Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Is Anything We've Been Sold True? The Banks, Federal Reserve and Treasury Have Blackmailed America: SS OK/CAFR's Have Trillions in Hidden Investments?

(EXTRA: If anyone could make a contribution to my PayPal account (or otherwise - contact me for further info), it would be sincerely appreciated as I've just gone off the cliff financially. I really appreciate everything that my kind readers have done for me in the past financially and otherwise. Now . . . back to your regular viewing.) No wonder none of the wealthy are worried. Not really worried anyway.

Oh they may be a little bit worried that the people on the bottom may take offense when they learn the true nature of the con game, but really, not so much. I've come around to the position now that most of the people in this country have lost their faith in the original proposition that ensured that the vast majority would see the benefit of paying taxes in order to build a strong country that would be worth living in all their lives. (Even Paul Krugman knows it's true now - imagine that! And how did he come to this recognition? (See below.) I'd also like to take this opportunity to mention again that the start of this downhill journey for the Obama administration was the appointment of Summers and Geithner (taught so well by Bob Rubin) as his top financial advisors immediately after taking office; also that Karl Rove never disappeared from the political scene or stopped being a factor in any of these developments (read the facts for yourself below) - no matter what the Faux Snooze told you.) (Emphasis marks added - Ed.)

Follow the moneydonations by corporate political action committees. Look, for example, at the campaign contributions of commercial banks — traditionally Republican-leaning, but only mildly so. So far this year, according to The Washington Post, 63 percent of spending by banks’ corporate PACs has gone to Republicans, up from 53 percent last year. Securities and investment firms, traditionally Democratic-leaning, are now giving more money to Republicans. And oil and gas companies, always Republican-leaning, have gone all out, bestowing 76 percent of their largess on the G.O.P.

These are extraordinary numbers given the normal tendency of corporate money to flow to the party in power. Corporate America, however, really, truly hates the current administration. Wall Street, for example, is in “a state of bitter, seething, hysterical fury” toward the president, writes John Heilemann of New York magazine. What’s going on?

One answer is taxesnot so much on corporations themselves as on the people who run them.

The Obama administration plans to raise tax rates on upper brackets back to Clinton-era levels. Furthermore, health reform will in part be paid for with surtaxes on high-income individuals. All this will amount to a significant financial hit to C.E.O.’s, investment bankers and other masters of the universe.

Many Obama supporters have been disappointed by what they see as the administration’s mildness on regulatory issues — its embrace of limited financial reform that doesn’t break up the biggest banks, its support for offshore drilling, and so on. Yet corporate interests are balking at even modest changes from the permissiveness of the Bush era.

. . . From the outside, this rage against regulation seems bizarre. I mean, what did they expect? The financial industry, in particular, ran wild under deregulation, eventually bringing on a crisis that has left 15 million Americans unemployed, and required large-scale taxpayer-financed bailouts to avoid an even worse outcome. Did Wall Street expect to emerge from all that without facing some new restrictions? Apparently it did.

So what President Obama and his party now face isn’t just, or even mainly, an opposition grounded in right-wing populism. For grass-roots anger is being channeled and exploited by corporate interests, which will be the big winners if the G.O.P. does well in November.

If this sounds familiar, it should: it’s the same formula the right has been using for a generation. Use identity politics to whip up the base; then, when the election is over, give priority to the concerns of your corporate donors. Run as the candidate of “real Americans,” not those soft-on-terror East coast liberals; then, once you’ve won, declare that you have a mandate to privatize Social Security.

It comes as no surprise to learn that American Crossroads, a new organization whose goal is to deploy large amounts of corporate cash on behalf of Republican candidates, is the brainchild of none other than Karl Rove.

But won’t the grass-roots rebel at being used? Don’t count on it. Last week Rand Paul, the Tea Party darling who is now the Republican nominee for senator from Kentucky, declared that the president’s criticism of BP over the disastrous oil spill in the gulf is “un-American,” that “sometimes accidents happen.” The mood on the right may be populist, but it’s a kind of populism that’s remarkably sympathetic to big corporations.

I've seen good documentation for each of the following essays (that should make your head explode (several times)), and I'm guessing that after reading this you'll decide, rationally (or not), like everyone else has to just go back to watching the stars dancing and American Idiots prancing. Because this is waaayyy too big a problem for a small number of knowledgeable citizens to do anything about. But I wonder, and call me a dreamer, but, is it really? Could this possibly be (for the usual reason that drives all change programs - self-preservation?) the start of the real American Revolution? One where the people who actually worked and sweated to build the country would reap the benefits? (Notice how great it feels to be a member of the workers versus the fake financiers for a change.)

From our good reporter/friend at GeorgeWashington's blog (and please pardon me for running most of this, but it's very kick-in-the-pantsy and one can't fail to want to take action after reading it), we learn the facts surrounding the massive blackmail of the taxpayers by the investment banksters (again - but this time with feeling!) (emphasis marks added - Ed.):

The Giant Banks, Federal Reserve and Treasury Have All Blackmailed America

As I wrote last October: Congressmen Brad Sherman and Paul Kanjorski and Senator James Inhofe all say that the government warned of martial law if Tarp wasn't passed. And Rahm Emanuel famously said:

Never let a serious crisis go to waste. What I mean by that is it's an opportunity to do things you couldn't do before.

Last year Senator Leahy said:

"If we learned anything from 9/11, the biggest mistake is to pass anything they ask for just because it's an emergency."

The New York Times wrote:

"The rescue is being sold as a must-have emergency measure by an administration with a controversial record when it comes to asking Congress for special authority in time of duress."


Mr. Paulson has argued that the powers he seeks are necessary to chase away the wolf howling at the door: a potentially swift shredding of the American financial system. That would be catastrophic for everyone, he argues, not only banks, but also ordinary Americans who depend on their finances to buy homes and cars, and to pay for college.

Some are suspicious of Mr. Paulson’s characterizations, finding in his warnings and demands for extraordinary powers a parallel with the way the Bush administration gained authority for the war in Iraq. Then, the White House suggested that mushroom clouds could accompany Congress’s failure to act. This time, it is financial Armageddon supposedly on the doorstep.

This is scare tactics to try to do something that’s in the private but not the public interest,” said Allan Meltzer, a former economic adviser to President Reagan, and an expert on monetary policy at the Carnegie Mellon Tepper School of Business. “It’s terrible.”

. . . But it's not just government . . . If the too big to fails say that the world economy will crash and there will be martial law unless they are bailed out, politicians - most of whom don't understand finance or economics - will believe them, and sound the alarm themselves.

As Karl Denninger wrote yesterday:

[S]ounds like "Bail me out or I will crash everything."

Isn't that analogous to walking into a bank, opening one's coat to reveal an explosives-laced belt, and saying "gimme all the money or everyone dies!"

I noted in November: In the 1974 comedy Blazing Saddles, Cleavon Little plays the new sheriff in an old Western town. The sheriff is African-American, and when he rides into town for the first time, the [racist] townspeople pull out their guns and are about to shoot him.

But he quickly puts a gun to his own head, pretends he's scared of his own gun, and says "BACK OFF OR THE AFRICAN-AMERICAN GUY GETS IT!!!" The townspeople are dumb and fall for it, suddenly terrified that he'll kill himself.

Here's the scene.

That's what Wall Street is doing with the bailout. The fat cats on Wall Street are saying "give us a lot of money, and buy all of our bad debt for a lot more than its worth, or Wall Street will get it and we'll go into a depression!"

Are Americans stupid enough to fall for it?

In a recent interview, William K. Black uses the exact same Blazing Saddles sheriff-bank analogy.

Miles Kendig has a different - but parallel - analogy for the giant banks:

In essence, what we have here folks is a characterization of the banks and the government that has assumed the risk profile of these banks as some sort of 1,000 pound men, unable to move without assistance.

They have suckered everyone else into the idea that if anything is done to move these overweight, unhealthy "persons" to health they will have a heart attack and kill us all since they sit upon the crossroads of commerce and have sold most folks the idea that they are the heart of the nation and indeed the world.

Given these "objective" circumstance the government is not only beholden to the 1,000 pound persons, but is one of them itself, will do everything to make the rest of us carry them so as to save them the indignity of actually addressing their morbid obesity and the cycle of codependency that enables them all to remain so fat.

Any way you look at it, the too big to fails are not needed and they are dragging our economy into a black hole. Like the sheriff in Blazing Saddles or Kendig's 1,000 pound men, they are playing us for fools.

[Yves Smith] shared another analogy with me . . . a man with 15lbs. of Semtex strapped to his waist . . . . She says "any surprise (that) people in the vicinity are very attentive to his desires?"

As Bloomberg notes today:

The vote was another victory for the Fed, which months ago faced one of the biggest challenges to its power and independence in its 96-year history as lawmakers responded to public anger over bailouts of Wall Street firms. The amendment Ensign supported was included in the financial regulatory bill the Senate approved yesterday.

The Fed’s authorities seemed to be under serious threat,” said David Nason, a former assistant U.S. Treasury secretary who’s now a managing director at Promontory Financial Group LLC, a Washington-based consulting firm. Instead, the Fed “appears to have regained its footing and now appears to be emerging with at least as much authority and likely more.”


The Senate bill contains most of what Fed officials sought. In addition to preserving their bank-supervisory powers, it maintains a ban on congressional audits of interest-rate decisions that some lawmakers had sought to strip away.


The outcome puts Fed Chairman Ben S. Bernanke in a stronger position to withdraw record monetary stimulus as the economy recovers ...

And Tyler Durden provides details of how the Fed blackmailed Congress into expanding the Fed's powers.

A reader provides us with the following letter he received from Senator Mikulski in response to dissatisfaction expressed about Bernanke's reconfirmation. The response from the Senator demonstrates [that the Fed is pressuring] gullible and incompetent senators ... to pass law after law that is only in the Fed's, and thus Wall Street's interests, as the alternative would always be a "market nose dive" ....

Thank you for getting in touch with me about Ben Bernanke's nomination to chair the Federal Reserve. It's great to hear from you.***I was advised that rejecting his nomination would cause markets to nose dive, which would hurt retirees and families saving for their future. I am not enthusiastic in my support. But I think Mr. Bernanke understands the job that he still has to do. . . .

Sincerely, Barbara A. Mikulski, United States Senator

And for the counterpoint, here is an example of a Senator who does not fall for the Fed's racket:

. . . Thank you for contacting me. I appreciate hearing your thoughts about President Obama's decision to nominate Ben Bernanke for another four-year term as Chairman of the Federal Reserve (the Fed). I voted against approving Mr. Bernanke, who was nevertheless confirmed by the Senate by a vote of 70-30.***

While I have heard the concerns of many that the failure to confirm Mr. Bernanke would have damaged the financial markets and jeopardized our economy recovery, I do not believe that anyone, including Mr. Bernanke, is too big to be replaced. We should not hold our economy hostage to the Wall Street threat that total economic collapse is the sure result of not doing everything they want.

Thanks again for contacting me. Please do not hesitate to do so again about this or any other issue that may concern you.

Sincerely, Tom Harkin, United States Senator

I want to mention at this point (in order to clear up a few misunderstandings with various readers over the past year or so) that I've taken a lot of flak about my inability to understand the implications of the sell date of the Social Security trust fund. My economic comprehension of this so-called problem from all the existing data is that there would be no endangerment at all if we as a country decided to tax the wealthy (who draw from this very large taxpayer-funded surplus (which is still used every year to offset the U.S. budget's losers - like the MidEast Wars) far more for far longer than do those at the bottom of the wealth pyramid) fairly for it by eliminating the top earners over a certain amount of income from their current noncontributing status (not to mention the unfairness of only levying this tax against wage and not all income earners)).

And anyhoo - why not just not worry too much about it today (and therefore avoid shooting our current retirees, who paid into it all their working lives, in the head early) because it's something that is destined to fail in 30+ years if absolutely nothing is done before then (and we may still "grow" our way out of it) !!! (And try to remember the history of the Greenspan Commission of the early 80's that decided to solve the "shortfall" due in 20 years then by taxing the people on the bottom of the pyramid even more.) I mean, really, aren't those thug fundamentalists (currently in charge of the moral fiber of the U.S.) predicting that we don't have another 30 years anyway? Aren't they as busy as bees trying to elect more Armageddon-believers to our Congress? Why do they need any more of the taxpayers' hard-earned money now? They can't spend it in Heaven (although their bankster backers would probably end up just a tad more gleeful than they are at present, I'm guessing).

Why the GOP Plots to Steal Your Social Security Saturday, May 22, 2010 by Len Hart, The Existentialist Cowboy

If Social Security were not working, if Social Security were not solvent, Wall St. 'fat cats' would not be scheming to steal it! Social Security is in danger of becoming a victim of its own success.

GOP supporters of the big banksters propose that Social Security be 'privatized', a code word for: "Let's let the big banksters play monopoly with that money. Let's export that money, squirrel it away in offshore bank accounts where working folk will never see it or benefit from it!"

Like monies blown up and otherwise 'wasted' in war, monies tagged 'Social Security' will be secured for speculative or destructive use by the very, very rich, the only people to have benefited from ruinous wars of aggression against Iraq, et al.

Should this come to pass, not a cent of that money will go toward the creation of a single job in the U.S. The fat cats are not really worried about whether Social Security works or not!

That's just eye wash, a plausible sounding 'talking point', a pre-text by which the money may be seized, or, 'privatized'! The fat cats do not care about you or your retirement. If you think they do, you are incredibly and hopelessly naive.

Bush, were he not in hiding, may call this 'class warfare'. And so it is! It IS class warfare and the GOP has been waging it against anyone not financing GOP campaigns with $millions$ since its inception.What would/will/have the ruling elites do/done with your money? So far - death and destruction tops the list of America's last remaining industries. Death and destruction are, in fact, out chief exports.

That's why the U.S. is at the bottom of the CIA's World Factbook - Current Account Balance with the world's largest, negative 'Current Account Balance', often called the balance of trade deficit. China is on top with the world's largest positive current account balance.

That outcome is easily traced to possibly treasonous deals struck by George Bush Sr. in advance of Nixon's largely ceremonial visit to the Forbidden City. It was later, as I recall, that Bush Sr puked in the lap of the Japanese Prime Minister, perhaps remembering the sickening deal with China.

While China exports product; the U.S. exports death and destruction and neither have enriched anyone but members of the U.S. ruling elite of just one percent of the total population. It is only this elite one percent who benefit from U.S. wars of aggression in the Middle East. It is only this elite one percent who benefited from Reagan/Bush tax cuts and largesse. It is only this elite one percent who benefited from whopping tax cuts beginning with the Reagan tax cut of 1982.

In the meantime, GOP types demagogue another issue: Immigration.

Disingenuously, they claim that immigrants will steal American jobs. Clue: there are no American jobs to steal! Check the CIA's World Fact Book again.

. . . The GOP exported your job, primarily to China, the biggest beneficiary. And what about IT? Those jobs got exported to India! Again - check the CIA's World Fact Book . . .

The US trails the rest of the world in almost every industrial category. Steel and electronics were exported during the Reagan years. Automobile manufacturing left Detroit shortly afterward. Chrysler was in trouble in the 70s. It was never coincidental that US industry seemed to have vanished at about the same time Ronald Reagan waged war against labor and won! Uncle Hitler could not have done a better job.

According to the CIA's The World Factbook - Current Account Balance our jobs have been exported to China which is listed as having the world's largest positive current account balance. Simply, that represents the transfer of US wealth to China, primarily by way of Wal-Mart, the economic Kudzu that ate the US economy.

And Len has lots, lots more eye-opening data here. Cap and Trade - one topic I have not covered so far here because it has seemed such an incredible fraud (reminiscent of Enron's fateful promises of energy independence if we would only agree not to look at how they "achieved" it) from the beginning - or a slick money-making, easily-seen-through scheme against the naively hopeful - as usual - is covered very well below. And whenever you see the name, Citigroup, remember that Bob Rubin, mentor to Geithner and Summers, is the Big Dog there. (Please click on the link for the whole essay.)

Cap and Trade: A Gigantic Scam As I pointed out in December:

James Hansen - the world's leading climate scientist fighting against global warming - told Amy Goodman this morning that cap and trade not only won't reduce emissions, it may actually increase them:

The problem is that the emissions just go someplace else. That’s what happened after Kyoto, and that’s what would happen again, if — as long as fossil fuels are the cheapest energy, they will be burned someplace. You know, the Europeans thought they actually reduced their emissions after Kyoto, but what happened was the products that had been made in their countries began to be made in other countries, which were burning the cheapest form of fossil fuel, so the total emissions actually increased . . . . See also this and this.

Environmental groups such as Friends of the Earth and Greenpeace are also against cap and trade (and see this and this), as is the head of California's cap and trade program for the EPA.

Hansen also told Goodman that (notwithstanding Paul Krugman's assertions) most economists say that cap and trade won't work . . . .

I’ve talked with many economists, and the majority of them agree that the cap and trade with offsets is not the way to address the problem.

As I have previously pointed out: The economists who invented cap-and-trade say that it won't work for global warming. European criminal investigators have determined that there is a tremendous amount of fraud occurring in the carbon trading market. Indeed, organized crime has largely taken over the European cap and trade market.

Former U.S. Undersecretary of Commerce for Economic Affairs Robert Shapiro says that the proposed cap and trade law "has no provisions to prevent insider trading by utilities and energy companies or a financial meltdown from speculators trading frantically in the permits and their derivatives."

Our bailout buddies over at Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan, Morgan Stanley, Citigroup and the other Wall Street behemoths are buying heavily into carbon trading (see this, this, this, this, this and this).

As University of Maryland professor economics professor and former Chief Economist at the U.S. International Trade Commission Peter Morici writes: Obama must ensure that the banks use the trillions of dollars in federal bailout assistance to renegotiate mortgages and make new loans to worthy homebuyers and businesses. Obama must make certain that banks do not continue to squander federal largess by padding executive bonuses, acquiring other banks and pursuing new high-return, high-risk lines of businesses in merger activity, carbon trading and complex derivatives.

Industry leaders like Citigroup have announced plans to move in those directions. Many of these bankers enjoyed influence in and contributed generously to the Obama campaign. Now it remains to be seen if a President Obama can stand up to these same bankers and persuade or compel them to act responsibly.

In other words, the same companies that made billions off of derivatives and other scams and are now getting bailed out on your dime are going to make billions from carbon trading.

One the largest boosters for cap and trade invented credit default swaps - which were supposed to increase financial stability, but instead were a large part of the reason that the world economy crashed last year.

As Larry Lohmann, the founding member of the Durban Group for Climate Justice, says, “Dishonesty is rife throughout the carbon offset market.” In January, investigators from Belgium said that in some E.U. countries, 90 percent of the market volume in carbon trading was based on criminal activities.

From DailyCensored (a great site for as inside an information fount as we are ever likely to find) we learn that what seems like science fiction may be the most realistic take on our economic/financial lives (as no one else can tell us where the rest of the money went) - and at this point of no return - who will doubt that something like this has been afloat for a long time hidden by all that fraudulent easy-credit business? (Try to ignore the characterization of this system as being somehow "communist," if you can. Sounds like true "financial capitalism" to me.)

CAFR: US Agencies Have Billions, Trillions in Investments While Crying About Budget Deficits

Gerald Klatt and Walter Burien are unrecognized heroes. These individuals are national leaders who have communicated how government agencies conceal American taxpayers’ money in surplus accounts that collectively total trillions of our dollars. The data is found in government agencies’ Comprehensive Annual Financial Reports (CAFRs).

What CAFRs reveal is a communist-style policy whereby the US taxpayers surrender enormous assets to the state, who then “invest” these collective trillions that swell in these accounts. Concurrently, taxpayers are informed of budget deficits to either squeeze more taxes from them and/or cut public services. To add insult to injury, the state lies in omission by never reminding Americans of their hard-earned and withheld trillions as they eliminate jobs, reduce education, and attack the quality of our lives.

The American Constitution is a contract of limited government whereby the public informs and is informed by our representatives. CAFRs are damning public documents that expose “leadership” from Left and Right as exactly what leading economic voices have said: an absolutely corrupt and self-serving oligarchy.

Let’s look at the economic data revealed in CAFRs.

For example, California has a budget deficit of ~$20 billion. The combined investments of CAFRs for the state of CA, Los Angeles County, and the City of Los Angeles is over $450 billion; over 22 times the amount of the budget shortfall (documentation page numbers below).

California claims they need this money mainly for public employee retirement benefits. Let’s check that story. The CAFR data shows current member contribution pays for all retiree benefits except for $1.8 billion (net cost). If just these three state agencies surrendered their withheld money back to the public instead of lording over it as communists, each Californian would receive ~$15,000. To pay for the shortfall in the retirement account, each individual could be taxed $50.

Why has political “leadership” and corporate media not informed American taxpayers of this option and publicly submitted this data for professional and independent economist cost-benefit analysis to provide other options?

The answer to that question is also the answer to they question of how political “leadership” gets away with Orwellian unlawful wars.

So far, we’re only considering three CAFRs in the state of California. The comprehensive reality is far more dramatic. If you combine all of California’s ~10,000 government agencies’ CAFRs, the combined total according to Walter Burien’s sampling analysis is $8 trillion. Let’s say Walter’s way-off. For argument’s sake, let’s say the total is less than half; only $3.5 trillion. If that was returned to the public, each Californian would receive $100,000.

Walter says he’s confident in his documentation that every state has overtaxed and seized Americans’ hard-earned money in outrageous sums.

Obviously, we need independent auditing of all state CAFRs and independent economic cost-benefit analyses to make our choices clear of how the public benefit is best served. Californians oppressed under a $20 billion dollar budget deficit that cuts essential public services while not considering taxpayers’ trillions “invested” in our names is among the worst choices imaginable.

It’s criminal.

It’s Orwellian.

Please read it for yourself. So, where did my 30 years of investing in five different states go? Do you know where yours has gone? Suzan P.S. I'm sure someone will be chiming in to tell me that "Yes. It's all vanished - gone with the wind of time." And war expenses, undoubtedly. _______________

Sunday, May 23, 2010

"Wealth Society" Spawns Certain Doom for Those at Bottom & Celebrating End of Recession? Whoops! The Return of Hooverian Economics

Is one of the not-so-hidden problems of our time that in the creation of the "Wealth Society" (the definition of that term being the right-wing ideas that bore fruit in the Republican-controlled Congress which voted the original Raygun tax cuts heavily favoring the rich, wars for personal profit and increased obligations of those at the bottom of the pyramid to bail out any "whoopsies!" that occurred as a logical result thereafter), we've allowed the wealth to so permeate (by lax regulations about campaign contributions, free vacations and legal payoffs) the political factor supposedly in the employ of and campaigning avidly for the support of those at the bottom of the pyramid, that they/we are then left with absolutely no representation who understands the lives of desperation they/we are left leading, particularly during severe economic downturns?

Sounds good to me.

Russ Baker even lets us know that there is a new definition of the word "liberal," and it comes from somewhere in the dark, dark zones where these wealth-laden interests reside.

From the "Left," not the Far Right, the liberatarian Far Right or just the regular guys' who hate anybody who looks different from them on the Far Right.

Right. It comes from those in charge whom you think you just elected.

As your "understanding" representatives.

No wonder "job creation" was given such short shrift by your own guys.

So, is this the guy who's really running the show? And for whom? (As I recall, the last guy who really wanted to "nudge" a country in a certain direction was Goebbels (for Hitler in Germany in case anyone has forgotten).) (Emphasis marks added - Ed.)

Recently a New York Times Magazine article profiled Cass Sunstein, the most powerful man in government you never heard of. And it absolutely buried the lead — the main reason to take an interest in this fellow.

Under the decidedly benign headline “Cass Sunstein Wants to Nudge Us,” we learn that Sunstein, a close friend of President Obama, runs the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA), a little-known White House office that reviews the big regulations coming out of federal agencies.

We learn that:

The office that Sunstein occupies is a kind of cockpit for the modern administrative state.

We learn that Sunstein is certainly the most productive and probably the most influential liberal legal scholar of his generation . . . .

In what is certainly an interesting if somewhat vague article, we quickly also learn that Sunstein wants to use OIRA to make regulations more supple, not less robust. Government regulations can operate at the level of philosophy, elaborating how you weigh the interest of the individual against that of society . . . .

What does this mean? We have to wait 35 paragraphs, to the end of the article, to learn how this might manifest itself if he could do what he wanted:

Sunstein had, during his academic career, a penchant for publishing trial balloons —  they were a necessary part of his inquiry, a perpetual what if? Now, with their author a government official, some of these conjectures seem more worrisome.

Sunstein has, for example, written often about the corrosive effects of rumors and falsehoods on democratic discourse (it is the subject of one of the two books that were published while he was waiting to be confirmed last year), and in a 2008 paper, he proposed that government agents “cognitively infiltrate” chat rooms and message boards to try to debunk conspiracy theories before they spread.

The paper was narrowly concerned with terrorism, but to some, these were dark musings. The liberal essayist Glenn Greenwald, writing in Salon, called the proposal “spine-chilling.”

Who reads an article blandly called “Cass Sunstein Wants to Nudge Us?” And, really, does he want to “nudge” us? Or does he want to give us a good hard shove? It would seem that having a person with such neo-Nixonian views in an important position and exerting influence on the president of the United States might warrant some additional inquiry.

By Russ Baker on May 21, 2010

And then there's always that old "Sacrificing Education" (and the rest of the coming "Shock Doctrine" conundrum (as it actually increases long-term misery for the general populace, while only decreasing the short-term pain for those holding the bonds (mostly the wealthy these days although huge investment firms have a big interest as well now))). But come onnnnnnnn. Something's got to make up for all that war spending and tax cutting fun. (Emphasis marks added - Ed.)

The Return of Hooverian Economics By ANTHONY DiMAGGIO Those celebrating the end of the recession may be in for a rude awakening, as a deeper crisis may be right around the corner. While the economy grew nationally by 3.2 percent in the first quarter of 2010, looming and quite massive budget cuts being discussed at the state level threaten to derail what limited recovery has taken place. The national unemployment rate is at its highest point since the 1982-1983 recession; it represents the second highest unemployment spell since the end of the Great Depression more than 70 years ago. As of March 2010, unemployment stood at 9.7 percent, just .3 percent lower than the 10 percent high in October 2009, and more than three percent higher than the unemployment level in October 2008, which stood at 6.6 percent. To make matters worse, national home prices have dropped by nearly 4 percent during early 2010, while interest and foreclosure rates are on the rise again. Although long cast into the dustbin of history, Hooverian economics appears to be making a major comeback in state and national politics. The return of this long maligned model is disturbing, but not unexpected in a country which has a collective memory of no longer than a few years. For those who are unfamiliar, Hooverian economics refers to the do-nothing approach to dealing with economic crises. It assumes that government is always “part of the problem” when it comes to promoting the public good.

This most recent strain of Hooverian economics is accompanied by a hypocritical promotion of massive corporate subsidies and bailouts, in which a majority of Republicans (along with the former Bush administration) endorse. As the theory goes, the best way to ensure economic recovery is to get the government “out of the way” of the private sector when it comes to “excessive” and “unneeded” regulations and interference. But how is this approach related to the modern day electoral politics of the Republican Party? One need do little more than look at the rhetoric of national and state Republicans to find out. As of last month, Illinois Republican Gubernatorial candidate Bill Brady attacked current Democratic Governor Pat Quinn for his plan to increase the income tax from three to four percent, lamenting: “the citizens of Illinois are sick and tired of politicians who continue to dip into their pockets.” Brady railed against “out of control borrowing and spending” and instead supported a plan to “make meaningful cuts to government overspending” in light of the state’s $13 billion deficit. Brady’s opposition to a tax increase has been nudged along by the reactionary Illinois Policy Institute (IPI), which is calling for as much as $3.5 billion in cuts to the 2011 budget ($1.5 billion more than Quinn has called for if he is unsuccessful in pushing a tax hike). IPI Chairman John Tillman dismissed concerns about the soon to be unemployed, working poor, and middle class whowill inevitably be hurt by this plan, explaining that “You’ve gotta’ make tough choices.”

Such callous and elitist rhetoric is eerily similar to and conceptually indistinguishable from Hoover’s own words, expressed more than 80 years ago, that “economic depression cannot be cured by legislative action or executive pronouncement” and that “prosperity cannot be restored by raids upon the public treasury.” Hooverian dogmas are also evident at the national level, where Congressional Republicans attack the Obama administration’s 2009 stimulus as an unwarranted government intrusion into the wondrous efficiency of the “free market.” John McCain lamented the Obama stimulus, instead supporting a plan to further starve the states by “make[ing the Bush] tax cuts permanent” and “reduce[ing] spending to get our budget in balance.”

House Minority Leader John Boehner lambasted Obama for dooming future generations with today’s deficit spending: “at the end of the day, how much debt are we going to pile on future generations?” I hoped that we were beyond Hoover’s brain dead economic philosophy, which assumes that only “the market” can solve our problems at a time when the nation’s banks and major investment firms are still on the brink of extinction, home foreclosures are again on the rise, and states are facing crippling budget deficits due to rabid opposition to tax increases from Republican and Democratic officials alike. The Hooverian experiment was undertaken long ago and it was an abysmal failure.

Sadly, few in the corporate press have the courage to call out Hooverians for their arrogance and incompetence today. Keynesian spending has long been understood by most economists as the primary means of pulling economies away from the precipice of total collapse.

For those unfamiliar with John Maynard Keynes’ work, I’ll briefly summarize his major argument: during times of economic crisis, national and state governments are forced to manufacture demand for products and services since the private sector is either unable or unwilling to do so (as we have so painfully seen over the last year and a half). Stimulating public demand for products and services is financed through short term borrowing and deficit increases – in order to keep the economy running at a time when banks refuse to loan out cash and private corporations are shedding workers in the millions so as to reduce operating expenses and cut their losses.

In such dire situations, individual consumers are unwilling to increase their spending, as they seek to conserve their cash in the case of a greater emergency. The government, then, becomes the only actor able to provide a stimulus of last resort. While the virtues of Keynesian economics have been understood for decades, right-wing government officials (along with centrist Democrats) have undertaken a radical campaign to sell the public on cutting social services as a solution to “balancing the budget.”

The Obama stimulus is lambasted by high profile Republicans like John Boehner, who complains that “taxpayers aren’t getting their money’s worth out of the trillion-dollar ‘stimulus’ and struggling families and small businesses are rightly asking ‘where are the jobs?’” A simple answer to this question is available for those who bother to read newspapers (Boehner and other stimulus critics apparently don’t). Jobs haven’t been created despite federal stimulus spending in the hundreds of billions of dollars, in large part because states are using stimulus money to make up for their budget shortfalls, rather than raising taxes to compensate for those shortfalls. In short, stimulus money is being used to replace declining budget revenues; by elementary logic, then, there can be no stimulus if federal funds are simply filling in the holes that were already present in state deficits. According to the Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR), the $787 billion federal stimulus had the effect of subsidizing states that were in the process of cutting their budgets and social services. As CEPR estimates “state and local budget deficits to the tune of $100 billion a year will offset the stimulative effect of the president’s American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. Stimulus dollars used to cover deficits will have no stimulative effect.” In at least 16 states, the General Accounting Office (GAO) found that federal stimulus money (that went to states for education spending) was being used to retain teachers who would otherwise have been laid off: “overall, states reported using Recovery Act funds to stabilize state budgets and to cope with fiscal stresses . . . . the funds helped them maintain staffing for existing programs and minimize or avoid tax increases as well as reductions in services.” Without stimulus money, the economic decline in 2009 to 2010 would surely have been far worse. As the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPR) explains: “Because states also face legal requirements to balance their budgets, they must enact program cuts [or] tax increases to close their budget gaps.”

Budget cuts, CBPR concludes, “reduce demand for goods and services, making a weak economy even weaker. Without federal funds, states would have to take even more dramatic measures that, by reducing demand, would cost jobs and make the recession even more severe.” This last sentence should be kept in mind when we discuss the future effects of further state budget cuts. States are likely to worsen the recession if they pass draconian budget reductions.

While Democratic and Republican officials promise that cutting spending will help balance the budget, the effects will likely be the opposite, with budget revenues declining even further due to large numbers of state and local employees being fired from their jobs and contributions to state tax revenues declining further because of the mass firings. This has already happened, with massive cuts in the private sector leading to huge reductions in state budgets. Such job losses will put additional strains on the public sector, and justify additional pressures for another round of budget cuts and job losses. Such practices create a cyclical process whereby budget cuts and further economic deterioration become mutually reinforcing and contribute to a greater downward spiral in reducing tax pools and increasing budget deficits. Noted economist Joseph Stiglitz is right to criticize officials in states like Illinois, New York, and California (among the largest state economies in the country) as “very foolish” for refusing to raise taxes, preferring instead to downsize government services in a time of crisis. Stiglitz estimates that state budget cuts will have “a negative stimulus of half the magnitude of the positive stimulus that is coming out of Washington” if they are left in place.

Stiglitz should know – he spent years as the chief economist of the International Monetary Fund – which specializes in promoting neoliberal economic reforms that terminate government spending in countries suffering during economic crisis. Such reforms have had disastrous consequences, contributing to the crumbling of entire national economies over night at a time when Keynesian spending would have greatly helped those in need and stimulated economic stabilization and recovery. One wouldn’t know any of this, however, by listening to the rhetoric of Republicans and Democrats today who celebrate the virtues of non-government interference, while millions suffer under the economic crisis. Current suffering parallels that suffered by the unemployed, poor, and homeless during the Great Depression. By 1932, and in light of years of do-nothing Hooverian economics, U.S. unemployment had officially reached nearly 25 percent, up from only a few percent prior to the stock market crash.

Thousands of Americans – homeless as a result of the depression and the refusal of Hoover to intervene in favor of the working class and poor – increasingly congregated in “Hoovervilles” – the label given to the shanty towns that began to spring up around the country. While Hoover did eventually implement a very limited public works program and increases tax to try and help pay for it, the damage had already been done to a country that suffered for three years under a government that consistently refused to intervene to promote economic stability, recovery, and assistance to the poor. Many conservatives today criticize Obama’s massive public works programs (itself a classic manifestation of Keynesian spending) for failing to bring the country out of crisis. Such attacks are highly deceptive and propagandistic, and display a stupefying ignorance of historical facts. Those who’ve studied the New Deal period (and its public works program) are well aware of the fact that FDR’s deficit spending contributed to a major decline in unemployment from a high of nearly 25 percent in 1932 to less than 15 percent by 1937.

Of course, unemployment again rose to nearly 20 percent by 1938, primarily due FDR’s own unfounded fears about the dangers of deficit spending – which caused him to scale back on public works spending and throw workers out of their jobs in mass.

Upon seeing the disastrous effects of efforts to “balance the budget” during a depression, FDR promptly reversed course, reinstituting massive public works spending, which eventually contributed to a decline in unemployment to approximately 10 percent by 1941. In short, Keynesian deficit spending helped reduce U.S. unemployment from a high of nearly 25 percent to about 10 percent over less than a decade. All this took place prior to the mass economic mobilization resulting from wartime spending, which succeeded in further reducing unemployment to negligible numbers by the end of the Second World War. Think tank policy wonks and affluent politicians naturally find it easy to make the “tough choice” to support budget cuts when the costs are paid by the less fortunate. And there are certainly tough times ahead of the American public. As of March 2010, Illinois is already the 9th highest state for unemployment in the U.S., according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Governor Quinn’s own proposed cuts in the Illinois budget (should his tax increase fail) will lead to an estimated 17,000 layoffs for public school teachers and as many as 400 layoffs for state troopers. Medicaid recipients’ benefits will also be cut, as will be the beneficiaries of the widely popular Kidcare program that provides health care for needy children. Higher education is already being lacerated across the country. In Colorado, public colleges are bracing for a 10 percent cut in their budgets – the equivalent of losing hundreds of millions of dollars a year. In Illinois, universities and community colleges are owed more than $750 million by the state. Budget shortfalls are leading to talk of as much as an 18 percent tuition hike in one year for students of some state institutions, followed by increases in campus housing costs. At the University of Illinois, Chicago, where I completed my Ph.D. course work, there has been serious talk of firing virtually all the administrative staff in the social science departments, while at Illinois State University, where I’ve taught for years, departments are planning on eliminating virtually all of their non-tenure track faculty, decreasing course offerings, increasing tuition costs, and increasing class sizes. Sacrificing a decent education, the IPI and state officials tell us, is the price that must be paid for achieving “progress” under the “free market” system. A majority of economists supported some sort of government stimulus package in 2009, and many felt the Obama stimulus should have been much larger. According to USA Today, most economists feel that the federal government should do more than its already done to stimulate job growth. The majority of Americans also supported the stimulus, with 53 percent in favor and 36 percent opposed according to a January 2009 Gallup poll.

Contrary to the dogmas now spread by both the Democratic and Republican parties, most Americans feel the amount of taxes they currently pay are “fair.” When asked about their policy priorities, 57 percent of Americans favor the government “stimulating economic recovery” rather than “reducing the deficit (CNN poll, December 2009) – in blatant opposition to the reactionary policies pursued by state Republicans and Democrats. Similarly, large majorities of the public (more than 80 percent) favor using federal funds to provide “unemployment insurance and health insurance to people who have lost their jobs,” “increased spending on construction on federal roads and bridges,” and “increased spending on trains, buses and other forms of mass transit” despite official fear mongering over deficit spending during a recession. Unfortunately, state officials remain recalcitrant in their refusal to consider tax hikes. They prefer to rely on propagandistic claims that the public will not support tax increases – despite the obvious fact that the public strongly supports Keynesian spending to stabilize a weak economy. The public is not fueling the campaign to downsize government and social welfare; rather, the current round of budget cuts are the product of a bi-partisan neoliberal ideology that is contemptuous of social welfare spending and opposed to increased taxation of the affluent in the name of helping the poor. Democrats – although the legislative majority in the state of Illinois – refused to consider a tax increase last year, and are likely to do so again this year. Their contempt for Keynesian welfare spending exceeds even that of Hoover himself, who eventually conceded that some sort of tax increase would be necessary to promote economic recovery. Conservatives complain that deficit spending is the equivalent of “mortgaging away our children’s futures.” But what good is it to speak of the future of our children when we’re already flushing away their present? What good is it to talk of “balanced budgets” in the future when families today can’t pay for their mortgages, utilities, car payments, or basic necessities such as food, health care, or clothing? Republican and Democratic concerns with “our children’s futures” begin to look extremely disingenuous in light of the desperation and suffering that are already occurring – a misery in which they have literally no interest in addressing. The notorious conservative Grover Norquist screams at the government to “leave us alone” – presumably referring to the tiny segment of the American public that still believes in libertarian “free market” capitalism and opposes taxation by the national government. We can send a message to Norquist and other neoliberal reactionaries in office by pressuring our state leaders to abandon their support for mass budget cuts. It’s time for us to send out our own message: leave public education alone, leave our health care programs in place, and stop throwing public employees out of their jobs when they’re at their most vulnerable. In short, it’s time for the neoliberal corporatists to “leave us alone!” Anthony DiMaggio teaches American and Global Politics at Illinois State University. He is the author of Mass Media, Mass Propaganda (2008) and the forthcoming When Media Goes to War (2010). He can be reached at

But will anyone listen?

Suzan ____________

Thursday, May 20, 2010

So, We (US) A Christian Country Worship Money? Debtor Nation & Our "Big Game of Freebies" (& Its Expensive End) Giving It Away With Both Hands

(EXTRA: If anyone could make a contribution to my PayPal account (or otherwise - contact me for further info), it would be sincerely appreciated as I've just gone off the cliff financially. I really appreciate everything that my kind readers have done for me in the past financially and otherwise. Now . . . back to your regular viewing.) If you don't want to continue to be fooled into how "little" money there is (for you) in the US's real economy, GDP, net worth, etc., then, please, don't read any further. Go on, don't think about anything much and have a big life on your borrowed money - for a while. As for me, I've long thought that the only reason for all the lawyers and shysters of every type (look it up if you're confused, particularly its German origin) populating the Congress and the offices of lobbyists and funding sources that protect and grow it strong is that there is sooooo much largesse in the good ole U.S. to be given out to the "deserving" poor - like the oil and gas (energy) lobbies, banksters, politicians, fill in the rest yourself . . . and kept from the people on the bottom who filled that cup to the brim to begin with. The following essay will expose the reason why no one (repeat NO ONE) wants to listen to anything Russ Baker says about the economy, the Bush factor, the CIA/NSA involvement in practically everything that makes the wowzer news, etc., etc., etc., and what the final dénouement will eventually entail. And I think you've got to be just asking for it again if you don't start paying attention now. NOW. (Please click on the link for the sources for this supremely informative exposé (emphasis marks added - Ed.).)

Taxidermy, or the Big Game of Freebies

By Russ Baker on May 17, 2010

I’m constantly struck by ways in which the privileged and the powerful manage to define the terms of discussion. Things like “welfare reform” and “compassionate conservatism.” Hard to be against those things, unless one knows something about what (the) nasty business they really involve. Thus, I was intrigued by a recent essay from Martin Lobel, tax attorney extraordinaire and friend of WhoWhatWhy. In this short but compelling piece, Lobel turns the traditional terminology related to taxes and spending on its head by describing giveaways to wealthy corporate interests, rather brilliantly, as unnecessarytax cut expenditures.” If we are serious about cutting the deficit, we need to cut tax expenditures too.

Tax expenditures are government spending programs that deliver subsidies through tax exemptions, deductions, credits, exclusions, deferrals, preferential rates, and so on for selected beneficiaries, for example, the oil industry. Tax expenditures cost the government more than $1 trillion in fiscal 2011,2 which is almost as much as our projected deficit. If Congress eliminated all tax expenditures, it would cut corporate and individual income tax rates by greater than 20 percent and still generate 20 percent more revenue.
Lobel goes on to note journalism’s role (or, more precisely, lack of) in this:
Despite the importance of tax expenditures, they are hidden, so there is little or no discussion of them in the mainstream media. Lobbyists and Congress use tax expenditures as an easy way to subsidize a favored few at the expense of the ordinary taxpayer. Once tax expenditures are enacted, they are not subject to annual appropriations analysis of whether they are justified, and there is no limit on the amount of the expenditure. Best of all from a public relations standpoint, when commentators question those tax expenditures, proponents of the expenditures scream that eliminating them amounts to a “bad” tax increase . . . . It will not be easy to cut tax expenditures because those who benefit from them will fight to keep them by calling the cuts tax increases, evoking a Pavlovian response from the public, who often don’t understand what the real implications are . . . .

Well, that’s what we’re here for. WhoWhatWhy looks forward to taking on tax expenditures. Tell the public - then let it decide what it wants to do.

That’s, that’s . . . that’s . . . Democracy!

A very perceptive writer/engineer, Gordon Arnaut, has documented how we have become "Debt Slaves." As if we didn't know it viscerally already. (And have it hammered home e-v-e-r-y-d-a-y.)

Finance 202: How We Became Debt Slaves (And Learned to Love It)

Who is in charge of these United States? If you guess that it’s the people with the money, then you are correct. Not the elected representatives of the people. Not the men and women in uniform, not the factory workers, or farmers, or teachers, or bus drivers and pilots. Just the guys and gals with the moneybags.

Right now, the US Congress is holding hearings about bank wrongdoing. It is very entertaining kabuki theatre, but nothing will change. The Goldman chief (thief?) and his cohorts may take a bit of a grilling, but behind the scenes his bagmen are funnelling millions of dollars into the campaign trunks of every representative, senator (or likely hopeful) in the land. Real, meaningful financial reform is a certain impossibility.

Let’s look at some hard numbers. The financial sector in the US and other Western nations is about a third of the total GDP right now. That is more than any other industry and is about equal to total government expenditures — on military, social services (such as they are), education and health care (such as it is), infrastructure, R&D, etc.

If you look at corporate profits, the financial sector takes an even bigger slice of the pie, about 40 percent overall. The financial “industry” is in control of this country. It makes the most money, it contributes the most grease to the machinery of politics, and it has a stranglehold on that vital commodity we call money — deciding who can have it and who can’t.

Now the average Joe or Jane might ask what is wrong with having a prosperous financial industry? Well, the problem is that finance is not an industry, by any definition of the word. Finance does not create wealth; it actually takes out wealth from the real economy, by means of interest. So if the financial sector is one third of the GDP, it means the rest of us are one-third poorer than we need to be.

“You can think of the financial sector as being wrapped around the real economy . . . like a parasite, says Michael Hudson, an economics professor at the University of Missouri. “Now the key thing about parasites is that it's not simply that they extract nourishment from the host. The parasite takes over the host's brain, to make it think it's part of the economy, to make it think it's part of the host's own body, and, in fact, that it’s almost like a child of the host, to be protected. And that's what the financial sector has done today.”

That would explain why so many ordinary people continue to act in the banks’ interests, and opposite to their own financial well-being. Many teabag commentators say they are opposed to taxes. But they do not seem to mind the 33 percent tax they are paying to the financial industry, far and away the biggest tax bite of all.

Consider for example the house in which you live, which, if you are like myself and most people I know, was bought with money borrowed from the bank. If you borrowed $150,000 from the bank to buy your home, you will have paid back to the bank about $400,000 by the time you pay off your mortgage, many many years from now. If you go and buy a new car for $20,000 about half of the price of that car is the built-in cost of interest payments that the car manufacturer and his suppliers have had to pay to the bank in order to build that car and bring it to market in the first place.

Now it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see the direction in which the money is flowing. And the means by which this money transfer is accomplished. The bottom line is that the 33 percent of GDP that is the financial sector’s slice of the pie (about $5 trillion dollars), comes directly out of the pocket of you and me and every other “consumer” that buys any product in this economy, or makes use of any credit provided by the banks and other players.

One has to ask the question: At what point does the financial parasite drain so much from the host, that the host becomes sick and dies?

The answer to that question is playing out right now. The so-called Financial Crisis is the first convulsion of an unsustainable system that is buckling under the stress of a finance sector grown way too big for the real economy to carry. The real economy has been flattened.

Jobs, especially good jobs, are scarce and getting scarcer all the time. Industry has been outsourced. Even the professional-managerial-small business class (which is only about 20 percent of the population), is in decline.

It is useful to look at history to put the present situation in context. One hundred years ago, the entire financial sector was in the low single digits of GDP. Even by 1990 it was just over 20 percent. In just the last 20 years, the finance sector has grown by half! At the same time, many economists tell us, real earning and spending power has declined. Is there any doubt why? As the parasite monster grows, our household finances collapse.

How did we get to this situation? When did finance stop becoming a helper of the real economy, and start becoming a drain on our lifeblood? Even Hitler provided virtually interest-free home loans to new families, and a maximum loan term of 10 years, with payments not more than 1/8’th of the average worker’s wage. But we in this “free” society, have a lifelong debt burden and 50-year mortgages!

In the middle ages, we called that serfdom. Or indentured labor.

The problem is easy to see. We have built a society whose ideological foundations are made of quicksand. We need to reappraise everything we have been told about our system, before the system collapses for good. Not all economic activity is equal, as we are led to believe. It is useful to go all the way back to Aristotle, who had some interesting things to say about the relative merits of various kinds of economic activity:

Please read the rest here.

And quite a lesson in the big "Shut the Fuck Up" from the Wall Street banksters directed our way by my glorious writer/reporter buddy over at Eye On Washington. He's the bee's knees! (Emphasis marks added - Ed.)

Wall Street's Algorithm Scam

Hey Mr. Smartypants lawmakers and you, too, Mr. President, howda like what we did here? Yeah, you big shots thought you were all tough by trying to pull the plug on Too Big To Fail and by putting some teeth in your Bernie Saunders-Alan Grayson audit da Fed bill.


You all forgot dat we bankstas are the big boys in town. We’re a financial mobster syndicate with a finger on the High Frequency algorithm trigger. We own da street and I don’t mean Main Street. I’ll tell ya now!!!!!

It’s Wall Street!!!

You guys are nothin’ but bugs for us to squash. We own Mr. Barack Obama. He does what we tell him.

You remember back on September 29, 2008, when you Mini Mouses, you Cowards of Congress, rejected the first vote for a banksta bailout? We Wall Street Bosses responded by taking the market down 778 points in just a few hours in order to let ya all know whose YOUR DADDY around here!!

Now, remember when Mr. Toughie-Fella Obama came out on January 21 and 22, 2010, with his chest all puffy and in a nice fancy suit actin’ all presidential and highfalutin sayin’ he liked the idea of the Volcher Rule? Well, we then kicked the market down 450 points just to DOPE SLAP his face and wake him up from his sleepy stooper, again.

HA HA HA!!!!

We are the boys who have rigged the corporate capitalist game in our favor, and don’t you forget it, . . . babies!!!

On May 6th, we decided to suck some cash outa Procter and Gamble. They don’t call it gamblin’ for nothin’! In just 8 minutes, we drained $700 billion out of the DOW before we brought it back up again to where it closed down 3.2% for the day. It was sweeter than an chocolate milkshake. HA, HA!!

We took it down 36% in just a New York Minute. The worst they ever fell in one day was 28% back in the 1987. That wasn’t a “market correction”, as the “Brooks Bros” like to call fraudulent profit taking. We took the short pants right off your ass. We jacked you up against the Tilt-a-Whirl wall, fool face. Did ya like how their Ivory Soap tasted? Or, maybe your ass got wrapped up nicely in one of their new baby Dry Max diapers, butthead?

Let me tell you now that in a market where 70% of all the trades are made by high frequency algorithmic trades, you know by computers that love to manipulate and game the system in our favor, . . . We run it!!! We control it!!!! It’s like our penny arcade board walk down there in Jersey. And, on May 6, 2010, we reminded you of it…AGAIN!!!!

REMEMBER, we took it down close to 1000 points in just 15 minutes just so you’d shit your pants, boys!!!!

And, to the Congressional Whores who own big shares in us: You know, Goldman Sachs, Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase, Wells, and da other mobster banks, WE OWN YA!!! HA HA HA!!!!

If you want to push us around, while you own lots of our stock shares, then you are just a bunch of jokers. COME HERE. SIT DOWN SO I CAN TELL YA SOMETHIN’ IN PRIVATE. LEAN OVER HERE. NOW LISTEN CAREFULLY…….

JUST SHUT THE “F’ N” UP YOU WHORES. JUST SHUT UP! Now, after we pulled the plug on almost a 1000 points of light, ha ha, we gave you some back so you wouldn’t cry out loud to your mommies for Mother’s Day, you Mush Brains!!! Listen up!!! We are the --

Financially Unscrupulous Capitalistic Kleptocratic Upperclassmen. Ya, you got that! HA HA HA.

Now, take the first letters of those words and it sums it all up!!

Financially Unscrupulous Capitalistic Kleptocratic Upperclassmen.

Did ya like our shock and awe? Now let me say this just one time, if any of you workin’ stiffs have money in the market, you’re just plain suckers, and over your head. We’ll scam you to death! It is all a casino and WE run it!!!

Call us what you wish, but we prefer to be called a Financial Terrorism Syndicate, because mobster is just toooooo yesterday. Remember, it’s a fool’s game, if you wanna play hostage. Goodnight.

And "Goodbye."

Suzan ____________

Monday, May 17, 2010

They Game the System: The Secret Permanent Government (A Wolf Versus Gramms (of Heroine)) & The Terrorist Card At the Ready

You can't make this stuff up, you know (and were you even to try, they will drop a few more into the mixture before you could print it - like the bellyflop coming up for the stock market - OUCH!). It always seems so "hinky" (to quote Tommy Lee Jones as he chased blindly after The Fugitive) when you hear another shoe drop, and not in a good way. Those Pakistanis so mysteriously allowed on the airplanes, the terrorist card being played bigtime right after Donald Rumsfeld announced the mysterious disappearance of trillions of dollars of taxpayer dollars (on SEPT. 10, 2001!), and, of course, the continuing "benefits" of terrorism - to some . . . and yet, to even slightly question any of the reality surrounding the 9/11 taxpayer hit, followed closely by the financial mayhem breaking out catastrophically under the careful management of Georgie Porgie and Cheneypie (and then Obama?), with the final payoff coming right before the election . . . none dare say treason? And never will? (Although I believe most of us have a tough time proving any loss reported to any insurance company.) From the Providence Journal we learn that "On May 6, The New York Post" (a Rupert Murdoch paper (just like The Wall Street Journal - come to think of it) "ran the following story on its front page" (emphasis marks added - Ed.):

"'THANKS, FAISAL! Inept terror thug saves 900 cop jobs' That’s how many cops were going to be cut before Faisal’s botched bid at Times Square terror. His effort prompted the city to restore $55 million to the NYPD, saving those jobs and making New York a safer place."

Though The Post didn’t mention it, Faisal wasn’t able to save 6,700 teaching jobs, 75 senior centers, 20 fire companies, nurses in elementary schools, and an unknown number of day-care centers and other programs for children, due to be cut by Mayor Bloomberg this year.

But this still seems like a good time to pause and reflect on all the blessings we have received from Terror and the war thereon.

Here is the short list of “Thank You’s” I’d like to see from other terror beneficiaries who have plenty of reason to be grateful:

• A much-belated "God Bless You!" from former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, who on Sept. 10, 2001, announced that the Pentagon had “misplaced” $2.3 trillion.“

Thanks, Osama! Your timing couldn’t have been better if I had planned it myself! In the chaos that followed, no one ever asked about all that money — and they still haven’t!”

• A big high-five from Larry Silverstein, who took possession of the twin towers just two months before the attacks and who collected $4.55 billion in insurance money for World Trade Center’s One and Two and $861 million for the third building to collapse that day, World Trade Center Seven. (For those who may have forgotten or never known, WTC 7 was not hit by a plane, had only minor damage and had just a few small fires burning inside it when it mysteriously collapsed into its own footprint around 5:20 p.m. on Sept. 11, 2001.)

“Thank you so much! I know I’m only a small investor in this Terror thing, but I’m truly grateful for whatever crumbs that fall from the Big Terror table!”

• Here’s a heartfelt salute from the senior officers of our Armed Forces, who had run clean out of enemies by the turn of the millennium:

“Thank you, Terror! When Soviet Communism collapsed, our whole reason for being collapsed with it. This wonderful, permanent war against ‘fear itself’ has a lot more juice than the War on Pinkos ever had! We have the largest military empire the world has ever seen, and we owe at least half of it to you!"

• A hearty handshake from the shareholders and chief executive officers of Raytheon, McDonnell-Douglas, Lockheed-Martin, Boeing and the countless junior members in good standing of the Military-Industrial Complex:

To al-Qaida, Pakistani intelligence, and the CIA: Many thanks! Your inflated threats and geopolitical tinkering have meant inflated profits for us! And thanks, of course, to the taxpayers of America. The buck starts with you!"

• And here’s a special thank you from the National Security State as a whole to the American people: “Thanks for swallowing what is so clearly a fairy tale (spiced up with real death!). It’s been so great for us, and incidentally has kept the public very safe (give or take a few teachers, children’s programs and innocent bystanders).

Thanks, Terror! If you didn’t exist, we’d have to invent you!

And you gotta love Russ Baker, who always has the inside information for those of us not so much on the inside - as Phil and Wendy Gramm were anyway, but there again, UBS certainly knows whom to pay off everywhere(!) - (although they can't stop us from thinking about what's going on in there - yet). (Emphasis marks added - Ed.)

Last August, the presidential press corps followed Barack Obama and his family to Martha's Vineyard for their brief vacation. The coverage focused on summery fare — a visit to an ice cream parlor, the books the president had brought along. Nearly everyone mentioned his few rounds of golf, including his swing, and the enthusiasm of onlookers. What caught my eye, though, was the makeup of his foursome. The president was joined by an old friend from Chicago; a young aide; and Robert Wolf, Chairman and CEO, UBS Group Americas. In a decidedly incurious piece, a New York Times reporter made light of Wolf's presence:

"The president has told friends that to truly relax he prefers golfing with young aides . . . . But he departed from that pattern Monday when he invited a top campaign contributor, Robert Wolf, president of UBS Investment Bank, to join him for 18 holes. Call it donor maintenance."

Wolf, however, is hardly — as the Times suggested — just another donor. For one thing, he is a leading figure in an industry that almost brought down the entire financial system — and then was the recipient of astonishing government largesse.

UBS, along with other banks, benefited directly from the backdoor bailout of the insurance giant AIG. But UBS stands alone in one rather formidable respect — it was the defendant in the largest offshore tax evasion case in U.S. history, accused of helping wealthy Americans hide their income in secret offshore accounts. To settle a massive investigation, UBS forked over $780 million to the US treasury. This settlement came shortly before Wolf rounded out Obama’s golfing party.

Given this rather problematical situation, why then would the President choose UBS’s Wolf of all people for this honor? Wolf declined a request for an interview about his relationship with the President, so it was not possible to pose that question to him. This hardly matters, though, for the story goes far beyond Wolf and UBS. It involves Republicans as well as Democrats, the Bush Administration as well as Obama’s.

More importantly, behind the trivialized golf outing on Martha’s Vineyard, lie the interests that increasingly set the course for every administration. And that now game the system so well that the rest of us — wherever we live in the world — are kept fighting for the scraps.

BOTH SIDES NOW (with apologies to Joni Mitchell - "Sorry! Not my fault!")

When most people criticize those aspects of government that seem most impervious to the democratic process, they cite the permanency and perceived self-interest of the mandarins of the Washington bureaucracy. But when it comes to real power, an ability to come out ahead no matter which party is in power, it’s hard to top certain financial institutions.

UBS is very much a part of that permanent government. Though not a household name in the United States, UBS is a major player in the Beltway game. During the 2008 campaign, while Robert Wolf was courting Democratic hopeful Obama, his UBS cohort, former Senator Phil Gramm, was working the other side of the street. As chairman of the Senate Banking Committee in the 1990s, Gramm, a corporate-friendly Texas Republican, played a key role in the deregulation of the banking industry, an act so central to the nation’s financial collapse. Since 2002, Gramm has been UBS Americas’ vice chairman. In 2008, he was the leading economics adviser for Obama’s opponent, John McCain—and even touted as a possible treasury secretary in a McCain administration.

The bottom line: UBS hedged its bets, and so had an inside track no matter which party took the White House. Thus, when Obama won, it was Wolf who ascended. The new president named the banker-donor to his White House Economic Advisory Board.

The important machinations behind this accrual of influence rarely get attention in the frenzied hustle of the news cycle. One reason is that they do not seem like news at all, since they are essentially woven deeply into the fabric of politics and government, thus hidden in plain sight. Another is that they are dauntingly complex.

Some things are simple, though. Like the fact that a UBS executive is a dubious candidate to serve as an Economic Advisor to the President. For one thing, the company’s track record at the time of the election was distinctly underwhelming. UBS suffered major losses on subprime lending, and had to raise money from the Singapore government and other entities. As Slate’s money columnist Daniel Gross quipped back in 2008, “UBS used to stand for Union Bank of Switzerland. But perhaps it should stand for Untold Billions Squandered. Or Underwater Bi-Lingual Schleppers.”

Furthermore, UBS’ stock lost nearly 70 percent of its value even before the recession really kicked in — making it the worst performing foreign bank operating here.

Given this damning set of facts, Wolf made both an odd choice as a presidential adviser and a peculiar pick for that intimate round of golf.


Despite being the world’s biggest manager of private assets, UBS has stayed pretty much below the domestic radar. The Alpine quiet surrounding its activities was, however, quietly shattered in mid-2007, when an IRS audit of a US citizen led to a UBS banker who then revealed certain UBS practices that encouraged wealthy Americans to hide taxable income. UBS bankers had apparently used every trick in the book — including giving customers code names and assisting them with or providing them with untraceable pay phones, encrypted computers, fake trusts, document-shredding and even counter-surveillance training.

And much, much more, my friends.

For those insiders.

But there will be no prosecutions because . . . well, it's sooooooo hard to prove malice, or malfeasance, or corruption, or venality or even the slightest criminal behavior . . . because . . . the laws were changed beforehand - and nobody knew.

Suzan ____________