged crimes at the nation’s peril.

As it is, the establishment’s inability to openly discuss the impoverishment of so much of America since the Great Recession has led to a rising anger in our nation that well-heeled pundits and politicians are at a loss to grasp. Everybody they know is doing fine. These privileged elites are just so isolated from the tens of millions of Americans of all races who are finding it increasingly harder to make ends meet.

Flint, Michigan’s water crisis is just the tip of the iceberg.

The corporate media continues to ignore this reality because it does not fit into their narrative of the ruling elite’s “American recovery,” which takes their pals at the banks off the hook for the damage they have done because “it is all better now.”

Network reporters will go to Ferguson, Missouri, and Baltimore, narrowly reporting on the crisis of police-community relations in those places. They will go to Flint and zoom in on the lead-in-the-water issue. Yet, they will ignore the through-line that connects all of those communities to thousands of similarly situated neighborhoods that are still plagued by foreclosure, abandonment and neglect, years into the so-called recovery.

Reporting on this growing impoverishment of the U.S. population would expose the moral illegitimacy of our form of winner-take-all capitalism itself and the political class that feeds off of it. The sponsors of our major corporate media will have none of that.
HAMP to the rescue?

Voters need to know that the HAMP (Home Affordable Modification Program) foreclosure prevention program, funded under TARP (the Toxic Asset Relief Program), is a cruel and costly hoax. This program is a multibillion-dollar giveaway to the very same banks and investor class whose greed destroyed the household wealth of tens of millions of Americans, consigning them to a life of poverty and despair.

In 2013, Christy Goldsmith Romero, special inspector general for TARP, reported that homeowners were defaulting on their HAMP-modified loans at an “alarming rate.” In the IG’s most recent quarterly report to Congress in September 2015, the rate of default on these reset mortgages increased greatly over time.

For borrowers who sought mortgage relief under HAMP when the program was first started in 2009, the redefault rate is nearly 53 percent.

“The longer a homeowner remains in HAMP, the more likely he or she is to redefault out of the program,” Romero’s office concluded. That is a troubling track record for an initiative that has already fallen well shy of the Obama White House’s pledge in 2009 to help upward of 9 million Americans stay in their homes.
_ _ _ _ _ _ _

Wall Street Bank Stocks:  What the Market Is Screaming At You

Goldman Sachs' Share Price Versus SPDR Barclays High Yield Bond ETF (Goldman Is the Green Line; the ETF Is Orange.)
Goldman Sachs’ Share Price Versus SPDR Barclays High Yield Bond ETF (Goldman Is the Green Line; the ETF Is Orange.)

By Pam Martens and Russ Martens: February 3, 2016
Most folks don’t realize that on Monday, September 23, 2013, Goldman Sachs began trading as one of the 30 stocks in the Dow Jones Industrial Average Index (Dow). Because the Dow is stock-price weighted and Goldman sports a very high price, it has an outsized impact on point gains and losses in the index. As of yesterday’s close, Goldman Sachs is the priciest stock in the Dow, despite its plunging price of late.

Yesterday, the Dow lost 295.64 points and Goldman Sachs was a major contributor to the decline, losing 4.98 percent of its share price to close at $151.70. If this keeps up, it might not be too long before you see Goldman yanked from the Dow.

The percentage loss in Goldman yesterday was notable on multiple fronts. First, its percentage decline was 3.18 percent more than the loss in the Dow, which gave up just 1.80 percent. Goldman’s percentage decline was also higher than two other components of the Dow which saw negative ratings action yesterday from Standard and Poor’s. Chevron had its debt rating cut one notch from AA to AA- while Exxon was put on a negative ratings watch, which could mean its much-ballyhooed AAA-rating could get nicked. (As a barometer of just how bad things are in the land of collapsing oil prices, Exxon made it through the Great Depression without a credit downgrade from S&P.)

But the biggest oddity in Goldman Sach’s price action yesterday was how it performed versus the SPDR Barclay’s High Yield Bond Exchange Traded Fund, a portfolio of junk bonds whose stock symbol is JNK. The ETF closed down just 0.82 percent versus Goldman’s big percentage decline of 4.98 percent. Clearly, something is seriously wrong in how today’s markets are pricing risk or transparency at the mega banks is as clear as mud. (See related articles below for more insight into this matter.)

Other big Wall Street bank stocks performed miserably also yesterday. Bank of America closed down by 5.23 percent; Citigroup was off by 4.85 percent; while Morgan Stanley closed down 4.71 percent – all sporting a dramatically higher price decline than the broader market indices.

What’s got investors so worried about these Wall Street behemoths that they’re trading worse than a junk bond portfolio? We believe it’s the following: as the Office of Financial Research has reported, these banks are highly interconnected to one another. (See chart below.) Just how interconnected they are we really don’t know. Investors worry that we might not fully grasp the counterparty risk until there is another implosion like that of 2008. Think of the card game, Old Maid. Some of these banks with opaque over-the-counter derivatives exposure may be showing a calm face to the public while trouble is simmering in their books.

Another barometer of trouble brewing is the yield on the 10-year U.S. Treasury note. When the Fed first hiked its interest rate on December 16 of last year, the 10-year note closed at a yield of 2.29 percent. With persistent Fed talk of more rate hikes on the basis of an improving economy since then, one would have expected the 10-year to trend higher or at least hover in the same range. Instead, the 10-year yield has been dropping to close at 1.87 percent yesterday. That is another serious red flag that investors are seeking a safe haven from risks that are known — or the iceberg below the water that they can’t see but suspect is there.

The tragedy in all of this is that confidence in the market’s transparency has been drained by Congress and President Obama deciding in the 2010 financial reform legislation to put the Federal Reserve in charge of the mega bank holding companies after it had failed to properly police these entities in the period leading up to the 2008 crash. Investors may not fully grasp the details of what went wrong then and what is wrong now but their gut instinct is that the business model of Wall Street is not just fraud as Senator Bernie Sanders says, but the regulatory model employed by the President and Congress is to reward failure. That’s a combustible mixture.

Wall Street Mega Banks Are Highly Interconnected: Stock Symbols Are as Follows: C=Citigroup; MS=Morgan Stanley; JPM=JPMorgan Chase; GS=Goldman Sachs; BAC=Bank of America; WFC=Wells Fargo.

Wall Street Mega Banks Are Highly Interconnected: Stock Symbols Are as Follows: C=Citigroup; MS=Morgan Stanley; JPM=JPMorgan Chase; GS=Goldman Sachs; BAC=Bank of America; WFC=Wells Fargo.
_ _ _ _ _ _ _

FEBRUARY 02, 2016

Why We Won't Have a "Lehman Moment" in the 2016 Crash

What the central banks cannot do is create productive places to invest the credit they've generated in such excess, or force qualified borrowers to swallow more unproductive debt.

One way to lose a war is to focus on preparing to fight the last war. Preparing to fight the last war is a characteristic of losing generals, militaries and nations. The same is true of finance and economics.

General Grant's difficulties in breaking the trench warfare around Petersburg, VA in the last year of the American Civil War (1864 to early 1865) telegraphed the future of trench warfare to astute observers. Few took heed of the lessons of the "first modern war," and many of the same strategies of 1864 (digging a tunnel under enemy lines and filling the tunnel with explosives to blow a hole through their defenses, for example) were repeated in the Great War of 1914-1918 fifty years later.

When a weapon system capable of breaking the stalemate emerged--the tank--its potential for massed attack escaped planners on both sides, and the new weapon was squandered in piecemeal assaults.

"The last war" in 2008-09 was a battle to save heavily leveraged centralized financial institutions from default and liquidation--commercial and investment banks, insurance companies, etc. The concentration of capital, leverage and risk in these behemoths rendered the entire system vulnerable to their collapse (or so we were told).

Saving imploding private-sector banks was no problem for central banks that could create $1 trillion in new money with the push of a button and offer essentially unlimited lines of credit to banks facing a liquidity crunch.

But the current financial meltdown is not like the last war. Central banks are ready to extend unlimited credit again to private-sector financial institutions, but this time around, the problem won't be a lack of liquidity.

By refusing to allow a house-cleaning of risk, leverage and mal-investment, central planners have simply pushed the risk into systems they don't control: foreign-exchange (FX) currency markets, shadow banking and the economy that depends not just on available credit but the willingness of qualified borrowers to take on the risks and costs of more debt.

Central banks have created abundant credit and liquidity, but no productive places to invest that ocean of nearly free money Creating abundant credit works to spur growth when growth has been restrained by a lack of credit.

But when credit has been abundant for decades, what's scarce isn't credit--it's productive investments that are scarce. Central banks are powerless to create productive uses for the credit they create.

The inevitable consequence of this failed strategic error is defeat. Central banks issued trillions of dollars, yuan, euros and yen in new credit to stave off defeat in the last war (the Global Financial Meltdown of 2008-09), but the problem wasn't a lack of credit. Now, seven years into the strategy of flooding the global economy with credit,the problem is a scarcity of productive uses for all that money sloshing around the global economy.

There won't be a "Lehman Moment" in the 2016 meltdown, because central banks can prop up or "save" any new Lehman with a few keystrokes. What the central banks cannot do is create productive places to invest the credit they've generated in such excess, or force qualified borrowers to swallow more unproductive debt.

The global economy is choking not just on an excess of debt, it's also choking on the consequences of an unprecedented mal-investment of the credit central banks have issued in such over-abundance.

Issuing more credit will only make the 2016 crash worse. Trying to stop the current crash with more credit and lower interest rates is like sending the cavalry on suicide charges against entrenched machine guns, artillery and tanks. The coming financial slaughter will be as senseless, wasteful and ineffective as any suicide attack in the Great War.
_ _ _ _ _ _ _

Kerry-Anne Mendoza on Max Keiser explains why the suicide rate among the former middle class has skyrocketed.

We discuss sweethearts, strippers and 666 as Valentine’s Day comes early for the devils at the UK’s tax office. We also play a video clip from an interview with Boris Akimov of LavkaLavka restaurant ( in Moscow discussing sanctions, GMOs and hipsters. In the second half, Max interviews Kerry-Anne Mendoza of about Osborne’s Britain, where austerity-induced suicides are up double digit percentages and the taxpayer is losing billions on stealthly but massive privatizations of state assets.

February 2, 2016

Gov. Snyder Lied:  Flint Water Switch Was Not About Saving Money

So what was it about? Some have suggested that Snyder was motivated by a desire to break up DWSD and ultimately privatize it. In the summer of 2015, DWSD was split into two entities:  the DWSD and the Great Lakes Water Authority.

Others have suggested that Snyder wanted to start fracking operations along a new pipeline.

Privatization is a killer.

10 Things They Won’t Tell You About Flint Water Tragedy

By Michael Moore,
February 1st, 2016

News of the poisoned water crisis in Flint has reached a wide audience around the world. The basics are now known: the Republican governor, Rick Snyder, nullified the free elections in Flint, deposed the mayor and city council, then appointed his own man to run the city. To save money, they decided to unhook the people of Flint from their fresh water drinking source, Lake Huron, and instead, make the public drink from the toxic Flint River.
When the governor’s office discovered just how toxic the water was, they decided to keep quiet about it and covered up the extent of the damage being done to Flint’s residents, most notably the lead affecting the children, causing irreversible and permanent brain damage. Citizen activists uncovered these actions, and the governor now faces growing cries to resign or be arrested.
Here are 10 things that you probably don’t know about this crisis because the media, having come to the story so late, can only process so much. But if you live in Flint or the State of Michigan as I do, you know all to well that what the greater public has been told only scratches the surface.
1. While the Children in Flint Were Given Poisoned Water to Drink, General Motors Was Given a Special Hookup to the Clean Water. A few months after Gov. Snyder removed Flint from the clean fresh water we had been drinking for decades, the brass from General Motors went to him and complained that the Flint River water was causing their car parts to corrode when being washed on the assembly line. The governor was appalled to hear that GM property was being damaged, so he jumped through a number of hoops and quietly spent $440,000 to hook GM back up to the Lake Huron water, while keeping the rest of Flint on the Flint River water. Which means that while the children in Flint were drinking lead-filled water, there was one—and only one—address in Flint that got clean water: the GM factory.

2. For Just $100 a Day, This Crisis Could’ve Been Prevented. Federal law requires that water systems which are sent through lead pipes must contain an additive that seals the lead into the pipe and prevents it from leaching into the water. Someone at the beginning suggested to the governor that they add this anti-corrosive element to the water coming out of the Flint River. “How much would that cost?” came the question. “$100 a day for three months,” was the answer. I guess that was too much, so, in order to save $9,000, the state government said f*** it—and as a result the State may now end up having to pay upwards of $1.5 billion to fix the mess.
3. There’s More Than the Lead in Flint’s Water.  In addition to exposing every child in the city of Flint to lead poisoning on a daily basis, there appears to be a number of other diseases we may be hearing about in the months ahead. The number of cases in Flint of Legionnaires Disease has increased tenfold since the switch to the river water. Eighty-seven people have come down with it, and at least ten have died. In the five years before the river water, not a single person in Flint had died of Legionnaires Disease. Doctors are now discovering that another half-dozen toxins are being found in the blood of Flint’s citizens, causing concern that there are other health catastrophes which may soon come to light.
4. People’s Homes in Flint Are Now Worth Nothing Because They Cant Be Sold.Would you buy a house in Flint right now? Who would? So every homeowner in Flint is stuck with a house that’s now worth nothing. That’s a total home value of $2.4 billion down the economic drain. People in Flint, one of the poorest cities in the U.S., don’t have much to their name, and for many their only asset is their home. So, in addition to being poisoned, they have now a net worth of zero. (And as for employment, who is going to move jobs or start a company in Flint under these conditions? No one.) Has Flint’s future just been flushed down that river?
5. While They Were Being Poisoned, They Were Also Being Bombed. Here’s a story which has received little or no coverage outside of Flint. During these two years of water contamination, residents in Flint have had to contend with a decision made by the Pentagon to use Flint for target practice. Literally. Actual unannounced military exercises—complete with live ammo and explosives – were conducted last year inside the city of Flint. The army decided to practice urban warfare on Flint, making use of the thousands of abandoned homes which they could drop bombs on. Streets with dilapidated homes had rocket-propelled grenades fired upon them. For weeks, an undisclosed number of army troops pretended Flint was Baghdad or Damascus and basically had at it. It sounded as if the city was under attack from an invading army or from terrorists. People were shocked this could be going on in their neighborhoods. Wait—did I say “people?” I meant, Flint people. As with the governor, it was OK to abuse a community that held no political power or money to fight back. BOOM!
6. The Wife of the Governor’s Chief of Staff Is a Spokeswoman for Nestle, Michigan’s Largest Owner of Private Water Reserves. As Deep Throat told Woodward and Bernstein: “Follow the money.” Snyder’s chief of staff throughout the two years of Flint’s poisoning, Dennis Muchmore, was intimately involved in all the decisions regarding Flint. His wife is Deb Muchmore, who just happens to be the spokesperson in Michigan for the Nestle Company—the largest owner of private water sources in the State of Michigan. Nestle has been repeatedly sued in northern Michigan for the 200 gallons of fresh water per minute it sucks from out of the ground and bottles for sale as their Ice Mountain brand of bottled spring water. The Muchmores have a personal interest in seeing to it that Nestles grabs as much of Michigan’s clean water was possible—especially when cities like Flint in the future are going to need that Ice Mountain.
7. In Michigan, from Flint water, to Crime and Murder, to GM Ignition Switches, It’s a Culture of Death. It’s not just the water that was recklessly used to put people’s lives in jeopardy. There are many things that happen in Flint that would give one the impression that there is a low value placed on human life. Flint has one of the worst murder and crime rates in the country. Just for context, if New York City had the same murder rate as Flint, Michigan, the number of people murdered last year in New York would have been almost 4,000 people—instead of the actual 340 who were killed in NYC in 2015. But it’s not just street crime that makes one wonder about what is going on in Michigan. Last year, it was revealed that, once again, one of Detroit’s automakers had put profit ahead of people’s lives. General Motors learned that it had installed faulty ignition switches in many of its cars. Instead of simply fixing the problem, mid-management staff covered it up from the public. The auto industry has a history of weighing the costs of whether it’s cheaper to spend the money to fix the defect in millions of cars or to simply pay off a bunch of lawsuits filed by the victims surviving family members. Does a cynical, arrogant culture like this make it easy for a former corporate CEO, now governor, turn a blind eye to the lead that is discovered in a municipality’s drinking water?
8. Don’t Call It “Detroit Water”—It’s the Largest Source of Fresh Drinking Water in the World. The media keeps saying Flint was using “Detroit’s water.” It is only filtered and treated at the Detroit Water Plant. The water itself comes from Lake Huron, the third largest body of fresh water in the world. It is a glacial lake formed over 10,000 years ago during the last Ice Age and it is still fed by pure underground springs. Flint is geographically the last place on Earth where one should be drinking poisoned water.
9. ALL the Children Have Been Exposed, As Have All the Adults, Including Me. That’s just a fact. If you have been in Flint anytime from April 2014 to today, and you’ve drank the water, eaten food cooked with it, washed your clothes in it, taken a shower, brushed your teeth or eaten vegetables from someone’s garden, you’ve been exposed to and ingested its toxins. When the media says, “9,000 children under 6 have been exposed,” that means ALL the children have been exposed because the total number of people under the age of 6 in Flint is … 9,000! The media should just say, “all.” When they say “47 children have tested positive,” that’s just those who’ve drank the water in the last week or so. Lead enters the body and does it’s damage to the brain immediately. It doesn’t stay in the blood stream for longer than a few days and you can’t detect it after a month. So when you hear “47 children,” that’s just those with an exposure in the last 48 hours. It’s really everyone.
10. This Was Done, Like So Many Things These Days, So the Rich Could Get a Big Tax Break. When Gov. Snyder took office in 2011, one of the first things he did was to get a multi-billion dollar tax break passed by the Republican legislature for the wealthy and for corporations. But with less tax revenues, that meant he had to start cutting costs. So, many things—schools, pensions, welfare, safe drinking water—were slashed. Then he invoked an executive privilege to take over cities (all of them majority black) by firing the mayors and city councils whom the local people had elected, and installing his cronies to act as “dictators” over these cities. Their mission? Cut services to save money so he could give the rich even more breaks. That’s where the idea of switching Flint to river water came from. To save $15 million! It was easy. Suspend democracy. Cut taxes for the rich. Make the poor drink toxic river water. And everybody’s happy.
Except those who were poisoned in the process. All 102,000 of them. In the richest country in the world.
Jon  a day ago
For starters, criminal prosecutions for perpetrators, then jail. But as community service, then have them be part of the team that replaces all the bad pipes with new ones until complete, under the direction of Flint plumbers, of course. Then a percentage of their income for the rest of their lives goes to those whose lives have been devastated. Let the punishment fit the crimes.
_ _ _ _ _ _ _

There are two dominant views about how presidents accomplish fundamental change.
The first might be called the “deal-maker-in-chief,” by which presidents threaten or buy off powerful opponents.

Barack Obama got the Affordable Care Act this way – gaining the support of the pharmaceutical industry, for example, by promising them far more business and guaranteeing that Medicare wouldn’t use its vast bargaining power to negotiate lower drug prices.

But such deals can be expensive to the public (the tab for the pharmaceutical exemption is about $16 billion a year), and they don’t really change the allocation of power. They just allow powerful interests to cash in.

The costs of such deals in “the world we’re living in” are likely to be even higher now. Powerful interests are more powerful than ever thanks to the Supreme Court’s 2010 Citizens United decision opening the floodgates to big money.

Which takes us to the second view about how presidents accomplish big things that powerful interests don’t want: by mobilizing the public to demand them and penalize politicians who don’t heed those demands.

Teddy Roosevelt got a progressive income tax, limits on corporate campaign contributions, regulation of foods and drugs, and the dissolution of giant trusts – not because he was a great dealmaker but because he added fuel to growing public demands for such changes.

It was at a point in American history similar to our own. Giant corporations and a handful of wealthy people dominated American democracy. The lackeys of the “robber barons” literally placed sacks of cash on the desks of pliant legislators.

The American public was angry and frustrated. Roosevelt channeled that anger and frustration into support of initiatives that altered the structure of power in America. He used the office of the president – his “bully pulpit,” as he called it – to galvanize political action.

Could Hillary Clinton do the same? Could Bernie Sanders?

Clinton fashions her prospective presidency as a continuation of Obama’s. Surely Obama understood the importance of mobilizing the public against the moneyed interests. After all, he had once been a community organizer.

After the 2008 election he even turned his election campaign into a new organization called “Organizing for America” (now dubbed “Organizing for Action”), explicitly designed to harness his grassroots support.

So why did Obama end up relying more on deal-making than public mobilization? Because he thought he needed big money for his 2012 campaign.

Despite OFA’s public claims (in mailings, it promised to secure the “future of the progressive movement”), it morphed into a top-down campaign organization to raise big money.

In the interim, Citizens United had freed “independent” groups like OFA to raise almost unlimited funds, but retained limits on the size of contributions to formal political parties.

That’s the heart of problem. No candidate or president can mobilize the public against the dominance of the moneyed interests while being dependent on their money. And no candidate or president can hope to break the connection between wealth and power without mobilizing the public.

(A personal note: A few years ago OFA wanted to screen around America the movie Jake Kornbluth and I did about widening inequality, called “Inequality for All” – but only on condition we delete two minutes identifying big Democratic donors. We refused. They wouldn’t show it.)

In short, “the real world we’re living in” right now won’t allow fundamental change of the sort we need. It takes a movement.

Such a movement is at the heart of the Sanders campaign. The passion that’s fueling it isn’t really about Bernie Sanders. Had Elizabeth Warren run, the same passion would be there for her.

It’s about standing up to the moneyed interests and restoring our democracy.

Robert Reich

robert reich

Republished with permission from Robert Reich’s Blog.

No comments: