March 10, 2013

Following The Examples Set For Us

Readers suggested a topic on fighting back. “I was thinking about the 1%, or the hellish alliance of Washington and Wall Street and how failure at that level just seems to get repeatedly rewarded, while the whistle blowers are punished within an inch of their lives and livelihoods. Non-enforcement of immigration laws, stagnant or decreasing pay for many, foreign H1-Bs brought in to compete with citizens in the better paying fields, lousy products from China, crap that doesn’t work or falls apart, internet services forcing their ‘customers’ into crappy situations while dealing with all sorts of glitches (ebay, FB, Google, etc.), lousy paying service jobs, companies reneging on pay raises, pensions, etc. major cities in the US becoming bombed-out slums. Paying more, getting less. Manipulated gas prices every day. Rotting infrastructure. I can go on, but feel free to add to the list. My point is that there’s an awful lot of ‘make it go wrong’ at the ‘elite’ level and has been for a while.”

“But, somehow, things still work in day to day life. Why? Because the ‘Main Streeters’ still do a relatively good job at grunt level. They manage to get to work despite the rise in gas prices, accept less job security, deal with financial problems, crappy school systems, all that. But they still do what they’re supposed to do, ring those cash registers, help customers or clients, teach and care for kids, make sure the traffic signals work, the computer systems going, close the deals, install the equipment, do the clerking, enter the information etc. etc. All these people, the despised 99% (or maybe it’s 55%, if you take away those on public dole) make it go right, under constant threat. There seems to be some sort of compact that the elites can screw up all they want and still get paid, but the rest of us have to do their jobs. Why is that?”

“What if, for one day, they made it go wrong? Just didn’t code properly? Just ‘forgot’ to enter some piece of crucial information? Jammed the cash registers? Messed up the travel reservations? Cut the wrong trees, installed the equipment improperly? Screwed up the bank deposits? ‘Lost’ the necessary part for the job. Just, whatever grunt work they do for lousy pay, they just didn’t do it right?”

“It’s been suggested that a ‘national’ strike by regular working folks would never happen, and I agree. It’d be even better if folks weren’t obvious about it. Go ahead, show up for work. Do your job. Mess things up, but covertly. You can always say you ‘made a mistake’. Or ‘misspoke’. Happens to everyone, right? After all, the example is set from the top and we’re just following the examples set for us. Even more fun would be not knowing who was going to participate. And hey, it’s only for one day. The ‘elites’ do the nasty EVERY. SINGLE. DAY! How about a national ‘Make It Go Wrong’ day for the rest of us?”

A reply, “I think Gerald Celente was on point when he said, ‘When people have nothing left to lose, they lose it.’ Just flip that over. The majority still do have something to lose. While they still have a house, food, their cars, a sort of working credit card, their income, they will not lose it. They will suck it up out of fear of losing even the more imporant things and not just the discretionary.”

One said, “I try to Make It Go Wrong every day. I don’t borrow. It’s a lonely battle.”

Another said, “This is brilliant! Let’s see if America’s disgruntled inner vandal can ruin what’s left of its infrastructure, supply and distribution chain, research-in-progress, emergency services, communications networks, etc., all to spite the face of its .1%. (That’ll show ‘em!) And of course we proactive anarchists will all have the restraint and thoughtfulness to limit ourselves to inconsequential and non-idological mischief only. Guy Fawkes Lives!”

One added, “Don’t we have a day for the 99% already? I believe it’s called Labor Day. We could just all participate by either not going to work and/or not participating in activities (shopping, dining out, movies, etc.) that eventually result in trickle-up (to the 1%) economics.”

A reply, “This whole economic crisis/disaster illustrates how we have gone PAST the point of diminishing marginal returns. We have a long way to go before the majority realizes that and acts accordingly. There is still a lot of juice for vampire squids & their wannabees to suck out of the system before it’s GONE.”

And finally, “Seems like Eric Holder’s admission that the largest investment banks are too big to jail is further proof that the Geithner Doctrine will continue despite his departure. Our venal congress can’t be counted on to do what Obama should have done, i.e., break up the To Big To Fail banks.”

From MarketWatch. “Attorney General Eric Holder, the top U.S. law-enforcement official, finally admitted this week that bank executives truly are above the law and may commit crimes with virtual impunity. ‘I am concerned that the size of some of these institutions becomes so large that it does become difficult for us to prosecute them,’ Holder said. ‘When we are hit with indications that if you do prosecute — if you do bring a criminal charge — it will have a negative impact on the national economy, perhaps even the world economy. I think that is a function of the fact that some of these institutions have become too large.’”

From Reuters. “Attorney General Eric Holder came right out this week and told the Senate Judiciary Committee what many observers have long suspected - that his department has refrained from more aggressive criminal prosecutions of the so-called too-big-to-fail banks, exactly because of their special status.”

“In short, we have the top law enforcement official in the United States admitting that if a bank is big enough and systematically important enough, it will not be subject to the same laws as the rest of us. First of all, it is Holder’s job to enforce all laws - not just the ones that he thinks are consistent with financial stability. Secondly, he is almost certainly dead wrong that slamming a too-big-to-fail bank with a criminal prosecution would hurt the global economy. Indeed, it is quite the reverse.”

“The strength of the rule of law has to be one of the biggest protections for shareholders, and whatever weakens it threatens them. A country with lawless and entitled large banks is a country which will have lower structural growth and worse investment returns. Sound familiar?”

“Money will be badly allocated, both because TBTF banks will have an incentive to make financial products as complex as possible, and because bank employees will game the system to their own advantage. Heard this story before?”

“TBTF bank employees will have even more incentive than before the crisis to take on too much risk and to flout the law. After all, they will continue to pocket huge sums and the most they can lose is their job rather than their liberty.”

“Senior managers, whatever they say, have less reason to control their subordinates, and given the short shelf life of so many banking careers, that much more incentive to make coin while times are good. Money will flow into and out of the largest banks, but very little of it will be captured by those actually footing the bill.”

“While Holder was right in calling for better measures to end too-big-to-fail, he was dead wrong in his calculations of the costs of the matter. We are all paying, every day.”

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Comment by Ben Jones
2013-03-09 09:16:58

That rich and/or powerful people and organizations will take advantage of others given the chance isn’t new. But what we’re seeing is the result of there being no consequences when they do. Let’s take some housing bubble examples; Fannie and Freddie can’t produce financial statements due to massive fraud and corruption. Is anyone charged? NO, and what’s more, they aren’t even taken of the stock exchanges, as required by law, and they continue to this day, doing the bidding of the powers that be. Here’s the kicker; this sort of thing is sold to us as “it would be bad for everybody”. In a million ways, when you start winking and nodding at the law, and you slip and slip, pretty much anything goes.

Big and small, this goes on. You might have read that police officers still arrest people for video taping them, even though it’s been proven many times that it is legal. How about the big stuff:

‘If there were any lingering doubts about whether the former US defence secretary, Donald Rumsfeld, should be indicted before a criminal court, evidence that he asked a veteran of American dirty wars in central America to help set up vicious sectarian militias in Iraq should end them once and for all…Senior military commanders made it quite clear to this writer soon after the invasion that they believed there was sufficient evidence to indict Rumsfeld and his cohorts.’

‘The next question is how far is the then British government, and Tony Blair in particular, implicated…In any case, Rumsfeld was in charge, and was allowed to do anything he pleased, whatever his obligations under international law, and whatever those in charge of America’s closest ally, Britain, might have said.’

Jeebus people, we’ve seen these “officials” completely make up evidence, invade a country and kill hundreds of thousands, with no charges made, no war crime courts, nothing. How can we expect that ripping off a few trillion bucks here or there is going to be chased down?

This is how you end up like Mexico.

‘John Yoo, the author of the Bush administration legal memos justifying the use of torture, thinks President Obama is really getting too much grief over targeted killing. And he wants Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.)—who filibustered Obama’s nominee to head the CIA for 13 hours on Wednesday—to lay off.’

“I admire libertarians but I think Rand Paul’s filibuster in many ways is very much what libertarians do, they make these very symbolic gestures, standing for some extreme position,” said Yoo, now a UC Berkeley law professor, who once suggested it was okay for the president to order a child’s testicles be crushed.’

Comment by scdave
2013-03-09 10:06:01

When, as a adult american citizen, you witness what Bush, Cheney & Rumsfeld did, you can’t help but become sinister….

I just ran up a new United States Flag on the flag pole just a few days ago…Wind was up and it was really waving…I drove away asking myself if this greatest of countries could withstand the corruption and evil that is entrenched…

Comment by Ben Jones
2013-03-09 10:31:56

‘this greatest of countries’

IMO what makes this a great place to live is the freedom. But notice how this is twisted by the PTB. They’ll say we have the greatest system, or form of government. The implication is we produce the greatest congressmen, or senators, and presidents. Then, don’t you dare criticize the president, he’s the greatest! He was picked very carefully by the greatest election system ever devised! Isn’t it interesting that the minute a person becomes a senator or president, he or she takes on some kind of holy aura.

When I was studying auditing in college, we covered the concept that if you have an arrangement where there are poor internal controls, there is a risk of encouraging an otherwise good employee to do bad things. Make it easy to steal, and someone who might not normally steal could do so. And this applies to a lot of things in life. If we turn a blind eye to how things are being done, or don’t speak up when they are objectionable, we are encouraging crimes to be committed.

Comment by scdave
2013-03-09 10:47:24

I totally agree Ben…And its not just politicians in DC…Its also state & local governments…I think California passed something like 300 new laws just this past year…Freedom ?? Hardly….

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Comment by Skroodle
2013-03-09 13:48:00

We indeed have a great legal system also:

Halliburton, KBR Burn Pit Suit Thrown Out by U.S. Judge
By Andrew Zajac - Feb 28, 2013 6:39 PM CT

Halliburton Co. (HAL) and KBR Inc. are entitled to the same legal protection as U.S. armed forces when serving as military contractors, a judge ruled, dismissing claims over so-called burn pits in Iraq and Afghanistan.

U.S. District Judge Roger Titus threw out 57 consolidated lawsuits against the companies brought mainly by military personnel who claim they suffered damaging health effects from exposure to the contractors’ pits, where items including medical waste, paints and pesticides are burned in war zones.

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Comment by aNYCdj
2013-03-09 19:33:02

well they VOLUNTEERED..they wanted to be in harms way, now they sue….

It’s like the saying “What if they gave a War and Nobody came”.

Comment by Skroodle
2013-03-10 13:18:41

Halliburton serves as a military contractor in the US as well.

Comment by Cantankerous Intellectual Bomb Thrower™
2013-03-10 02:24:11

When you speak up about objectionable acts, you are encouraging crimes to be committed against yourself.

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Comment by John B.
2013-03-10 11:19:00

I have bad news for you: America is not the greatest country in the world. I like your constitution, I like your judiciary system. And that is all. Liberal Democrat? Democratic Republican? Oh come on…

But to be honest, Canada is not doing any better. We still have our perfect housing market which will probably continue to drop in 2013. We don´t want the Keystone pipeline yet we are going to build it because its MONEY what is more important than our environment. And we can continue with many other problems.

Corruption is not American, its all around the world. It plagues almost every state from the most democratic to the totalitarian ones. Its because our institutions are imperfect. Deal with it.

Comment by ahansen
2013-03-09 15:27:34

Small signs of accountability here and there. It looks like poor Georgie, at least, won’t be making it to Gstaad for ski season….

“…Bush was to be the keynote speaker at Keren Hayesod’s annual dinner on Feb. 12 in Geneva. But pressure has been building on the Swiss government to arrest him and open a criminal investigation if he enters the Alpine country….”

Comment by Ben Jones
2013-03-09 15:40:27

That is good news. And there are places Kissinger won’t visit for the same reason. But what about the international courts? Recall how certain people get their assets frozen, no matter where. When we see the Bush assets frozen, that will be real progress. Heck you wouldn’t have to try him, he’d curl up in a padded cell for life without his money.

Comment by rms
2013-03-11 01:09:00

“When we see the Bush assets frozen, that will be real progress.”

+1 Agreed.

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Comment by PeakHubris
2013-03-09 17:34:34

I’d like to see Bush and Cheney arrested and charged with war crimes and war profiteering. Their goals in Iraq were financial and personal.

Comment by ahansen
2013-03-09 22:47:25

I’m afraid the only way Cheney, Rummy, Condi and their pet “decider” will ever be prosecuted and imprisoned for their war crimes is if the US is overrun and conquered by a country or countries that want that done — which isn’t likely in what’s left of their lifetimes. And their assets are far too well-dispersed to friendly oligarchs and “sovereign states” to be frozen.

But unlike Clinton, Carter, and George HW, who all retired in a certain good grace and went on to friendly international acclaim and continued global public service, those who screw up in office know it’s not safe to show their face in public.

Henry the K is persona non grata in most of the world (including large swaths of the US). Nixon was effectively exiled to San Clemente and never really got out, and GW is reduced to oil painting lessons on his converted pig farm outside of Waco.

Let’s face it, he has to know there are half a billion used shoes just waiting to make contact upside his head as soon as it pops up anywhere outside of his compound, and while it’s laughably disproportionate punishment for the damage he wrought our country and the world, that knowledge has gotta sting just a little — if he’s sober enough for it to even register.

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Comment by PeakHubris
2013-03-10 08:11:39

“…if he’s sober enough for it to even register.”

No, he’s smashed.

Comment by Ben Jones
2013-03-10 08:25:17

‘his converted pig farm outside of Waco’

I think he “lives” in Dallas now. They probably own dozens of houses.

‘if the US is overrun and conquered by a country or countries’

Now we are getting somewhere: ‘the hellish alliance of Washington and Wall Street and how failure at that level just seems to get repeatedly rewarded, while the whistle blowers are punished’

Why would it take an invasion for a former high US official to face charges? Is there that much love from Obama for the Bush people? Note that Obama and Holder have worked hard to protect Bush torturers, war criminals, etc. Very interesting. It’s almost like all this partisan fighting is really just posturing, and the fat cats are in it together. What if reality is even more messed up than palmetto suggested?

‘Confessions of an Economic Hit Man is a book written by John Perkins and published in 2004…According to his book, Perkins’ function was to convince the political and financial leadership of underdeveloped countries to accept enormous development loans from institutions like the World Bank and USAID. Saddled with debts they could not hope to pay, those countries were forced to acquiesce to political pressure from the United States on a variety of issues. Perkins argues in his book that developing nations were effectively neutralized politically, had their wealth gaps driven wider and economies crippled in the long run. In this capacity Perkins recounts his meetings with some prominent individuals, including Graham Greene and Omar Torrijos. Perkins describes the role of an EHM as follows:

‘Economic hit men (EHMs) are highly-paid professionals who cheat countries around the globe out of trillions of dollars. They funnel money from the World Bank, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), and other foreign “aid” organizations into the coffers of huge corporations and the pockets of a few wealthy families who control the planet’s natural resources. Their tools included fraudulent financial reports, rigged elections, payoffs, extortion, sex, and murder. They play a game as old as empire, but one that has taken on new and terrifying dimensions during this time of globalization.’

Comment by Skroodle
2013-03-10 13:20:59

Bush lives next door to Mark Cuban in Preston Hollow area of Dallas.

Comment by Prime_Is_Contained
2013-03-10 13:42:21

Why would it take an invasion for a former high US official to face charges? Is there that much love from Obama for the Bush people?

It’s not out of “love”, but rather out of a shared sense of self-preservation.

Prosecution of an ex-president would set a precedent that would cause future presidents to live in fear. Thus it will never happen.

An incoming president will always pardon an outgoing one.

Comment by palmetto
2013-03-10 14:19:57

“Why would it take an invasion for a former high US official to face charges?”

Anyone familiar with the late author, Gary Jennings? He’s most famous for his Aztec series, but the book that I found most fascinating was “Raptor”, which was a heavily researched historical fiction of the Roman Empire post-collapse.

One of the scenes that most stood out for me was one of the conquering Barbarian warlords (I think possibly based on Vercingetorix, who later was captured and executed) who actually admired Rome (as many still admire the US) and had thoughts of working with some of the members of the Roman ruling class still in place to re-build the empire. Many of those considered “Barbarians” really didn’t want to destroy Rome. They just wanted to conquer it, because they wanted what Rome had.

Upon discovering the corrupt activities of one of the Senators or Roman rulers of one of the territories, he had the man punished and ultimately put to death by fashioning a hat or headdress made out of a copper bowl without a bottom, which was placed on the head of the “elite” and filled with hot coals. I won’t go into the subsequent description of what occurred, but such was the disappointment and rage of the barbarian at discovering the depth of the corruption in this member of the ruling class of Rome, which was considered the “shining city on the hill” of its day.

My point, and I do have one, is that it took a Barbarian (foreign) invasion (or a series of them) to bring Rome and its “elites” to heel. Jennings’ work is fiction, of course, but based on heavy historical research. Think it can’t happen here? Well, I’m pretty sure many “elites” think so, but as is often said, those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it. When a group fails to police itself, others will fill the void and do the job, and I have a feeling “justice” will look very different than what we currently have. Many won’t like it, especially if they run up against people who can’t be suborned.

Comment by rms
2013-03-11 01:26:45

“They funnel money from the World Bank, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), and other foreign “aid” organizations into the coffers of huge corporations and the pockets of a few wealthy families who control the planet’s natural resources.”

I’m sure the huge Wall street investment banks play a leading role taking their queue from shady operators such as the former Nugan Hand Bank.

Comment by palmetto
2013-03-09 19:46:42

“Yoo, now a UC Berkeley law professor, who once suggested it was okay for the president to order a child’s testicles be crushed”


Comment by HBB_Rocks
2013-03-09 09:34:25

Homer: Lisa, if you don’t like your job, you don’t strike: you just go in every day and do it really half arsed. That’s the American way.

Comment by palmetto
2013-03-09 15:30:14

The whole situation is not good for the 1%, either. This is the dystopian future of the US, if we don’t do something. This is an old story, and perhaps there’s been some improvement, but not that I’ve heard or read.

Perhaps Rio can give some insight.

“One result is city life dominated by fear. The homicide rate in greater Sao Paulo, South America’s largest city, has more than tripled during the 1990s, to about 60 murders per 100,000 residents, compared with 7.4 in the Washington metropolitan area and 7.8 in New York. Already 63 kidnappings have been reported this year in Sao Paulo, up from only 15 during the same period last year, according to police statistics. The surge in abductions has produced a cottage industry of plastic surgeons who specialize in treating wealthy victims who return from their ordeals with sliced ears, severed fingers and other missing body parts that were sent to family members as threats for ransom payment.”

Comment by snake charmer
2013-03-10 18:30:58

Thank you for that excellent link. I’ve been to many countries in Latin America, but never to Brazil, other than to a town on the border with Uruguay where the main street is divided between the two countries.

The way rich Brazillians are depicted in the article — basically, using their wealth to totally withdraw from the social problems of the nation that allows them to succeed — certainly applies to this country’s potential socioeconomic landscape. It may apply to it now.

Comment by palmetto
2013-03-10 19:12:33

“It may apply to it now.”

Indeed it may, and you’re welcome for the link. It occurs to me that you and Colorado and Rio and some of our other posters with ties south of the border could give us some real insight as to what is in store if we don’t get our act together.

BTW, kudos to Colombia (known as the Colombian Miracle) for its tremendous strides in making life better for its citizens (while the US makes life worse for its citizens). It is fantastic to see and I am ashamed that the strides it has made have been ignored by the American press and indeed by US government and the braying ass Nancy Pelosi.

Another country to be commended is Uruguay.

Comment by Pimp Watch
2013-03-09 17:55:19

If I can organize a one day strike against the newspaper circulation dept as a 12 year old paperboy netting us a 30% increase, the adults in the country ought to be able to grow a set for 24 hrs and get behind something.

Comment by AmazingRuss
2013-03-09 19:55:45

One half would be told that the other half wants it, which would make them turn against the idea. See: The Tea Party and Occupy Wall Street.

Comment by Carl Morris
2013-03-09 22:04:21

Yup. After all, they can just pay one half to kill the other half any time they want.

Comment by aNYCdj
2013-03-09 18:08:48

Its OK for Holder to pursue to the point of suicide for down loading documents:

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology has launched an internal investigation into the school’s involvement in the suicide of 26-year-old computer programmer and Internet activist Aaron Swartz, MIT’s president L. Rafael Reif said on Sunday. Swartz was accused of breaking into MIT’s computer system in order to access academic articles and make them available for free on the Internet.

Comment by skroodle
2013-03-09 19:58:28

As long as Holder doesn’t go after a banker, we will all be safe and secure.

Comment by Cantankerous Intellectual Bomb Thrower™
2013-03-10 02:21:46

Actually he can go after many bankers, just not too-big-to-jail bankers.

Comment by Neuromance
2013-03-10 14:52:04

They presented Aaron Swartz with the probability of several decades in jail for illegally downloading scholarly (journal) articles. Swartz was a brilliant young man who’d struggled with depression.

Department of Justice won’t touch the banks though. They’ve committed fraud which actually inflicts significant damage on society.

Why the different approaches? Follow the money of course. Wall Street would put pressure on the bought Congress the moment there was any hint of pressure from DOJ, which is run by political appointees. So, the funding to politicians would be reduced.

The core issue lies with the campaign finance system which has de facto legalized bribery.

I can’t recall who said it but someone noted that they don’t investigate the financial frauds because then they’d find out who is responsible. And ultimately, it would point back to the federal politicians.

Comment by aNYCdj
2013-03-10 17:47:44

Neuro I wish i could have met him….and would have told him they never do this to black people. Nobody Black got persecuted for downloading and stealing music on napster limewire etc. or even banned from ebay.

Why are white people so scared of using the race card?

Comment by kmo722
2013-03-09 18:26:50

what would be really nice is there was an upwelling of small businesses that stopped accepting the USD as currency as a way to protest for what Ben and the Fed have been doing to teh 99%.. only coins or foreign currency.. doubt this would every happen due to the challenges of just turning a profit for a small business, but I can dream. I’d certainly play along with them and support them..

Comment by Resistor
2013-03-09 19:56:34

Hardest Hit?

“While thousands of responsible Floridians struggle to keep their homes, a federal mortgage assistance program is making loan payments for felons, tax scofflaws and people with histories of running up debts they can’t repay.

Among the recipients of taxpayer-funded aid: A St. Petersburg woman with a long record of fraud. A Largo man who owes the IRS more than $150,000 in back taxes. And a sex offender who couldn’t live in federally assisted housing yet qualified for up to $42,000 in federal mortgage relief.”

Comment by Cantankerous Intellectual Bomb Thrower™
2013-03-10 02:20:07

“It’s been suggested that a ‘national’ strike by regular working folks would never happen, and I agree. It’d be even better if folks weren’t obvious about it. Go ahead, show up for work. Do your job. Mess things up, but covertly. You can always say you ‘made a mistake’. Or ‘misspoke’. Happens to everyone, right?”

Go right ahead and test this inane ‘two wrongs make a right’ theory if you want to experience job loss and possible criminal prosecution for deliberate industrial sabotage.

I personally prefer to hold out hope for a day when the law applies to everyone, not just Leona Helmsley’s ‘little people.’

Comment by palmetto
2013-03-10 05:38:27

“Go right ahead and test this inane ‘two wrongs make a right’ theory if you want to experience job loss and possible criminal prosecution for deliberate industrial sabotage.”

Industrial sabotage. ROTFLMAO. As if. Yep, folks, do your job and do it right. Stay threatened and cowering.

“I personally prefer to hold out hope for a day when the law applies to everyone, not just Leona Helmsley’s ‘little people.’”

Fairy tales.
Can come true.
It can happen to you.
If you’re young.
At heart.

All kidding aside, I prefer to hold out hope myself. But, as an intellectual exercise, it’s interesting to note the various reactions to my modest proposal. The very idea that regular folks might actually ape their betters in conduct seems to produce either righteous anger or gibbering fear in some. Interesting. Why is that, do you think?

Comment by Cantankerous Intellectual Bomb Thrower™
2013-03-10 09:50:59

I generally try to do my job to the best of my abilities, but maybe that’s just me. That said, it’s hard to be a worker bee in a state where about 1/3 of the working-aged citizenry are dependents…

Comment by scdave
2013-03-10 09:56:15

+1 Pbear….I agree…

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Comment by Prime_Is_Contained
2013-03-10 13:44:12

That said, it’s hard to be a worker bee in a state where about 1/3 of the working-aged citizenry are dependents…

Wow, is it really _that_ bad in CA?? I had no idea—that’s shocking.

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Comment by rms
2013-03-11 01:54:20

“Wow, is it really _that_ bad in CA?? I had no idea—that’s shocking.”

It’s likely been that way for decades. Frustrating.

Comment by Ben Jones
2013-03-10 11:54:29

‘If the U.S. economy fell into another recession, American banks would likely face a loss of $462 billion, according to the the Federal Reserve’s annual examination of the health of U.S. banks. Seventeen of the nation’s largest banks would survive the economic crisis, according to the Fed.’

‘Of the banks tested, Ally Financial is the only institution that is at risk of collapse in the face of another downturn. Surprisingly both Goldman Sachs (GS) and Morgan Stanley (MS) barely received a passing grade and JPMorgan Chase (JPM) performed only slightly better.’

‘Stress tests do not equal safety in the banking sector,” says Cohan. “I don’t think these stress tests are indicative of anything…they’re designed to make us feel a little bit better about ourselves.” That said, Cohan does believe the banking sector is stronger than it was during the financial crisis. “Basically we are better off than we were then but that does not mean that it couldn’t happen again.’

Comment by Cantankerous Intellectual Bomb Thrower™
2013-03-10 12:40:39

“Surprisingly both Goldman Sachs (GS) and Morgan Stanley (MS) barely received a passing grade and JPMorgan Chase (JPM) performed only slightly better.”

Sounds like they blew too much of their revenue stream on bonuses and not enough on stability.

Comment by Ben Jones
2013-03-10 18:07:33

Even though many are dismissing it, the Rand Paul filibuster has sparked quite the earthquake in the GOP. But you can’t just have an earthquake on one side of Washington DC.

‘Three Democratic myths used to demean the Paul filibuster. The progressive ‘empathy gap’, a strain of liberal authoritarianism, and a distortion of Holder’s letter are invoked to defend Obama.’

‘Comencing immediately upon the 9/11 attack, the US government under two successive administrations has spent 12 straight years inventing and implementing new theories of government power in the name of Terrorism. Literally every year since 9/11 has ushered in increased authorities of exactly the type Americans are inculcated to believe only exist in those Other, Non-Free societies: ubiquitous surveillance, impenetrable secrecy, and the power to imprison and even kill without charges or due process. Even as the 9/11 attack recedes into the distant past, the US government still finds ways continuously to increase its powers in the name of Terrorism while virtually never relinquishing any of the power it acquires.’

‘All of this put Democrats - who spent eight years flamboyantly pretending to be champions of due process and opponents of mass secrecy and executive power abuses - in a very uncomfortable position. The politician who took such a unique stand in defense of these principles was not merely a Republican but a leading member of its dreaded Tea Party wing, while the actor most responsible for the extremist theories of power being protested was their own beloved leader and his political party.’

‘Some Democrats, to their credit, publicly supported Paul, including Sen. Ron Wyden, who went to the Senate floor to assist the filibuster. Sens. Jeff Merkley, Pat Leahy and (independent) Bernie Sanders all voted against Brennan’s confirmation, citing many of the same concerns raised by Paul.’

‘But most Democratic Senators ran away as fast as possible from having anything to do with the debate: see here for the pitifully hilarious excuses they offered for not supporting the filibuster while claiming to support Paul’s general cause. All of those Democratic Senators other than Merkley and Leahy (and Sanders) voted to confirm the torture-advocating, secrecy-loving, drone-embracing Brennan as CIA chief.’

‘Meanwhile, a large bulk of the Democratic and liberal commentariat - led, as usual, by the highly-paid DNC spokesmen called “MSNBC hosts” and echoed, as usual, by various liberal blogs, which still amusingly fancy themselves as edgy and insurgent checks on political power rather than faithful servants to it - degraded all of the weighty issues raised by this episode by processing it through their stunted, trivial prism of partisan loyalty. They thus dutifully devoted themselves to reading from the only script they know: Democrats Good, GOP Bad.’

‘almost without exception, progressives who defend Obama’s Terrorism policies steadfastly ignore the fact that they are embracing policies that are vehemently denounced by the ACLU. That’s because they like to tell themselves that only Big, Bad Republicans attack the ACLU…so they ignore the ACLU and instead pretend that only right-wing figures like Rand Paul are concerned about these matters. It’s remarkable indeed how frequently, in the Age of Obama, standard partisan Democrats embrace exactly the policies identified by the ACLU as the most menacing. Such Obama-defending progressives also willfully ignore just how much they now sound like Sarah Palin, Karl Rove, and George Bush when ridiculing concerns about due process for accused Terrorists.’

Comment by snake charmer
2013-03-10 18:41:51

I used to post regularly on one of said liberal blogs, but became disenchanted of late for just this reason.

Comment by Michael Viking
2013-03-10 19:37:37

I was totally impressed by an interview I heard of Rand Paul a couple of days ago. Apparently the filibuster was spur of the moment. I was also shocked (and impressed) that Ron Wyden was on Rand’s side!

Good find on this article.

Comment by Cantankerous Intellectual Bomb Thrower™
2013-03-11 01:26:05

You know if a politician is getting attacked by both Dumbocrats and Retardicans, he must be doing something right!

Comment by Carl Morris
2013-03-11 06:29:05

That’s what I’m thinking.

Comment by Resistor
2013-03-10 19:30:21

“a topic on fighting back.”


Comment by Ben Jones
2013-03-10 22:11:22

Buck up soldier.

Comment by rms
2013-03-11 02:46:23

Face it, you need two places. A rented house in suburbia for the frigid wife and genetic kids, and a rented pied-à-terre near the job for your current (’til the first time she says, no) fantasy bird. She’ll be on-board as long as the family’s bills are paid and you act discreetly.

Comment by Ben Jones
2013-03-10 22:27:34

‘The business of war is profitable. In 2011, the 100 largest contractors sold $410 billion in arms and military services. Just 10 of those companies sold over $208 billion. Based on a list of the top 100 arms-producing and military services companies in 2011 compiled by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), 24/7 Wall St. reviewed the 10 companies with the most military sales worldwide.’

‘These companies have benefited tremendously from the growth in military spending in the U.S., which by far has the largest military budget in the world. In 2000, the U.S. defense budget was approximately $312 billion. By 2011, the figure had grown to $712 billion. Arm sales grew alongside general defense spending growth. SIPRI noted that between 2002 and 2011, arms sales among the top 100 companies grew by 51%.’

‘However, the trend has recently reversed. In 2011, the top 100 arms dealers sold 5% less compared to 2010. Susan Jackson, a SIPRI defense expert, said in an email to 24/7 Wall St. that austerity measures in Western Europe and the U.S. have delayed or slowed the procurement of different weapons systems…In addition, the U.S.’ involvement in conflicts abroad continue to wind down.’

‘between 2002 and 2011, arms sales among the top 100 companies grew by 51%…In 2011, the top 100 arms dealers sold 5% less’

Damn, that’s got to be tough.

Comment by Cantankerous Intellectual Bomb Thrower™
2013-03-11 01:19:53

This news should cheer the merchants of death and buoy their share prices:

South Korea and US begin military drills as North Korea threatens war
Published March 11, 2013
Associated Press

March 9, 2013: The guided-missile destroyers USS Lassen (DDG 82), arrives to participate in the annual joint military exercises, dubbed Key Resolve, between the South Korean and United States. (AP)

SEOUL, South Korea – South Korea and the United States began annual military drills Monday despite North Korean threats to respond by voiding the armistice that ended the Korean War and launching a nuclear attack on the U.S.

After the start of the drills, South Korean officials said their northern counterparts didn’t answer two calls on a hotline between the sides, apparently following through on an earlier vow to cut the communication channel because of the drills.

Pyongyang has launched a bombast-filled propaganda campaign against the drills, which involve 10,000 South Korean and about 3,000 American troops, and last week’s U.N. vote to impose new sanctions over the North’s Feb. 12 nuclear test. Analysts believe that much of that campaign is meant to shore up loyalty among citizens and the military for North Korea’s young leader, Kim Jong Un.

Pyongyang isn’t believed to be able to build a warhead small enough to mount on a long-range missile, and the North’s military has repeatedly vowed in the past to scrap the 1953 armistice. North Korea wants a formal peace treaty, security guarantees and other concessions, as well as the removal of 28,500 U.S. troops stationed in South Korea.

Comment by Cantankerous Intellectual Bomb Thrower™
2013-03-11 01:24:23

IMHO it’s way too early to judge how this all will settle out. The problem with throwing away the rule book is the resulting absence of rules.

Financial Times
March 10, 2013 7:27 pm
A good engineer who knows his own limits
By Edward Luce
The Federal Reserve under Ben Bernanke has been the only serious economic actor in Washington

At the start of this century the journalist Bob Woodward anointed Alan Greenspan as “the symbol of American economic pre-eminence”. Ben Bernanke must pray that he never attracts that kind of praise. As a student of business cycles, the current chairman of the US Federal Reserve knows all about reputational bubbles – and few have burst more convincingly than Mr Greenspan’s.

With just seven Fed open market meetings before he completes his second term, Mr Bernanke is in no danger of emulating the maestro’s former heights. Last week, the Dow broke its historical record. There were no Greenspan-style celebrations. Conservatives dismissed the surge as a “sugar high” caused by quantitative easing. The left saw it as yet more Fed-fuelled froth that was bypassing Main Street.

Both contain some truth. The $85bn a month in QE3 is fuelling a “reach for yield” that is driving a mini equity boom. And America’s wealthiest 10 per cent are its main beneficiaries. But they ignore the big picture. Without the Fed’s easy money, the stock market would be languishing and unemployment would be rising. Instead of “helicopter Ben” dropping reserves from the sky it would be “lawnmower Ben” shredding the green shoots of the recovery.

History is likely to treat Mr Bernanke more kindly. Peter Drucker, the management consultant, once said: “The greatest danger in times of turbulence is to act with yesterday’s logic.” Mr Bernanke’s chief virtue has been to ignore the normal rule book. As a scholar of the Great Depression, he understood its chief cause was the extinction of credit: the US escaped the slump because it went off the gold standard. The New Deal had little to do with it.

Most of the unorthodox steps Mr Bernanke has taken since 2008, such as the galaxy of lending windows he set up after the Lehman bankruptcy, or the various quantitative easings, may seem obvious in retrospect. But it is not clear any of his former rivals for the job would have responded the same way. “Bernanke’s grasp of the Great Depression and also of Japan’s liquidity trap in the 1990s has been a very important element of how the Fed has handled its challenges since 2008,” says Liaquat Ahamed, whose book, Lords of Finance, chronicles the central banking errors of the 1930s. “There is no doubt he is the right chairman for this kind of crisis.”

Comment by Bluestar
2013-03-11 10:41:48

I’m going to point out that the only proven way to ‘fight back’ is a full blown general strike, lasting four or more days with a minimum of 30% of the working population. Egypt was the last country to pull if off with relatively little bloodshed (compared to Libya). A nation wide strike won’t happen all at once though. Some group or sector of the economy will have to start the ball rolling so be ready to join in when the call comes. Keep it simple, it’s all about the money. Just one issue “Wages”. Everybody can relate to that.

Comment by tresho
2013-03-11 13:14:08

Egypt was the last country to pull if off with relatively little bloodshed
Egypt’s collapse is ongoing. Don’t expect it to happen all at once. Subsidies from abroad are softening the blow.

Comment by tresho
2013-03-11 17:15:39

Meanwhile, in Aleppo:

Abu Jamal is stationed in Bustan al-Basha, a district devastated by bombs and shells. Hardly any civilians live here anymore. A few fighters invite him to take tea with them in front of an office building that used to house a bank. I too sit on a stool on the sidewalk. Abu Jamal warns me. “That’s not a good place to sit,” he says, pointing to a big window on the first floor. “The shockwave of explosions can burst the window pane. The falling bits of glass could kill you.” Sure enough, when we pass the same spot the next day, the window is broken, its glass strewn across the sidewalk and the street.

Comment by wittbelle
2013-03-11 16:51:54

Elizabeth Warren has a movement afoot to hold banks accountable. In the meantime and if you haven’t already done so, move your money to a credit union. And buy used and/or local and walk/bike/bus when you can to limit consumption. You CAN make a difference. It may not be a big one, but it IS one.

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