CORPORATISM WATCH: A LOOK BACK AT GM, A LOOK FORWARD ATFORECLOSURE FRAUD

“I have to teach this Obama something about capitalism” — Hugo Chávez.

This was in the wake of the government takeover of GM, chronicled very well right here by B´Man who used this piece by Greg Palast to make the same point Chávez made.

The latter, of course, is a bright man with a very needling yet accurate sense of humor. He knew that while he calls his government “socialist,” it is hardly that, and he knows his reputation in the American propaganda is as some kind of communist dictator, so he took an opportunity to make a very deeply finessed joke. The essential truth at the heart of the joke is while the “socialist” Republic of Venezuela is, like almost all countries, an economic mix of public and private ownership of productive capacity. They vary as to percentage, but all self-governing nations can be said to be “capitalist” in the main with greater or lesser degrees of “socialist features.”

The United States is not one of those countries because it is neither “capitalist” nor “socialist” nor the common blend of the two. It is a CORPORATIST EMPIRE. The wealth and productive capacity of the USA is largely controlled by a triad of the largest banks and corporations, all branches of government by mostly the executive and legislative, and a PRIVATE CENTRAL BANK the world knows as THE FEDERAL RESERVE.

Thus, the country which claims to be the example of capitalism in action, has no respect for the natural rules of capitalism and I don´t need to discuss the role of regulation and/or oversight either to prove it.

One of those natural, commonsense, laws of capitalism is THE LEVELS OF SENIORITY OF CORPORATE FINANCE. Without the existence of this ladder, capitalism could not function. There would be no incentive to lend money and there would be no incentive for any single person to commit themselves to any job at all. The only logical choice would be, as was in the case of the USSR, for everyone to steal everything that wasn´t bolted down at their place of employment.

Palast lays out the case of the government takeover of GM and concurrent theft of workers´and lenders´money and rights to benefit itself and the banking-cartel, at the expense of the natural order of seniority of corporate finance.

(An aside: Chávez and Argentina´s President Cristina Fernández De Kirchner have bragged about allowing the process of seniority of levels of corporate finance to work itself through failing companies and have created 1000s of millionaires out of normal unionized workforces who were able to use their top rung on the ladder of finance to take over failed companies and make successes of them. 1000 millionaires are better than one billionaire screwup, no?)

So, EXHIBIT A, in exactly how the USA is a corporatist empire, not a democratic republic with a mixed economy. H/T again to B´Man for his post from the Summer of 2009.

Grand Theft Auto: How Stevie the Rat bankrupted GM

It is not just the executive and legislative branches of government of the USA which violate another natural tenet of capitalism, THE ILLEGALITY OF FRAUD.

Another aside, this one with more American relevance!: while I have a great deal of respect for Ron Paul, I certainly don´t agree with his free-market absolutism because it does not appear that he has thought through the endgame of it. All that would happen is, while the government might be severed from the corporations, the result would be overt feudalism in the country with the world´s greatest wealth and income concentration. To be fair to Paul, however, he asserts that the laws against fraud properly enforced are better than a corporatist government whose regulation and oversight are themselves fraudulent. I agree with this part of his explanation, though I find it necessary, but hardly sufficient, because the laws pertaining to fraud are completely disregarded as the Palast piece and the following show.

So, EXHIBIT B in our ongoing case against corporatism.

The judicial branch of government at the behest of the banking cartel and executive branches is participating in a cruel fraud against the American homeowner by creating a quasi-governmental, quasi “private,” agency called MERS to rob homeowners of their rights and to speed up the foreclosure process as a gift to the banking-cartel.

Factbox: The role of MERS in foreclosure furor

Once you´ve read it, and understood why it´s a fraudulent entity, watch this video of Matt Taibbi explaining to Cenk Uyger why this is so.

Now, have a look at a chart which partially shows the slicing and dicing and repackaging and sales and trading of mixed mortgages.

My point here is to emphasize that the dispersion of millions of tiny pieces of millions of mortgages to entities far and wide and completely unaccounted for leave any fraudulent entity like MERS or any special courts meant to speed up the foreclosure of homes are not LEGAL. They violate federal laws against fraud, conspiracy, obstruction of justice, restraint of trade, and are wholly unconstitutional because they violate due process and the so-called “takings clause.”

What Taibbi alludes to and I specify is that the “plaintiffs” in these “judicial foreclosures” are not necessarily entitled to pursue foreclosure because as it seems, THEY ARE NOT THE BENEFICIAL OWNERS OF THE HOME LOAN. Thus, they are not the “aggrieved parties” to any foreclosure court proceeding and have no business trying to force anyone out of their homes. Only if the actual beneficial holders of the loans are able to repackage them into the original loan itself (or some threshold percentage of it) can they bring a claim of foreclosure against a homeowner. A bank which briefly owned an MBS/CDO and no longer has any title to any tiny slice of any mortgage in it is plainly not an aggrieved party and ought by law, normal business practice, and the US Constitution, have no right to try to seize something they don´t own only to make yet more free money and oppress yet more people.

But if you look at these two examples, you see that in the Imperial Corporatist States Of America, THERE IS NO LAW, THERE IS NO NORMAL BUSINESS PRACTICE, AND OBVIOUSLY THERE IS NO CONSTITUTION.

There is only a corporatist empire, a police state and all the oppression, coercion, expropriation, and RULE OF FRAUD that accompanies an empire.

All posts are opinions meant to foster comment, reporting, teaching & study under the “fair use doctrine” in Sec. 107 of U.S. Code Title 17. No statement of fact is made or should be implied. Ads appearing on this blog are solely the product of the advertiser and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of BuehlahMan’s Revolt or WordPress.com

They are ALL wrong!

http://www.radaronline.com/exclusives/2010/07/exclusive-new-audio-mel-gibson-admits-hitting-oksana-threatens-kill-her-listen-it

The above is the full 8 minutes

Ya know– I hate ‘sound-bites’ and I sure am wise enough to know when I end up listening to something in pieces, that I do not nor will I ever have the entire history regarding anything that I just heard. Now– I do know the following–

1] This woman was in control of the call and dialoge

2] I do not believe he knew it was being taped

3] She said what she wanted said on the tape

4] If we taped anyone of us during a domestic tyrate it would not be pretty

5] He sounds like every Biker [sorry bikers] I ever knew

6] IF domestic violence did happen, he is wrong– flat out wrong

7] I am not a shrink, so there can be no diagnosis from me while I sit in my armcahir

8] I have used almost every word he used at one time in my life

9] I actually don’t think this tape is any of our business

10] Obviously he is out of control about something way past what we are aware of… in their life together

11]… He should never ever hit nor threated to put her [or anyone] under.

12] Can anyone one of us look back honestly in our own lives and say that we or someone we knew had never ever gotten into a heated screaming match? Would you want it recorded for all to hear out of contents??

AGAIN== Mel is wrong with his rage and violence…  I am just speaking to the ‘taping’.

The media is having a hayday with this…  Mel needs help, counceling…. something. And she needs to just do what she has to do in court, get to court and settle whatever she wants to settle– but ya know, somewhere in the nasty oh-so-wrong shit is a bid for money– and tons of it. I am not saying Mel didn’t do terrible stuff, he most likely sure as hell did– but I am just not excusing her or the media on this one either. The Radar Online folks stated that she personally did not give them the tapes. I am sure she sure as hell had a hand in it– she needed public outrage, or so she thinks. Screw this mess… I want to hear the well is capped and the clean-up is going well, and the troops are coming home [which will add to millions of more unemployed Americans because WHERE ARE OUR TROOPS GONNA WORK?? So there ya have it– this story is not a news worthy story!!! Jobs, Troops, Wars, Unemploymeny, healthcare, enviornment are true stories!!!

All posts are opinions meant to foster comment, reporting, teaching & study under the “fair use doctrine” in Sec. 107 of U.S. Code Title 17. No statement of fact is made or should be implied. Ads appearing on this blog are solely the product of the advertiser and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of BuehlahMan’s Redstate Revolt or WordPress.com

Donated by the Citizens of the United States of America

Camp is empty   report and video link

I watched the report on this on BBC. This camp is empty because AGAIN the haitian Government is elitist and corrupt. The ‘weathly’ folks who used to live in fine Starter-Castles and McMansions said they wouldn’t live there. And AFTER the USA donated these tents, bathrooms, watering stations etc.. the Haitian government built this camp for the RICH folks who will not live there. They demand the government TEAR THEM DOWN and build them their big homes again on that level land!!! Meanwhile, starving poor folks who have nothing are across the road in a slum camp seeing this camp and are not allowed there. I tell you what, I think the poor folk need to revolt!! and march their starved asses over to the new camp… and squat. Ok I know, they would most likely be killed… but damn it this makes me so friggin mad. THIS IS EXACTLY wtf has been wrong in haiti all along. Its not that other countries haven’t helped… but their government keeps the donations and goods for the upper elite [as if they are really classey folk! ]… geeeece.

General… oh General….

Nation building in Afghanistan is not our job— it is theirs.

By Eugene Robinson
Friday, June 25, 2010
Washington Post

The good news? Nobody has to pretend anymore that Gen. Stanley McChrystal knew how to fix Afghanistan within a year. The bad news? No
President Obama was absolutely right to sack the preening McChrystal, whose inner circle, as portrayed in Rolling Stone magazine, had all the seriousness and decorum of a frat house keg party. And it was a brilliant political move to turn to Petraeus, who is made of purest Teflon. Critics who might have been tempted to blast the president for changing horses in midstream can hardly object when he has given the reins to the man who averted a humiliating U.S. defeat in Iraq.
Note that I didn’t credit Petraeus with “winning” in Iraq. He didn’t. What he managed to do was redeem the situation to the point where the United States could begin bringing home its combat troops. If the Obama administration’s aims in Afghanistan are recalibrated to accommodate objective reality, then Petraeus can succeed there, too. But this means that the general’s assignment should be a narrow one: Lay the groundwork for a U.S. withdrawal to begin next summer, as Obama has pledged.
After relieving McChrystal of his command Wednesday, Obama called in his national security team and read the riot act. No more bickering, sniping, backbiting or name-calling, the president ordered. Play nice.
But all the comity in the world doesn’t resolve the essential tension between those who believe our goal in Afghanistan should be defined as “victory” and those who believe it should be defined as “finding the exit.” Two thousand years of history are on the side of the “exit” camp, and the fact is that at some point we’re going to leave. The question is how much time will pass — and how many more young Americans will be killed or wounded — before that inevitable day comes.

McChrystal, who designed the counterinsurgency strategy being attempted in Afghanistan, didn’t disguise his opposition to administration officials such as Vice President Biden, Ambassador Karl Eikenberry and special envoy Richard Holbrooke, who questioned whether the strategy could work. Petraeus is far too good a politician to fall into that trap. He won’t allow any daylight between himself and the civilian leadership.
But ultimately, there’s going to be no way to avoid the central question: What kind of Afghanistan will we leave behind?
One answer would be that we have to leave in place a durable, functional central government that has full legitimacy and control within the nation’s borders. This would provide the United States with a reliable ally in a dangerous region and also ensure that Afghanistan would never again be used as a launching pad for attacks by al-Qaeda. But to get the country to that point, given where it is now, could take a decade or more of sustained, concentrated attention. It would mean not just defeating the Taliban but molding the regime of Afghan President Hamid Karzai into a reasonably honest, effective government. This would be a tall order even if Karzai were a stable, consistent, loyal partner. Does anybody believe that he is?
A better answer would be that it’s enough to leave behind an Afghanistan that no longer poses a serious threat to the United States or its vital interests. Nation-building would be the Afghans’ problem, not ours.
Petraeus was successful in Iraq because he realized that he couldn’t create an Athenian democracy in Baghdad. But the highly imperfect Iraqi government is light-years beyond what the general is likely to be able to achieve in Kabul. Even after the war, Iraq was left with modern infrastructure, a highly educated and sophisticated population, and a sizable percentage of the world’s proven oil reserves. Afghanistan has none of these advantages. The political culture is stubbornly medieval; the populace is poor, uneducated and wary of foreign influences. Afghanistan does have great mineral wealth, apparently, but no mining industry to dig it out and no railroads to get it to the marketplace.
In recent testimony before Congress, Petraeus was less than definitive when asked about Obama’s July 2011 deadline. Because he has such credibility and standing in Washington, his view on when we can begin to leave Afghanistan will be more important than McChrystal’s ever was. I hope that by putting Petraeus in charge of the war, President Obama hasn’t consigned us to a longer stay. His comments Thursday seem to indicate the possibility.

Oh– and I can bet you that Petraeus told the President that he would accept this position with a few conditions– Like ‘Hey I am a Battle Field General.. And I want to WIN, [ like there is such a thing as win] not mandy-pandy around. I am going to make a few changes to your rules of combat– LIKE allow the men to shoot!!!!!” “ Oh and by the way, Rolling Stone Mag, set up McChrystal!”

Oil and Indians Don’t Mix – Greg Palast

by Greg Palast
Friday, June 12, 2009

For Air America Radio’s Ring of Fire

There’s an easy way to find oil.  Go to some remote and gorgeous natural sanctuary, say Alaska or the Amazon, find some Indians, then drill down under them.

If the indigenous folk complain, well, just shoo-them away.  Shoo-ing methods include:  bulldozers, bullets, crooked politicians and fake land sales.

But be aware.  Lately the Natives are shoo-ing back.  Last week, indigenous Peruvians seized an oil pumping station, grabbed the nine policemen guarding it and, say reports, executed them.  This followed the government’s murder of more than a dozen rainforest residents who had protested the seizure of their property for oil drilling.

Again and again I see it in my line of work of investigating fraud.  Here are a few pit-stops on the oily trail of tears:

In the 1980s, Charles Koch was found to have pilfered about $3 worth of crude from Stanlee Ann Mattingly’s oil tank in Oklahoma.  Here’s the weird part.  Koch was (and remains) the 14th richest man on the planet, worth about $14 billion. Stanlee Ann was a dirt-poor Osage Indian.

Stanlee Ann wasn’t Koch’s only victim.  According to secret tape recordings of a former top executive of his company, Koch Industries, the billionaire demanded that oil tanker drivers secretly siphon a few bucks worth of oil from every tank attached to a stripper well on the Osage Reservation where Koch had a contract to retrieve crude.

Koch, according to the tape, would, “giggle” with joy over the records of the theft.  Koch’s own younger brother Bill ratted him out, complaining that, in effect, brothers Charles and David cheated him out of his fair share of the looting which totaled over three-quarters of a billion dollars from the Native lands.

The FBI filmed the siphoning with hidden cameras, but criminal charges were quashed after quiet objections from Republican senators.

Then there are the Chugach Natives of Alaska.  The Port of Valdez, Alaska, is arguably one of the most valuable pieces of real estate on Earth, the only earthquake-safe ice-free port in Alaska that could load oil from the giant North Slope field.  In 1969, Exxon and British Petroleum companies took the land from the Chugach paid them one dollar.  I kid you not.

Wally Hickel, the former Governor of Alaska, dismissed my suggestion that the Chugach deserved a bit more respect (and cash) for their property. “Land ownership comes in two ways, Mr. Palast.” explained the governor and pipeline magnate, “Purchase or conquest.  The fact that your granddaddy chased a caribou across the land doesn’t make it yours.”  The Chugach had lived there for 3,000 years.

No oil company would dream of digging on the Bush family properties in Midland, Texas, without paying a royalty.  Or drilling near Malibu without the latest in environmental protections.  But when Natives are on top of Exxon’s or BP’s glory hole, suddenly, the great defenders of private property rights turn quite Bolshevik:  lands can be seized for The Public’s Need for Oil.

Some Natives are “re-located” through legal flim-flam, some at gunpoint.  The less lucky are left to wallow, literally, in the gunk left by the drilling process.

Take a look at this photo here, taken in the Amazon rainforest in Ecuador.  It’s from an investigation that I conducted for BBC TV, now in the film “Palast Investigates.”  I’m holding up a stinking, black glop of crude oil residue pulled from an abandoned Chevron-Texaco waste pit.  A pipe runs from the toxic pit right into the water supply of Cofan Indians.

Chief Emergildo Criollo told me how oil company executives helicoptered into his remote village and, speaking in Spanish – which the Cofan didn’t understand – “purchased” drilling rights with trinkets and cheese.  The Natives had never seen cheese.  (“The cheese smelled funny, so we threw it in the jungle.”)

After drilling began, Criollo’s son went swimming in his usual watering hole, came up vomiting blood, and died.

I asked Chevron about the wave of poisonings and deaths.  According to an independent report, 1,401 deaths, mostly of children, mostly from cancers, can be traced to Chevron’s toxic dumping.

Chevron’s lawyer told me, “And it’s the only case of cancer in the world?  How many cases of children with cancer do you have in the States?  … They have to prove that it is our crude,” which, he noted with glee, “is absolutely impossible.”

Big Oil treats indigenous blood like a cheap gasoline additive.   That’s why the Peruvians are up in arms. The Cofan of Ecuador, unlike their brothers in Peru, have taken no hostages. Rather, they have heavily armed themselves with lawyers.

But Chevron and its Big Oil brethren remain dismissive of the law.  This week, Shell Oil, to get rid of a nasty PR problem by paying $15 million to the Ogoni people and the family of Ken Saro-Wiwa for the oil giant’s alleged role in the killing of Wiwa and his associates, activists who had defended these Nigeria Delta people against drilling contamination.  Shell pocketed $31 billion last year in profits and hopes the payoff will clear the way for a drilling partnership with Nigeria’s government.

Congratulations, Shell.  $15 million:  For a license to kill and drill, that’s a quite a bargain.

The Barack Obama Banking Cartel: Taking The American Worker Down To Build The Bankers Up

Grand Theft Auto: How Stevie the Rat bankrupted GM

by Greg Palast
Monday, June 1, 2009

Screw the autoworkers.

They may be crying about General Motors’ bankruptcy today. But dumping 40,000 of the last 60,000 union jobs into a mass grave won’t spoil Jamie Dimon’s day.

Dimon is the CEO of JP Morgan Chase bank. While GM workers are losing their retirement health benefits, their jobs, their life savings; while shareholders are getting zilch and many creditors getting hosed, a few privileged GM lenders – led by Morgan and Citibank – expect to get back 100% of their loans to GM, a stunning $6 billion.

The way these banks are getting their $6 billion bonanza is stone cold illegal.

I smell a rat.

Stevie the Rat, to be precise. Steven Rattner, Barack Obama’s ‘Car Czar’ – the man who essentially ordered GM into bankruptcy this morning.

When a company goes bankrupt, everyone takes a hit: fair or not, workers lose some contract wages, stockholders get wiped out and creditors get fragments of what’s left. That’s the law. What workers don’t lose are their pensions (including old-age health funds) already taken from their wages and held in their name.

But not this time. Stevie the Rat has a different plan for GM: grab the pension funds to pay off Morgan and Citi.

Here’s the scheme: Rattner is demanding the bankruptcy court simply wipe away the money GM owes workers for their retirement health insurance. Cash in the insurance fund would be replace by GM stock. The percentage may be 17% of GM’s stock – or 25%. Whatever, 17% or 25% is worth, well … just try paying for your dialysis with 50 shares of bankrupt auto stock.

Yet Citibank and Morgan, says Rattner, should get their whole enchilada – $6 billion right now and in cash – from a company that can’t pay for auto parts or worker eye exams.

Preventive Detention for Pensions

So what’s wrong with seizing workers’ pension fund money in a bankruptcy? The answer, Mr. Obama, Mr. Law Professor, is that it’s illegal.

In 1974, after a series of scandalous take-downs of pension and retirement funds during the Nixon era, Congress passed the Employee Retirement Income Security Act. ERISA says you can’t seize workers’ pension funds (whether monthly payments or health insurance) any more than you can seize their private bank accounts. And that’s because they are the same thing: workers give up wages in return for retirement benefits.

The law is darn explicit that grabbing pension money is a no-no. Company executives must hold these retirement funds as “fiduciaries.” Here’s the law, Professor Obama, as described on the government’s own web site under the heading, “Health Plans and Benefits.”

“The primary responsibility of fiduciaries is to run the plan solely in the interest of participants and beneficiaries and for the exclusive purpose of providing benefits.”

Every business in America that runs short of cash would love to dip into retirement kitties, but it’s not their money any more than a banker can seize your account when the bank’s a little short. A plan’s assets are for the plan’s members only, not for Mr. Dimon nor Mr. Rubin.

Yet, in effect, the Obama Administration is demanding that money for an elderly auto worker’s spleen should be siphoned off to feed the TARP babies. Workers go without lung transplants so Dimon and Rubin can pimp out their ride. This is another “Guantanamo” moment for the Obama Administration – channeling Nixon to endorse the preventive detention of retiree health insurance.

Filching GM’s pension assets doesn’t become legal because the cash due the fund is replaced with GM stock. Congress saw through that switch-a-roo by requiring that companies, as fiduciaries, must

“…act prudently and must diversify the plan’s investments in order to minimize the risk of large losses.”

By “diversify” for safety, the law does not mean put 100% of worker funds into a single busted company’s stock.

This is dangerous business: The Rattner plan opens the floodgate to every politically-connected or down-on-their-luck company seeking to drain health care retirement funds.

House of Rubin

Pensions are wiped away and two connected banks don’t even get a haircut? How come Citi and Morgan aren’t asked, like workers and other creditors, to take stock in GM?

As Butch said to Sundance, who ARE these guys? You remember Morgan and Citi. These are the corporate Welfare Queens who’ve already sucked up over a third of a trillion dollars in aid from the US Treasury and Federal Reserve. Not coincidentally, Citi, the big winner, has paid over $100 million to Robert Rubin, the former US Treasury Secretary. Rubin was Obama’s point-man in winning banks’ endorsement and campaign donations (by far, his largest source of his corporate funding).

With GM’s last dying dimes about to fall into one pocket, and the Obama Treasury in his other pocket, Morgan’s Jamie Dimon is correct in saying that the last twelve months will prove to be the bank’s “finest year ever.”

Which leaves us to ask the question: is the forced bankruptcy of GM, the elimination of tens of thousands of jobs, just a collection action for favored financiers?

And it’s been a good year for Señor Rattner. While the Obama Administration made a big deal out of Rattner’s youth spent working for the Steelworkers Union, they tried to sweep under the chassis that Rattner was one of the privileged, select group of investors in Cerberus Capital, the owners of Chrysler. “Owning” is a loose term. Cerberus “owned” Chrysler the way a cannibal “hosts” you for dinner. Cerberus paid nothing for Chrysler – indeed, they were paid billions by Germany’s Daimler Corporation to haul it away. Cerberus kept the cash, then dumped Chrysler’s bankrupt corpse on the US taxpayer.

(“Cerberus,” by the way, named itself after the Roman’s mythical three-headed dog guarding the gates Hell. Subtle these guys are not.)

While Stevie the Rat sold his interest in the Dog from Hell when he became Car Czar, he never relinquished his post at the shop of vultures called Quadrangle Hedge Fund. Rattner’s personal net worth stands at roughly half a billion dollars. This is Obama’s working class hero.

If you ran a business and played fast and loose with your workers’ funds, you could land in prison. Stevie the Rat’s plan is nothing less than Grand Theft Auto Pension.

It doesn’t make it any less of a crime if the President drives the getaway car.

******

Economist and journalist Greg Palast, a former trade union contract negotiator, is author of the New York Times bestsellers The Best Democracy Money Can Buy and Armed Madhouse. He is a GM bondholder and card-carrying member of United Automobile Workers Local 1981.

Palast’s latest reports for BBC Television and Democracy Now! are collected on the newly released DVD, “Palast Investigates: from 8-Mile to the Amazon – on the trail of the financial marauders.” Watch the trailer here.

And the rectum said, ‘Now you know why an asshole’s always in charge.’

Greg Palast is funny, but it is my kind of snarky humor, so I really enjoy his writing. It just so happens that Mr Palast has hopped upon a mind glitch that I have had lately… the hypocrisy of Tiny Tim and the real reason behind his appointment. See below to find out what that little itch in your craw is all about. Maybe Greg has the answer…

Why An A**Hole is Always in Charge.

Greg Palast for SuicideGirls.com
Sunday 25, 2009

John Thain is the guy that looks like a Clark Kent doll you saw grinning from page one of your paper Friday morning. Thain was just fired by Bank of America because the square-jawed executive demanded a $30 million bonus after losing $5 billion in just three months at the bank’s Merrill Lynch unit. In addition, Thain spent over a million dollars redecorating his office – including installation of a $35,000 toilet bowl – while the U.S. Treasury was bailing out his company.

There is no justice. Thain shouldn’t have been fired; he should have gotten a $60 million bonus — and Obama should immediately hire him as Secretary of the Treasury in place of that tax-dodging lightweight that’s been nominated, Timothy Geithner.

Here’s the facts, ma’am.

Thain was CEO of Merrill Lynch, the big brokerage firm. On a good day, Merrill is worth zero. A week before it was about to go out of business, Thain sold this busted bag of financial feces to Bank of America for $50 BILLION.

I’d say that’s worth a bonus.

But it gets better. When the bag broke and another $5 billion in losses were discovered at Merrill, Thain went to the U.S. Treasury and got ANOTHER $20 BILLION to cover Bank of America’s bad financial bet — from us, the taxpayers.

Now that certainly deserves a bonus. And let’s face it, a butthole that big needs a $35,000 toilet. Instead, the guy that paid the $50 billion, Bank of America Chairman Kenneth Lewis, is keeping his job. Lewis is the same guy that just spent billions more on buying Countrywide Financial, the sub-prime mortgage loan sharks that have brought America to its knees and put Bank of America into effective bankruptcy. (Note to Mr. Lewis: the only thing worse than getting cancer is PAYING for it.)

But dumber than Lewis is the loser who OK’d paying Bank of America for its losses on Merrill, who traded a pile of turds for a stack of gold — our gold from the U.S. Treasury. That was Tim Geithner, Obama’s pick for Treasury Secretary, who’s now answering questions at Senate confirmation hearings about his funky tax filings. Tiny Tim was head of the New York Federal Reserve Bank during the Bush regime. Along with Bush’s Secretary of the Treasury, Geithner came up with that $700 billion bail-out that loaded banks with loot on their way to insolvency. Bank of America got $25 billion of it to spend on Thain’s company Merrill. That was before the extra $20 billion was weedled by Thain.

So why, President Obama, have you given us Tiny Tim to save our sorry nation’s economic behind? What’s with that?

In another life I was an economist. Really. So here’s the economic facts of life: Our valiant young president is going to have to borrow a trillion dollars to bring our economy back from the grave. He’s got to borrow it, no choice about that. But who in their right minds will lend it to us? I can tell you the number one job of a new Treasury Secretary will be to con Saudi sheiks and Chinese apparatchiks into lending us another trillion (they’ve already lent $2 trillion).

Who in the world can talk them into it?

The answer came to me after I went this afternoon to see my proctologist, a brilliant doctor with one eye and really long fingers. (OK, I made that up.) The good doctor told me that hoary old joke about the heart and brain and rectum getting into a fight about which one was more important. When the higher organs made fun of the butt-end, the rectum went on strike. After a month, the brain and heart couldn’t take it any more — the whole body was about to explode. So they told the rectum, ‘You win.’ And the rectum said, ‘Now you know why an asshole’s always in charge.’

There’s our answer. Instead of an easily duped, incompetent weasel like Geithner for Secretary of the Treasury, what we really need is a lying bucket of evil snot, a flaming red take-no-prisoners asshole. A guy like Thain that can sell a piece of crap like Merrill for billions — twice — is just what we need to shake down the sheiks. “America for Sale! Cheap!”

And Thain comes with his own gold-plated toilet.

*************

Greg Palast is the co-author of Steal Back Your Vote, a comic book co-authored with Robert F. Kennedy Jr. Watch Palast’s investigative reports on BBC Television’s Newsnight and in Rolling Stone Magazine. For more info go to GregPalast.com.

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The Buffering of history

WHAT AN AWESOME DAY! … and now I have a question…

Well, after watching ‘history’ today… I noticed a topic I do desire to ask all of you about. Bear with me as I set this topic up and then ask a few questions. Do those who chose to be the ones ‘recording’ history for our country as well as the world have the right or obligation to alter the ‘realism’, truth of reflection regarding it? To delete, or ignore parts etc out of it as a rationalization of using kindness or respect? Sounds nice and right– but I disagree! I can recall critics of the Statue of Iwo Jima [which was made after the photograph of those who actually did raise the flag]… say that that statue should of reflected a black, an Indian and a woman. Well that to me would have been a distorted reflection and not true at all.

So– when the reality of the history today was recorded… those who held the power over the audio and cameras decided to not pan the masses when Bush was announced… and turned down the audio. This to me was not a ‘real’ entry into the ledger of history. No matter the day– the chips should of fell the way he himself had caused his presence to effect the people of this country. Obama didn’t hedge in his speech regarding those that failed the country. He even made many pointed remarks about Bush in my opinion.
>
“…a consequence of greed and irresponsibility on the part of some,…”

“…false promises, the recriminations and worn out dogmas, that for far too long have strangled our politics….”

“…that the stale political arguments that have consumed us for so long no longer apply…”

“..And those of us who manage the public’s dollars will be held to account – to spend wisely, reform bad habits, and do our business in the light of day – because only then can we restore the vital trust between a people and their government….”
“…we reject as false the choice between our safety and our ideals…” [I love that nice way of calling someone a liar]

This only took 8 years to do!!
“..”Let it be told to the future world…that in the depth of winter, when nothing but hope and virtue could survive…that the city and the country, alarmed at one common danger, came forth to meet [it].” <

So, whatever did or didn’t happen in that slice of time will only be told by those there… independently.

If we demand that Cheney turn papers over for historical reasons, we demand truth in all things, then I personally took offence to the fact that the media decided to edit anything. The media must join the train of change… and what led us all to the gates of hell prior to this day, was our own complacency. Today was not the day to not expect the true reflection of all things about this day that made it what it was.

“Pardon me Boys, this ain’t the Chattanooga Cho-Cho…”

Common reasoning tells all of us that this is just the beginning of this pardoning crap from Bush… he has bigger fish to set free than these…

Bush pardons 14 and commutes 2 prison sentences

By DEB RIECHMANNThe Associated Press
Monday, November 24, 2008; 6:20 PM

WASHINGTON — President George W. Bush has granted pardons to 14 individuals and commuted the prison sentences of two others convicted of misdeeds ranging from drug offenses to tax evasion, from wildlife violations to bank embezzlement, The Associated Press learned Monday.

The new round of White House pardons are Bush’s first since March and come less than two months before he will end his presidency. The crimes committed by those on the list also include offenses involving hazardous waste, food stamps, and the theft of government property.

Bush has been stingy during his time in office about handing out such reprieves.

Including these actions, he has granted a total of 171 and eight commutations. That’s less than half as many as Presidents Clinton or Reagan issued during their time in office. Both were two-term presidents.

On the latest pardon list were:

_Leslie Owen Collier of Charleston, Mo. She was convicted for unauthorized use of a pesticide and violating the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act.

_Milton Kirk Cordes of Rapid City, S.D. Cordes was convicted of conspiracy to violate the Lacey Act, which prohibits importation into the country of wildlife taken in violation of conservation laws.

_Richard Micheal Culpepper of Mahomet, Ill., who was convicted of making false statements to the federal government.

_Brenda Jean Dolenz-Helmer of Fort Worth, Texas, for reporting or helping cover up a crime.

_Andrew Foster Harley of Falls Church, Va. Harley was convicted of wrongful use and distribution of marijuana and cocaine.

_Obie Gene Helton of Rossville, Ga., whose offense was unauthorized acquisition of food stamps.

_Carey C. Hice Sr. of Travelers Rest, S.C., who was convicted of income tax evasion.

_Geneva Yvonne Hogg of Jacksonville, Fla., convicted of bank embezzlement.

_William Hoyle McCright Jr. of Midland, Texas, who was sentenced for making false entries, books, reports or statements to a bank.

_Paul Julian McCurdy of Sulphur, Okla., who was sentenced for misapplication of bank funds.

_Robert Earl Mohon Jr. of Grant, Ala., who was convicted of conspiracy to distribute marijuana.

_Ronald Alan Mohrhoff of Los Angeles, who was convicted for unlawful use of a telephone in a narcotics felony.

_Daniel Figh Pue III of Conroe, Texas, convicted of illegal treatment, storage and disposal of a hazardous waste without a permit.

_Orion Lynn Vick of White Hall, Ark., who was convicted of aiding and abetting the theft of government property.

Bush also commuted the prison sentences of John Edward Forte of North Brunswick, N.J., and James Russell Harris of Detroit, Mich. Both were convicted of cocaine offenses.

Under the Constitution, the president’s power to issue pardons is absolute and cannot be overruled.

Some high-profile individuals, such as Michael Milken, are seeking a pardon on securities fraud charges. Two politicians convicted of public corruption _ former Rep. Randy “Duke” Cunningham, R-Calif., and four-term Democratic Louisiana Gov. Edwin W. Edwards _ are asking Bush to shorten their prison terms.

One hot topic of discussion related to pardons is whether Bush might decide to issue pre-emptive pardons before he leaves office to government employees who authorized or engaged in harsh interrogations of suspected terrorists in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. Some constitutional scholars and human rights groups want the incoming administration of President-elect Barack Obama to investigate possible war crimes.

**If Bush were to pardon anyone involved, it would provide protection against criminal charges, particularly for people who were following orders or trying to protect the nation with their actions. But it would also be highly controversial.

At the same time, Obama advisers say there is little _ if any _ chance that his administration would bring criminal charges.

So, NOW they decide to talk about it!

This drives me NUTS! In my field of Social Work [years ago]… I can not even begin to tell you how many soldiers were lost due to PTSD ‘after’ being placed into unjust wars much less insane circumstances. WWI saw this very same thing– as well as WWII. No one wanted to se it for what it is. It is about time someone woke up and made this program a reality! It should of been S.O.P. anyway years and years ago!

Filner Advocates ‘De-Boot Camp’ for GIs

November 22, 2008The Washington Post

A key House leader is proposing to establish a “de-boot camp,” where returning service members would undergo mandatory diagnosis for brain injuries and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in order to reduce instances of domestic violence and suicide.

Rep. Bob Filner, chairman of the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee, said Wednesday he will lobby the Obama administration for the de-boot camp and other new initiatives for service members returning from Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as veterans from the Vietnam era.

“There were more suicides [postwar] by Vietnam veterans than those who died in the war. We cannot make the same mistakes again. Mental illness is an injury that has to be dealt with,” Mr. Filner said during an editorial board at The Washington Times. “We all have to understand what they are facing. We all have to understand PTSD.”

The California Democrat said he wants the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to reduce a backlog of claims by granting all claims made by Vietnam veterans who say they suffer illnesses from exposure to the defoliant Agent Orange.

He said he also advocates a “radical” new approach to veterans health care that would allow veterans living in rural areas to have more choices to access health care, even private alternatives, rather than travel hundreds of miles to veterans hospitals.

Mr. Filner, who is not a veteran himself but represents a large veterans constituency in the San Diego area, said he would even support privatizing psychological care for veterans suffering from PTSD.

Many active-duty personnel are returning home as veterans who are “wounded psychologically,” he said during an hourlong meeting with editors and reporters. “If they don’t kill their wives or themselves, they end up homeless.”

“Something is going on that we are not dealing with,” said Mr. Filner, 66.

With a survival rate at 95 percent, nearly 1 million new veterans will emerge from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

“The psychological wounds are going to last a very long time,” Mr. Filner said. “The public has to support the new veterans.”

After the Vietnam War, there was a failure to distinguish between the war and the warrior that lead to social displacement, mental disorders, homelessness and even suicide, Mr. Filner said.

News reports suggest that as many as 1,000 veterans a month attempt suicide. A third of those diagnosed with PTSD have committed felonies, Mr. Filner said.

“This is a moral issue, and I think [President-elect Barack] Obama will agree with that,” he said.

The “de-boot camp” Mr. Filner envisions could last weeks, even a month, to prepare the military and National Guardsmen to re-enter society. It would include mandatory evaluations by medical professionals to diagnose brain injuries and PTSD.

Currently, the military only offers a two-hour lecture in which “kids are falling asleep,” Mr. Filner said. “It’s so boring.”

While diagnosis would be mandatory, seeking psychological help would be voluntary. Such help would include educational and vocational counseling and would involve spouses and family.

Mr. Filner said he would like to see more access to necessary private hospital care for seriously wounded veterans in rural areas where they may not have the major medical facilities that are available in urban centers.

“In terms of access to that care for rural veterans, who may be away from main centers where their community may have good care, they ought to be far more open to specialties that may not be available within their locale, then we ought to get them into the private system as quick as we can,” he said.

Unfortunately, VA hospital officials all too often are “very hesitant about doing it” because of cost considerations, he said. “They don’t want” care delivered outside the VA hospital system “because if everyone is going to the Mayo Clinic, it’s going to cost a lot.”

But Mr. Filner said he favors expanding access to private care “in certain situations for rural veterans in some specialty areas,” adding that “they’ve got to be far more open and quick about allowing that to happen.”

Mr. Filner also addressed The Washington Times/ABC News investigation into ethical questions about experiments that involve human subjects — specifically, the smoking-cessation drug Chantix that has been linked to dozens of suicides and suicidal behavior.

A study that specifically targeted veterans suffering from PTSD included more than 100 who were taking the drug, but the VA failed to notify the participants of the new Food and Drug Administration warnings until nearly three months later.

“There has got to be really tight kinds of controls on this kind of research,” said Mr. Filner, who expressed disappointment that the VA did not pull the program, which he said was “problematic” for “fragile” veterans.

The entire culture at the VA must be overhauled, Mr. Filner said.

“For a lot of veterans, VA means advisory instead of advocate,” he said. “People in there are really good people, they just need to be inspired.”

Understanding economics the good ole’ American way!

THIS IS A ‘MUST READ’ IF YOU ARE TO UNDERSTAND HOW THE TAX SYSTEM WORKS…
  
 
Bar Stool Economics…..
 
This is ‘crystal’ clear…
 
 
EXACTLY how the system works (or… FAILS ! ! ! )  whether you like beer or not is immaterial…
 
 Never did I have it explained to me as eloquently and succinctly as the professor explained below!
 
Having beer in the story makes it even better and more personal!
 
 
 
Bar stool economics: 
 
Suppose that every day, ten men go out for beer and the bill for all ten comes to $100. 
 
If they paid their bill the way we pay our taxes, it would go something  like this:
 
 
The first four men (the poorest) would pay nothing.
 
The fifth would pay $1.
 
The sixth would pay $3.
 
The seventh would pay $7.
 
The eighth would pay $12.
 
The ninth would pay $18.
 
The tenth man (the richest) would pay $59.
 
 
So, that’s what they decided to do.  The ten men drank in the bar every day and seemed quite happy with the arrangement, until one day, the owner threw them a curve.
 
 
‘Since you are all such good customers,’ he said, ‘I’m going to reduce the cost of your daily beer by $20.’
 
 
Drinks for the ten now cost just $80.
 
 
The group still wanted to pay their bill the way we pay our taxes so the first four men were unaffected. They would still drink for free. But what about the other six men – the paying customers?
 
 
How could they divide the $20 windfall so that everyone  would get his ‘fair share?’
 
 
They realized that $20 divided by six is $3.33.
 
 
But if they subtracted that from everybody’s share, then the fifth man and the sixth man would each end up being paid to drink his beer.
 
 
So, the bar owner suggested that it would be fair to reduce each man’s bill by roughly the same amount and he proceeded to work out the  amounts each should pay.
 
 
And so:
 
 
The fifth man, like the first four, now paid nothing (100% savings).
 
The sixth now paid $2 instead of $3 (33% savings).
 
The seventh now pay $5 instead of $7 (28% savings).
 
The eighth now paid $9 instead of $12 (25% savings).
 
The ninth now paid $14 instead of $18 (22% savings).
 
The tenth now paid $49 instead of $59 (16% savings).
 
 
Each of the six was better off than before.
 
 
 
And the first four continued to drink for free.
 
 
But once outside the restaurant, the men began to compare their savings.
 
 
‘I only got a dollar out of the $20,’declared the sixth man.
 
 
He pointed to the tenth man,’ but he got $10!’
 
 
‘Yeah, that’s right,’ exclaimed the fifth man.  ‘I only saved a dollar, too.  It’s unfair that he got ten
 
times more than I.’
 
 
‘That’s true!!’ shouted the seventh man.
 
 
‘Why should he get $10 back when I got only two?  The wealthy get all the breaks!’
 
 
‘Wait a minute,’ yelled the first four men in  unison. ‘We didn’t get anything at all. 
 
The system exploits the poor!’
 
 
The nine men surrounded the tenth and beat him up.
 
 
The next night the tenth man didn’t show up for drinks, so the nine sat  down and had beers without him. But when it came time to  pay the bill,  they discovered something important.  They didn’t have enough money between all of them for even half of the bill!
 
 
And that, boys and girls, journalists and college  professors, is how  our tax system works.
 
 
The people who pay the highest taxes get the most benefit from a tax reduction.
 
 
Tax them too much, attack them for being wealthy, and they just may not show up anymore. In fact, they might start drinking overseas where the atmosphere is somewhat friendlier.
 
 
  David R. Kamerschen , Ph.D.
 
 Professor of Economics
 
  University of Georgia
 
 
For those who understand, no explanation is needed.
 
For those who do not understand, no explanation is possible.

Talk about ignorant and crazy!!

After Obama’s win, white backlash festers in US

By Patrik Jonsson Patrik Jonsson – Mon Nov 17, 3:00 am ET

AP

Atlanta – In rural Georgia, a group of high-schoolers gets a visit from the Secret Service after posting “inappropriate” comments about President-elect Barack Obama on the Web. In Raleigh, N.C., four college students admit to spraying race-tinged graffiti in a pedestrian tunnel after the election. On Nov. 6, a cross burns on the lawn of a biracial couple in Apolacon Township, Pa.

The election of America’s first black president has triggered more than 200 hate-related incidents, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center – a record in modern presidential elections. Moreover, the white nationalist movement, bemoaning an election that confirmed voters’ comfort with a multiracial demography, expects Mr. Obama’s election to be a potent recruiting tool – one that watchdog groups warn could give new impetus to a mostly defanged fringe element.

Most election-related threats have so far been little more than juvenile pranks. But the political marginalization of certain Southern whites, economic distress in rural areas, and a White House occupant who symbolizes a multiethnic United States could combine to produce a backlash against what some have heralded as the dawn of a postracial America. In some parts of the South, there’s even talk of secession.

“Most of this movement is not violent, but there is a substantive underbelly that is violent and does try to make a bridge to people who feel disenfranchised,” says Brian Levin of the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University, San Bernardino. “The question is: Will this swirl become a tornado or just an ill wind? We’re not there yet, but there’s dust on the horizon, a swirling of wind, and the atmospherics are getting put together for [conflict].”

Though postelection racist incidents haven’t posed any real danger to society or the president-elect, law enforcement is taking note.

“We’re trying to be out there at the cutting edge of this and trying to stay ahead of groups that are emerging,” says Special Agent Darrin Blackford, a spokesman for the Secret Service, which guards the US president.

“Anytime you start seeing [extremist propaganda] floating around, you have to be concerned,” adds Lt. Gary Thornberry of the Oklahoma Highway Patrol, a member of the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force. “As far as it being an alarmist situation, I don’t see that yet. From a law enforcement point of view, you have to be careful, because it’s not illegal to have an ideology.”

After sparking conflict and showdowns in the 1990s – think Ruby Ridge, Waco, the Oklahoma City bombing – white supremacist and nationalist groups began this century largely splintered and powerless. Though high immigration levels helped boost the number of hate groups from 602 in 2000 to 888 in 2007, key leaders of such groups had died, been imprisoned, or were otherwise marginalized.

But postelection, at least two white nationalist websites – Stormfront and the Council of Conservative Citizens – report their servers have crashed because of heavy traffic. The League of the South, a secessionist group, says Web hits jumped from 50,000 a month to 300,000 since Nov. 4, and its phones are ringing off the hook.

“The vitriol is flailing out shotgun-style,” says Mr. Levin. “They recognize Obama as a tipping point, the perfect storm in the narrative of the hate world – the apocalypse that they’ve been moaning about has come true.”

Supremacist propaganda is already on the upswing. In Oklahoma, fringe groups have distributed anti-Obama propaganda through newspapers and taped it to home mail boxes. Ugly incidents such as cross-burnings, assassination betting pools, and Obama effigies are also being reported from Maine to Alabama.

The Ku Klux Klan has been tied to recent news events, as well. Two Tennessee men implicated for plotting to kill 88 black men, including Obama, were tied to the KKK chapter whose leader was convicted in a civil trial in Brandenburg, Ky., last week, for inciting violence. The murder last week in Louisiana of a KKK initiate, allegedly killed after trying to back out of joining, came at the hands of a new group called Sons of Dixie, authorities say.

“We’re not looking at a race war or anything close to it, but … what we are seeing now is undeniably a fairly major backlash by some subset of the white population,” says Mark Potok of the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Intelligence Report in Montomgery, Ala. “Many whites feel that the country their forefathers built has been … stolen from them, so there’s in some places a real boiling rage, and that can only become worse as more people lose jobs.”

In an election in which barely 20 percent of native Southern whites in Deep South states voted for Obama, the newly apparent political clout of “outsiders” and people of color has been unnerving to some.

“In states like Mississippi, Louisiana, and Alabama, there was extraordinary racial polarization in the vote,” says Merle Black, a political scientist at Emory University in Atlanta. “Black Americans really do believe that Obama is going to represent their interests and views in ways that they haven’t been before, and, in the Deep South, whites feel exactly the opposite.”

But for nonviolent secessionist groups like the League of the South, the hope is for a more vigorous debate about the direction of the US and the South’s role in it, says Michael Tuggle, a League blogger in North Carolina.

Mr. Tuggle says his group isn’t looking for an 1860-style secession but, rather, a model that Spain, for one, is moving toward, in which “there’s a great deal of autonomy for constituent regions” – a foil to what is seen as unchecked, dangerous federal power in Washington.

“To a lot of people, the idea of secession doesn’t seem so crazy anymore,” says Tuggle. “People are talking about how left out they feel, … and they feel that something strange and radical has taken over our country.”

Bush & Cheney still have until January!!

Bush and Cheney STILL have things they want to do!

By

Special to washingtonpost.com
Friday, October 31, 2008; 12:12 PM

Did we really expect President Bush and Vice President Cheney to go quietly?

 

R. Jeffrey Smith writes: “The White House is working to enact a wide array of federal regulations, many of which would weaken government rules aimed at protecting consumers and the environment, before President Bush leaves office in January. “The new rules would be among the most controversial deregulatory steps of the Bush era and could be difficult for his successor to undo. Some would ease or lift constraints on private industry, including power plants, mines and farms. “Those and other regulations would help clear obstacles to some commercial ocean-fishing activities, ease controls on emissions of pollutants that contribute to global warming, relax drinking-water standards and lift a key restriction on mountaintop coal mining. “Once such rules take effect, they typically can be undone only through a laborious new regulatory proceeding, including lengthy periods of public comment, drafting and mandated reanalysis. . . . “The burst of activity has made this a busy period for lobbyists who fear that industry views will hold less sway after the elections. The doors at the New Executive Office Building have been whirling with corporate officials and advisers pleading for relief or, in many cases, for hastened decision making.”

Emma Schwartz reports for ABC News: “Every administration tries to pass last minute rules in hopes of leaving a lasting mark. But experts say the Bush administration is expected to approve a greater number more quickly than previous administrations — something they said could lead to bad and costly policy. “‘The administration wants to leave a legacy,’ said Gary Bass, executive director of OMB Watch, which has been critical of these proposals. ‘But across the board it means less protection for the public.’ . . . “It wasn’t supposed to be this way. In May, Josh Bolten, then-head of the Office of Management and Budget, which oversees regulatory approval, issued a memo barring new proposals after June. It also required that all new regulations be completed by Nov. 1. proposed rule put forward by the National Marine Fisheries Service that would lift a requirement that environmental impact statements be prepared for certain fisheries-management decisions and would give review authority to regional councils dominated by commercial and recreational fishing interests. Pew Environment Group says the rule “threatens to completely undermine application of the law that protects ocean ecosystems.” OMB Watch reports: “In addition to the hundreds of thousands of public comments opposing the proposed rule, 80 members of Congress have also expressed their opposition, including a letter joined by 72 members of the House of Representatives. The letter states that the proposed rule fails to meet congressional intent made clear during the reauthorization of the [fisheries act]. Hundreds of scientists and environmental organizations have also signed on to oppose the rule.” Siobhan Hughes wrote about in the Wall Street Journal on Monday: “The Bush administration is moving to adopt rules that would loosen pollution controls on power plants, by judging the plants on their hourly rate of emissions rather than their total annual output, people familiar with the matter said. . . . “As long as a power plant’s hourly emissions stay at or below the plant’s historical maximum, the plant would be treated as if it were running more cleanly, even if its total annual emissions increased as plant operators stepped up operations.” “That hasn’t been the case. Many proposed regulations have yet to be finalized and new ones have already come out since the June deadline. “A spokesperson for OMB said in an email response that the Bolten memo ‘wasn’t intended to wholesale shut down work on important regulatory matters after November 1st, but to emphasize due diligence.’ “She added: ‘Ensuring the integrity of the process is important to the Administration.’”

Another example is something I’ve been calling attention to yet more examples of the Bush administration’s midnight rule-making for the past several months. For instance, back in May, Carol D. Leonnig wrote in The Washington Post in July: “Political appointees at the Department of Labor are moving with unusual speed to push through in the final months of the Bush administration a rule making it tougher to regulate workers’ on-the-job exposure to chemicals and toxins.”

Alicia Mundy wrote in the Wall Street Journal two weeks ago: “Bush administration officials, in their last weeks in office, are pushing to rewrite a wide array of federal rules with changes or additions that could block product-safety lawsuits by consumers and states.” And of course there’s the push for a last-minute regulatory overhaul that would effectively gut the Endangered Species Act.

Dina Cappiello wrote for the Associated Press just 10 days ago that Interior Department officials were rushing so hard to ease the endangered species rules before Bush leaves office that they were “attempting to review 200,000 comments from the public in just 32 hours.” And on Monday, And yet another one to add to the list. In today’s Post, The proposed sale, which includes famous areas in the Nine Mile Canyon region, would take place Dec. 19, a month before President Bush leaves office.” Tip of the Iceberg?Keep in mind that rule-making is by definition a public process. So what else is going on, beneath  the surface? I raised a slew of questions in that vein for

* Are appointees in federal agencies trying to cover their tracks? Are documents being properly retained?

* Are Bush political appointees working on last-minute reorganizations within the federal government?

* Are Bush loyalists burrowing into the civil service? Will political appointees engage in a last-minute flurry of hiring and promoting Bush loyalists into key civil service jobs? Will political appointees try to make the jump into the civil service?

Bush in the Rearview Mirror

“‘I would say that the most amazingly bankrupt line of argument that I’ve ever seen in this campaign has been the constant and heavily financed effort on the part of the Obama campaign to make George Bush John McCain’s running mate,’ Rick Davis, McCain’s campaign manager, said in a conference call with reporters. “‘To me it’s outrageous. Everybody who knows John McCain, who has spent any amount of time following his life and times, knows that he has been probably one of the biggest flies in the ointment for the Bush administration on Capitol Hill when it comes to putting his country first.’”

Lauren Vernon writes for The Hill: “John McCain’s presidential campaign on Thursday said the Arizona senator would win the race for the White House if Democratic rival Barack Obama keeps seeking to link the GOP nominee to President Bush. “McCain campaign manager Rick Davis said the attempt of the Illinois senator’s campaign to link the current White House occupant to the new Republican standard-bearer is ‘a desperate attempt at the end of this campaign by Obama to try and stem the flow of people away from his campaign.’”

As Alberts notes, sparking Davis’s ire was “‘John McCain wants to continue George Bush’s economic policies,’ the announcer continues . . . ‘Look behind you: We can’t afford more of the same.’” “And as much as the McCain camp wishes it weren’t so, the fact remains that voters generally don’t see their candidate as enough of a change from Bush.

Gary Langer writes for ABC News: “For all the focus on the economy as John McCain’s greatest problem, there’s another right behind it: George W. Bush. . . . “Fewer than half of likely voters in the latest ABC News/Washington Post tracking poll, 47 percent, think McCain would lead in a new direction; 50 percent instead say he’d mainly continue on Bush’s path. McCain has not exceeded 48 percent ‘new direction’ all year, at a time when dissatisfaction with the country’s current course has hit record highs. “It matters: Among those who think McCain would lead in a new direction, 82 percent support him. But among those who think of him as Bush 2.0, 90 percent prefer Barack Obama instead — one of the starkest dividing lines between the two candidates. “Similarly, while McCain overwhelmingly is supported by the relatively few remaining Bush approvers, he loses Bush disapprovers — 72 percent of likely voters — by nearly a 3-1 margin, 71-27 percent.”

Michael Cooper and Dalia Sussman write in the New York Times about the latest New York Times/CBS News poll: “With just days until Americans choose a new president, the survey found them deeply uneasy about the state of their country. Eight-five percent of respondents said the country was pretty seriously off on the wrong track, near the record high recorded earlier this month. A majority said the United States should have stayed out of Iraq. And President Bush’s approval rating remains at 22 percent, tied for the lowest presidential approval rating on record (which was President Harry S, Truman’s rating, recorded by the Gallup Poll in 1952). “Mr. McCain’s renewed efforts to cast himself as the candidate of change have apparently faltered. Sixty-four percent of voters polled said Mr. Obama would bring about real change if elected, while only 39 percent said Mr. McCain would.”

CBS Newsreports: “Fifty-three percent expect the GOP nominee to continue Mr. Bush’s policies. Forty-one percent do not.” Even Texans Reject Him> Bush talks a lot these days about how he’s looking forward to going home to Texas. But it may not be quite as warm a homecoming as he was hoping for.

Dave Montgomery writes for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram about how Texans are “joining the rest of the nation in registering sharp disapproval of his job performance as the nation’s chief executive, according to a newly released statewide poll. “Only 34 percent of Texans polled in a University of Texas survey approved of Bush’s handling of the presidency, with just under 10 percent approving ‘strongly.’ By contrast, 55 percent disapproved, with 38.7 percent strongly disapproving. “While the approval ratings are somewhat higher than national polls, the Texas findings reflect a significant downturn in popularity for a native son and former Texas governor who drew 61 percent of the Texas vote in his re-election victory over Democratic Sen. John Kerry four years ago. Throughout much of his two-term presidency, Texas has generally provided Bush with a safety net of robust support while he was losing favor elsewhere.”

On the Trail

“McCain . . . appears with the president only in commercials paid for and approved by Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama or the Democratic National Committee (DNC). McCain spends most of his days seeking as much distance between he and the president as he can find.” And Youngman notes that “the first lady isn’t the only current occupant of the White House getting in on the act. “Vice President Dick Cheney, who enjoys approval ratings lower than the president’s, is scheduled to attend a Victory rally in Wyoming on Saturday.”

Economy Watch

Alison Vekshin and Robert Schmidt

write for Bloomberg: “The White House and Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson are seeking to scale back a proposal by Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. Chairman Sheila Bair to guarantee mortgages to help stem foreclosures, according to two congressional aides briefed on the matter. “The Bush administration is reluctant to sign off on the plan because of its cost, the two people indicated.”

writes for Politico: “A group of Democrats on the Senate Banking Committee sent President Bush a letter Thursday, accusing the administration of not dedicating ‘the time, attention or resources needed’ to address the foreclosure issue. “In the letter, the senators called on the Treasury Department to work with the FDIC to allow banks to restructure mortgages to keep more people in their homes. “‘Mr. President, time is short,’ the senators wrote. ‘Every day we delay, thousands more families face the specter of losing their homes. We cannot afford another delay.’” Gitmo Watch
William Glaberson writes in the New York Times: “In 2002, John Ashcroft, then the attorney general, announced that a plot to detonate a radioactive bomb in the United States had been foiled and an American citizen, Jose Padilla, detained. The Pentagon has claimed that Mr. Mohamed assisted Mr. Padilla. “After Mr. Padilla was held for three and a half years in a naval brig, the Justice Department abandoned its dirty-bomb claims against him. He was convicted of other charges in 2007.” But wait, there’s more. As Robert Verkaik writes for the Independent: “Senior CIA officers could be put on trial in Britain after it emerged last night that the [British] Attorney General is to investigate allegations that a British resident held in Guantanamo Bay was brutally tortured, after being arrested and questioned by American forces following the terrorist attacks on New York and Washington in 2001. Peter Finn writes in The Washington Post: “A military judge has refused to reconsider the sentence of Osama bin Laden’s former driver, forcing the Bush administration to either release a man it insists is a dangerous terrorist in two months or continue to hold him at Guantanamo Bay as an enemy combatant despite his having served his time after a trial and conviction.” Robert H. Reid writes for the Associated Press: “Iraq wants to eliminate any chance U.S. forces will stay here after 2011 under a proposed security pact and to expand Iraqi legal jurisdiction over U.S. troops until then, a close ally of the prime minister said Thursday. “Those demands, which were presented to U.S. officials this week, could derail the deal — delivering a diplomatic blow to Washington in the final weeks of the Bush administration. “Failure to reach an agreement before year’s end could force a suspension of American military operations, and U.S. commanders have been warning Iraqi officials that could endanger security improvements.”

“The Home Secretary Jacqui Smith has asked Baroness Scotland to consider bringing criminal proceedings against Americans allegedly responsible for the rendition and abuse of Binyam Mohamed, when he was held in prisons in Morocco and Afghanistan. “The development follows criticism of US prosecutors by British judges who have seen secret evidence of torture committed against Mr Mohamed, including allegations his torturers used a razor blade to repeatedly cut his penis. The Attorney’s investigation is expected to include allegations that MI5 colluded in Mr Mohamed’s rendition. Mr Mohamed, 30, an Ethiopian national and British resident, was arrested in Pakistan in 2002, when he was questioned by an MI5 officer. “On Tuesday, Government lawyers wrote to the judges hearing Mr Mohamed’s case against the UK government in the High Court. In the letter they said ‘the question of possible criminal wrongdoing to which these proceedings has given rise has been referred by the Home Secretary to the Attorney general for consideration as an independent minister of justice’. Baroness Scotland has been sent secret witness statements given to the court and public interest immunity certificates for the proceedings.” And in news of another case,

Iraq Watch

Olivier Knox

writes for AFP: “The White House on Thursday charged that politics and posturing in Iraq were delaying a controversial US-Iraq security accord but said it remained ‘hopeful and confident’ about the pact. “Days before the November 4 US elections, spokeswoman Dana Perino said ‘on our side, I don’t think that politics is playing a lot of a role in it’ because both US presidential hopefuls were generally supportive of the accord. “‘On the Iraqi side, I can’t say the same when it comes to internal politics there. And they might even be looking at our domestic politics and trying to game that out, some people, maybe,’ she told reporters.”
Jonathan S. Landay writes for McClatchy Newspapers: “Two years ago, President Bush hailed

Najim al Jabouri as a symbol of success in the battle to curb Iraq’s sectarian violence. Today, Jabouri is a symbol of how uncertain that success is. “Last month, Jabouri quietly left Tal Afar, an ancient city near Iraq’s desert border with Syria where he was the police chief and the mayor, collected his wife and four children and flew to safety in the United States. . . . “His decision underscores the fragility of the relative calm that’s settled on Iraq, obscuring the unresolved ethnic and sectarian tensions, political infighting and anger at the U.S. occupation, economic paralysis and continuing terrorism.” Syria Watch
But as Salon blogger

Syria Comment blogger

Jonathan Karl reports for ABC News that Gen. David Petraeus “proposed visiting Syria shortly after taking over as the top U.S. commander for the Middle East. “The idea was swiftly rejected by Bush administration officials at the White House, State Department and the Pentagon. “Petraeus, who becomes the commander of U.S. Central Command (Centcom) Friday, had hoped to meet in Damascus with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Petraeus proposed the trip, and senior officials objected, before the covert U.S. strike earlier this week on a target inside Syria’s border with Iraq.” Glenn Greenwald points out, this is not the exclusive Karl claims. Joshua Landis writes that he “has been writing since August 2008 that Petraeus tried to go to Damascus in the fall of 2007, but was refused permission by the Vice President. It wasn’t the president. (That little bit of info is an SC exclusive told to me by a top intelligence officer.)” Ken Herman blogs for Cox News Service: “President Bush hasn’t held a news conference since July 15. And that one ended with this comment from Bush: ‘OK, I’ve enjoyed it. Thank you very much for your time. Appreciate it.’ “Apparently he didn’t enjoy it and appreciate all that much. He hasn’t had a news conference since then and generally has ignored questions lobbed his way at White House events. . . . “Can we expect a presidential news conference anytime soon?” Not likely. From yesterday’s press briefing > Q. “Dana, looking ahead to the election, you said a while back that the President was trying not to give any press conferences while the campaign was going on, to let the candidates sort of have their own spotlight. When will we hear from the President once the election is over?” :

Peter Finn and Del Quentin Wilber write in The Washington Post: “A federal judge yesterday questioned the motives of Justice Department lawyers for withdrawing allegations linking a Guantanamo Bay detainee to a ‘dirty bomb’ plot in the United States shortly before they were required to hand over exculpatory evidence to the defense. “‘That raises serious questions in this court’s mind about whether those allegations were ever true,’ said U.S. District Judge Emmet G. Sullivan, who is overseeing a lawsuit brought by Binyam Mohammed, 30, a resident of Britain who is challenging his detention at the U.S. military facility in Cuba. Sullivan warned that ‘someone is going to rue the day those allegations were made’ if it turns out that the government had evidence that they were unfounded. . . . “Mohammed said the CIA rendered him to Morocco weeks after he was arrested in Pakistan in April 2002. His attorneys argue that the government’s allegations are based on confessions their client made after his detention and torture in Morocco, where, they say, he was slashed with razors. “‘He parroted what his torturers wanted him to say,’ said Zachary Katznelson, one of Mohammed’s attorneys. ‘All they have are Mr. Mohammed’s own words, and they were extracted at the tip of a razor blade.’ “The government said Mohammed voluntarily confessed to a number of terrorist crimes, including the dirty-bomb plot, in 2004 at Bagram air base in Afghanistan before his transfer to Guantanamo Bay. The government has never acknowledged that he was in Morocco.” Sam Youngman writes for The Hill: “While President Bush has conspicuously stayed on the sidelines in the final days until the election, others close to him are venturing out on behalf of embattled Republican candidates. “First Lady Laura Bush, always a popular draw for Republicans, was in Mississippi on Thursday to stump for Sen. Roger Wicker (R), and on Monday she will do the same for House candidate Brett Guthrie at a rally in Kentucky. “That the first lady is hitting the road while the president stays in Washington speaks volumes to this election season’s dilemma: Republican candidates have to run away from the administration and its policies while still looking for help in races that were considered runaways in once-reliably red states. . . . Jennifer Loven writes for the Associated Press: “Under fire from Democrats and Republicans alike, the White House on Thursday defended giving billions of bailout dollars to banks that plan to reward shareholders and executives — or even buy other banks. “Allowing banks to engage in such normal business activities actually could help loosen lending and revive the sagging economy, said Ed Lazear, chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers. He said the administration would not impose any conditions on banks beyond those required when Congress created the bailout program, which authorized the government to buy stock in financial institutions. . . . “Lazear was put before the cameras in the White House briefing room amid a rising chorus of complaints from lawmakers about the latitude that banks will have when they receive bailout money from Washington. “That bailout was originally sold by the administration as a plan for the government to purchase toxic mortgage-based assets from financial institutions, to get them off their books and inspire the resumption of normal lending. After passage, though, the administration decided the better course would be to devote $250 billion into buying ownership stakes in banks. “With taxpayers’ money flowing into their vaults, banks are going ahead with paying dividends to shareholders, giving bonuses to top executives and acquiring competitors. Lawmakers are asking why banks with the money to do those things need taxpayer-funded help.” this ad- titled Rearview Mirror – that the Obama campaign plans to air heavily in key battleground states this weekend. In the ad, images of Bush keep popping up in the rearview mirrors of a car as road signs outside highlight criticisms of McCain’s economic policy. CBS News: “‘Wonder where John McCain would take the economy? Look behind you,’ an announcer says as the spot opens. Onscreen, a man driving his car is shown looking in his rearview mirror, where he sees Mr. Bush’s face. Cappiello reported that — surprise! — the administration had concluded “that changes it wants to make to endangered species rules before President Bush leaves office will have no significant environmental consequences.” Juliet Eilperin writes: “The federal Bureau of Land Management is reviving plans to sell oil and gas leases in pristine wilderness areas in eastern Utah that have long been protected from development, according to a notice posted this week on the agency’s Web site. NiemanWatchdog.org back in June. Among them: * Are major contracts being let out that have long-term ramifications? And are any of those related to outsourcing? S heldon Alberts writes for the Canwest News Service that Republican presidential candidate John McCain’s camp responded furiously to a new ad from the Barack Obama campaign linking McCain to Bush. Juliet Eilperin wrote in The Washington Post in August that the new rules would “allow federal agencies to decide whether protected species would be imperiled by agency projects, eliminating the independent scientific reviews that have been required for more than three decades.” Juliet Eilperin wrote in The Washington Post: “The Bush administration is on the verge of implementing new air quality rules that will make it easier to build power plants near national parks and wilderness areas.”

 

No Presser for You

Perino: “You’ll probably hear from me that night, and then we’ll see after that.”

Q. “In terms of, you know, a press conference, obviously many of these questions were questions we’d love to direct to him.”

Perino: “How long have you covered the White House, this White House? Do we ever forecast when we’re going to have press conferences? No. And I really don’t think that’s going to change after November 4th. So you’ll just have to keep dressing up everyday, and then we’ll see.”

Parental Rights? Minors?

My son was 7 years old [ he is now 30] when I fought the fight at City Hall regarding “when and why were my parental rights about choice regarding what is best for my son taken away?” My ONLY issue then was he was in a Sex Ed Class that I knew nothing about– and was taught and ‘shown’ how to use an Oral Dam. I wanted pre-knowledge of the upcoming class and curriculm, as well as an op-out available if I chose to not have him attend. My entire point was ‘I had no rights’. THIS is why I posted this news story. I fully understand these parents anger and frustration. How about you?? Your kids???  really— forget about what the ad was for [or maybe not who knows]… the point is as parents they have no say over their minor daughter. Whatever law covers those who took the film, my question is why in the hell would it not exclude minors??

video> http://s103.photobucket.com/albums/m143/lrose48/?action=view&current=MSNVideo.flv

Oil Companies Win (A Supreme Court Gimmee)

Court Rewards Exxon for Valdez Spill

by Greg Palast
Chicago Tribune (revised)
[Thursday, June 26, 2008] Twenty years after Exxon Valdez slimed over one thousand miles of Alaskan beaches, the company has yet to pay the $5 billion in punitive damages awarded by the jury. And now they won’t have to. The Supreme Court today cut Exxon’s liability by 90% to half a billion. It’s so cheap, it’s like a permit to spill.
Exxon knew this would happen. Right after the spill, I was brought to Alaska by the Natives whose Prince William Sound islands, livelihoods, and their food source was contaminated by Exxon crude. My assignment: to investigate oil company frauds that led to to the disaster. There were plenty.
But before we brought charges, the Natives hoped to settle with the oil company, to receive just enough compensation to buy some boats and rebuild their island villages to withstand what would be a decade of trying to survive in a polluted ecological death zone.
In San Diego, I met with Exxon’s US production chief, Otto Harrison, who said, “Admit it; the oil spill’s the best thing to happen” to the Natives.
His company offered the Natives pennies on the dollar. The oil men added a cruel threat: take it or leave it and wait twenty years to get even the pennies. Exxon is immortal – but Natives die.
And they did. A third of the Native fishermen and seal hunters I worked with are dead. Now their families will collect one tenth of their award, two decades too late.
In today’s ruling, Supreme Court Justice David Souter wrote that Exxon’s recklessness was ”profitless” – so the company shouldn’t have to pay punitive damages. Profitless, Mr. Souter? Exxon and it’s oil shipping partners saved billions – BILLIONS – by operating for sixteen years without the oil spill safety equipment they promised, in writing, under oath and by contract.
The official story is, “Drunken Skipper Hits Reef.” But don’t believe it, Mr. Souter. Alaska’s Native lands and coastline were destroyed by a systematic fraud motivated by profit-crazed penny-pinching. Here’s the unreported story, the one you won’t get tonight on the Petroleum Broadcast System:
It begins in 1969 when big shots from Humble Oil and ARCO (now known as Exxon and British Petroleum) met with the Chugach Natives, owners of the most valuable parcel of land on the planet: Valdez Port, the only conceivable terminus for a pipeline that would handle a trillion dollars in crude oil.
These Alaskan natives ultimately agreed to sell the Exxon consortium this astronomically valuable patch of land — for a single dollar. The Natives refused cash. Rather, in 1969, they asked only that the oil companies promise to protect their Prince William Sound fishing and seal hunting grounds from oil.
In 1971, Exxon and partners agreed to place the Natives’ specific list of safeguards into federal law. These commitment to safety reassured enough Congressmen for the oil group to win, by one vote, the right to ship oil from Valdez.
The oil companies repeated their promises under oath to the US Congress.
The spill disaster was the result of Exxon and partners breaking every one of those promises – cynically, systematically, disastrously, in the fifteen years leading up to the spill.
Forget the drunken skipper fable. As to Captain Joe Hazelwood, he was below decks, sleeping off his bender. At the helm, the third mate would never have collided with Bligh Reef had he looked at his Raycas radar. But the radar was not turned on. In fact, the tanker’s radar was left broken and disasbled for more than a year before the disaster, and Exxon management knew it. It was just too expensive to fix and operate.
For the Chugach, this discovery was poignantly ironic. On their list of safety demands in return for Valdez was “state-of-the-art” on-ship radar.
We discovered more, but because of the labyrinthine ways of litigation, little became public, especially about the reckless acts of the industry consortium, Alyeska, which controls the Alaska Pipeline.
  • Several smaller oil spills before the Exxon Valdez could have warned of a system breakdown. But a former Senior Lab Technician with Alyeska, Erlene Blake, told our investigators that management routinely ordered her to toss out test samples of water evidencing spilled oil. She was ordered to refill the test tubes with a bucket of clean sea water called, “The Miracle Barrel.”
  • In a secret meeting in April 1988, Alyeska Vice-President T.L. Polasek confidentially warned the oil group executives that, because Alyeska had never purchased promised safety equipment, it was simply “not possible” to contain an oil spill past the Valdez Narrows — exactly where the Exxon Valdez ran aground 10 months later.
  • The Natives demanded (and law requires) that the shippers maintain round- the-clock oil spill response teams. Alyeska hired the Natives, especiallly qualified by their generations-old knowledge of the Sound, for this emergency work. They trained to drop from helicopters into the water with special equipment to contain an oil slick at a moments notice. But in 1979, quietly, Alyeska fired them all. To deflect inquisitive state inspectors, the oil consortium created sham teams, listing names of oil terminal workers who had not the foggiest idea how to use spill equipment which, in any event, was missing, broken or existed only on paper.
In 1989, when the oil poured from the tanker, there was no Native response team, only chaos.
Today, twenty years after the oil washed over the Chugach beaches, you can kick over a rock and it will smell like an old gas station.
The cover story of the Drunken Captain serves the oil industry well. It falsely presents America’s greatest environmental disaster as a tale of human frailty, a one-time accident. But broken radar, missing equipment, phantom spill teams, faked tests — the profit-driven disregard of the law — made the spill an inevitability, not an accident.
Yet Big Oil tells us, as they plead to drill in the Arctic National Wildlife Reserve, as Senator John McCain calls for drilling off the shores of the Lower 48, it can’t happen again. They promise.
*****************

Greg Palast is a Puffin Foundation Writing Fellow for Investigative Reporting at the Nation Institute, New York. Read and view his investigations for BBC Television at http://www.GregPalast.com. An earlier version of this report originally appeared in the Chicago Tribune. Photos by James Macalpine (1993). Support the Palast Investigative Fund and find out more about this “well-designed disaster” by picking up Palast’s NY Times best-selling book The Best Democracy Money Can Buy at http://www.palastinvestigativefund.org/