Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Get Ready For Some Awesome Rumblin' From The 99%... This Weekend


This is just a heads up-- I'm allowed to give a heads-up-- about some important action for American patriots this weekend targeting, peacefully, of course, banksters-- related to the march on the homes of NYC plutocrats. You can count on some details here at DWT later this week... gotta wait for the 99% to give the final finger wiggle, but think "OccupyTheBoardRoom." And remember, we're an unprecedented coalition of labor, community, and netroots groups coming together to voice our legitimate anger at the 1%. And, oh, boy, are we gonna have some fun with the plutocrats! I call dibs on fascist greedball Paul Singer, although I expect many people will... for obvious reasons. Intrepid reporter Lee Fang explains:
The campaign the marginalize and destroy the growing 99 Percent Movement is in full swing, with many in the media attempting to smear the people participating in the “occupation” protests across the country. However, several of the so-called journalists deriding, and in some cases sabotaging the movement, have paychecks thanks to a billionaire whose business practices have been scorned as among the worst of the financial elite.

As the New York Times has documented, Paul Singer, a Republican activist and hedge fund manager worth over $900 million, has emerged as one of the most important power brokers within the GOP. Now, it appears that the reporters financed by Singer are at the forefront of efforts to tarnish the reputation of 99 Percent Movement demonstrators.

...As Singer-funded journalists make their best effort to diminish the Occupy Wall Street protesters as confused idiots unable to articulate a clear goal, it so happens that these journalists are funded by a man who epitomizes the crony capitalist behavior of the greedy one percent.

Singer, manager of a $17 billion hedge fund, earned the moniker “vulture capitalist” for buying the debt of Third World countries for pennies on the dollar, then using his political and legal connections to extract massive judgements to force collection-- even from nations suffering from starvation and violent conflicts. Singer and his partners have used such tactics in Panama, Ecuador, Poland, Cote d’Ivoire, Turkmenistan, and the Democratic Republic of Congo. In addition to squeezing impoverished countries with sovereign debt schemes, Singer speculates in the oil markets, a practice which can lead to gasoline price hikes here in the United States. The revelation that Singer engages in oil speculation, and also funds Republican lawmakers opposed to oil speculation regulations, was exposed by ThinkProgress using leaked government documents.

Singer’s political philanthropy is tied to his business interests. As Greg Palast has reported, Singer purchased near-bankrupt asbestos companies before his allies in Congress changed an asbestoas-liability law to make his investment incredibly profitable (at the expense, critics allege, of sickened workers). More recently, Singer has forged close financial ties to Rep. Scott Garrett (R-NJ), a little-known lawmaker at the forefront of efforts to repeal Dodd-Frank financial regulations on hedge funds like Elliott Associates, Singer’s firm.

The rise of Singer’s political profile can be traced to his work as a top donor to pro-Bush character-assasination groups like the “Swift Boat Veterans.” In recent years, he has quietly worked with the right-wing billionaire industrialist Koch brothers and Republican strategist Karl Rove to finance a fleet of anti-Obama organizations, including the shady attack ad nonprofit, “Crossroads GPS.” Singer also led a controversial group of Republican moneymen in a bid to recruit Gov. Chris Christie (R-NJ) into the presidential race, but shifted to endorsing Mitt Romney. Singer and Romney are already close; Singer’s hedge fund actually manages at least $1 million of the former governor’s personal investments.

Singer’s influence even extends to the Supreme Court. As ThinkProgress reported, Singer hosted Justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito to speak at his $5,000-$25,000 a plate dinners.

Just substitute Singer for Koch here, although the two plutocratic wings of the GOP are in a death match right now:

In a much-discussed column this past Sunday, Panic of the Plutocrats, Paul Krugman points out that the OccupyWallStreet movement has "elicited a remarkably hysterical reaction from Wall Street, the super-rich in general, and politicians and pundits who reliably serve the interests of the wealthiest hundredth of a percent. And this reaction tells you something important-- namely, that the extremists threatening American values are what F.D.R. called 'economic royalists,' not the people camping in Zuccotti Park."
Consider first how Republican politicians have portrayed the modest-sized if growing demonstrations, which have involved some confrontations with the police-- confrontations that seem to have involved a lot of police overreaction-- but nothing one could call a riot. And there has in fact been nothing so far to match the behavior of Tea Party crowds in the summer of 2009.

Nonetheless, Eric Cantor, the House majority leader, has denounced “mobs” and “the pitting of Americans against Americans.” The G.O.P. presidential candidates have weighed in, with Mitt Romney accusing the protesters of waging “class warfare,” while Herman Cain calls them “anti-American.” My favorite, however, is Senator Rand Paul, who for some reason worries that the protesters will start seizing iPads, because they believe rich people don’t deserve to have them.

Michael Bloomberg, New York’s mayor and a financial-industry titan in his own right, was a bit more moderate, but still accused the protesters of trying to “take the jobs away from people working in this city,” a statement that bears no resemblance to the movement’s actual goals.

And if you were listening to talking heads on CNBC, you learned that the protesters “let their freak flags fly,” and are “aligned with Lenin.”

The way to understand all of this is to realize that it’s part of a broader syndrome, in which wealthy Americans who benefit hugely from a system rigged in their favor react with hysteria to anyone who points out just how rigged the system is.

Last year, you may recall, a number of financial-industry barons went wild over very mild criticism from President Obama. They denounced Mr. Obama as being almost a socialist for endorsing the so-called Volcker rule, which would simply prohibit banks backed by federal guarantees from engaging in risky speculation. And as for their reaction to proposals to close a loophole that lets some of them pay remarkably low taxes-- well, Stephen Schwarzman, chairman of the Blackstone Group, compared it to Hitler’s invasion of Poland.

And then there’s the campaign of character assassination against Elizabeth Warren, the financial reformer now running for the Senate in Massachusetts. Not long ago a YouTube video of Ms. Warren making an eloquent, down-to-earth case for taxes on the rich went viral. Nothing about what she said was radical-- it was no more than a modern riff on Oliver Wendell Holmes’s famous dictum that “Taxes are what we pay for civilized society.”

But listening to the reliable defenders of the wealthy, you’d think that Ms. Warren was the second coming of Leon Trotsky. George Will declared that she has a “collectivist agenda,” that she believes that “individualism is a chimera.” And Rush Limbaugh called her “a parasite who hates her host. Willing to destroy the host while she sucks the life out of it.”

What’s going on here? The answer, surely, is that Wall Street’s Masters of the Universe realize, deep down, how morally indefensible their position is. They’re not John Galt; they’re not even Steve Jobs. They’re people who got rich by peddling complex financial schemes that, far from delivering clear benefits to the American people, helped push us into a crisis whose aftereffects continue to blight the lives of tens of millions of their fellow citizens.

Yet they have paid no price. Their institutions were bailed out by taxpayers, with few strings attached. They continue to benefit from explicit and implicit federal guarantees — basically, they’re still in a game of heads they win, tails taxpayers lose. And they benefit from tax loopholes that in many cases have people with multimillion-dollar incomes paying lower rates than middle-class families.

This special treatment can’t bear close scrutiny-- and therefore, as they see it, there must be no close scrutiny. Anyone who points out the obvious, no matter how calmly and moderately, must be demonized and driven from the stage. In fact, the more reasonable and moderate a critic sounds, the more urgently he or she must be demonized, hence the frantic sliming of Elizabeth Warren.

So who’s really being un-American here? Not the protesters, who are simply trying to get their voices heard. No, the real extremists here are America’s oligarchs, who want to suppress any criticism of the sources of their wealth.

I'd like to point you-- again-- to the interview we did with North Carolina Congressman Brad Miller Saturday (highlights here) and remind you once again of his response to the question about Obama claiming that the Wall Street banksters committed no crimes, just bent some loopholes, a horrible distortion of what actually happened-- as Rep. Miller explained:
The allegations in civil lawsuits by private mortgage investors and insurance companies, if true, appears pretty clearly to be of criminal conduct. I've struggled with the issue of politics and criminal prosecutions. I think calls for "perp walks" can sound like an appeal to mob rule, but not prosecuting powerful people in the face of clear evidence of criminal conduct is a real problem for democracy. I think some may have discouraged prosecutions because they feared for our fragile banking system, but I fear for our fragile democracy if people believe that the powerful are immune. I think the lack of criminal prosecutions or even aggressive civil lawsuits has offended the sense of justice of many Americans, including me. [emphasis is from DWT]

I got an e-mail from netroots hero Alan Grayson yesterday asking where's my $50,000. "The Government Accountability Office (GAO)," he wrote, "says that our Government has handed out $16 trillion to the banks. Let me repeat that, in case you didn’t hear me the first time. The GAO says that our Government HAS HANDED OUT $16 TRILLION TO THE BANKS."
That little gem appears on Page 131 of GAO Report No. GAO-11-696. A report issued two months ago. A report that somehow seems to have eluded the attention of virtually every network, every major newspaper, and every news show.

How much is $16 trillion? That is an amount equal to more than $50,000 for every man, woman and child in America. That’s more than every penny that every American earns in a year. That’s an amount equal to almost a third of our national net worth -- the value of every home, car, personal belonging, business, bank account, stock, bond, piece of land, book, tree, chandelier, and everything else anyone owns in America. That’s an amount greater than our entire national debt, accumulated over the course of two centuries.

A $16 trillion stack of dollar bills would reach all the way to the Moon. And back. Twice.

That’s enough to pay for Saturday mail delivery. For the next 5,000 years.

All of that money went from you and me to the banks. And we got nothing. Not even a toaster.

I have been patiently waiting to see whether this disclosure would provoke some kind of reaction. Answer: nope. Everyone seems much more interested in discussing whether or not they like the cut of Perry’s jib.

Whatever a jib may be... The Government gave $16 trillion to the banks. And nobody else is talking about it.

Think about it. Think about what that means.

That's exactly, despite what Paul Singer's and the Kochs' p.r. agents are driving home with the corporate media, what the OccupyWallStreet Movement is talking about. Even Obama's #1 puppet in the Senate, Dick Durbin (D-IL) is now talking about it. He wants me to send an angry message to Bank of America CEO Brian Moynihan by clicking on a link.
It's just outrageous. Last week, Bank of America announced it will start charging its customers $5 a month just to access their own money with a debit card.

If you're a Bank of America customer who doesn't appreciate being gouged with excessive fees, you should show Bank of America what a competitive marketplace looks like and find a bank or credit union that values their customers.

We can't let B of A get away with this-- and we've got to speak out, loud and clear, to show other banks that it is unacceptable to pad already excessive profits on the backs of hard-working Americans.

I see this ending up one of two ways:

Outcome #1: Bank of America gets an earful from so many customers and potential customers-- like you-- that it decides against making monthly fees the new "normal" for American debit card users.


Outcome #2: Too few folks notice and speak up about the new fees, sending a message to other big banks that they can charge this monthly fee to their debit card customers, too.

Outcome #2 is completely unacceptable-- but I need you to speak out to make sure it doesn't happen.

In 2007, we sent thousands of emails to convince BP's CEO to give up his company's plan to dump more toxic chemicals into Lake Michigan. The community has proven that we can take on some of the biggest special interests around.

Now let's put that same kind of pressure on Bank of America's CEO to make sure he knows these new debit card fees are simply unacceptable-- and to make sure every single bank gets the message.

I sent Brian Moynihan the best kind of message for him to understand when I closed my BofA accounts. And Saturday... well, stay tuned... is in countdown mode.

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At 7:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Greatest read and yes 16 trillion!!!!!


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