Wednesday, September 30, 2009

They Know No Shame - DF Brooks & His RightWingNut Fraudulent Backers, the Real Afghanistan, FED Refuses Required Info & Is the 4th Turning Upcoming?

Any time you hear/watch David F. Brooks use the words "I think" in a sentence you should immediately turn off the TV (or radio). You will need to try to keep remembering (while reading through this rightwingnut fantasy worldview) that they are doing just fine now. Glenn Greenwald provides the reporting that the mainstream mediafests refuse to. (Emphasis marks added - Ed.)

Just read some of what Brooks wrote about Iraq. It's absolutely astounding that someone with this record doesn't refrain from prancing around as a war expert for the rest of their lives. In fact, in a society where honor and integrity were valued just a minimal amount, a record like this would likely cause any decent and honorable person, wallowing in shame, to seriously contemplate throwing themselves off a bridge: David Brooks, Weekly Standard, February 6, 2003: I MADE THE MISTAKE of watching French news the night of Colin Powell's presentation before the Security Council. . . . Then they brought on a single "expert" to analyze Powell's presentation. This fellow, who looked to be about 25 and quite pleased with himself, was completely dismissive. The Powell presentation was a mere TV show, he sniffed. It's impossible to trust any of the intelligence data Powell presented because the CIA is notorious for lying and manipulation. The presenter showed a photograph of a weapons plant, and then the same site after it had been sanitized and the soil scraped. The expert was unimpressed: The Americans could simply have lied about the dates when the pictures were taken. Maybe the clean site is actually the earlier picture, he said.
That was depressing enough. Then there were a series of interviews with French politicians of the left and right. They were worse. At least the TV expert had acknowledged that Powell did present some evidence, even if he thought it was fabricated. The politicians responded to Powell's address as if it had never taken place. They simply ignored what Powell said and repeated that there is no evidence that Saddam has weapons of mass destruction and that, in any case, the inspection system is effective. This was not a response. It was simple obliviousness, a powerful unwillingness to confront the question honestly. This made the politicians seem impervious to argument, reason, evidence, or anything else. Maybe in the bowels of the French elite there are people rethinking their nation's position, but there was no hint of it on the evening news. Which made me think that maybe we are being ethnocentric. As good, naive Americans, we think that if only we can show the world the seriousness of the threat Saddam poses, then they will embrace our response. In our good, innocent way, we assume that in persuading our allies we are confronted with a problem of understanding. But suppose we are confronted with a problem of courage? Perhaps the French and the Germans are simply not brave enough to confront Saddam . . . . Or suppose we are confronted with a problem of character? Perhaps the French and the Germans understand the risk Saddam poses to the world order. Perhaps they know that they are in danger as much as anybody. They simply would rather see American men and women - rather than French and German men and women - dying to preserve their safety . . . . Far better, from this cynical perspective, to signal that you will not take on the terrorists - so as to earn their good will amidst the uncertain times ahead.
Makes you want to fwo up doesn't it? And it ongoes every Sunday morning on the bigtime channels and almost any time on PBS and other channels that try to shame you for not sending them your rapidly disappearing coins for their unbiased reporting. Good luck with that, guys! Our local hero Driftglass goes into even more detail here. (Emphasis marks added - Ed.)

David F. Brooks: Our Nation's Premier Expert Warrior In today's New York Times, the grizzled warrior David Brooks performs a chest-beating war dance over Afghanistan of the type he and his tough guy comrades perfected in the run-up to the Iraq War. It's filled with self-glorifying "war-is-hell" neocon platitudes that make the speaker feel tough and strong. No more hiding like cowards in our bases. It's time to send "small groups of American men and women . . . outside the wire in dangerous places." Those opposing escalation are succumbing to the "illusion of the easy path." Chomping on a cigar in his war room, he roars: "all out or all in." The central question: will we "surrender the place to the Taliban?," etc. etc. Needless to say, Brooks was writing all the same things in late 2002 and early 2003 about Iraq - though, back then, he did so from the pages of Rupert Murdoch and Bill Kristol's The Weekly Standard. When I went back to read some of that this morning, I was - as always - struck by how extreme and noxious it all was: the snide, hubristic superiority combined with absolute wrongness about everything. What people like David Brooks were saying back then was so severe - so severely wrong, pompous, blind, warmongering and, as it turns out, destructive - that no matter how many times one reviews the record of the leading opinion-makers of that era, one will never be inured to how poisonous they are. All of this would be a fascinating study for historians if the people responsible were figures of the past. But they're not.

They're the opposite. The same people shaping our debates now are the same ones who did all of that, and they haven't changed at all. They're doing the same things now that they did then. When you go read what they said back then, that's what makes it so remarkable and noteworthy. David Brooks got promoted within our establishment commentariat to The New York Times after (one might say: because of) the ignorant bile and amoral idiocy he continuously spewed while at The Weekly Standard. According to National Journal's recently convened "panel of Congressional and Political Insiders," Brooks is now the commentator who "who most help[s] to shape their own opinion or worldview" - second only to Tom "Suck On This" Friedman. Charles Krauthammer came in third.

Ponder that for a minute. Just read some of what Brooks wrote about Iraq. It's absolutely astounding that someone with this record doesn't refrain from prancing around as a war expert for the rest of their lives. In fact, in a society where honor and integrity were valued just a minimal amount, a record like this would likely cause any decent and honorable person, wallowing in shame, to seriously contemplate throwing themselves off a bridge. David Brooks, Weekly Standard, March 7, 2003: I do suspect that the decision to pursue this confrontational course emerges from Bush's own nature. He is a man of his word. He expects others to be that way too. It is indisputably true that Saddam has not disarmed. If people are going to vote against a resolution saying Saddam has not disarmed then they are liars. Bush wants them to do it in public, where history can easily judge them. Needless to say, neither the French nor the Russians nor the Chinese believe that honesty has anything to do with diplomacy.

They see the process through an entirely different lens. David Brooks, Weekly Standard, January 29, 2003: This was speech as autobiography.

President Bush once again revealed his character, and demonstrated why so many Americans, whether they agree with this or that policy proposal, basically trust him and feel he shares their values. Most Americans will not follow the details of this or that line in the address. But they will go about their day on Wednesday knowing that whatever comes in the next few months, they have a good leader at the helm. David Brooks, Weekly Standard, February 21, 2003: I mentioned that I barely know Paul Wolfowitz, which is true. But I do admire him enormously, not only because he is both a genuine scholar and an effective policy practitioner, not only because he has been right on most of the major issues during his career, but because he is now the focus of world anti-Semitism. He carries the burden of their hatred, which emanates not only from the Arab world and France, but from some people in our own country, which I had so long underestimated. David Brooks, Weekly Standard, November 11, 2002: In dealing with Saddam, then, we are not dealing with a normal thug or bully . . . The Baathist ideology requires continual conflict and bloodshed. . . . The CIA and the State Department might think otherwise, but we are not all game theorists. Human beings are not all rational actors carefully calculating their interests. Certain people - many people, in fact - are driven by goals, ideals, and beliefs. Saddam Hussein has taken such awful risks throughout his career not because he "miscalculated," as the game theorists assert, but because he was chasing his vision. He was following the dictates of the Baathist ideology, which calls for warfare, bloodshed, revolution, and conflict, on and on, against one and all, until the end of time. David Brooks, Weekly Standard, September 30, 2002: EITHER SADDAM HUSSEIN will remain in power or he will be deposed. President Bush has suggested deposing him, but as the debate over that proposal has evolved, an interesting pattern has emerged. The people in the peace camp attack President Bush's plan, but they are unwilling to face the implications of their own. Almost nobody in the peace camp will stand up and say that Saddam Hussein is not a fundamental problem for the world.

Almost nobody in that camp is willing even to describe what the world will look like if the peace camp's advice is taken and Saddam is permitted to remain in power in Baghdad, working away on his biological, chemical, and nuclear weapons programs . . . You begin to realize that they are not arguing about Iraq. They are not arguing at all. They are just repeating the hatreds they cultivated in the 1960s, and during the Reagan years, and during the Florida imbroglio after the last presidential election. They are playing culture war, and they are disguising their eruptions as position-taking on Iraq, a country about which they haven't even taken the trouble to inform themselves. . . . For most in the peace camp, there is only the fog. The debate is dominated by people who don't seem to know about Iraq and don't care. Their positions are not influenced by the facts of world affairs. David Brooks, Weekly Standard, March 17, 2003: So now we stand at an epochal moment. The debate is over. The case has gone to the jury, and the jury is history. Events will soon reveal who was right, Bush or Chirac. . . . But there are two nations whose destinies hang in the balance. The first, of course, is Iraq. Will Iraqis enjoy freedom, more of the same tyranny, or a new kind of tyranny? The second is the United States. If the effort to oust Saddam fails, we will be back in the 1970s. We will live in a nation crippled by self-doubt. If we succeed, we will be a nation infused with confidence. We will have done a great thing for the world, and other great things will await. - - - - - - -

Look at that last paragraph. He proclaimed that "events will soon reveal who was right, Bush or Chirac." On the eve of the war he cheered on, as he celebrated the fact that "the debate is over" and war was imminent and inevitable, he identically vowed: "Events will show who was right, George W. Bush or Jacques Chirac." Soon we would know. Did Brooks ever tell his readers what we found out about that? Did he ever acknowledge that the French - whose opposition to attacking Iraq and skpeticism about WMD claims he attributed to cowardice, anti-Semitism, paranoia over American deceit, anti-American hatred, bad character, and lack of reason - turned out to be right and Brooks and friends were miserably wrong? Did he ever retract his smears that the American "peace camp" was driven by hatred, anti-Semitism, and ignorance about Iraq, or acknowledge that his claims about Saddam - that his ideology "calls for warfare, bloodshed, revolution, and conflict, on and on, against one and all, until the end of time" - were at least just as applicable to Brooks himself and his own neoconservative movement? On the fifth anniversary of the attack on Iraq, Greg Mitchell noted that although Brooks "bears special blame - shame - not only for his writing, but for serving as senior editor of the most influential pro-war publication, "The Weekly Standard," no such acknowledgment - at least as of May, 2008 - had ever issued from him.

Instead, drinking from the well of the most accountability-free profession (punditry) in the most accountability-free nation for elites, he now just blithely moves on to the next war as though the last one never happened, though this time he's posing as an expert in the pages of The New York Times.

Yet again, only he and people like him are strong and courageous enough to confront the towering enemy (by sending other people "outside the wire in dangerous places"). Those opposed to the war or even to escalation are cowards who want to "surrender to the Taliban."

And even with the unbroken record he has on Iraq that should shame and discredit him for life (or at least until there's some serious examination, acknowledgment and repentance), he is the second-most influential commentator among "Congressional and political insiders" - second to one of the very few commentators who did more to bring about that war than Brooks himself did. What type of nation do you think we will be if "insiders" have their views most shaped by people with the record of David Brooks and Tom Friedman? UPDATE: As Brooks demands, it's high time they stop hiding in their safe bases and they get themselves "outside the wire in dangerous places": KABUL, Afghanistan — A roadside bomb and assault-rifle fire killed four United States soldiers and a Marine in three different attacks in southern Afghanistan on Thursday, where new American brigades are pressing offensives against a resilient and dug-in Taliban and other insurgents. The attacks on Thursday in Zabul and Nimruz Provinces pushed the number of American military deaths in Afghanistan to 218 this year, already 41 percent more than in all of 2008. The soaring toll, coupled with the Taliban’s growing strength and fears that the Aug. 20 Afghan presidential election may have been rigged in favor of President Hamid Karzai, have stirred increasing opposition in the United States to further troop deployments. British forces, who have also faced fierce Taliban resistance in Helmand Province, have suffered 80 deaths already this year, nearly three-fifths more than all of last year . . . . And let's send a bunch more there, too. It's only been eight years. UPDATE II: Along these same lines, long-time national security official Gary Sick reviews the falsehood-heavy record of those who have, literally for decades, been issuing dire warnings about Iran's imminent nuclear capability. We'll undoubtedly be hearing panic-stricken war cries from these very same people - more loudly than ever now - about the need to militarily confront the Persian Hitlers. - - - - -

Glenn Greenwald _________________________________________

Last Friday Night on Bill Moyers' Journal I saw one of the most informative presentations on what is happening right now in Afghanistan by a man who has actually walked though the whole country. In my past university lecturing career I used to harp on Rory's thesis myself, stressing that "Americans come, and Americans go. What they do in between determines how long it will be before the country gets back on its feet after they go." We know now that it was never in the cards for Iraq to get back on its feet. Whither Afghanistan?

Please click on the link to enjoy one of the best news shows there is (and write your congresscritters for gosh sakes!). (Emphasis marks added - Ed.)

Obama's Strategy for Afghanistan . . . and the Next Election This week on the JOURNAL, guest host Lynn Sherr talked with Rory Stewart, an expert on Afghanistan and director of the Carr Center for Human Rights Policy at Harvard University, for his perspective on America’s lengthy war in that fractured country. In a recently leaked memo, the United States’ top commander in Afghanistan, General Stanley McChrystal, recommended that the Obama administration send tens of thousands of troops – or, he wrote, the mission “will likely end in failure.” Facing increasing skepticism about the war from Congress and the general public, President Obama has so far delayed his decision on troop levels. Rory Stewart argued that our stated goals for Afghanistan – routing the Taliban, banishing al-Qaeda, and restoring a functioning government – are unrealistic. He believes that the United States should deploy a much smaller force devoted to stopping al-Qaeda from rebuilding a base in Afghanistan rather than risk provoking a public backlash against any presence there at all. Regardless of what President Obama may personally desire, however, Stewart said that political and electoral pressures will likely compel him to deploy more troops: “I think it's very irresponsible – if you care about Afghanistan – to increase troops much more, because I can see us going from engagement to isolation, from troop increases to total withdrawal. The path the President has started us on, I would predict, would mean that in five, six years time, everybody will simply get fed up with Afghanistan and abandon it entirely.... I think it would be a political catastrophe for the president to refuse to accede to a request from the man on the ground... He’s a civilian president... He’s under attack already from the right for being soft on national security... The General has provided his advice, and I would be extremely surprised if the President doesn’t come out in favor. In fact, my guess is that a lot of the talk about skepticism at the moment is an attempt to try to deal with opposition within his same party.”

According to Bloomberg News: (emphasis marks added - Ed.)
the Federal Reserve Bank will not submit to a voluntary public study of its internal structure and methods of governance, as it was requested to do so by Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner. Geithner is the former New York Federal Reserve Bank chairman. The review he requested is part of President Barack Obama's financial regulatory reforms, which he proposed in mid-June. Part of those reforms would have studied the Fed's "ability to accomplish its existing and proposed functions" - a proposal the bank's board of governors appears to have flatly rejected.

"The agency also said that while the report requested by Secretary Geithner and his department has not yet been scrapped, no work has been done on the project, which is due Oct 1," noted Reuters.

"The institution is trying to keep a low profile," Vincent Reinhart, a former Fed monetary policy director, told Bloomberg. "To publish a report now invites comment on that report." And comments are the last thing the Fed wants right now.

Under fire The Federal Reserve has been under growing political fire ever since Congressman Ron Paul (R-TX) made it a frequent target during his presidential campaign. However, Paul has been a longtime opponent of the bank, openly calling for it to be abolished and the U.S. dollar to once again be backed by gold, instead of mere faith.

"From the Great Depression, to the stagflation of the seventies, to the burst of the dotcom bubble last year, every economic downturn suffered by the country over the last 80 years can be traced to Federal Reserve policy," Paul said in 2002, according to congressional records. "The Fed has followed a consistent policy of flooding the economy with easy money, leading to a misallocation of resources and an artificial 'boom' followed by a recession or depression when the Fed-created bubble bursts."

His bill, House Resolution 1207, which would subject the Fed to a complete audit, has gained significant traction in the U.S. House of Representatives, with over half its members signing on in support of the move. Though mostly Republicans, a large cross-section of Democrats reached across the aisle to support the bill, and Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA), who chairs the House Financial Services Committee, recently told a town hall audience that the Fed will be subjected to a complete audit soon. He predicted the House will pass Paul's bill - or an amalgam of it, wrapped with other regulatory reforms - "probably in October."

"A companion bill in the Senate introduced by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) has 27 cosponsors," noted The Hill.

The Fed has also come under fire for refusing to disclose which firms it paid massive bailouts to in 2008 and early 2009, amid the greatest financial crisis since the Great Depression. A particular amount of interest among lawmakers has focused on the Bank of American - Merrill Lynch & Co. merger, which the Fed facilitated.

The House Domestic Policy Subcommittee, under the leadership of Congressman Dennis Kucinich (D-OH), subpoenaed the Fed in June for records relating to the transaction. New York Attorney-General Andrew Cuomo has claimed that, in 2008, then-Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson and Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke strong-armed BofA into buying Merrill - a move that, if true, could expose Paulson and Bernanke to prosecution. That investigation is under way.

Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke "has vehemently opposed the idea [of an audit], asserting that it would lead to the politicization of monetary policy by giving Congress an easy way to second-guess any decision the Fed makes," noted The Los Angeles Times in late August.

That specific argument - that the monetary system is endangered by closer observation of Fed actions - was discounted by Judge Loretta Preska of the Manhattan U.S. District Court, in a ruling that ordered the Fed to disclose which firms received bailout dollars.

While the Fed argued that disclosing who was bailed out on the taxpayer's dime could be detrimental to the agency's independence from Congress, Judge Preska wrote that the claim was based merely on "conjecture" and the court remained unconvinced because the Fed had failed to provide adequate evidence to substantiate its claims.

"[The] risk of looking weak to competitors and shareholders is an inherent risk of market participation; information tending to increase that risk does not make the information privileged or confidential," she wrote. -- Stephen C. Webster

And is it really the Fourth Turning? There's an interesting analysis of exactly where we are for your enjoyment here.

Watch out for the Gen Y-ers! Don't trust them.

Suzan ___________________

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Orwellian DoubleSpeak

Whether you trust Paul Craig Roberts' conversion from Reaganaut to friend of the masses or not, you've got to admit that he's got the inanity of the moment down perfectly. And how "pitifully fearful have our leaders become?" (I warned my class after 9/11 that we risked falling into this pot if we followed Dubya's lead.) "What no terrorist could do to us, our own leaders did."

The G-20 ministers declared their meeting in Pittsburgh a success, but as Rob Kall reports in, the meeting’s main success was to turn Pittsburgh into “a ghost-town, emptied of workers and the usual pedestrians, but filled to overflowing with over 12,000 swat cops from all over the US.

”This is “freedom and democracy” at work. The leaders of the G-20 countries, which account for 85% of the world’s income, cannot meet in an American city without 12,000 cops outfitted like the emperor’s storm troopers in Star Wars. And the US government complains about Iran.

The US government’s complaints about Iran have reached a new level of shrillness. On September 25 Obama declared: “Iran is breaking rules that all nations must follow.” The heads of America’s British, French, and German puppet states added their two cents worth, giving the government of Iran three months to meet the “international community’s demands” to give up its rights as a signatory to the non-proliferation treaty to nuclear energy. In case you don’t know, the term “international community” is shorthand for the US, Israel, and Europe, a handful of arrogant and rich countries that oppress the rest of the world. Who is breaking the rules? Iran or the United States?

There is no surprise really in this newsy tidbit about the G-20 by PCR. In this age of instant internet communication, we already knew this pretty much. The credulity expected from the U.S. citizenry on a daily basis, however, is unbelievable. Or is it?

Iran is insisting that the US government abide by the non-proliferation treaty that the US originated and pushed and that Iran signed. But the US government, which is currently engaged in three wars of aggression and has occupying troops in a number of other countries, insists that Iran, which is invading and occupying no country, cannot be trusted with nuclear energy capability, because the capability might in the future lead to nuclear weapon capability, like Israel’s, India’s, and Pakistan’s - all non-signatories to the nuclear proliferation treaty, countries that, unlike Iran, have never submitted to IAEA inspections. Indeed, at this very moment the Israeli government is screaming and yelling “anti-semite” to the suggestion that Israel submit to IAEA inspections. Iran has submitted to the IAEA inspections for years.

In keeping with its obligations under the treaty, on September 21 Iran disclosed to the International Atomic Energy Agency that it is constructing another nuclear facility. The British prime minister Gordon Brown confused Iran’s disclosure with “serial deception,” and declared, “We will not let this matter rest.”

What matter? Why does Gordon Brown think that Iran’s disclosure to the IAEA is a deception. Does the moronic UK prime minister mean that Iran is claiming to be constructing a plant but is not, and thus by claiming one is deceiving the world?

Not to be outdone in idiocy, out of Obama’s mouth jumped Orwellian doublespeak: “The Iranian government must now demonstrate through deeds its peaceful intentions or be held accountable to international standards and international law.”

And even more fantastically he continues:

The incongruity blows the mind. Here is Obama, with troops engaged in wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan demanding that a peaceful nation at war with no one demonstrate “its peaceful intentions or be held accountable to international standards and international law.” It is the US government and its NATO puppet states, and militarist Israel, of course, that need to be held accountable to international law. Under international law the US, its NATO puppets, and Israel are war criminal governments. There is no doubt about it. The record is totally clear. The US, Israel, and the NATO puppet states have committed military aggression exactly as did Germany’s Third Reich, and they have murdered large numbers of civilians. Following the Fuhrer’s script, “the great democratic republics” have justified these acts of lawlessness with lies and deceptions.

Rudy Giuliani, the former US Attorney who framed high profile victims in order to gain name recognition for a political career, keynoted a rally against Iran in New York on September 25. According to Richard Silverstein at AlterNet, the rally was sponsored by an Israeli lobby group and an organization with connections to an Iranian terror organization (probably financed by the US government) that calls for the violent overthrow of the Iranian government.

The efforts to build pressure for acts of war against Iran continue despite the repeated declaration from the IAEA that there is no sign of an Iranian nuclear weapons program, and despite the reaffirmation by US intelligence agencies that Iran abandoned its nuclear weapons program years ago.

Meanwhile, the US and Israeli governments, who are so solicitous of international law and holding accountable countries that violate it, have moved to prevent the report of Judge Richard Goldstone from reaching the UN Security Council.


Judge Goldstone’s report found Israel guilty of war crimes in its massive military assault against civilians and civilian infrastructure in Gaza.

The continuous efforts of the world’s two militarist-aggressor states - the United States and Israel - to demonize Iran was addressed by Ahmadinejad in his speech to the UN General Assembly (September 23). Ahmadinejad spoke of the assault on human dignity and spiritual values by the selfish material interests of the US and its puppet states. Seeking hegemony “under the mantle of freedom,” the US and its puppets use “the ugliest methods of intimidation and deceit” to disguise that they are “the first who violate” the fundamental principles that they espouse and apply to others.

Read the rest of this manifesto calling for citizen action here, and is everything you think you know about Iran wrong? Why not? Whom would it benefit to lie to you? Scott Ritter knows. How many sheep are listening? Suzan _________________

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Both Globalization & Single Women Go Bankrupt & If You Think Corporations Run The Government Now . . . .

Let's face it folks, the bankruptcies progress and some are hit harder than others. If you have a job that you won't be losing (with some sort of insurance as a part of the deal) and you aren't worried about feeding yourself or your family, you are way ahead of the pack. As for us unmarried, unemployed, insuranceless women, not so much.

(And you surely understand by now that you must double the unemployment statistics to obtain a meaningful number when based against the stats before they were changed to make the growth in GDP look better under (first) Reagan and then Clinton. And don't get me started on the H-1B work visas for foreigners that robbed me and all of my colleagues in the 90's of our decent highly technical jobs (which were then filled by people brought in from India, China, etc., who upon learning everything we could teach them, left to go back home to strengthen their own countries' economic futures based on the foolish choices of yours truly - except for the ones who stayed to continue to take orders from above as they screwed up our last decent American-jobs-producing companies and making billionaires out of the formerly mere millionaire owners)).

But not to worry, the newly poor (but oblivious to it so far) are still happily glued to the WWF matches and shouting loudly about their favorite reality shows like "Watch Me Make a Fool of Myself (Again)!"

Last month, the unemployment rate for unmarried women was 11.9 percent, compared to 9.7 percent for the entire workforce. The problem isn't only high unemployment - it's low pay. Women are still paid only 77 cents for every dollar that men receive, and women on their own earn only 57 cents for every dollar in married men's paychecks.

Unmarried women are much less likely than married people to have health insurance, to be homeowners, to have a union card, or even to own cars so they can drive to work. Of all American adults who live in poverty, unmarried women count for almost half. Last year, 21 out of every 1,000 single mothers filed for bankruptcy.

. . . Today, while the vast majority of young women are expected to marry at some point, the truth is, much of their lives will be spent on their own. Marriage is transitory: people may enter or leave it, almost at any time. Many women now spend their first decade or more out of school (high school or college) as a single woman. Women who do marry do not have the luxury of assuming that they are set for life.

. . . The phenomenally rapid changes in marriage and in societal expectations mean we as a society must change our way of thinking about how women can succeed on their own. Are women expected and encouraged to take some of the lowest-paying jobs available - maids, retail salespeople, waitresses? In fact, these are some of the top jobs for women in the current economy. Do training programs for construction workers, carpenters, and other skilled laborers, reach out to or even accept young women? Unfortunately, they often do not.

(If you would like to make a contribution to Welcome to Pottersville2, please do so now as I'm on my last legs with this site. I know that everyone is asking for your help due to the increasingly bad economic times (no relief in sight for any but the banksters!), but please consider making even a small donation to my blog if you care to continue seeing its content and viewpoint. You may either use the Paypal button on the top left of this site, or send me an email at for a snail mail address. My heartfelt thanks go out to the beautiful people who have supported me so generously in the past. As a terminally loud-mouthed critic of both the defense and domestic policies of the U.S. since the 80's (from within the aerospace defense establishment) who will never be employed again but would accept any job or aid offered, I need your help.)

Chris Hedges is always a good source for what's going on in the rest of the world, not to mention the big commotion that was expected at the G-20 (versus the smooth talkers on the mainstream media jiveline). (Emphasis marks added - Ed.)

Globalization Goes Bankrupt The rage of the disposed is fracturing the country, dividing it into camps that are unmoored from the political mainstream. Movements are building on the ends of the political spectrum that have lost faith in the mechanisms of democratic change. You can't blame them. But unless we on the left move quickly this rage will be captured by a virulent and racist right wing, one that seeks a disturbing proto-fascism. Every day counts. Every deferral of protest hurts. We should, if we have the time and the ability, make our way to Pittsburgh for the meeting of the G-20 this week rather than do what the power elite is hoping we will do-stay home. Complacency comes at a horrible price.

"The leaders of the G-20 are meeting to try and salvage their power and money after everything that has gone wrong," said Benedicto Martinez Orozco, co-president of the Mexican Frente Autentico del Trabajo (FAT), who is in Pittsburgh for the protests. "This is what this meeting is about."

The draconian security measures put in place to silence dissent in Pittsburgh are disproportionate to any actual security concern. They are a response not to a real threat, but to the fear gripping the established centers of power. The power elite grasps, even if we do not, the massive fraud and theft being undertaken to save a criminal class on Wall Street and international speculators of the kinds who were executed in other periods of human history.

They know the awful cost this plundering of state treasuries will impose on workers, who will become a permanent underclass. And they also know that once this is clear to the rest of us, rebellion will no longer be a foreign concept. The delegates to the G-20, the gathering of the world's wealthiest nations, will consequently be protected by a National Guard combat battalion, recently returned from Iraq. The battalion will shut down the area around the city center, man checkpoints and patrol the streets in combat gear. Pittsburgh has augmented the city's police force of 1,000 with an additional 3,000 officers. Helicopters have begun to buzz gatherings in city parks, buses driven to Pittsburgh to provide food to protesters have been impounded, activists have been detained, and permits to camp in the city parks have been denied. Web sites belonging to resistance groups have been hacked and trashed, and many groups suspect that they have been infiltrated and that their phones and e-mail accounts are being monitored. Larry Holmes, an organizer from New York City, stood outside a tent encampment on land owned by the Monumental Baptist Church in the city's Hill District. He is one of the leaders of the Bail Out the People Movement. Holmes, a longtime labor activist, on Sunday led a march on the convention center by unemployed people calling for jobs. He will coordinate more protests during the week. "It is de facto martial law," he said, "and the real effort to subvert the work of those protesting has yet to begin. But voting only gets you so far. There are often not many choices in an election. When you build democratic movements around the war or unemployment you get a more authentic expression of democracy. It is more organic. It makes a difference. History has taught us this." Our global economy, like our political system, has been hijacked by a tiny oligarchy, composed mostly of wealthy white men who serve corporations. They have pledged or raised a staggering $18 trillion, looted largely from state treasuries, to prop up banks and other financial institutions that engaged in suicidal acts of speculation and ruined the world economy. They have formulated trade deals so corporations can speculate across borders with currency, food and natural resources even as, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations, 1.02 billion people on the planet struggle with hunger.

Globalization has obliterated the ability of many poor countries to protect food staples such as corn, rice, beans and wheat with subsidies or taxes on imported staples. The abolishment of these protections has permitted the giant mechanized farms to wipe out tens of millions of mall farmers-2 million in Mexico alone - bankrupting many and driving them off their land. Those who could once feed themselves can no longer find enough food, and the wealthiest governments use institutions such as the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and the World Trade Organization like pit bulls to establish economic supremacy. There is little that most governments seem able to do to fight back. But the game is up. The utopian dreams of globalization have been exposed as a sham.

Force is all the elite have left. We are living through one of civilization's great seismic reversals. The ideology of globalization, like all utopias that are sold as inevitable and irreversible, has become a farce. The power elite, perplexed and confused, cling to the disastrous principles of globalization and its outdated language to mask the political and economic vacuum before us. The absurd idea that the marketplace alone should determine economic and political constructs caused the crisis.

It led the G-20 to sacrifice other areas of human importance-from working conditions, to taxation, to child labor, to hunger, to health and pollution-on the altar of free trade. It left the world's poor worse off and the United States with the largest deficits in human history.

Globalization has become an excuse to ignore the mess. It has left a mediocre elite desperately trying to save a system that cannot be saved and, more important, trying to save itself.

"Speculation," then-President Jacques Chirac of France once warned, "is the AIDS of our economies." We have reached the terminal stage. "Each of Globalization's strengths has somehow turned out to have an opposing meaning," John Ralston Saul wrote in "The Collapse of Globalism." "The lowering of national residency requirements for corporations has morphed into a tool for massive tax evasion.

The idea of a global economic system mysteriously made local poverty seem unreal, even normal. The decline of the middle class - the very basis of democracy - seemed to be just one of those things that happen, unfortunate but inevitable. That the working class and the lower middle class, even parts of the middle class, could only survive with more than one job per person seemed to be expected punishment for not keeping up.

The contrast between unprecedented bonuses for mere managers at the top and the four-job families below them seemed inevitable in a globalized world. For two decades an elite consensus insisted that unsustainable third-world debts could not be put aside in a sort of bad debt reserve without betraying Globalism's essential principles and moral obligations, which included an unwavering respect for the sanctity of international contracts. It took the same people about two weeks to abandon sanctity and propose bad debt banks for their own far larger debts in 2009." The institutions that once provided alternative sources of power, including the press, government, agencies of religion, universities and labor unions, have proved morally bankrupt. They no longer provide a space for voices of moral autonomy. No one will save us now but ourselves.

"The best thing that happened to the Establishment is the election of a black president," Holmes said. "It will contain people for a given period of time, but time is running out. Suppose something else happens?

Suppose another straw breaks? What happens when there is a credit card crisis or a collapse in commercial real estate? The financial system is very, very fragile. The legs are being kicked out from underneath it." "Obama is in trouble," Holmes went on. "The economic crisis is a structural crisis. The recovery is only a recovery for Wall Street. It can't be sustained, and Obama will be blamed for it. He is doing everything Wall Street demands. But this will be a dead end. It is a prescription for disaster, not only for Obama but the Democratic Party. It is only groups like ours that provide hope. If labor unions will get off their ass and stop focusing on narrow legislation for their members, if they will go back to being social unions that embrace broad causes, we have a chance of effecting change. If this does not happen it will be a right-wing disaster."

Our man of the hour (now that he's turned against the GOoP-ers and is telling it straight for those on the bottom of this wretched economy) Paul Craig Roberts wants us to understand NOW that The Economy Is A Lie, Too. (Breaking News: Teheran has just dumped "the dollar for the euro. . . . The move was taken because the government wishes to protect itself from the fragility of the US economy and the weak dollar.") Fancy that. (Emphasis marks added - Ed.)

Americans cannot get any truth out of their government about anything, the economy included. Americans are being driven into the ground economically, with one million school children now homeless, while Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke announces that the recession is over. The spin that masquerades as news is becoming more delusional. Consumer spending is 70% of the US economy.

It is the driving force, and it has been shut down. Except for the super rich, there has been no growth in consumer incomes in the 21st century. Statistician John Williams of reports that real household income has never recovered its pre-2001 peak. The US economy has been kept going by substituting growth in consumer debt for growth in consumer income. Federal Reserve chairman Alan Greenspan encouraged consumer debt with low interest rates. The low interest rates pushed up home prices, enabling Americans to refinance their homes and spend the equity. Credit cards were maxed out in expectations of rising real estate and equity values to pay the accumulated debt. The binge was halted when the real estate and equity bubbles burst. As consumers no longer can expand their indebtedness and their incomes are not rising, there is no basis for a growing consumer economy. Indeed, statistics indicate that consumers are paying down debt in their efforts to survive financially. In an economy in which the consumer is the driving force, that is bad news. The banks, now investment banks thanks to greed-driven deregulation that repealed the learned lessons of the past, were even more reckless than consumers and took speculative leverage to new heights. At the urging of Larry Summers and Goldman Sachs’ CEO Henry Paulson, the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Bush administration went along with removing restrictions on debt leverage. When the bubble burst, the extraordinary leverage threatened the financial system with collapse. The US Treasury and the Federal Reserve stepped forward with no one knows how many trillions of dollars to “save the financial system,” which, of course, meant to save the greed-driven financial institutions that had caused the economic crisis that dispossessed ordinary Americans of half of their life savings. The consumer has been chastened, but not the banks. Refreshed with the TARP $700 billion and the Federal Reserve’s expanded balance sheet, banks are again behaving like hedge funds. Leveraged speculation is producing another bubble with the current stock market rally, which is not a sign of economic recovery but is the final savaging of Americans’ wealth by a few investment banks and their Washington friends.

Goldman Sachs, rolling in profits, announced six figure bonuses to employees. The rest of America is suffering terribly. The unemployment rate, as reported, is a fiction and has been since the Clinton administration. The unemployment rate does not include jobless Americans who have been unemployed for more than a year and have given up on finding work. The reported 10% unemployment rate is understated by the millions of Americans who are suffering long-term unemployment and are no longer counted as unemployed. As each month passes, unemployed Americans drop off the unemployment role due to nothing except the passing of time. The inflation rate, especially “core inflation,” is another fiction. “Core inflation” does not include food and energy, two of Americans’ biggest budget items. The Consumer Price Index (CPI) assumes, ever since the Boskin Commission during the Clinton administration, that if prices of items go up consumers substitute cheaper items. This is certainly the case, but this way of measuring inflation means that the CPI is no longer comparable to past years, because the basket of goods in the index is variable. The Boskin Commission’s CPI, by lowering the measured rate of inflation, raises the real GDP growth rate. The result of the statistical manipulation is an understated inflation rate, thus eroding the real value of Social Security income, and an overstated growth rate. Statistical manipulation cloaks a declining standard of living. In bygone days of American prosperity, American incomes rose with productivity. It was the real growth in American incomes that propelled the US economy. In today’s America, the only incomes that rise are in the financial sector that risks the country’s future on excessive leverage and in the corporate world that substitutes foreign for American labor. Under the compensation rules and emphasis on shareholder earnings that hold sway in the US today, corporate executives maximize earnings and their compensation by minimizing the employment of Americans. Try to find some acknowledgement of this in the “mainstream media,” or among economists, who suck up to the offshoring corporations for grants.

The worst part of the decline is yet to come. Bank failures and home foreclosures are yet to peak. The commercial real estate bust is yet to hit. The dollar crisis is building.

When it hits, interest rates will rise dramatically as the US struggles to finance its massive budget and trade deficits while the rest of the world tries to escape a depreciating dollar. Since the spring of this year, the value of the US dollar has collapsed against every currency except those pegged to it. The Swiss franc has risen 14% against the dollar.

Every hard currency from the Canadian dollar to the Euro and UK pound has risen at least 13 % against the US dollar since April 2009. The Japanese yen is not far behind, and the Brazilian real has risen 25% against the almighty US dollar. Even the Russian ruble has risen 13% against the US dollar. What sort of recovery is it when the safest investment is to bet against the US dollar? The American household of my day, in which the husband worked and the wife provided household services and raised the children, scarcely exists today. Most, if not all, members of a household have to work in order to pay the bills. However, the jobs are disappearing, even the part-time ones. If measured according to the methodology used when I was Assistant Secretary of the Treasury, the unemployment rate today in the US is above 20%. Moreover, there is no obvious way of reducing it. There are no factories, with work forces temporarily laid off by high interest rates, waiting for a lower interest rate policy to call their workforces back into production. The work has been moved abroad. In the bygone days of American prosperity, CEOs were inculcated with the view that they had equal responsibilities to customers, employees, and shareholders. This view has been exterminated. Pushed by Wall Street and the threat of takeovers promising “enhanced shareholder value,” and incentivized by “performance pay,” CEOs use every means to substitute cheaper foreign employees for Americans .

Despite 20% unemployment and cum laude engineering graduates who cannot find jobs or even job interviews, Congress continues to support 65,000 annual H-1B work visas for foreigners. In the midst of the highest unemployment since the Great Depression what kind of a fool do you need to be to think that there is a shortage of qualified US workers?

Chris Bowers closes out the hour (prayer hour?) for us with this thought:
If You Think Corporations Run The Government Now . . . . Then just wait and see what happens after, as expected, the Supreme Court allows corporations to spend unlimited amounts of money on behalf of their favored candidates . . . .



You won't sleep tonight.

Suzan _______________________

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Scholars/Scientists Question 9/11 - MSM Ignores Evidence & Sibel's Edmonds' Testimony Investigated

Before we discuss Sibel Edmonds' outrageously ignored testimony below, a few words need to be said in defense of a much-maligned group of serious scholars/historians/scientists. (Emphasis marks added - Ed.)

. . . architect Richard Gage, founder of Architects and Engineers for 9/11 Truth, has to date amassed nearly 700 scientific professionals in the fields of architecture, engineering, and physics who have signed a petition calling for a new investigation of the events of 9/11. Gage and Jones' empirical research suggesting the possibility of controlled demolition at the WTC has moved many thousands of others to question the events of 9/11. The factual arguments clearly establish the possibility of controlled demolition of the WTC buildings on September 11, 2001, yet, there is almost zero coverage in the corporate media in the US. This is top-down corporate censorship pure and simple. Even if other scientists can be found to disagree with the study, the policy of ignoring the topic inside the corporate media is relatively absolute. It seems unlikely that corporate journalists are unaware of the research, as it is listed on hundreds of websites worldwide. Perhaps the mainstream science journalists left their critical thinking skills at home and gave the scientific method the day off. Or maybe the real conspiracy exists within the boardrooms of the corporate mainstream media. The corporate media in the United States ignore many valid news stories, based on university level quality research. It appears that certain topics are simply forbidden inside the mainstream corporate media today. To openly cover these news stories would stir up questions regarding “inconvenient truths” that many in the US power structure want to avoid. For example, current research indicates that public schools in the United States are more segregated today than they have been in more than four decades. According to a new Civil Rights Report, published at the University of California, Los Angeles, schools in the US are 44 percent non-white, and minorities are rapidly emerging as the majority of public school students in the US. Latinos and blacks, the two largest minority groups, attend schools more segregated today than during the civil rights movement forty years ago. Millions of non-white students are locked into “dropout factory” high schools, where huge percentages do not graduate. The most severe segregation in public schools occurs in the Western states, including California—not in the South, as many people believe. Most non-white schools are segregated by poverty as well as race. Schools in low-income communities remain highly unequal in terms of funding, qualified teachers, and curriculum. Other taboo stories include civilian death rates in Iraq. Researchers from Johns Hopkins University and a professional survey company in Great Britain, Opinion Research Business (ORB) report that the United States is directly responsible for over one million Iraqi deaths since our invasion over six and half years ago. In a January 2008 report, ORB reported that, “survey work confirms our earlier estimate that over 1,000,000 Iraqi citizens have died as a result of the conflict which started in 2003 . . . . We now estimate that the death toll between March 2003 and August 2007 is likely to have been of the order of 1,033,000.” A 2006 Johns Hopkins study confirmed that US aerial bombing in civilian neighborhoods caused over a third of these deaths and that over half the deaths are directly attributable to US forces. Iraqi civilian death levels in the fall of 2009 likely now exceed 1.2 million. Each of these taboo news stories, like the 9/11 research on the WYC dust, is based on solid scholarly work. These stories represent the failure of the corporate media in the US to keep the American people democratically informed on important issues. This lack of coverage of critical news stories is what many thousands of people in the US are now calling a Truth Emergency. A truth emergency is predicated on the inability of many to distinguish between what is real and what is not. Corporate media, Fox in particular, offers news that creates a hyperreality of real world problems and issues. Consumers of corporate television news—especially those whose understandings are framed primarily from that medium alone—are embedded in a state of excited delirium of knowinglessness. To counter knowinglessness, progressive activists need to include 9/11 Truth and many other issues as important elements of radical-progressive political efforts. We must not be afraid of corporate media labeling and instead build truth from the bottom up. Critical thinking and fact-finding are the basis of democracy, and we must stand for the maximization of informed participatory democracy at the lowest possible level in society. We will continue to openly discuss, research, and validate our issues. As 9/11 Truth activists we see ourselves as an important component of building a new non-exploitative world based on democracy, openness, and human rights. Peter Phillips is a Professor of Sociology at Sonoma State University, President of Media Freedom Foundation, Board member for 9/, and recent past director of Project Censored this article was presented at the 9/11 Truth Film Festival Oakland Grand Lake Theater (September 10, 2009)

(If you would like to make a contribution to Welcome to Pottersville2, please do so now as I'm on my last legs with this site. I know that everyone is asking for your help due to the increasingly bad economic times (no relief in sight for any but the banksters!), but please consider making even a small donation to my blog if you care to continue seeing its content and viewpoint. You may either use the Paypal button on the top left of this site, or send me an email at for a snail mail address. My heartfelt thanks go out to the beautiful people who have supported me so generously in the past. As a terminally loud-mouthed critic of both the defense and domestic policies of the U.S. since the 80's (from within the aerospace defense establishment) who will never be employed again but would accept any job or aid offered, I need your help.)

Brad Friedman at the BradBlog urges you to read this. (Emphasis marks added - Ed.)

The #1 recommended story over at dKos at this moment: "FBI Whistleblower says Neocons Negotiated Iraq Invasion with Foreign Agents in Summer 2001". Good. We thank diarist "The Anomaly" for noticing. Hopefully many others will begin digging into Phil Giraldi's mind-blowing cover story interview with Edmonds as posted yesterday at The American Conservative. There is much to dig into, and we can't do it all alone. Anti-War's Scott Horton interviews Giraldi and Joe Lauria, co-author of the January 2008 three-part front page Sunday Times of London bombshell series on Edmonds, which was entirely ignored in the U.S. (Read 'em all here, here and here.)

Scott's audio interview with the two gents is now posted here.

Philip Giraldi and Joe Lauria discuss the MSM’s refusal to investigate Sibel Edmonds’s blockbuster allegationsthe wide and deep bipartisan corruption at the highest levels of U.S. government, how big media’s money and influence is needed to assist in pushing the story forward, the close working relationship between the American-Turkish Council and AIPAC and how Douglas Feith and Richard Perle helped turn U.S. government officials into foreign intelligence assets.

MP3 here. (58:07) Philip Giraldi’s interview of Sibel Edmonds, titled “Who’s Afraid of Sibel Edmonds,” is available at The American Conservative. Joe Lauria co-wrote a series of articles on the Sibel Edmonds case for the London Times in 2008. Philip Giraldi is a former CIA and DIA counter-terrorism officer, member of the American Conservative Defense Alliance and contributing editor at The American Conservative magazine. His “Smoke and Mirrors” column is a regular feature on Joe Lauria is a New York-based independent investigative journalist. A freelance member of the Sunday Times of London Insight team, he has also worked on investigations for the Boston Globe and Bloomberg News. Joe’s articles have additionally appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Daily Telegraph, The Daily Mail, The Guardian, The Montreal Gazette, The Johannesburg Star, The Washington Times, New York Magazine, ARTnews and other publications.
Suzan _______________________

Big Bucks for Bailout Barons, the Need for Clawbacks and What Leadership?

Before we go into the very big bucks being paid to the "Bailout Barons," John Mauldin has a few words that will raise your blood pressure about the payback you will soon experience (and makes the case precisely for the "clawbacks" required for fairness). (Emphasis marks added - Ed.)

This week we continue to look at what powers the forces of deflation. As I continue to stress, getting the fundamental question answered correctly is the most important issue we face going forward. And the problem is that we cannot use the usual historical comparisons. This week we look at one more factor: bank lending. I give you a sneak preview of what will be an explosive report from Institutional Risk Analytics about the problems in the banking sector. Are you ready for the FDIC to be down as much as $400 billion? This should be an interesting, if sobering, letter.

. . . speaking of holes, let's look at a huge one that is looming at the FDIC. Institutional Risk Analytics (IRA) is maybe the premier bank-analyst service in the country. They charge over six figures for their flagship service. Good friend and Maine fishing buddy Chris Whalen runs the show and was kind enough to send me some of his new data, which they have not yet released to the public. You get it here. (

IRA takes the data from the FDIC and crunches it with their own set of risk parameters. While the FDIC has a little over 400 banks on its current "watch" list, IRA gives 2,256 banks an "F." They project that over 1,000 banks will either fold or be taken over during the current cycle. To date in 2009, a total of 92 banks have failed across the country, compared with 25 for all of 2008, according to the FDIC. 900 more to go. Ouch.

How much money are we talking about? The banks rated F have total insured assets of $4.46 trillion. So far in this cycle banks that have been taken over by the FDIC are showing losses of 25%!

From almost $60 billion last fall, the FDIC's reserves have been drawn down to only about $10 billion today (after set-asides), a 16-year low. A quick look at the FDIC's own data shows us how inadequate those reserves are compared to the deposits they are now insuring. The FDIC only has about two-tenths of one cent for every dollar of assets it covers.

View the graphs and read the full analysis here (enter your email for full free access).

(If you would like to make a contribution to Welcome to Pottersville2, please do so now as I'm on my last legs with this site. I know that everyone is asking for your help due to the increasingly bad economic times (no relief in sight for any but the banksters!), but please consider making even a small donation to my blog if you care to continue seeing its content and viewpoint. You may either use the Paypal button on the top left of this site, or send me an email at for a snail mail address. My heartfelt thanks go out to the beautiful people who have supported me so generously in the past. As a terminally loud-mouthed critic of both the defense and domestic policies of the U.S. since the 80's (from within the aerospace defense establishment) who will never be employed again but would accept any job or aid offered, I need your help.)

Katrina vanden Heuvel delivers the goods on exactly whom is being paid off (and gives Obama a bye instead of a boot!). (Emphasis marks added - Ed.)

Big Bucks for Bailout Barons

Katrina vanden Heuvel

The Nation

One year after the global banking system collapsed the Institute for Policy Studies (IPS) 16th Annual Executive Excess report - "America's Bailout Barons" - shows that the perverse system of executive compensation which contributed to the financial meltdown is still thriving for top bailout recipients.

President Obama had it right in April when he delivered his "economic Sermon on the Mount " and said, "We cannot rebuild this economy on the same pile of sand. We must build our house upon a rock." And, as the IPS report notes, even earlier in the year Obama spoke out against excessive executive compensation, saying, "In order to restore our financial system, we've got to restore trust. And in order to restore trust, we've got to make certain that taxpayer funds are not subsidizing excessive compensation packages on Wall Street."

But the fact is we haven't learned - or haven't acted on - the lessons we must heed if we're going to build a more just, sustainable economy that works for the real economy rather than the Wall Street. The IPS report focuses on the twenty banks that have received the most bailout money from the federal government and shows that the banks and bankers are still acting and being rewarded as if they are Masters of the universe - abetted by a government that is failing to take on the status quo.

Sure, some steps have been taken to rein in compensation for TARP recipients - but they are timid ones. And IPS's valuable report makes clear, "Lobbying armies from corporate and financial trade associations are energetically doing battle behind the scenes to keep even modest changes in pay rules off the legislative table."

As a result historic inequality in pay is still prevalent and the neo-Gilded Age tycoons are raking it in. According to the report, a generation ago top execs rarely earned more than thirty to forty times the pay of the average American worker. But now top execs make an average of 319 times more than the typical worker. For the top twenty financial industry execs the divide is even greater - 436 times more than the average worker in 2008. In the past three years, the top five execs at the twenty US financial firms receiving the most Bailout Bucks took home pay packages worth a staggering $3.2 billion - an average of $32 million each. In 2008 those cats averaged nearly $14 million each - even though their twenty firms laid off more than 160,000 people since January of that year.

While a new and smart economic populism has fueled plenty of talk about compensation reform, good proposals haven't been seized. Senators Bernie Sanders and Claire McCaskill tried to cap compensation for employees of bailed-out firms so that it wouldn't exceed that of the President of the US, $400,000. The amendment was passed but then stripped in conference committee. In April, Progressive Caucus member and Chief Deputy Whip Jan Schakowsky introduced the Patriot Corporations Act to extend tax breaks and contracting preferences to companies that meet certain benchmarks, including not compensating any executive at more than 100 times the income of the company's lowest-paid worker. That bill has been referred to committee. Hedge fund managers are still only paying 15 percent capital gains rate on the profit share they get for managing investment funds rather than the 35 percent income tax they should pay. And unlimited amounts of executive compensation are still shielded in deferred accounts - at an annual cost of $80.6 billion to taxpayers - in contrast to the limits placed on income deferred by normal taxpayers via 401(k) plans.

There is no shortage of opportunities to curb this unjust and unproductive growth in unequal pay. As IPS senior scholar and Nation contributor Chuck Collins put it, "Public officials in Congress and the White House hold the pin that could pop the executive pay bubble. They have so far failed to use it." It's time to use it.

Katrina's commenters define the issue to its nub (read until weeping commences):

..."As IPS senior scholar and Nation contributor Chuck Collins put it, "Public officials in Congress and the White House hold the pin that could pop the executive pay bubble. They have so far failed to use it." It's time to use it." -K. vanden H.

Unfortunately for the central thesis of this piece, the executive compensation held forth as being the centerpiece (she didn't say core, she didn't say heart, no-no-no!) of the aggregate problem is a mere drop in the cesspool. The REST of the cesspool consists of the multiple noodley oodles and garkey gobs and blatant buttloads of Fraudulent Finance Paper, otherwise known to the gilt-edged Wall Street/Foggy Bottom crowd as "Derivatives".

Derivatives are to commerce-as-finance-lending pretty much as top-shelf porno is to genuine human love. A cheap and phony though sweet-scented and entirely utterly abjectly sophisticated imitation of the Real Thing, in other words.

By all the (rare) authoritative reportage devoted to the latter on the Web as found, y'see, Wall Street's Securitized Financial Derivative Trading Documents characteristically make reference in multiple large-print paragraphs to the tranche (OK, "basket" or "fistful" or even "pallet-load" will also do) of actual genuine real live physical loan instruments AND the mutually human-consented equitable financial transactions they represent, while in the Fine Print allowing/enabling the buyer of said "securitized derivative" paper NO RECOURSE - NO ACCESS - to the underlying, genuinely commerce-based and collateral-secured cash flow. Bizarre? Only to one who is both dead honest AND not a fool.

Elsewise, it's just another Keynesian-grade grumble in Bernard Mandeville's fine ol' Grumbling Hive. (See for the base text from the 1600s. Especially if the Gentle Reader enjoys the sheer retro-sense of Historick Rhymed Vintage Satirickal Economick Doggerel Couplets.)Fact is, all the "Securitized" derivative paper in the world has been, was, and today still is sold (though the derivatives market is repoortedly very slow right now) on the "Greater Fool" Principle. This is most easily done by the Finance Lizards of Wall Street during the upswing of the bubble-of-the-moment, which we are now well and truly past, today.

Example: One may remember the collapse of the Florida public-school teacher salary and pension funds a couple of years or so back? That crash came about because the world was already running out of Greater Fools to buy the swindle by then, in fact. Um, things ain't any more lively these days, at all. Too many woulda'-been fools done wised up, y'see.

Fact: Derivative sales and trading are entirely based on the collusive crimininality-based "trust" of the financial trading partners. It was and still is all done under the cloak of built-in small-print non-disclosure agreements. As always, the Large Print giveth and the Small Print taketh away. (Step ri-i-i-ght up.)

Fact: The "notional" value of all the derivative paper now printed into physical being (and now just waiting on Bank of America's and Morgan Stanley's and the Fed's and all the Rest of the Private Financial Trading Banks' shelf-space and hard-drives for the Next Round of Greater Fools to self-generate or sumpin') is conservatively estimated to exceed the actual amount of US dollars, Japanese yen, British pound sterling, Chinese remimbi/yuan, and all the rest of the legitimate national currencies now extant in this world by just under a 2:1 margin.

In other words, if all the derivative paper on earth were to all be bought up by any one "someone" all at once, that someone'd have to both own a BIG printing press *and* make with the fresh ink right away for hours and months on end, just to pay the Derivative Dealer's invoice in full at the end of the day.

Fact: It'll be a LONG time afore the Poppy Fields of Afghanistan produce enuf heroin base at today's depressed poppy-juice prices to make up the difference. Meanwhile, um, let's just ask a WHOLE LOT just what Great American Family Financial Interests and the Values Thereof are indeed served best by the ongoing US presence in poppy-laden Afghanistan (Devourer of Empires for as long as there have been rapacious empires), shall we?

Oh, and the Unocal pipeline being rammed right through, too. Must remember the oil, or most o' th' the gunships'll stop dead in the water right quick too.

But absent any material of intrinsic value such as gold or platinum or silver or heroin base suitable for real-world Intrinsic Value backing, it's aught but Fiat Currency rolling off the press all day long to buy the trash and trashets alike, with nary a scrap o' anything real or genuine actually backing the as-printed pastel-tinted face value with anything of genuine worth. So when the private-owned Fed or the (ostensibly) public-owned US (or any other nation's) Treasury swaps its own in-house debt-paper for that fine gilt-edged load of fraudulent derivative paper bundles palleted up on the loading dock over there where I'm pointing, WHO is REALLY the Greater Fool, I asks ye?

Honestly and objectively, try though I might to suss it all out any different, the whole thing comes off as crooked as any common dog's hind leg (and as shifty-squirmy as any drunken snake). That is the result either way - ANY way - that this one has ever sliced it.That is why, by all the lawful rules of traditionally legitimate commerce and finance as I for one have learnt them, all "derivative" paper is entirely ILLEGAL. This is so by all the rightful laws and Lawful rights we all SHOULD and once DID enjoy under Heaven, pre-Glass-Steagall, Back Then. (Ah, sweet Camelot!).

There was indeed once a time when the US SEC agreed with that Good Free Idea; that time is not yet returned unto us. Meanwhile, shill-shally publick wordsmithing is all that stands any longer between the AUTHORS of this world's Derivative Paper in the aggregate and all their consequent Fraudulent Finance Activity, now held in Dame Justice's one pan, and all the consequences in *this* life of one hundred eighty-nine point six percent or so of all the money in the world having been by dint of smoke, mirrors and Counterinsurance with Side Letters Attached all wrapped up in the Very Costly Works of Thickly Complexificated Financial Securitization Fiction known as "derivatives" being entirely and loudly and fully and publicly en masse exposed for the swindlin' criminals that they all are, on the other.

Opinion: Paying them pinstripey-clad criminal perps the Big Bonus Money to do what they did is vewwy, vewwy wong, to be sure. Ah, but to leave out what they all did to all the Rest of the Whole Round World that was soooo wrong in the FIRST place just adds to the cancerous complicity still a-growin' amid all the apparent conundrum-complexity, Miz Katrina VandenH!

Ma'am: Kindly consider digging a little deeper into the FERTILE manure-pile of World Finance, and bringing us all up more - much, much more - on the Real Problem, out of the steaming stinking hole that has been dug for us all to die in by them criminals in Banker Garb, out into the bright beaming sunlight for proper publick exposure and cleansing! You sure do have the raw talent - and why not, really, anyway? Avoiding the necrotic core at the heart of the boil while purporting to lance the thang with that fine-point quill o' yourn only adds to the stench and delays HEALING, did you KNOW that, Ma'am?Um, maybe a good scan through the prior two years' worth of International Currency Review might clear things up a bit, and restore a proper sense of proportion to the journalist's sense of the problem as a whole, hm? See for a taste, Gentle Reader, and then hit up the News Archive one reliably finds at for a more comprehensive treatment - the sort that one can actually Learn from History by perusing once-through right quick, like a good investigative reporter always should be able and willing to do.

Honest weights, true measures, sensible proportions, genuine equitability, and straight-up level-field balance - in other words JUSTICE - is where it's gotta' be at, Ma'am. An upgrade now will prevent significant trouble later, in this Complex Systems Analyst's considered and respectful opinion.

Not that anyone'd want anyone to just switch sides or agendas or nuthin' like that, of course. (But surely someone might KNOW when one wants to, hm?) So have they published "Derivatives for Dummies" yet?

Walking Turtle Homepage 09.03.09 - 6:04 pm # Hal O'Leary and RichM, Jim Hightower might have found the issue to set things rolling - "A Traitorous Assault on Our Democracy: Chief Justice Roberts plans to overturn the campaign finance laws in September, to remove all limits on corporations. This will effectively destroy what democracy you have left.

If he carries through, it's your duty to demand the impeachment of both Roberts and his accomplices, who will be openly flouting your Constitution.

Gerald Ford got rid of Abe Fortas, because of his dubious corporate ties. In this case, the issue couldn't be posed more starkly.

Bob Jackson 09.03.09 - 6:23 pm # Its all happens in the town square. All you need is a huge barrel of tar and a bags of itchy feathers. Then you need some wooden yokes and shackles to stick heads and arms in. And finally, you need to set up the guillotine. A big ass guillotine that makes a huge thud when it drops. Oh yeah . . . the torches. Flashlights do not have the same affect. When going door to door in the Hamptons and Uptown Manhattan, the peeps should really have wooden torches with real flames, and a smell of kerosine, to light the way.

You all know the well paid CEO's, hedgefund millionaires, the treasonous politicos, corrupt govt officials. The real fun will be the lobbyists. You'll need to compile a list. And be careful they will be armed and guarded. Must be patient and smoke them out.

observer 09.04.09 - 6:21 am #

Further comment needed?

Suzan ________________________

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Why Being a "Divider" Was Better Strategy Than a "Uniter" & Other Regrets of the Left

I'm almost embarrassed that I didn't put two and two together like Matt Bastard has. Of course, I didn't have the funds that the Rethugs had for research, but this reasoning rings so true in that logical chord in my psyche that anyone not considering his essay seriously will feel like he/she is sleepwalking through the rest of his term. And only one term to be sure. (Emphasis marks added - Ed.)

(If you would like to make a contribution to Welcome to Pottersville2, please do so now as I'm on my last legs with this site. I know that everyone is asking for your help due to the increasingly bad economic times (no relief in sight for any but the banksters!), but please consider making even a small donation to my blog if you care to continue seeing its content and viewpoint. You may either use the Paypal button on the top left of this site, or send me an email at for a snail mail address. My heartfelt thanks go out to the beautiful people who have supported me so generously in the past. As a terminally loud-mouthed critic of both the defense and domestic policies of the U.S. since the 80's (from within the aerospace defense establishment) who will never be employed again but would accept any job or aid offered, I need your help.)

In late 2000, even as the result of the presidential election was still being contested in court, George W. Bush’s chief pollster Matt Dowd was writing a memo for Rove that would reach a surprising conclusion. Based on a detailed examination of poll data from the previous two decades, Dowd’s memo argued that the percentage of swing voters had shrunk to a tiny fraction of the electorate. Most self-described “independent” voters “are independent in name only” . . . .

Republicans know that investing in polarization, not aisle-crossing bipartisan capitulation, pays dividends — it’s why they haven’t been afraid to break out barely-muted racist dog whistles and fall back on appeals to naked fear of all-powerful government intervention (Death panels! FEMA camps! ACORN!) Rather than moving to the (constantly shifting) centre, which some talking heads have suggested is key to a return from the wilderness, the GOP has instead gone hard right, doing its goddamndest to engage/fire up its conservative base, especially those wayward souls who last year stopped publicly identifying as Republicans and, in some cases, voted for Obama or, more often than not, simply stayed home (and, most importantly, didn’t donate to the RNC). What the GOP is trying to do with their seemingly self-destructive obstruction uber alles strategy is simple: work the base into a free-spending fever pitch while simultaneously demoralizing Democrats and disengaging skeptical independents (an effort aided quite handily by ineffectual leadership in both Congress and the White House, both deeply in thrall with the oracular advice imparted by those self-appointed soothsayers of Byzantine Washington protocol, the DC punditocracy and press).

And should “Obama . . . have seen it coming” like Hendrik Hertzberg says in The New Yorker?

Perhaps it was naïve, and obviously it was optimistic, to hope that once Obama—having been elected by a large and undisputed majority, unlike his two predecessors—took office the nastiness of the assault against him would subside. And so it did, briefly. But as the reality sank in that this temperamentally conservative President intends to make good on his substantively progressive promises, the fury returned, uglier than before and no longer subject to the minimal restraints inherent in a national electoral campaign aimed at persuading a plurality of voters. Lies and fantasies about health-care reform swirled together with lies and fantasies about the chief executive himself.

So much for all the Bush/Chenegang's screams (although they knew they would be found out too late, clever monkeys they) that the French were not being smart when they questioned their response to 9/11, but were "cheese-eating, surrender monkeys." (I really admire Mark Crispin Miller.)

“We’re Number 37!” (France is No. 1)

And why would anyone be surprised that the CIA-implicated would like to shut down the investigation? Was your mouth open wide enough when you read this one?

Seven former directors of the Central Intelligence Agency asked President Obama on Friday to shut down the new Justice Department inquiry into past abuses during interrogations of terrorism suspects, arguing that it “will seriously damage” the nation’s ability to protect itself.

Suzan _______________________