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  1. Atypical is offline
    08-16-2017, 06:59 AM #231
    Corporate Media Continues to Pump Out Fake News on Wall Street Crash of 2008

    By Pam Martens and Russ Martens: August 15, 2017

    When there is an epic financial crash in the U.S. that collapses century old Wall Street institutions and brings about the greatest economic collapse since the Great Depression, one would think that the root causes would be chiseled in stone by now. But when it comes to the 2008 crash, expensive corporate media real estate is happy to allow bogus theories to go unchallenged by editors.

    What is happening ever so subtly over time is that the unprecedented greed, corruption and unrestrained manufacture of fraudulent securities by iconic brands on Wall Street that actually caused the crash are getting a gentle rewrite. The insidious danger of this is that Wall Street is never reformed or adequately regulated – that it remains a skulking financial monster with its unseen tentacles wrapped tightly around every economic artery of American life, retaining its ever present strangulation potential.

    On August 10 of this year, Wall Street Journal reporter James Mackintosh penned the following astonishing sentence: “The global financial crisis began 10 years ago this week, when a French bank suspended three money-market funds. What savers thought was money turned out to be merely credit, and the realization rapidly trashed U.S. money-market funds and the global banking system.”

    Three days earlier, on August 7 of this year, Jim Puzzanghera of the Los Angeles Times stated in print that “The 2008 financial crisis was triggered by the failure of Lehman Bros” which filed for bankruptcy on September 15, 2008.

    The factual reality is that the financial crisis certainly did not start with money market funds nor did it start with the 2008 failure of Lehman Brothers. As a mountain of documents obtained by the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission (FCIC) and the General Accountability Office (GAO) prove beyond question, the financial crisis was well underway in the spring of 2007.

    In February 2007, HSBC, one of the largest subprime lenders in the U.S. at the time, announced that it was increasing its provision for losses by a whopping $1.8 billion. The next month, New Century, which ran a close second to HSBC in subprime loans, said in an SEC filing that federal investigators were “conducting a criminal inquiry under the federal securities laws in connection with trading in the company’s securities, as well as accounting errors regarding the company’s allowance for repurchase losses.” The following month, April of 2007, New Century filed bankruptcy. Two months later, June 2007, two of Bear Stearns’ multi-billion dollar hedge funds were teetering. Bear conceded to counterparties that it lacked the cash to meet the margin calls on the funds and asked for a reprieve. None came. On July 31, 2007, both funds filed for bankruptcy.

    By July 2007, the credibility of the pay-to-rate model of the U.S. rating agencies was collapsing. The tens of billions of dollars of structured subprime debt that had been given the preposterous rating of AAA, began its descent to junk bond status as the rating agencies began their downgrades.

    According to documentation obtained by the FCIC, on August 14, 2007 the Federal Reserve sent a confidential memo to the Fed’s Board of Governors concerning Countrywide, another major subprime lender. The memo stated: “…The ability of the company to use [mortgage] securities as collateral in [repo transactions] is consequently uncertain in the current market environment. . . . As a result, it could face severe liquidity pressures. Those liquidity pressures conceivably could lead eventually to possible insolvency.”

    Three days later, on August 17, 2007, the insured deposits held by a Countrywide owned bank were experiencing a customer panic and bank run. The Los Angeles Times reported: “Anxious customers jammed the phone lines and website of Countrywide Bank and crowded its branch offices to pull out their savings because of concerns about the financial problems of the mortgage lender that owns the bank.”

    All of this was occurring a full year before Lehman Brothers filed bankruptcy.

    On November 4, 2007 the deeply troubled Citigroup was forced to fess up to its problems. In a press release, it said it had experienced “declines since September 30, 2007 in the fair value of the approximately $55 billion in U.S. sub-prime related direct exposures in its Securities and Banking (S&B) business.” It estimated that “the reduction in revenues attributable to these declines ranges from approximately $8 billion to $11 billion (representing a decline of approximately $5 billion to $7 billion in net income on an after-tax basis.)”

    The Government Accountability Office, which issued a 252-page report on the crisis, unequivocally stated that the crisis began in the summer of 2007. The report noted: “During the financial crisis that began in the summer of 2007, the Federal Reserve System took unprecedented steps to stabilize financial markets and support the liquidity needs of failing institutions that it considered to be systemically significant.”

    Then there is the fact that the Federal Reserve secretly invoked its emergency lending authority in August 2007 and began sluicing what would eventually become a cumulative $16 trillion in almost zero interest loans to shaky Wall Street banks and their foreign peers. Reporters at Bloomberg News wrote in 2011 after the Fed was forced to disclose the secret loans:

    “Citigroup was tapping six Fed programs at once. Its total borrowings amounted to more than twice the federal Department of Education’s 2011budget.

    “Citigroup was in debt to the Fed on seven out of every 10 days from August 2007 through April 2010, the most frequent U.S. borrower among the 100 biggest publicly traded firms by pre-crisis market valuation. On average, the bank had a daily balance at the Fed of almost $20 billion.”

    The most tragic part of this story is that the U.S. Congress passed the Dodd-Frank financial reform legislation in 2010 without an in-depth understanding of the severity of the crisis, the trillions of dollars in backroom bailouts by the Fed, and without an appreciation of the dangers that Wall Street continued to pose to the financial system. Details of the Fed’s secret loans were not revealed until 2011, following a lengthy court battle waged by the Fed.


    Have you noticed that there is nothing going wrong in the country?; or, if there is it's no ones fault; or, if someone screwed up it was only a small error; things just happen.

    There are few who now work to inform us of the real reasons why the country, in many ways, is in decline. A lot of money and effort is at work rewriting history to gloss over the truth as this article shows.

    We will all pay for this. It's happening now.
    Last edited by Atypical; 08-16-2017 at 06:30 PM.

  2. Atypical is offline
    12-06-2017, 08:13 PM #232
    Plunder Capitalism

    DECEMBER 5, 2017

    I deplore the tax cut that has passed Congress. It is not an economic policy tax cut, and it has nothing whatsoever to do with supply-side economics. The entire purpose is to raise equity prices by providing equity owners with more capital gains and dividends. In other words, it is legislation that makes equity owners richer, thus further polarizing society into a vast arena of poverty and near-poverty and the One Percent, or more precisely a fraction of the One Percent wallowing in billions of dollars. Unless our rulers can continue to control the explanations, the tax cut edges us closer to revolution resulting from complete distrust of government.

    The current tax legislation drops the corporate tax rate to 20%. This means that global corporations registered in the US will be taxed at a lower income tax rate than a licensed practical nurse making $50,000 per year. The nurse, if single, faces in 2017 a 25% marginal tax rate on all income over $37,950.

    A single person is taxed at a rate of 33% on all income above $191,651. 33% was the top tax rate extracted from medieval serfs, and approaches the tax rate on US 19th century slaves. Such an upper middle class income as $191,651 sounds extraordinary to most Americans, but it is so far from the multi-million dollar annual incomes of the rich as to be invisible. In America, it is the shrinking middle and upper middle class incomes that bear the burden of income taxation. The rich with their capital gains from their equity holdings are taxed at 15%.

    Even single individuals who earn between $1 and $9,325 are taxed at 10% on their pittance.

    The neoliberal economists who are the shills for the rich, Wall Street, and the Banks-Too-Big-Too-Fail claim, erroneously, that by cutting the corporate income tax rate to 20% all sorts of offshored profits will be brought back to the US and lead to a booming economy and higher wages. This is absolute total nonsense. The money won’t come back, because it is invested abroad where labor costs are lower, if invested at all instead of buying back the corporation’s stock or buying other existing companies. After 20 years of offshoring US manufacturing and professional tradable skills and the incomes associated with the jobs, who is going to invest in America? The American population has no income with which to purchase the goods and services from new investment, and the American population’s credit cards are maxed out.

    All that is going to happen is that Wall Street will calculate the lower tax rate into a higher equity price. Wall Street can do this without any of the offshored earnings coming home. Suddenly, everyone who owns equities will experience a boost in wealth, or the boost has already occurred in anticipation of the handout.

    The deficit-conscious Republicans have put into the Bill for Enhancement of the Rich’s Wealth, cuts in social services in order to “save workers from higher interest rates from budget deficits.” This is more dishonesty. If the Fed lets real interest rates rise to any meaningful amount, derivatives will unwind, and the Fed will have to create trillions more in new dollars to keep its Ponzi scheme in place. The deficit that results from the tax cut will be covered by the Fed purchasing the Treasuries, not by a rise in interest rates.

    What we are witnessing in the US and indeed throughout the western world is the total failure of capitalism. Capitalism is now merely a looting machine. The financial sector no longer supplies capital for production. What the financial sector does is to turn discretionary consumer income into interest and fee payments to banks. Aggregate demand can only grow through debt expansion, and the consumers reach a point where they cannot expand their debt.

    Capitalism, hiding behind “globalism,” which is misrepresented as a good thing when it is death itself, locates production where labor is cheapest, thus depriving First World labor of good wages and work opportunities and putting First World countries on the path to becoming Third World countries. Short-term profits and executive and board bonuses and stock options are maximized at the cost of the destruction of the domestic consumer market.

    Plunder Capitalism also privatizes as much of the public sector, such as the military, as possible, thus driving up the cost of the Pentagon’s budget. Jobs that the soldiers themselves formerly did are given to politically-connected firms. What was once KP (kitchen patrol) is now provided by an ouside private service. Private mercenaries hired by the Pentagon collect as much in a month as troops in the line of fire earn in a year. I don’t know that the army any longer has a supply organization other than the private business that has the contract.

    Medicare and Medicaid are the next to be privatized, along with Social Security. The tax cut will result in deficit and high interest rate hype, and these lies will be used to save the workers from high interest rates on their mortgage, credit card, and student loan debt by scaling back or privatizing Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security.

    The environment and public lands will be sacrificed to the private profits of timber, mining, and energy companies. Grizzly bears and wolves are losing their protection under the endangered species act so that states can sell trophy hunting licenses to men who have to prove their manhood by killing an animal with a high-powerful rifle at a safe distance.

    What we are witnessing is the complete looting of America and the entirety of the West. While the Western World collapses, the insouciant, submissive people sit there sucking their thumbs while they are being ruined.

    Nothing is left of the West except looters at work.

    This tax bill is an abomination, an act of brutal plunder. Its sponsors should be tarred and feathered and ridden out of town on a rail, if not hung from a lamp post.

    Paul Craig Roberts is a former Assistant Secretary of the US Treasury (under Reagan) and Associate Editor of the Wall Street Journal. Roberts’ How the Economy Was Lost is now available from CounterPunch in electronic format. His latest book is The Neoconservative Threat to World Order.

    This, and more, is what conservatives do. It is not hyperbole to say they are destroying the country for their greedy benefactors. The Democrats are not blameless.
    Last edited by Atypical; 12-06-2017 at 08:17 PM.

  3. Atypical is offline
    02-13-2018, 06:31 PM #233
    Amazon Inc. Paid Zero in Federal Taxes in 2017, Gets $789 Million Windfall from New Tax Law

    February 13, 2018

    From a decades-long strategy of exploiting state sales tax loopholes to its ongoing “HQ2” sweepstakes, Amazon’s leaders have rarely turned down a chance to use the tax system as the source of their competitive advantage.

    The online retail giant has built its business model on tax avoidance, and its latest financial filing makes it clear that Amazon continues to be insulated from the nation’s tax system. In 2017, Amazon reported $5.6 billion of U.S. profits and didn’t pay a dime of federal income taxes on it. The company’s financial statement suggests that various tax credits and tax breaks for executive stock options are responsible for zeroing out the company’s tax this year.

    The company’s zero percent rate in 2017 reflects a longer term trend. During the previous five years, Amazon reported U.S. profits of $8.2 billion and paid an effective federal income tax rate of just 11.4 percent. This means the company was able to shelter more than two-thirds of its profits from tax during that five year period.

    Incredibly, Amazon’s corporate tax goose egg for 2017 doesn’t include the effect of a second big tax disclosure: the $789 million one-time tax break the company projects it will receive due to the new tax law. While the Trump Administration’s corporate tax cuts generally took effect on January 1st, the law includes a grandfather clause for companies that (like Amazon) have managed to defer or postpone tax liability from prior years.

    Instead of paying these deferred taxes at the previous 35 percent rate, Amazon now gets an extra reward for postponing the taxation of this income: a 40 percent discount from 35 to 21 percent. This is the source of Amazon’s $789 million windfall.

    At a time when Amazon is pitting state and local governments against each other in a Hunger Games-style contest over the location of the company’s new headquarters, the company’s new disclosure should cause some consternation among the state officials who have been most willing to pony up billions of dollars in tax incentives. In each of these states, Amazon’s sales tax dodging has pushed brick and mortar retailers to the brink of extinction, and its spectacular federal corporate tax avoidance is very likely mirrored at the state level. For states contemplating tax incentives for Amazon, the salient question is: what do you give a tax avoider who already has everything?


    The common reason given by conservatives for relentlessly wanting to lower the corporate tax rate was that it was too high at 35% and was, therefore, an unfair burden that made them uncompetitive with foreign companies. That was a lie.

    Numerous studies showed many huge companies paid nothing or very little for years and that the common rate was effectively 15%-20% for most. Well, Republicans just gave their donors, er... their owners, a huge gift. The article above shows once again, how the wealthy and corporations get and WE get NOTHING.
    Last edited by Atypical; 02-13-2018 at 06:34 PM.

  4. Atypical is offline
    04-11-2018, 02:10 PM #234
    Senate Hearing: Facebook CEO Zuckerberg Is Questioned On Ties To CIA-Funded Company

    By Pam Martens and Russ Martens: April 11, 2018

    As Facebook’s CEO Mark Zuckerberg fingered his cheat sheet of canned answers to a barrage of questions from Senators yesterday on how Facebook had allowed a Trump-backed political operation to harvest personal data from 87 million of its users, Zuckerberg attempted to channel motherhood, apple pie, dorm room entrepreneurism and an altruistic desire to connect people around the world in one harmonious melding of human spirit.

    Unfortunately, the facts just kept getting in the way. There was the questioning from Senator Richard Blumenthal pointing out that Facebook had been caught red-handed in 2011 by the Federal Trade Commission in egregious abuses of its users’ personal data. Blumenthal said current activities at Facebook showed that Facebook was in “violation of the FTC consent decree.”

    Another uncomfortable moment came when Senator Patrick Leahy asked if Special Counsel Robert Mueller had issued subpoenas to Facebook. Zuckerberg first answered yes and then later said he wasn’t sure. What Zuckerberg was sure about was that Facebook employees had been interviewed by the Special Counsel’s office but he had not so far been interviewed.

    One of the most eyebrow-raising moments came when Senator Maria Cantwell opened her line of questioning by invoking the name “Palantir,” a data mining company which received early funding from the CIA and whose co-founder, billionaire Peter Thiel, has sat on the Facebook Board of Directors since April 2005. Thiel contributed over $1 million to the Trump campaign and chipped in $100,000 for his inauguration according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

    The exchange went like this. (See the full exchange in the video below.)

    CANTWELL: Thank you Mr. Chairman. Welcome Mr. Zuckerberg. Do you know who Palantir is?


    CANTWELL: Some people have referred to them as Stanford Analytica. Do you agree?

    ZUCKERBERG: Senator, I have not heard that.

    CANTWELL: Ok. Do you think Palantir taught Cambridge Analytica, press reports are saying, how to do these tactics?

    ZUCKERBERG: Senator, I don’t know.

    CANTWELL: Do you think that Palantir has ever scraped data from Facebook?

    ZUCKERBERG: Senator, I’m not aware of that.

    CANTWELL: Ok. Do you think that during the 2016 campaign as Cambridge Analytica was providing support to the Trump campaign under Project Alamo, were there any Facebook people involved in that sharing of technique and information?

    ZUCKERBERG: Senator, we provided support to the Trump campaign similar to what we provide to any advertiser or campaign who asks for it.

    Cantwell was likely referring to the New York Times article that ran on March 27 of this year. The article quoted the Cambridge Analytica whistleblower, Christopher Wylie, who testified before the British Parliament that Palantir employees had helped to engineer the Cambridge data gathering models. Wylie testified: “There were Palantir staff who would come into the [Cambridge] office and work on the data. And we would go and meet with Palantir staff at Palantir.”

    In 2015, TechCrunch reported that “As of 2013, Palantir was used by at least 12 groups within the US Government including the CIA, DHS, NSA, FBI, the CDC, the Marine Corps, the Air Force, Special Operations Command, West Point, the Joint IED-defeat organization and Allies, the Recovery Accountability and Transparency Board and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.”

    The CIA’s venture capital fund, Q-Tel, was an early investor in Palantir, plunking down a cool $2 million alongside many more millions from Thiel, the billionaire co-founder of PayPal and an early investor in Facebook.

    The Palantir website explains one aspect of what it does as follows:

    “Palantir Intelligence integrates disparate data from disconnected data silos at massive scale for low-friction interaction with intelligence officers. Search through every shred of enterprise data at high speed, pull out significant intelligence, and perform intuitive, multi-dimensional analysis to reveal unseen patterns, connections, and trends. Enterprise data sources, unstructured cable traffic, structured identity data, email, telephone records, spreadsheets, network traffic and more can all be searched and analyzed without the need for a specialized query language. Intelligence officers can rapidly turn mountains of data into actionable insight by asking the questions they need answered, in a language they understand.”

    The U.K.’s Guardian newspaper described Palantir’s headquarters as follows:

    “It is all-powerful, yet no one knows it even exists. Palantir does not have an office, it has a ‘SCIF’ on a back street in Palo Alto, California. SCIF stands for ‘sensitive compartmentalised information facility’. Palantir says its building ‘must be built to be resistant to attempts to access the information within. The network must be ‘airgapped’ from the public internet to prevent information leakage. ”

    The Senate hearing at which Zuckerberg appeared was a joint session of the Senate Judiciary and Commerce committees. Zuckerberg wore a suit and tie rather than his standard attire – a t-shirt.


    This is what wanting profit over ethics and concern for your customers is like. Notice the connection between Cambridge Analytics, the government and the recent election.

    Think long and hard about what that means.
    Last edited by Atypical; 04-11-2018 at 02:13 PM.

  5. Atypical is offline
    04-12-2018, 04:58 PM #235
    Here is more on the company that knows almost everything about you - and how they know it.

    A must read.

  6. Atypical is offline
    05-20-2018, 09:34 AM #236
    The Surprising Popularity of ‘Far Left’ Policies

    MAY 18, 2018

    “The Far Left Is Winning the Democratic Civil War” was the headline over a Washington Post report (5/16/18) on the results of recent primary elections.

    So what counts as “far left” to the Washington Post, the newspaper owned by the world’s richest human?

    Here are the positions cited by the Post‘s James Hohmann to characterize the “unelectable activists” who are “thwarting” Democratic hopes to take back the House, or are otherwise part of a “leftward lurch”:

    Kara Eastman of Nebraska “advocated for universal background checks to buy guns, raising taxes and decriminalizing marijuana.”
    John Fetterman in Pennsylvania “campaigned on universal healthcare and legalizing marijuana.”
    Running for governor in Idaho, Paulette Jordan based her platform on “protecting more public lands, as well as promising to expand Medicaid, relax marijuana laws, reduce incarceration and limit corporate tax loopholes.”

    There were a couple of other candidates who were categorized as “far left” by affiliation. In the Pittsburgh area, Summer Lee and an unnamed Sara Innamorato were described as “card-carrying members of the Democratic Socialists of America”—using a phrase popularized by Sen. Joe McCarthy’s claim that he had the names of “57 card-carrying members of the Communist Party.”

    Scott Wallace in Pennsylvania was described as “the grandson of Henry Wallace, who was Franklin Roosevelt’s vice president for a term, and then ran against Harry Truman, who FDR dumped him for, from the far left in 1948.” Aside from Scott Wallace’s self-description as a “proud progressive” and his promise to “make America sane again,” genealogy was all the Post presented to tie him to the “far left.”

    There were also some candidates who were implicitly placed in the “far left” by the fact that they successfully challenged “Democratic moderates,” thus “causing a new bout of heartburn among party strategists.” For example, Pennsylvania congressional candidate Susan Wild was worrisome because she defeated John Morganelli who “opposes abortion rights and ‘sanctuary cities,’” and whom she criticized for “for speaking positively about Trump and tweeting that he was open to taking a job in the administration during the transition.” You know, like “moderates” do.

    (For the Post, Pennsylvania lieutenant governor candidate John Fetterman (seen here with Bernie Sanders) is “far left” because he “campaigned on universal healthcare and legalizing marijuana.”)(Photo: Elizabeth Robertson /Philadelphia Inquirer/AP)

    But what about those “far left” issues? Well, raising taxes on corporations and the wealthy—which is, of course, what Kara Eastman proposed—is a quite popular position. The latest polling on this was a CBS News poll from last year (10/27–30/17) which found 56 percent in favor of raising taxes on large corporations, and 58 percent wanting higher taxes for “wealthy Americans.” This was, of course, before the massive tax breaks given to corporations and the wealthy by the Republican Congress.

    As for marijuana, broad majorities are in favor of legalizing it, according to polls by Quinnipiac (63 percent, 4/20–24/18), CBS (59 percent, 4/11–15/18), Pew (61 percent, 10/25–30/17) and Gallup (64 percent, 10/5–11/17).

    Universal healthcare is not quite as popular as pot, but it’s also pretty popular. When Gallup (11/2–8/17) asked, “Do you think it is the responsibility of the federal government to make sure all Americans have health care coverage,” 56 percent said yes. Kaiser (10/5–10/17) found 53 percent in favor of “having a national health plan in which all Americans would get their insurance from a single government plan.”

    With universal background checks, we actually have polling on the impact that position would have on people’s likelihood to vote for a congressional candidate. “Would you definitely vote for or definitely vote against a candidate for Congress who wants to require background checks for gun purchases at gun shows or other private sales?” the Marist poll (4/10–13/18) asked. Eighty-six percent said they would vote “definitely for” a candidate who took that “far left” position.

    One starts to get the suspicion that these candidates are not really “far left” at all, and Jeff Bezos’ Post is just telling you that they are in order to scare you away from voting for them.


    This is how the media always manipulates, misleads and lies.

    There is no "far left" in the country except for a a few organizations and individuals who, as the article shows, have views that are rational. humanistic and tolerant. That is enough to call them "far left." Likewise the claim of a "liberal media" has always been an exaggeration and is used as a slur against anyone not promoting a conservative line. It was made-up by William Kristol and used by others.

    It has always been necessary to carefully analyze what we are being told. With the rampant and vicious lunacy of this administration and the complicity and apathy of the dems, it is now even more critical.
    Last edited by Atypical; 05-20-2018 at 09:42 AM.

  7. Atypical is offline
    07-02-2018, 01:45 PM #237
    Decision Time for ‘Democracy’: Who Will Be Our Next Unelected Arbiter-for-Life?


    Many say the resignation of Justice Kennedy represents a ‘threat to democracy’ because Trump will no doubt appoint someone keen to serve his authoritarian bent. But a democracy that can be threatened or even “destroyed” by the resignation of one unelected official (with a lifelong term) and the appointment of another unelected official (with a lifelong term) by an ‘elected’ official who didn’t even receive the majority of votes is a strange kind of democracy, isn’t it? Does that really sound like a strong and vigorous system for ensuring that the democratic will of the citizenry is properly and securely addressed? Why do we have a system where a defeated candidate can take the highest office in the land, then wield the power of making lifelong appointments to an unelected body which holds the ultimate sway over our public (and personal) life? What kind of democracy or republic do we have when someone who was not actually the choice of the majority of voters can re-shape the nation in a fundamental way, for generations to come, by making a few appointments to an unelected panel?

    Yes, it is disastrous that Trump will get another Supreme Court appointee. Although it’s also true that Justice Kennedy, as the deciding swing vote on the court, has already done a great deal to “destroy democracy” with many of his votes, especially in the Citizens United case, in which he and the other conservative justices opened the door to the complete and utter domination of the electoral process by the now-unrestricted power of oligarchs, corporations and the ever-mysterious pushers of “dark money.”

    Indeed, in his final go-round as an unelected arbiter-for-life over the nation, Kennedy’s swing vote upheld Trump’s racist, unconstitutional and morally vile “Muslim ban” — a decision that ranks alongside the Court’s upholding of slavery in the Dred Scott case and its acquiescence in the racist evil of placing Japanese-Americans in concentration camps. He was also the deciding vote on the Court’s decision to destroy public sector unions — with clear implications for the later application of its “reasoning” to private sectors unions as well. He has for decades voted in virtual lock-step for the broadening of corporate power and the dominion of Big Money, all at the expense of the common good. Ronald Reagan knew well what he was doing when he gave Kennedy his lifelong sinecure.

    Kennedy did provide key votes on upholding gay rights and reproductive freedom, which were worthy accomplishments deserving of praise. But again, how is that these fundamental human freedoms hang on the decision of one person — again, an unelected official appointed by an official who might not even been the choice of the voters? And in such a system, those worthy accomplishments can be rolled back in an instant by a successor.

    Justice Kennedy — universally praised by our savvy savants as a “moderate” and “centrist” — knows all this, of course. He knows his resignation will allow Trump to put his filthy stain on American life for decades to come. And he doesn’t care. He is happy for this to happen. Since his resignation, his very close ties to Trump and the Trump family have become clear. And not just personal ties, but financial ones. Kennedy’s son, Justin, was for many years one of Trump’s closest financial associates. Justin Kennedy worked with Deutsche Bank, where he helped funnel more than a billion dollars’ worth of loans to Trump — years after US banks would no longer deal with the corrupt and deceitful developer. With the help of the German bank and the Supreme Court justice’s son, Trump was able to keep his dodgy scam-machine going even after his many spectacular business failures.

    As the New York Times reports, the Trumpsters have spent a lot of time reassuring Justice Kennedy that they would appoint someone in his mold — if he would only retire before the Democrats possibly take control of Congress in November. The possible replacements Trump have floated so far are former Kennedy clerks; other federal judgeship picks have gone to Kennedy clerks and associates as well. So it may be that Kennedy’s successor could continue his votes on the very few social issues where Kennedy deviated from the hardcore rightwing line he otherwise followed. Because Trump and his gang don’t really care one way or another about abortion or gay rights — in fact, they would be happy to keep these issues in play, so they can use them to stir up “the base” as needed. What matters is that the next judge follows Kennedy in upholding corporate power and authoritarian rule, as he has reliably done for years.

    Note also that Kennedy was apparently keen to prevent the Democrats from blocking a Trump nominee. Kennedy wantsTrump to make the appointment while the Republican extremists still hold Congress. He is gladto help his longtime family friend and associate perpetuate his noxious legacy far into the future. Kennedy just wanted to be sure that one of his guys gets a shot at the arbiter-for-life gig. After that — who cares?

    I don’t expect we will actually see a “huge battle” over Kennedy’s replacement either. If it comes before the elections — as it certainly will — several Democrats will fold and vote for Trump’s pick, as they did with Neil Gorsuch. After all, Trump’s pick will almost certainly be a protege of the departing Justice, someone who can be depicted as “very much in the Kennedy mold.” The coming NYT op-eds on this practically write themselves: “While many feared Trump would move radically to the right on his choice — Alex Jones for Justice, anyone? — the president has surprisingly steered a middle course, picking an experienced judge who has clerked with Justice Kennedy and reflects his moderate, centrist approach. This pick may be the most ‘presidential’ thing that Mr. Trump has ever done.”

    All the nominee need to is to signal discreetly to Democrats that he (and it will almost certainly be a male, as the overwhelming majority of Trump’s judicial picks have been) will uphold Kennedy’s position on gay rights and abortion, and the Dems will fall all over themselves in a spasm of “bipartisanship.” Meanwhile, the Trump gang will be signaling not so discreetly to Republicans that the nominee will vote to overturn all those icky rulings for perverts and bitches, and the Congressional extremists will overlook any “moderate” overtones in his record.

    How the nominee will actually vote on these particular issues is completely unknown, of course. And, as noted, this doesn’t really matter to Trump or the Congressional extremists. What will matter is that the new Justice replicate Kennedy’s faithful adherence to domination by monied elites and the expansion of authoritarian power. And that’s exactly what we’ll get, for years and years and years to come. Even if the majority of the people don’t want it. (Just as the majority of people didn’t want Trump to be president.) Because that’s the kind of “democracy” we have.

  8. Rewind is offline
    Rewind's Avatar
    Joined: Oct 2017 Location: Glendale CA Posts: 12,194
    07-18-2018, 11:01 PM #238
    After every mass shooting, Trump and the Republicans in Congress offer the requisite "thoughts and prayers" and do absolutely nothing to stem the rising tide of gun violence. They accept huge donations from the NRA and they do the NRA's bidding. That means no new gun-control legislation and no restrictions or limitations on gun ownership. The right to own lots of guns is much more important than the right to life.

    In March 2018, the NRA admitted accepting foreign donations but said none of those donations are spent on elections. Of course there is no way anyone could prove otherwise. And now look at the big favor those gun-loving Republicans have done for the NRA:

    The NRA and some other nonprofit groups will no longer have to identify their donors to the IRS

  9. Atypical is offline
    07-19-2018, 09:44 AM #239
    CEOs vs. Workers


    Bernie Sanders's town hall on Monday delivered a radical message: workers are getting screwed, and the capitalist class is to blame.

    On Monday night, Vermont senator Bernie Sanders hosted a live-streamed town hall with five low-wage workers — one each from Amazon, American Airlines, Disney, McDonald’s, and Walmart. The workers sat on one side of the stage, while on the other idled five empty chairs, each emblazoned with the name of an absent CEO. Sanders had invited the executives to participate in the discussion, but none had agreed.

    The arrangement was an effective visual representation of the outrageous inequality that exists in the United States. The ten chairs represented ten people: five workers struggling to make ends meet, and their five indifferent bosses, too preoccupied to bother attending and too powerful to be compelled.

    “I guess they didn’t show up,” Sanders said, gesturing to the vacant chairs. “We made a sincere effort, because I think it would’ve been an extraordinary discussion for them to defend the kind of compensation they get in contrast to the people who work for them.” (I crunched the numbers, and Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos personally made over five hundred times the median Amazon workers’ salary during the length of the broadcast.)

    Sanders opened the event by asking workers to describe their working and living conditions. “I work twelve-hour days,” said Heather Hudson, an eleven-year employee of American Airlines. Hudson, who supplements her paycheck with food stamps, described how “humiliating it is to be in the social services line with your coworkers,” adding that “the most disturbing part of all of this is that we work for a company that is extraordinarily successful.”

    “We’re understaffed, overworked, and they disrespect us,” said Cynthia Murray, who has worked for Walmart for eighteen years. She spoke of constant harassment by managers and of workers walking an hour to the store because they couldn’t afford a bus ride. One year, she said, the company set out collection boxes for its employees to donate food to each other during the winter holidays. “Workers have to collect food to feed other workers,” reiterated Sanders, “at a company owned by one of the richest families in the world.”

    Artemis Bell, a Disney worker for seven years, told Sanders that she makes $11.86 an hour. “How do people live on $11.86 an hour?” he asked. “We don’t really,” she answered. “We just barely make it, even when we have more roommates than we have bedrooms.” Bell told the story of a coworker who died sleeping in her car, after working for Disney six days a week for ten years. Sanders noted that Disney recently gave CEO Bob Iger a $423 million compensation package.

    Perhaps it was the ideological framing of the town-hall event — “CEOs vs. Workers” — that explained the executives’ absence. Capitalists prefer to be thought of as valuable job creators and benevolent providers for workers, not their adversaries.

    But as the town hall made clear, CEOs do actively undermine their employees’ interests, subjecting them to poverty wages, ever-dwindling benefits, razor-thin job security, unreasonable performance standards, hazardous working conditions, and sabotaged collective-bargaining efforts. When a company contracts out or hires exclusively part-time so they don’t have to provide health care for low-wage employees, that’s CEOs versus workers. When a company puts its profits toward hiring lobbyists to secure tax breaks instead of paying the people whose sweat produced that profit a decent wage, that’s CEOs versus workers.

    Some workers think of their fellow workers (immigrants, say) as their competitors. Some even think their boss’s competitor is their competitor, buying the line that what’s good for the employer is good for the employee. But the workers Sanders brought to the stage had a different perspective. They saw the boss as the workers’ real competitor. “I believe it’s time,” said Hudson, “for the company to share those profits with us.”

    Capitalism and Class

    Sanders’s framing is familiar to socialists, who understand capitalism as a system that pits different classes against each other. Bosses try to squeeze as much labor from their workers for the cheapest price possible, while workers try — with varying degrees of coordination and success — to secure a decent living by forcing concessions from the capitalist class.

    Socialists see this conflict not as an unfortunate accident, but as an inherent feature of capitalism. While all people may be theoretically created equal, under capitalism some of them have money or land or factories, and others don’t. The have-nots must sell their labor to the haves to survive.

    Since this arrangement puts workers in competition with each other for jobs and artificially scarce resources, it creates a race to the bottom. Workers accept worsening pay and conditions because they need to sell their labor in order to keep a roof over their head or feed their kids. Capitalists take advantage of this desperation by paying unlivable wages, slashing benefits, and so on — all of which helps their bottom line. This makes workers even more desperate, which gives capitalists even more leverage to exploit workers, resulting in a constant transfer of wealth to the top and the unconscionable material inequality that we see today.

    It’s not that bosses are personally mean, or bad apples. Some bosses are cruel, and some are kind. What unites them all is that they are all disciplined by the needs of the company. And companies need one thing: profit.

    In The Grapes of Wrath, John Steinbeck likened a bank or a company to a monster. “The monster has to have profits all the time. It can’t wait. It’ll die,” he wrote. “When the monster stops growing, it dies. It can’t stay one size.” This is one of capitalism’s unique features: every economic actor is disciplined by and subservient to the logic of the market, its dictates of competition and profit maximization. If companies don’t keep making a profit, they will be edged out of existence by other companies. And the most surefire way to turn a profit is to cut labor costs, via all of the means that the Amazon, American Airlines, Disney, McDonald’s, and Walmart workers described during Bernie Sanders’s town hall.

    This is why socialists believe capitalism can never provide a decent life for all people. We must instead defy the dictates of the market and reorder society around human need, not private profit.

    Cont'd Below
    Last edited by Atypical; 07-19-2018 at 10:01 AM.

  10. Atypical is offline
    07-19-2018, 09:52 AM #240

    “People in a Sense Are Disposable”

    Halfway through the town hall, Bernie Sanders showed a video that began with a clip of Jeff Bezos discussing his own personal fortune, saying, “The only way I can see to deploy this much financial resource is by converting my Amazon winnings into space travel.”

    It was blood-boiling, especially after Amazon worker Seth King had just described his experience working in the warehouses where Bezos’s profits are generated. King said he was initially attracted to Amazon by some enticing employee perks, but he quickly learned that the company’s business model is predicated on burning workers out before they ever get to enjoy them.

    “It’s a revolving door of bodies that they’re throwing at the floor,” King said. “Ten hours for four days straight, walking, not allowed to sit down.” He described a working environment in which employees were not allowed to talk to each other, and where every movement is tracked and worker performance is measured daily against impossible standards. King, a young Navy veteran, said he always fell at least 20 percent short of his mark, even on days where he felt his performance was high.

    “The environment is very isolated and depressing,” he said, noting that this workplace had no windows. King held another job to supplement his Amazon job, leaving him with one free day a week, which he spent sleeping. He described reaching a breaking point and asking himself, “If this is the best my life is going to get, why am I still here?” His suicidal thoughts eventually drove him to leave Amazon. “There’s no work environment that should make you feel like that,” he said.

    After a quiet moment, Sanders added, “And this is a company owned by a person whose wealth increases $275 million every single day.”

    “People in a sense are disposable,” Sanders said. “We work somebody to the point of no return, and we get rid of them and get somebody else in. It’s not a culture where people are respected, are nourished. We have to ask ourselves if that’s the kind of economic culture we are comfortable with. And I think most Americans are not.”

    The moment captured Sanders’s greatest contribution to American politics. Of all the country’s politicians or household names of any stripe, he is far and away the most committed to highlighting the conflict between classes.

    To go beyond the competitive drives of capitalism and move toward socialism, millions of people will have to become engaged in class-conscious struggle throughout all spheres of society. Understanding that classes do not coexist in harmony — that there is already a class war underway and the only choice that remains is whether to fight back in it — is at the heart of class consciousness. One of the primary tasks of socialists is to bring people into contact with this very idea.

    We live in a time of ruthless domination and subjection from above and disordered and threadbare opposition from below. But it’s a heartening sign that the most popular politician in America is seeking to popularize the idea of class conflict — and that millions of people are listening.


    The ingredients of uncontrolled capitalism are greed, power, unlimited profit and a hatred of anything that interferes with their 'I want to do whatever I want' philosophy. As the article says, employees are only a means to those ends, and are, therefore, disposable.
    Last edited by Atypical; 07-19-2018 at 10:08 AM.

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