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Posts Tagged ‘Looting

INSIDE JOB- criminals are still running American finance

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“Inside Job” won the 2011 Academy Award for best documentary on Sunday night. The film’s director used his acceptance speech to deliver pointed criticism of Wall Street and the financial industry.

“Inside Job” director Charles Ferguson subjected Wall Street players, economists and bureaucrats to a fierce cross-examination to depict the economic crisis as a colossal crime perpetrated on the working-class masses by a greedy few. His film examined the financial crisis of 2008. His speech lamented the lack of accountability three years later. “Forgive me, I must start by pointing out that three years after our horrific financial crisis caused by financial fraud, not a single financial executive has gone to jail, and that’s wrong,” Ferguson said.

Charles Ferguson’s Oscar Speech Rips Wall Street: ‘Inside Job’ Director Levels Criticism During Acceptance

Where Are The Wall Street Indictments?

Charles Ferguson: The Financial Crisis and America’s Political Duopoly

The United States is now in the grip of a political duopoly in which both parties are thoroughly complicit. The current arrangement all but guarantees the continuing decline of the United States as a nation.

 

“Why aren’t more meltdown moguls indicted?” asks USA Today edit board: “If anyone acted and looked the part of a villain, it was the co-founder of Countrywide … The former managing director of credit rating agency Moody’s Corp. found a novel way to quadruple his company’s market share in rating mortgage-backed securities — he transferred, or fired, most of the analysts in the group … The former head of AIG’s financial products used the sterling credit of his parent company to quickly become the world’s largest insurer of the complex mortgage products Wall Street was churning out”

“You Have More Money In Your Wallet Than Bank Of America Pays In Federal Taxes” reports ThinkProgress: “…as politicians are asking ordinary Americans to sacrifice their education, their health, their labor rights, and their wellbeing to tackle budget deficits, some of the world’s richest multinational corporations are getting away with shirking their responsibility and paying nothing.”

LAT has the latest on the cost of the bailouts: “In mid-2009, [TARP] was projected to lose as much as $341 billion. That’s been reduced to $25 billion … Still, many people are worried about the long-term effects of the government actions [by setting] a dangerous precedent, opening the door to future crises … critics also said that hundreds of billions of dollars in bailout money … will not come back, mainly because of … Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, which combined have consumed $150 billion … most recent estimates of losses for all the various bailout efforts range from $238 billion to $380 billion. But Treasury officials think those estimates might be too high. They said the total cost of all the financial interventions is likely to be less than $140 billion … less expensive than the federal losses from the savings and loan crisis in the late 1980s and early 1990s…”

The Oily Billionaire Koch Bros’ Obscene Game of Monopoly

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AlterNet

Here’s an infographic from  friends at The Other 98%:

The Great American Giveaway

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excerpted from: The War Against the Republic: The Battle of Madison

Feb 24, 2011      By Richard (RJ) Eskow

Power Grab

At the risk of sounding disagreeable, it’s hard to find an “honest difference of opinion” on ideology that explains a paragraph like this one in Gov. Walker’s new bill, spotted by my eagle-eyed pal Mike Konczal: “… the department may sell any state−owned heating, cooling, and power plant or may contract with a private entity for the operation of any such plant, with or without solicitation of bids, for any amount no approval or certification of the public service commission is necessary for a public utility to purchase, or contract for the operation of, such a plant …”

This allows the governor to bypass regulators and legislators and sell the state’s power plants, built with millions in taxpayer money to anybody he likes. This paragraph goes on to say that ” any such purchase is considered to be in the public interest and to comply with the criteria for certification of a project.” The governor can give these plants away if he wants, and nobody can stop him.

Cui bono? Who could possibly benefit from giving the governor the ability to sell the state’s “heating, cooling, and power plants” (there are 32 of them), or “contract with a private entity” to operate them, without a bid process or any regulatory oversight?

Let’s see now: Wisconsin has nearly one million natural gas customers, so it would presumably be a company that “provides consulting, engineering, design, procurement, fabrication and construction services for the natural gas and gas processing industries worldwide” and has “been the general contractor on some of the largest natural gas plants built in the U.S.” And since there are a number of coal-fired plants on the state’s list, our corporation would need to be a “leading supplier of coal and related products typically used in industrial applications or to generate electricity.”

Those quotes were taken from the website of Koch Industries, the company whose owners are bankrolling a little-known group that’s behind initiatives like Walker’s budget proposal.

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Looting Public Assets: here come the Koch brothers!

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(updated)  x 3

First Wisconsin, then your back yard.          

This isn’t just about unions- the big scam is about power plants and a vertical monopoly for the Koch Brothers with total disregard for the public interest. In a word: looting.


This is the big issue hidden behind the bargaining conflict: selling off public assets for peanuts to corporate cronies of corrupt politicians.  We will soon be prisoners in our own country if this continues: pay a corporation to drive on your street, to cross every bridge, to use your water faucet, to flip a light switch….They’ll add exponential profits to use what used to be public utilities and infrastructure built with public funds.  The new feudalism is at the gate!

May 1933: Hitler Abolishes Unions

“On May 2nd, 1933, the day after Labor day, Nazi groups occupied union halls and labor leaders were arrested. Trade Unions were outlawed by Adolf Hitler, while collective bargaining and the right to strike was abolished. This was the beginning of a consolidation of power by the fascist regime which systematically wiped out all opposition groups, starting with unions, liberals, socialists, and communists using Himmler’s state police. Fast forward to America today, particularly Wisconsin. Governor Walker and the Republican/Tea Party members of the state legislature are attempting to pass a bill that would not only severely punish public unions (with exception for the police, fire, and state trooper unions that supported his campaign), but it would effectively end 50 years to the right of these workers to collectively bargain.”

The Koch Brothers’ End Game in Wisconsin

[Note: Now here's a thought...] As always this has to do with money, and the union “compromise” coming down the pipe was set up to be the “booby” prize while the Koch Brothers get their “booty” prize. This is all being well-orchestrated with an end game that has absolutely nothing to do with unions. As I said in comments before, to much bewilderment, this is about power plants and a vertical monopoly the Kock Brothers have their eye on in Wisconsin. So in short: 1) Koch Brothers get their puppet Governor Walker in power 2) Governor Walker gins up a crisis 3) Democrats and Progressives take the bait and counter-protest on collective bargaining 4) Governor Walker will compromise on collective bargaining if the rest of the budget is passed as is 5) Bill passes, with trojan horse give-a-way to the Koch Brothers nested in 6) Koch Brothers will buy Wisconsin state-owned power plants for pennies on the dollar in closed unsolicitated bids for which there will be no oversight 7) Koch Brothers get the best vertical monopoly in a generation .

Scott Walker Threatens Rights and Jobs for Wall St. Billions

In a move so fitting for a hero of the modern Corporate Facist Republican Party Scott Walker today is having a hissy fit if he does not get his way. Yes, the Governor that started that state’s budget problems with huge giveaways to Corporate America now wants his plan to make workers pay for it passed at all costs. Today he is refusing to compromise and threatening to axe 1500 jobs in a recession if he does not get his way. But of course Scott Walker has already been bought and paid for and has received his marching orders. Indeed, Walker has become a foot soldier for billionaires in the War on the Working Class and is relishing his new role as “warrior” for the greediest and least patriotic among us.

Wisconsin Is a Battleground Against the Billionaire Kochs’ Plan to Break Labor’s Back

By Adele M. Stan | AlterNet

What’s at stake in Wisc: Public Assets No-Bid Give-Away to Koch brothers

The fight in Wisconsin is over Governor Walker’s 144-page Budget Repair Bill. But the MSM is missing a large part of what the bill would do. The bill would allow for the NO-BID selling of state-owned heating/cooling/power plants, without concern for the legally-defined public interest. The attempt to break labor is part of the same continuous motion as saying that the crony, corporatist selling of state utilities to the Koch brothers and other energy interests is the new “public interest.”

A CMD Special Report: Scott Walker Runs on Koch Money

Madison, Wisconsin — A new investigation by the Center for Media and Democracy documents the big money funneled by one of the richest men in America and one of the richest corporations in the world to put controversial Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker in office.

Walker’s hidden energy agenda was evident even before he took office:

Walker kills project to convert power plant to burn biofuels

***

Addendum: thanks to Mike Konczal at Rortybomb

- Shawn Doherty in Cap Times has a great article on Governor Walker going after Medicaid.   I’ve been trying to get my head around this part of the debate, a part equally important as the public union breaking part.  The ability for a Governor to rework important state functions without oversight and without some sort of check for the “public interest” leads to crony deals and corruption. Jonathan Cohn has an important followup, where he points out the telling idea that Walker is even going after Tommy Thompson’s reforms.

Item from August, 2010:

COVERT OPERATIONS The billionaire brothers [owners of Koch Industries, Charles G. Koch and David H. Koch, 74 and 70, respectively, at date of publication  8/30/2010],  are waging a war against Obama

Rupert Murdoch and David Koch Collude Against Wisconsin Workers

While Fox News feeds its rabble the anti-union line, Murdoch’s Wall Street Journal columnists front for Koch’s Americans for Prosperity and coddle elite investors

Confirmed: Union-Bashing Right-Wing Media Stars Hannity, Limbaugh and O’Reilly Are AFL-CIO Union Affiliated Members

In spite of their criticism of unions in Wisconsin, AlterNet has confirmed that leading right-wing pundits are American Federation Television and Radio Artists union members.

US Hypocrisy Scuttles its Own Sinking Ship

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The worm turns….or twists in the wind, according to your view. It really was international Banksters that lit the fuse under Mubarak with their wholesale looting, so it’s almost fun to watch them scurry around trying to find someone to bail them out of this mess.  Too bad power and wisdom don’t go together. And in the end the people pay with misery for the blunders of their bosses.

US envoy’s business link to Egypt : Robert Fisk

“Obama scrambles to limit damage after Frank Wisner makes robust call for Mubarak to remain in place as leader…..Frank Wisner, President Barack Obama’s envoy to Cairo who infuriated the White House this weekend by urging Hosni Mubarak to remain President of Egypt, works for a New York and Washington law firm which works for the dictator’s own Egyptian government. Mr Wisner’s astonishing remarks – “President Mubarak’s continued leadership is critical: it’s his opportunity to write his own legacy” – shocked the democratic opposition in Egypt and called into question Mr Obama’s judgement, as well as that of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. The US State Department and Mr Wisner himself have now both claimed that his remarks were made in a “personal capacity”. But there is nothing “personal” about Mr Wisner’s connections with the litigation firm Patton Boggs, which openly boasts that it advises “the Egyptian military, the Egyptian Economic Development Agency, and has handled arbitrations and litigation on the [Mubarak] government’s behalf in Europe and the US”.”

US Warships Signal Washington’s Intervention to Save its Egyptian Garrison by Finian Cunningham

Three US warships dispatched to Egypt signal that Washington is stepping up efforts to secure the embattled regime of Hosni Mubarak.

The IMF’s Epic Fail on Egypt (naked capitalism)

Over the last week, we’ve had the spectacle of the Western media speculating about what is going on in Egypt in the absence of much understanding of the forces at work (this article by Paul Amar is a notable exception).

Needless to say, there has also been a great deal of consternation as to how the West’s supposedly vaunted intelligence apparatus failed to see this one coming. This lapse is as bad as the inability to foresee the collapse of the Soviet Union (it’s arguably worse: a lot of people profited from the Cold War, and they’d have every reason to fan fears and thus look for evidence that would support the idea that the USSR was a formidable threat. By contrast, one would think that conveying word that the domestic situation in Egypt was charged would have led to more intense scrutiny which ought to have served some interests (like various consultants and analysts). That suggests the US was so wedded to Mubarak that anyone who dared say his regime was at risk would get “shoot the messenger” treatment, and thus nary a discouraging word was conveyed).

Tomgram: Engelhardt, Goodbye to All That

Pox Americana
Driving Through the Gates of Hell and Other American Pastimes in the Greater Middle East

Matt Stoller: Understanding the Strategy of the Democratic Power Class

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“There is simply no basis for arguing that Democratic elites are pursuing poor strategy anymore. They are achieving an enormous amount of leverage within the party. Consider the following. Despite Obama violating every core tenet of what might have been considered the Democratic Party platform, from supporting foreclosures to destroying civil liberties to torturing political dissidents to wrecking unions, Obama has no viable primary challenger. Moreover, no Senate Democratic incumbent lost a primary challenge in 2010, despite a horrible governing posture. Now THAT is a successful strategy, it minimized the losses of the Democratic elite and kept them firmly in control of the party. Thus, the political debate remains confined to what neoliberals want to talk about. It’s a good strategy, it’s just you are the one the strategy is being played on.”

NakedCapitalism January 13, 2011

Yves here. I took the liberty of lifting this comment by Matt Stoller from a recent post, since it is informative in its own right and relevant to the piece today dissecting a mortgage proposal advanced by a think tank with close ties to the Administration.

By Matt Stoller, the former Senior Policy Advisor for Rep. Alan Grayson. His Twitter feed is @matthewstoller

Since the 1970s, Democratic elites have focused on breaking public sector unions and financializing the economy. Carter, not Reagan, started the defense build-up. Carter, not Reagan, lifted usury caps. Carter, not Reagan, first cut capital gains taxes. Clinton, not Bush, passed NAFTA. It isn’t the base of the Democratic party that did this, but then, voters in America have never had a lot of power because they are too disorganized. And there wasn’t a substantial grassroots movement to challenge this, either.

Obama continues this trend. It isn’t that he’s not fighting, he fights like hell for what he wants. He whipped incredibly aggressively for TARP, he has passed emergency war funding (breaking a campaign promise) several times, and nearly broke the arms of feckless liberals in the process. I mean, when Bernie Sanders did the filiBernie, Obama flirted with Bernie’s potential 2012 GOP challenger. Obama just wants policies that cement the status of a aristocratic class, with crumbs for everyone else (Republican elites disagree in that they hate anyone but elites getting crumbs). And he will fight for them.

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Our Tapeworm Economy: How Corporations Now Dominate World Governance

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PrisonPlanet

Former Assistant Secretary of Housing under George H.W. Bush Catherine Austin Fitts blows the whistle on how the financial terrorists have deliberately imploded the US economy and transferred gargantuan amounts of wealth offshore by means of sacrificing the American middle class. Fitts documents how trillions of dollars went missing from government coffers in the 90′s and how she was personally targeted for exposing the fraud.

Fitts explains how every dollar of debt issued to service every war, building project, and government program since the American Revolution up to around 2 years ago – around $12 trillion – has been doubled again in just the last 18 months alone with the bank bailouts. “We’re literally witnessing the leveraged buyout of a country and that’s why I call it a financial coup d’état, and that’s what the bailout is for,” states Fitts.

Massive amounts of financial capital have been sucked out the United States and moved abroad, explains Fitts, ensuring that corporations have become more powerful than governments, changing the very structure of governance on the planet and ensuring we are ruled by private corporations. Pension and social security funds have also been stolen and moved offshore, leading to the end of fiscal responsibility and sovereignty as we know it.

Fitts explained how when she was in government she tried to encourage the creation of small businesses, new jobs and new skills to compete in a globalized world otherwise the American middle class was toast, only to be forced out by the feds using dirty tricks. The elite instead wanted Americans to take on more credit card, mortgage and auto debt that corporations and insurers knew they couldn’t afford, while quietly moving their jobs abroad in the meantime.

This is a key interview in understanding precisely how the financial collapse was deliberately planned from the outset as a means of eviscerating the American middle class.

See also Fitts on The fourth method of news suppression

This crisis is all about fraud

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Truth is where you find it

November 1, 2010

You may think that a nurse without an academic degree in economics would not be a good source of information about the ticking Debt Bomb that Wall Street lobbed into world financial markets in the last decade.

If you thought that you’d be wrong. Lisa Epstein offers what may be the clearest, to-the-point explanation of the astonishingly long chain of fraud behind the so called “mortgage-backed security” crisis I’ve heard.

Following her is Professor William Black who backs up her common sense analysis and points out that there have been more than one million cases of mortgage fraud per year- but no convictions.

Remember, while the Fed may have taken this “bad paper” off the books of a few banks, it’s done nothing for the thousands of pension plans, colleges, foundations, local government accounts and other funds that were sold this garbage.

This stuff was sold as AAA paper and was sold by the trillions. It’s everywhere.
For more Banking malfeasance videos, click here

Propagandized in America- the chains of illusion

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By David DeGraw, AmpedStatus Report May 10, 2010

part of a longer article: The Financial Oligarchy Reigns: Democracy’s Death Spiral From Greece to the United States

Part of the reason we are in this mess, and the main reason why the American people don’t even know what is happening to them, is that the illusion machine (television) has removed the American population tragically far from reality. The gap between the news we see on TV, and what is actually happening in the world today, is the most severe it has ever been. We have been bred to be completely removed from reality. As famed American philosopher and psychologist John Dewey once said, “We live exposed to the greatest flood of mass suggestion that any people has ever experienced.”

The American people need to understand that creating, manipulating and controlling public opinion through mass media propaganda is a science. As social psychologist Kelton Rhoads wrote in his study, Universal Persuasion, Everyday Influence:

“Make no mistake. There are legions of influence agents operating in our society. They thrive — they exist at the pinnacles of power — by getting you to think things and to do things they want you to think and do… Most people are either unaware of these influences, or when they are, vastly overestimate the amount of freedom they have to make up their own minds. But the successful influence agent knows that if he can manage the situation and choose the correct technique, your response to his technique will be as reliable as the springing of a mousetrap.”

People with power have used this science to divide and conquer the United States. In 1923, Edward Bernays, the Godfather of propaganda wrote: “Propaganda is the executive arm of the invisible government.” William Blum in Rogue State wrote: “Propaganda is to a democracy what violence is to a dictatorship.” Harold Lasswell in 1927 declared: “The new antidote to willfulness is propaganda. If the mass will be free of chains of iron, it must accept its chains of silver. If it will not love, honor, and obey, it must not expect to escape seduction.”

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Fighting Off Looters in the Ruins- financial entitlement and greed

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Analysis by Peter Costantini

Inter Press Service

SEATTLE, Feb 9, 2010 (IPS) – Reckless greed on Wall Street is a dog-bites-man story. Still, the renewed feeding frenzy of the alpha dogs of finance in the embers of the bonfire of their own vanities has inspired amazement and disgust across the political spectrum.

Despite the damage it yet may cause, though, the spectacle does seem to be helping to disarm some of the banksters’ ideological weaponry. In the debate over why the financial system collapsed and how to rebuild it, economic assumptions that have enjoyed hegemony for the past 30 years are being questioned, and a swelling chorus is supporting a return to stronger regulation.

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