Category Archives: MERS

And the winnah is…

No, I am not going to talk about Mitt Romney, Paul Ryan, Barack Obama, or the “presidential” “election”.  After all, what is there to say?  The “winner” has been picked, and guess what?  You are the loser.  When the unrepentant I-got-wealthy-sending-your-job-to-China Mitt tries to make himself appear somewhat related to the human species, with laughable results, and Paul Ryan, Mitt’s running mate, brags about his budget plan which, by the way, would eliminate 4.1 million jobs within 2 years, raise taxes on the middle class, lower them for the wealthy, and increase the deficit, and Obama whines that he is not getting enough credit for being willing to cut social security and medicare, you have to face the fact that there is not much else to say.  The only difference between Mitt and Barack is that currently Barack has the power to arrest and detain you indefinitely, or just assassinate you outright, depending on how he feels this morning; Mitt does not currently have that power, but he’d sure like to.  They both intend to help rich people get richer and put the hurting on poor people.  “Poor people”, those at or near poverty, now includes nearly one third of the nation.  The Dec., 2011 US mayors’ report on poverty claims 50% are at or near poverty.  – 

[See also : and ]

Nope, this week’s winner is one of the proud sponsors of the 2008 and 2012 “elections” and also, coincidentally, one of the major looters and sackers in the Kill The Economy Sweepstakes…Ladies and Gentlemen, I present this week’s award in the ‘getting out of jail free’ category to….Goldman, Sachs.  Long noted for their breath-taking and inventive economic assaults on countries worldwide and their mass destruction of the American Dream at home, this company can now claim three big wins in one week.  What a performance!  Bravo, I say, oh, bravo!  Pay attention, Jamie, the King’s favored one – these guys might have a word or two of advice even for you.  [ ]

12 August, 2012
Attorney General to US: Nothing to See on Wall Street, Folks, Just Move Along
By Richard (RJ) Eskow

Yesterday the Justice Department announced that once again it’s not going to pursue evidence of Wall Street crimes which has been sent its way. It has already failed to act on information sent to it by sources whose investigators are apparently more dogged than its own, including several other government agencies and the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission. Now the bipartisan committee which was led by Senators Carl Levin and Tom Coburn can be added to the list of sources whose leads weren’t pursued by Attorney General Eric Holder and his staff.

Holder was on the defensive yesterday, a sign that the mounting criticism of his inaction is getting his attention. He was also scornful of that criticism, saying that it’s belied by “a troublesome little thing called facts.”  There’s something troublesome here, all right, but it isn’t the facts.

A Justice Department press release announced that there will be no prosecutions based on the Levin/Coburn report:
“After a careful review of the information provided in the report and more than a year of thorough investigation, the Department of Justice … the FBI and the Special Inspector General for the Troubled Asset Relief Program (and other agencies) have determined that, based on the law and evidence as they exist at this time, there is not a viable basis to bring a criminal prosecution with respect to Goldman Sachs or its employees in regard to the allegations set forth in the report.”

The press release goes on to say that “the department and its investigative partners conducted an exhaustive review of the report and its exhibits, independently gathered and scrutinized a large volume of other documents, and tenaciously pursued potential evidentiary leads, including conducting numerous witness interviews.”

The DoJ also boasts that “Since FY 2011, the Department of Justice’s financial fraud enforcement efforts have resulted in at least $185 billion in civil and criminal forfeitures, restitution, civil settlements and other penalties.” (Bankers have continued to collected huge salaries and bonuses, however, so the lack of criminal prosecution gives them no reason to stop committing crimes.)
The statement goes on to describe DoJ’s “aggressive” pursuit of bank fraud, adding that “The Department of Justice has not hesitated to investigate and take enforcement action when the evidence and facts support doing so.”

Holder himself was considerably more testy: “There have been, I guess, 2,100 or so mortgage-related matters that we have brought here at United State Department of Justice. Our state counterparts have done a variety of things. The notion that there has been inactivity over the course of the last three years is belied by a troublesome little thing called facts.”

Unfortunately, the Holder Justice Department has had a troublesome relationship with facts. That dates back to its ginned-up and ultimately discredited claims about something called “Operation Blind Trust,” in which it claimed credit for dozens of mortgage-related convictions that it said had resulted from a coordinated operation of that name. As the New York Times noted, many of those investigations had actually concluded before the 2008 election, Holder’s appointment, and the creation of “Blind Trust.” […]

And despite Holder’s claims, the convictions obtained over the least three and a half years have been strictly for small fry. The Justice Department hasn’t even tried any cases against major financial executives, despite seemingly overwhelming evidence which includes:

The AIG allegations: We used the Levin/Coburn Report to review the list of potential criminal activity in that case here.
GE Capital deceptions: That’s the company whose politically-connected CEO was given a Presidential appointment. Referring investigators were stunned to find that no criminal charges would be filed over its fraudulent deception of investors, even though they had identified specific individuals in the accounting department who had cooked GE’s books. GE Capital has also been implicated in fraudulent mortgage practices.

Wells Fargo drug-money laundering: That’s the case in which bankers laundered money for the Mexican cartels that have killed tens of thousands of people. You know the gangsters we mean – they’re the guys who decapitate people.

JPMorgan Chase’s “London Whale”: With particular concern about the cover-up of billion-dollar losses, with special concerns about CEO Jamie Dimon’s statement to investors that its London losses were “a tempest in a teapot.” Dimon later admitted he already knew that those losses would be at least two billion. (Making false statements to investors is stock fraud, a crime.)

And there are others, too numerous to mention all of them here: Countrywide. Citigroup. HSBC. The list goes on and on.

The Justice Department’s argument for inaction seems to come down to this: Bank cases are complicated. They’re hard to win. We don’t want to try. And it has repeatedly used an argument that’s also been made by the President and Treasury Secretary as well, as they’ve tried to explain away the inactivity: that bad banking behavior isn’t necessarily criminal behavior. That claim’s been repeated many times, especially in the context of “ABACUS” and other Goldman Sachs misdeeds contained in the Coburn/Levin report.

But it’s not true. It’s already illegal to lie to clients, to knowingly conceal important information from in order to get their money under false pretenses, or to withhold materially important information from shareholders. And yet that flimsy argument seems to lie at the core of the DOJ’s explanation for once again declining to pursue the evidence wherever it may lead.

Here’s what really happened in this case: Goldman was selling its clients “crap” investments (A Goldman employee’s word), and which it knew to be “crap,” while at the same time betting against those investments. And it concealed the fact that these investments were selected, not by the people it told investors were doing the choosing, but by somebody who was well-known for betting against the “crap” – and who would make a fortune if they failed.[…]

Meanwhile, the cases the Justice Department hasn’t prosecuted have led to billions of dollars in settlements. Eric Holder says that his department and this Administration are doing everything they can to prosecute Wall Street fraud and make sure it doesn’t happen again. There’s only one thing that makes that statement hard to believe: It’s a troublesome little thing called “facts.”

On the same case and the concurrent announcement of the SEC dropping their investigation:

US drops investigations of Goldman Sachs
By Barry Grey 
11 August 2012

The US Justice Department announced Thursday evening it was ending a one-year criminal investigation and would not file charges against the giant Wall Street investment bank Goldman Sachs or any of its employees.

In April 2011, the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations released a voluminous report on the role of major banks, federal regulators and credit rating firms in the collapse of the subprime mortgage market and ensuing financial crash of September 2008.

Of the report’s 640 pages, 240 pages, or 40 percent, were devoted to a detailed examination of Goldman Sach’s deceptive practices in marketing mortgage-backed securities and collateralized debt obligations. The report alleged that Goldman bilked clients by selling them mortgage-backed securities without informing them that the bank itself was betting the investments would fail.

The Senate report concluded by listing federal securities laws the committee believed had likely been violated by Goldman and other banks. The committee referred its findings to the Justice Department and federal prosecutors for a criminal investigation of Goldman and its executives. It also called for an investigation into whether Goldman CEO Lloyd Blankfein had perjured himself in his public testimony before the panel.

In releasing the report, the chairman of the committee, Senator Carl Levin of Michigan, said the panel’s two-year probe had found “a financial snake pit rife with greed, conflicts of interest and wrongdoing.” He recommended that charges be brought and said, “In my judgment, Goldman clearly misled their clients and they misled Congress.”

In its statement released Thursday, the Justice Department said it had conducted “an exhaustive review of the report,” but concluded that “based on the law and evidence as they exist at this time, there is not a viable basis to bring a criminal prosecution with respect to Goldman Sachs or its employees in regard to the allegations set forth in the report.”[…]

Also on Thursday, Goldman revealed in a regulatory filing that the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) had informed the bank it had ended a separate probe of a $1.3 billion subprime mortgage deal stemming from 2006, and had decided to take no action. This was an about-face by the SEC, which had notified the bank last February that it planned to pursue a civil action in relation to the Goldman security.

The SEC decision to drop the investigation comes as regulators are approaching a statute of limitations deadline for mortgage securities issued before 2007.[…]

Yesterday, Goldman won another one:

(Reuters) – Goldman Sachs Group Inc Chief Executive Lloyd Blankfein and other bank officials won the dismissal of a shareholder lawsuit accusing them of tolerating poor mortgage practices and quitting a federal bailout program early to boost executive pay.

U.S. District Judge William Pauley in Manhattan said the shareholders failed to show there were “red flags” to put bank directors on notice of “broken controls” in Goldman’s mortgage servicing business, including that workers at its Litton unit may have been “robo-signing” documents.

Pauley also cited a similar lack of red flags to suggest directors knew Goldman was packaging troubled loans in residential mortgage-backed securities, including loans the bank sold “short” in a bet they would lose value.

The judge also said the plaintiffs did not show that directors acted in bad faith in letting Goldman repay $10 billion taken from the Troubled Asset Relief Program early, in June 2009, freeing the bank from restrictions on executive pay.[…]

Goldman still faces other shareholder litigation. In June, for example, Pauley’s colleague Paul Crotty said shareholders may pursue claims that they lost money after Goldman concealed conflicts of interest in how it put together several collateralized debt obligation transactions.

Last week, the U.S. Department of Justice said it ended a criminal probe into Goldman activity that predated the financial crisis, while the bank said the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission ended a civil probe into a sale of $1.3 billion of subprime mortgage debt.[…]

(Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York; Editing by Gerald E. McCormick, Richard Chang and Matthew Lewis)


For some background on the statute of limitations issue, see here:

You may read an analysis of the Abacus deal (one of the cases mentioned above) here:

The details are, as someone put it to me the other day, lurid.

The Holder DoJ, the SEC, and the various states’ courts are running the clock out on these cases.  It is truly…audacious.  Yet for some reason, we hope for justice to come from one of the two presidential candidates, both of whom are funded magnificently by Wall St. and the big financial companies, and one of whom has had four years to do his Big Reveal, which turns out to be the revelation that he will not under any circumstances end too-big-to-fail or carry out Wall St. prosecutions.  Perhaps someday, we sigh.  Maybe eventually.   As they say, you can put your wishes in one hand and piss in the other – and just watch which one fills up first.

(“So long, and thanks for all the fish!” – Goldman, Sachs, et al to the world.)


Posted by on August 15, 2012 in corporatocracy, economy, MERS, Wall St and banks


Connect the dots.

The SEC does not have prosecutorial power.  Neither do the FDIC, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC), the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) or the New York Stock Exchange.  They do, however, have investigative authority, and are responsible for being on the alert for fraud and criminal activity in the financial sector.  Supposedly, they do an investigation, gather evidence, and then present the case to the Justice Dept.  The Justice Dept. then brings the criminal case to court and presumably justice rules the land and the bad guys go to jail.  Oddly, no-one has been indicted, much less gone to jail, for the fraud, forgery, insider trading, perjury, bribery, and other assorted crimes committed by the banking sector since 2007, leading to the financial meltdown.  The practices continue, the bankers make huge bonuses and profits, cities get ripped off and homeowners lose their houses to companies that cannot show they own the mortgages.  There is no doubt that crimes have been and continue to be committed.  Why is no-one going to jail?

Obama’s Mortgage Fraud Task Force is supposed to be handling investigations and bringing charges, but it is apparently being stripped of funds and staff – if indeed it ever actually had any of either other than on paper – by the same Justice Dept. that is supposed to be running it.  Obama said in January, “This new unit will hold accountable those who broke the law, speed assistance to homeowners, and help turn the page on an era of recklessness that hurt so many Americans.”   Well, okay, lay it on me, babe.  You let the banks get off with a measly $25 bb fine, most of which will come from taxpayer funds rather than the banks themselves, and wrote in the settlement that the individual states could use the money for whatever they choose, rather than actually helping homeowners, but the Task Force is going to investigate and bring criminal charges on some of the perps, right?  Some of the assholes are gonna pay, right?

Here are excerpts from a couple of articles.  I have faith that you can connect the dots for yourself.

7/10/12, Richard Eskow

More and more Washington insiders are asking a question that was considered off-limits in the nation’s capital just a few months ago: Who, exactly, is Attorney General Eric Holder representing? As scandal after scandal erupts on Wall Street, involving everything from global lending manipulation to cocaine and prostitution, more and more people are worrying about Holder’s seeming inaction — or worse — in the face of mounting evidence.

Confidential sources say that the President’s much-touted Mortgage Fraud Task Force is being starved for vital resources by the Holder Justice Department. Political insiders are fearful that this obstruction will threaten Democrats’ chances at the polls. Investigators and prosecutors from other agencies are expressing their frustration as the ever-rowing list of documented crimes by individual Wall Street bankers continues to be ignored.

Meanwhile the scandals and revelations go on. The new LIBOR rate-fixing scandal led the bank-friendly and conservative magazine The Economist to run a cover about “Banksters” and to publish a piece entitled “The rotten heart of finance.” People like Robert Reich are saying this could be the story that finally brings down the banks.

But there have already been stories — lots of stories, terrible ones — about corruption, bribery, perjury, forgery and a dozen different kinds of fraud. There have been stories about laundering money for the Mexican drug cartels, including a new lead that surfaced this week. There’s already ample evidence that Wall Street bankers have defrauded cities, deceived investors and cheated their own clients.[…]

The problem isn’t a shortage of scandalous stories. We’ve seen a lot of those. What we haven’t seen, at least here in the United States, is a single indictment of a senior Wall Street banker from the United States Department of Justice. And that’s what has these political insiders concerned.

A growing number of people are privately expressing concern at the Justice Department’s long-standing pattern of inactivity, obfuscation and obstruction. Mr. Holder’s past as a highly-paid lawyer for a top Wall Street firm, Covington and Burling, is being discussed more openly among insiders. Covington & Burling was the law firm which devised the MERS shell corporation that has since been implicated in many cases of mortgage and foreclosure fraud.[…]

The Mortgage Fraud Task Force stands at the heart of the latest controversy.[…]  One source familiar with the task force said that other federal agencies were actively participating in the process, but that the Justice Department was preventing the group from getting even the relatively meager resources promised to it by the Justice Department.

While nobody provided precise numbers, several sources said the Task Force could show concrete results with twenty or thirty more staff members. Yet Holder’s Justice Department won’t make them available, said one source. By contrast, Republican officials allocated more than one thousand people to investigate the savings and loan scandal.[…]

Several of the people we spoke with expressed concern that senior Administration officials like Holder may be protecting their relationships on Wall Street because they hope to resume their careers there after leaving public service.[…]

It’s not as if there’s a shortage of suspects for the Justice Department to pursue. We examined the role of accounting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers in the AIG scandal. Now it’s been implicated in the LIBOR scandal. As American Banker points out, PwC had at least two opportunities to catch the LIBOR deceptions. We would add that auditors have a legal obligation, at least in this country, to report any irregularities before signing off on the bank’s financials.

And while a British official wants false reporting of lending rates (the heart of the LIBOR story) to be made illegal, fraud and misrepresentation already are illegal. Then there are the numerous violations of law admitted to by JPMorgan Chase. In the case of GE Capital, investigators were stunned by the lack of prosecutions after the SEC identified individuals inside that bank who prepared fraudulent documents.[…]

Meanwhile in the absence of punishment the bankers’s behavior is getting more and more extreme, like pyromaniac children begging to be caught. Some examples:

Wells Fargo has already been implicated in the laundering of money for the Mexican drug cartels that have murdered as many as sixty thousand people, as well as having been found to have engaged in some of the most egregious borrower fraud. Now, as attorney Field notes, it’s even illegally closing the bank accounts of unfriendly bloggers to extract revenge.

Despite its massive rap sheet, which includes investor fraud and the bribing of Alabama officials, and despite the SEC investigation of its “London whale” debacle, JPMorgan Chase is is defying a subpoena in California and refusing to turn its emails over to a judge. It’s charged with the same kind of criminal activity that was behind the Enron scandal: manipulating energy markets.

And despite Jamie Dimon’s suggestion that the head of the “London whale’s” group would be forced to return her ill-gotten millions, she was allowed to resign and keep the money. There’s no sign that a criminal investigation of this affair is underway, despite Dimon’s own admission that laws may have been broken.

Field also points out that Barclays has been caught red-handed at similar kinds of fraud before, but they didn’t stop. Without indictments, why would they? Those settlements are just the cost of doing business — a cost someone else pays, while the criminals themselves get rich.

The SEC and state law enforcement officials have been moving, issuing “Wells notices” (an SEC document sent to banks under investigation) and searching for information. That much is a matter of public record. Where’s Mr. Holder?

But there’s no evidence that Mr. Holder’s Justice Department has mounted a serious effort to investigate bank crime. Its first, much-touted “coordinated effort” to crack down on mortgage fraud turned out to be a PR trick, not a law enforcement effort, which the Columbia Journalism Review described with the headline, “The Obama Administration’s Financial-Fraud Stunt Backfires.” That’s not the kind of press a President wants to see repeated in an election year.[…]

While nobody we spoke with was willing to raise the subject of a Holder resignation, they did insist that time was running out for the Attorney General to show concrete results.

Without criminal investigations and indictments, bankers will continue to commit crimes. The LIBOR scandal, which implicates a number of leading banks, proves that. The Justice Department’s inaction is putting the world economy at risk by allowing bankers to continue their reckless and illegal behavior.[…]



The US Securities and Exchange Commission is quickly running out of time to file charges against financial firms and high-level executives involved in fraud and other crimes leading up to the 2008 financial crisis.

Federal laws require the SEC to file official charges within five years of the alleged crimes due to a statute of limitations. Officials at SEC, according to the Wall Street Journal, are now scrambling to file lawsuits before the five-year time limit runs out.

In one example, experts believe that the SEC should file a civil lawsuit against bankers involved in the high profile ‘Delphinus deal’ no later than next Thursday. Delphinus, a $1.6 billion deal, was a subprime mortgage scam which collapsed within months during 2007 and was a major player in the widespread financial collapse.

A criminal investigation into that deal began months ago; however, prosecutors have yet to file charges.

The failure of the SEC to file charges and allow these crimes to go unchallenged “feeds the public sense of cynicism,” Arthur Wilmarth, a law professor at George Washington University and consultant to the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission, told the Journal.


4/9/12, David Dayen

CREDO, the online progressive organizing group, alleges in a new email to supporters that the Justice Department has not delivered the promised (and paltry) number of 55 staff members to the RMBS working group, the task force co-chaired by New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman to investigate the mortgage securitization practices of the leading banks.

We have heard very little from that task force since it was inaugurated in January, and CREDO has become the first progressive group to come forward with their concerns. But more is coming. This is the kickoff of a pressure campaign among several groups, querying the Administration in public about what was described to me last week as “the case of the missing task force.”

CREDO starts by asserting that 55 staffers from the Justice Department are not nearly enough to tackle a multi-trillion dollar fraud. Comparable investigations of much smaller financial crises, like the savings and loan scandal or the Enron collapse, have featured investigation staffs that were several orders of magnitude larger.

But the really damning charge is here:

“And now we’re hearing from insiders in Washington DC, that the full complement of 55 promised investigators — which is already not nearly enough — haven’t even been deployed to the task force […]

“The 55 investigators promised to the financial crimes task force is not nearly enough. And to find out that President Obama hasn’t delivered on those investigators, let alone resourced the effort at the levels appropriate to the biggest financial fraud in U.S. history, is shocking.”

In addition, CREDO alleges that none of the other co-chairs of the task force, including three Administration officials who were already on previous financial fraud task forces that amounted to little, “has done literally anything that achieves our goal of holding banks accountable or prosecuting bankers for criminal activity.”

This matters not just because of broken promises, but because the foot-dragging has serious consequences. Many of the various types of fraud that this task force is supposed to be investigating have statutes of limitations, some of which will run out on the very last securitization deals completed before the housing bubble collapsed. There are several 10-year statutes of limitations, particularly through the federal law FIRREA. But other statutes have a 5-year limit, and the last deals were made in 2007. So this looks suspiciously like running out the clock.



Posted by on July 15, 2012 in corporatocracy, economy, MERS, Wall St and banks


“Great” ideas from “great” men (and women)

Having lost all of our reasoning abilities at some point, we the people elected outright idiots, jack-booted thugs, or the corporately bribed to offices at all levels all across the land.  The inevitable result, which nonetheless surprises us, is that we have descended back into the medieval times in the US.  The middle class is getting bitch-slapped into extreme poverty while the wealthiest reap ever greater rewards, confident that our elected leaders have their backs.  The large corporations off-shore jobs and cut wages and benefits for the ever-decreasing number of workers left in the US, while politicians find new and inventive ways to save these same corporations from having to pay taxes or suffer from any  regulatory oversight, and grant them tax-payer subsidies to save the companies some of their cost of doing business.  That the companies then use the money to pay more to the CEO’s while at the same time laying off even more workers is somehow touted as the Free Market At Work.

A Super Congress is set up to reduce the deficit.  The deficit, created by never ending wars, tax breaks to the wealthiest and giving trillions to the same banks that made the economic mess in the first place, will be eased by taking away as much as possible from the poor – which is pretty much 99 % of the population.  No-one says out loud that the Super Congress is an unconstitutional politburo, and we the people seem unable to grasp the fact that our representational government has just been taken away from us.  We need to find 1.5 trillion bucks in savings, say the Republicans.  Shucks, says the Democrat Obama, make it 5 or 6 trillion.  (“Give us what we want or we shoot the hostage” – Republicans.  “I already shot the fucking hostage.  Now let’s play some golf.” – Oblahblah.)

So determined are we to commit hara-kiri that any politician who suggests doing away the minimum wage, public education, the Civil Right’s Act, the EPA and “gradually easing” us into the complete death of Social Security is a viable contender for President.  The current President is called a socialist while at the very same moment he is gathering huge contributions from Wall Street, refusing to investigate the MERS (robo-signing) bank fraud, granting new regulatory-free deep-water drilling rights to BP, pushing for the destruction of SS and Medicare, and overseeing massive, never-ending  bailouts of the big banks.

Some statistics about where we are as a nation:

Last year, 2.6 million more Americans descended into poverty.  [My note; No, they were bitch-slapped into poverty.] That was the largest increase that we have seen since the U.S. government began keeping statistics on this back in 1959.

Today, 15.1% of all Americans are living in poverty.

The poverty rate for children living in the United States increased to 22% in 2010.

In Washington D.C., the “child food insecurity rate” is 32.3%.

More than 20 million U.S. children rely on school meal programs to keep from going hungry.

One out of every six elderly Americans now lives below the federal poverty line.

Today, there are over 45 million Americans [roughly 15%] on food stamps. One out of every four American children is on food stamps.

In 2010, 42 percent of all single mothers in the United States were on food stamps.

The number of Americans on food stamps has increased 74% since 2007. [There has been an 8% increase just in the past year.]

It is being projected that approximately 50 percent of all U.S. children will be on food stamps at some point in their lives before they reach the age of 18.

More than 50 million Americans are now on Medicaid.  Back in 1965, only one out of every 50 Americans was on Medicaid.  Today, approximately one out of every 6 Americans is on Medicaid.

One out of every six Americans is now enrolled in at least one government anti-poverty program.

The number of Americans that are going to food pantries and soup kitchens has increased by 46% since 2006.

It is estimated that up to half a million children may currently be homeless in the United States.

The number of households applying for home-heating assistance has dramatically risen this year; however, the federal funds for this program are slated to be cut in half.

The true number of unemployed and underemployed stands roughly at 20%.

Lenders filed a record 3.8 million foreclosures in 2010, up 2% from 2009 and an increase of 23% from 2008, according to RealtyTrac. But 2011 could be even worse.

Of the 55-million families with mortgages, 10.4-million of them “are sliding toward failure and foreclosure”—a tragedy that will depress the U.S. housing market for years to come, a result of too many houses for sale and too few buyers.

That’s the blunt conclusion of distinguished economics journalist William Greider, to be published in an article in the November 14th issue of The Nation magazine.

The median income for American workers in 2010 was $26,364.

What shall we do?  I know, let’s get some advice from current and past Leaders, Political Movers and Shakers, and Very Important People.

All the cities and states are having financial difficulties.  Let’s check in with Rahm Emanuel, mayor of Chicago, to see what he plans to do about his city’s fiscal issues.  He must have some very progressive and liberal ideas about taxing his wealthiest citizens and what not; he is a Democrat, after all, and the former Chief of Staff for the socialist Obama.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel‘s plan to raise money for the city in 2012 includes higher taxes, fines, and fees.
The Chicago Sun-Times reports a list of options in the mayor’s revenue ordinance.
Having your car impounded after it was used to commit a felony could cost you a $2,000 fine, which is double of what it costs today.
Tampering with parking meters or pay-and-display boxes would carry a fine ranging from $500 to $750.
There’s also a list of so-called nuisance fees.
Having weeds that grow past ten inches go from $500 to $1000 per day, to $600 to $1,200 per day.
Letting trash accumulate: $300-to-$600, up from $250-to-$500.
Collecting junk on any open lot, but not on open racks: $300-to-$600, up from $250-to-$500.
Failing to maintain vacant lots: $300-to-$600.
Neglecting to register or renew registration of a vacant building: $500.
The mayor’s budget also raises Chicago’s hotel tax, fees on downtown parking, and doubles water and sewer rates.,0,2844918.story

Oops, guess he’s not that much of a socialist.  Well, what would Bill Clinton do?  He anticipated our questions, so he already had an answer prepared.  Here’s his plan:

Offer homeowners underwater a lower principle on the note; turn the note into a long term “lease” (giving the banks ownership of the home); then expedite foreclosures for everyone else.  Change the corporate tax code – to lower it.  Allow companies with profits overseas to bring them back to the US at less than half the current tax rate (down to 15% from 35%) and drop it to 0% if they promise to use the money to create jobs in the US.   []

Oh, bummer.

What does Condi think we should do?  She knows a lot of stuff.  Appearing on Sunday’s “This Week” on ABC, former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Washington should consider tougher penalties against Iran’s government and “do everything we can to bring it down.”  To be honest, she wasn’t  trotted out on TV to answer economic questions.  But had she been, her answer would still be to bomb another country, preferably Iran.  This is pithy advice, applicable in a myriad of situations.  Hell, applicable in virtually every situation.  She, Cheney, and the Pentagon just can’t understand what is taking Obama so long: World War 3 was scheduled to start way before now.

Let us not dwell on these ugly matters.  Let’s watch Michael Jackson dance.  He’s been much in the news lately too, despite being somewhat dead and all.  No-one can dance the way he could.

And here:


Live free and/or die.

In case anyone was wondering why the US gov’t went to such absurd lengths to concoct a bizarre and obviously false “Iranian terrorist coming to attack us and our friends in the embassy of the House of Saud on US soil”, here is the story that will explain the timing, the heated Fear Factor in the MSM about the “Iranian terrorist”, and the real reason behind the sudden appearance of this Texasusedcarsalesman/Iranian mad-dog terrorist:

Here is Pepe Escobar showing how utterly absurd the “plot” was.  The whole point of this ridiculous exercise is to ramp up sympathy for the House of Saud and to attempt to demonize Iran further.    The bloodthirsty Condaleeza Rice, George Bush, and Dick Cheney Susan Rice, Barack Obama, and Hillary Clinton would love nothing more than another US war.  Just because death is what they do best.


And lest you be under the mistaken impression that Occupy Wallstreet was having any sway with Congress, we give you three brand new trade deals, guaranteed to off-shore more US jobs.  Congress: screwing the public because we can.  Yes, we can.

Finally, a tiny, small-print note about home foreclosures in the 3rd Q.  They increased.  But this is a GOOD thing, citizens, because it “frees up the housing market”, “eases doubts and concerns”, and does other goodly good things which are much too complicated to go into right now.  Don’t worry your pretty little heads about it.  Anyway, this is merely a test to see if you’ve all forgotten about the MERS bank and robo-signing issues.  What’s that you say?  “What MERS bank?”  Oh, good.  You HAVE forgotten about it.  That’s what we were hoping for by failing to mention in any article about foreclosures that almost all of them are still taking place within the MERS system.

What is the plan here?  The CIA and the Pentagon have some plans for us, for sure.  There IS someone in charge, after all; don’t fret about that, citizens.

Article from “Crazy Horse – Back on the Warpath”, a speech by Bruce Gagnon.
Quotes from the article:

…A few years ago during the Bush administration I was watching one of my favorite TV programs, C-SPAN, and I saw a startling program.  They introduced the speaker at a military conference as Donald Rumsfeld’s strategy guy.  His name was Thomas Barnett, who at that time was an instructor at the Naval War College in Rhode Island.  He wrote a book called the Pentagon’s New Map.  First, I want to say something about the audience.  It was a huge auditorium.  High-level military brass from all the services was present, and in the introduction they said high-level CIA people were there as well.  Barnett was there to lay out for the highest levels of the military the new Pentagon military strategy.

Barnett essentially said this: Because of corporate globalization of the world’s economy, every different country is going to have a different role in the future, a different job. We’re not going to make things in America anymore.  We’re not going to have jobs in America because it’s cheaper for the corporations to go overseas, maximize profits internationally, to build cars and clothes and shoes, refrigerators, computers, everything else. Our role under corporate globalization will be security export. 

Thus it’s no coincidence that today in America the number one industrial export product of our nation is weapons, and when weapons are your number one industrial export product, what is your global marketing strategy for that product line?

Barnett went on to say that there would essentially be two military services in the future.  Because of space technology, the old distinction between Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines, he said, is being rubbed out.   One he called “leviathan” whose job would be to go in, shock and awe, do a complete destruction of a particular country, and the other service will be “systems administration,” sys-ad he called it.  He said these troops would never come home.  After we’ve gone in with leviathan, completely destroyed a country, systems administration will go in and run the country.  Yes, they’ll set up a puppet government, of course, like Libya or in Afghanistan, but systems administration will run the country and will never come home.  In fact, just about two years ago I read that Lockheed Martin had gotten a huge contract from the Pentagon to begin training the new generation of systems administration warriors.

Barnett went on to say that young people in America, the angry, young men who are whiling away their time because they have no jobs would be perfect for leviathan because they’re angry, they’re connected to computer games, they’ll be good at doing things like flying drones and he basically described the militarization of our culture.  Last year I saw a manifestation of this.  I heard a rumor that Sears had a new line of kids’ clothes, and I went to see it with a friend because I really had to check this out, and what I discovered when I walked into the kids’ section of Sears was a complete display of military uniforms turned into kids clothing.  The message to the younger generation is this is all you’re going to be.  This is your future in America, either flipping hamburgers or coming into the military.

The other thing that Barnett talked about which is very important is the Pentagon’s new map.  He said there is part of the world today that is not submitting to the authority of corporate globalization.  He called it the non-integrating gap, and he clearly identified it.  He named the Middle East, where, of course, we are in Iraq today with our permanent military bases and these people won’t be coming home.  Central Asia where we are today in Afghanistan, again, we’re not coming home from there.  Africa where he said we will be fighting 20 years from now for their oil, well even sooner than that as NATO, our lap dog, has invaded Libya that sits on the largest supply of oil on the African continent. Finally, Barnett said parts of Latin America are included in this non-integrating gap, places like Venezuela where Hugo Chavez is not playing ball with corporate globalization.  Barnett maintained our job in America, under security export, will be to go into the non-integrating gap, and secure it to the benefit of corporate globalization.  Barnett said America would not do international treaties anymore because they will just stand in our way. Barnett also told this big audience, “Adolph Hitler never had to ask permission to invade another country and neither will we.”  This arrogance is why we are having endless war today….

Earlier today there was some mention of the new Super Committee in Congress, what I call the Congressional coup d’etat, where 12 members of the House and Senate have been given the power of God.  The Congressional Super Committee, that will be given these extraordinary powers to cut the federal budget, will be co-chaired by Senator Patty Murray, Democrat from Washington.  She is often called “Boeing’s Senator.”  There are huge conflicts of interest between these committee members, these 12 people, and the military industrial complex.  The Boston Globe reported just a few weeks ago that “The six Republicans and six Democrats represent states where the biggest military contractors – Lockheed Martin, General Dynamics, Raytheon, and Boeing Co. – build missiles, aircraft jet fighters and tanks while employing tens of thousands of workers.”  The Globe tried to make the case that it would be a “Doomsday” if this new Super Committee allowed major cuts in military spending.  Senator Murray, the Democrat, got $276,200 in campaign donations from these aerospace corporations since 2007, more than any other committee member.  Second place goes to Senator Max Baucus, the Democrat from Montana at $139,100, and third place went to the Republican, Dave Camp from Michigan who got $130,800, and the fourth spot was Skull and Bones member, Senator John Kerry, Democrat for Massachusetts, at $73,500.  You remember that election don’t you? When Skull and Bones ran against Skull and Bones.  When it was George W. Bush against John Kerry. You remember that, right?  So three out of the top four Super Committee recipients of weapons contractor’s cash are Democrats.  It’s a bad situation, coup d’etat, coup d’etat. …

It’s all about Freedom, citizens.  We are Freeing the housing market.  Freeing you from the worries of handling a mortgage.  Freeing Libya, Iraq, Afghanistan, Somolia, Pakistan, Yemen.  Soon we will be Freeing Iran and many other countries as well.  And you will be Freed from your job, if you haven’t already been, leaving you to live Freely, without the struggle of working at some tedious task for many tedious hours each week.  Yes, we have already Freed you from the worries of managing money – wasn’t that a chore?  You are Free of that one now.  We all like Freedom, citizens!  Live Free or Die!  Isn’t that the motto?  We will see to it that you do, indeed, either live Free – or Die.  Or, just because we can, perhaps we will manage it so that you will be able to do both at once.

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Posted by on October 13, 2011 in austerity, Congress, economy, Iran, MERS, Occupy, trade agreements


Glad that’s over with.

I was beginning to think we had a problem there for awhile. Foreclosure-gate? MERS? Robo-signing?

Hey, what, me worry? That’s so yesterday. No problem is so large that we can’t just ignore it until it ceases to exist. Let’s call them the too-large-to-focus-on problems. Bank of America has decided to resume foreclosures after a temporary halt.

NEW YORK ( — Bank of America said Friday it was ending its hiatus on foreclosure sales, and promised to get its act together after a series of sloppy home seizures prompted the bank to back off and re-examine its process.

We have identified areas of our process that can be improved and while we make these improvements, it’s important that we move ahead with efforts to reduce the number of abandoned properties across the country,” said Barbara Desoer, president of Bank of America (BAC, Fortune 500) Home Loans, in a statement. “The properties can drag home values in neighborhoods and slow the eventual recovery of the housing market.”

The bank said it plans to proceed with 16,000 foreclosures this month, though it will observe a “holiday suspension” of sales and evictions from Dec. 20 to Jan. 2. Freddie Mac (FMCC) and Fannie Mae (FNMA) have announced a similar holiday freeze.

The Bank of America action ends the “voluntary freeze” that the bank initiated in October, after a series of messy real estate mistakes. …

“We continue to be committed to ensuring that no property is taken to foreclosure sale until our Bank of America customer is given an opportunity to be evaluated for a modification or, if ineligible for a modification, a short sale or deed in lieu solution,” said Desoer. “Foreclosure is the option of last resort.”

Last month, Desoer said the bank “deeply regrets” the way it handled some of its foreclosures.

I suspect that one process they are reviewing is how to get Congress to retroactively legalize the MERS bank. That way the foreclosure procedures won’t look “sloppy” any more, but simply “legal”. And, by the way, they are just cleaning up the neighborhoods. They would like to reduce the number of unsightly, abandoned houses which drive down values for the whole place by, well, by foreclosing on people and having a few more empty houses on the street, but their hearts are really in it this time. 16,000 foreclosure actions planned for the coming month. (Do they mean January, after the “holiday break”? Or is from now until Dec 20 considered a month? Or maybe they mean the next four weeks, but excluding the break? Who cares? Any way they measure the four weeks, they are talking about dumping a lot of people out into the street during the coldest fucking part of the year.)

But they “deeply regret” the “series of messy real estate mistakes”; it is implied that the mistakes are no longer being made or have been corrected, although how that occurred without any investigations into MERS being finalized – or, hell, even really started, for that matter – is left to speculation.

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Posted by on December 12, 2010 in MERS, Wall St and banks


carpe jugulum

Literally, “seize the throat”. Figuratively, “go for the jugular”.

Our elected officials no longer try to hide whose side they are on in the class divide in America. The newly elected Republicans and Teabaggers are slightly – but only just slightly – more open about this than the Democrats, who are joined with them at the hip but make the occasional (dismal, half-hearted) pretense of outrage at the Republican stance. The newly formed teabagger party in particular is presenting quite a study in the level of ignorance abounding in our society. They only give a nod to one sentence in the entire Constitution – that would be the second amendment about guns – which they interpret to read, “Fuck, yeah, we get guns!” The rest of it wafts through their brains without the slightest stirring of the air. But aside from the foreboding lack of intellect, one must be struck with how readily they adopted the corporate mindset of their backers; that all business is good and all business must be allowed to operate without regulatory constraint, no matter the cost to society. Yet they billed themselves as being “of the people” and “grassroots”. In Congress, we have the venal and the merely stupid. And the stupid will not even know they are being played by the venal.

We are a failed empire. We are ruled by an oligarchy comprised of the wealthiest families in the country and the largest corporations and financial houses in the world. Our Congress and President intend to shovel the last few scraps of the country’s wealth into the hands of this oligarchy by turning the other 90% of us into serfs begging to work any hours, for any pay, in a land bereft of opportunity and equality.

This is how the USSR collapsed; financial crisis, the imposition of austerity measures and privatization of the public sector enforced by the financial elites who now rule Russia as an open oligarchy while the citizens stand in bread lines. We know what happens in a country where the wealthiest private companies and individuals rule and grow ever more powerful without regulations to force them to consider the effects of their actions on the larger society around them. We know what a completely unfettered free market does to a country – and we don’t have to look at Russia or Chile as examples; we can refer to our own past. Consider the late 1800’s/early 1900’s, the age of the robber-barons. Slave wages, sweat-shops, child labor, extreme industrial pollution and ethnically divided inner-city ghettos were the fate of the common worker. Our government finally understood that private companies needed some constraint in order for society as a whole to flourish. This is perhaps the most important and abiding role of our government…to consider, take into account, and act for the benefit of the externalities that businesses refuse to acknowledge.

But this government now, the one we currently have in Washington, has decided to strengthen the markets of the wealthy at the expense of the people. It is inevitable that the country will collapse as a result, and with a population so divided politically (intentionally divided, I would contend, by the media and the politicians) and fearful for their own uncertain financial security, the resulting violent backlash will be that of neighbor against neighbor rather than being directed at the true culprits.

Never in our history has there been such an income gap between the rich and the poor. The richest 1% possess more wealth than the combined wealth of the bottom 90%. Corporate profits set records each quarter. Wall Street profits are higher than ever. The bonuses and pay of the CEO’s and management of the largest financial houses are setting new records a mere two years after nearly destroying the economy and being bailed out by taxpayers. The five largest banks are 20% larger than they were before the crisis. They control 8.6 trillion dollars in financial assets; that equals 60% of our nation’s GDP. But even this isn’t enough for them; Jamie Dimon, the “reasonable, nice guy” in the banking world, thinks JP Morgan should be bigger than it already is. []

The very infrastructure of our country is being sold off to foreign interests. While the federal government prefers to spend our money to wage wars around the globe, operate over 700 military bases around the world, purchase weapons, hire and pay almost a thousand companies to spy on America’s e-mails and eavesdrop on America’s phone calls, it can’t see its way clear to help cash-strapped states retain teachers or maintain public roads and schools. The individual states are now actually selling our infrastructure on long-term leases to foreign interests to raise money. []

The Wall St. banks have money, however. The derivatives market – that shadowy, inexplicable asset class which blew up the economy in ’08 – was valued at about 200 trillion then and is now estimated to be worth over 500 trillion today. These “assets”, of course, don’t really represent anything tangible, they are complete fabrications made up wholecloth by Wall St. Here’s how illusory these figures are. These “assets” are notionally based on US real estate. Yet all the real estate in the US is valued at about 20 trillion. The GDP of the entire world is roughly 58 trillion. How anyone can fail to grasp the implausibility of a mortgage-related derivatives market outstripping the entire valuation of all US real estate by a factor of twenty or so is difficult to fathom. Clearly the governments of the US and Europe should have let the financial institutes involved in this fraud fail and broken them up back in ’08. The restructuring and rebuilding of the various economies would have been tedious and would have required meticulous attention to detail, but in the end, it’s all really just paperwork. We should have done the work.

Iceland, which collapsed as a result of the crisis, refused to play the game as dictated by the banks. They nationalized their banks and are currently recovering. They are in the process of rewriting their constitution to protect themselves in the future. []

Europe, on the other hand, is falling into the trap set by the banks, one country after another, and forcing their people to undergo austerity measures for an economic crisis foisted on them by those very banks. We are next, although the austerity measures our Congress is proposing to inflict on us do not relate to the economic crisis in a clear way. In the case of the US, it seems that Congress has decided to derail any chance of recovery and impose harsh economic conditions on the poor and middle class without any real need to do so. They are preemptively punishing the people and tearing apart the protections our government has offered for generations to the sick, the out of work and the weakest members of our society, all in the name of some deficit reduction which they have not proved needs to be addressed. It seems we are going to let our leaders sanction us while excusing them the need to explain why. Note the comments from James Galbraith, one of our most respected economists, in this short article where he attacks the lack of evidence for deficit fear-mongering. []

I highly recommend this article on misplaced deficit hysteria, as well.

The administration and Congress have signaled what they intend to do and whose side they are on, although they are adept at obfuscating the reasons.

Despite the fact that the wealthy and the big businesses have enjoyed tremendous tax breaks for the past ten years with the Bush tax cuts and that these breaks have NOT resulted in jobs growth and have, in fact, added greatly to the deficit, Congress wants to extend the cuts to those same groups. The Obama administration says it wants to encourage small business growth, yet in practice, over 300 billion worth of federal contracts earmarked for small businesses are being deliberately diverted to some of our largest corporations. []

Small businesses account for 90% of our job market and new hiring. They are not getting the help they were promised, the banks are not lending out the money lavished on them in repeated bail-outs and backstops, and so we do not see any real growth in jobs. Unemployment rose to 9.8% in November – that is the “official” accounting of unemployment. Over 15 million Americans are unemployed, but that number does not include 1.3 million who have completely given up looking for work or those working part time but who want to work full time. 1 in 7 Americans live in poverty. 41 million Americans need to use food stamps to eat. Outsourcing of jobs continues unabated and the Business Roundtable admits that the outsourced jobs are not coming back to this country. However, the Obama administration has found a way to dispel the gloom; they have decided to simply stop counting the outsourced jobs. []

Congress wants to keep the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy as a trade-off for extending unemployment benefits. Unemployment benefits average $310/week. This money is poured directly back into the economy as consumer spending (70% of the nation’s economic activity is driven by consumer spending). If the benefits are not extended, the ramifications as expressed by the CBO would be: a drop in annual economic growth of 1/2 to 1%, hundreds of thousands more people falling into poverty, and another one million lost jobs. (Obviously jobs would be lost, since if people had less to spend, they would buy less. Companies would need to lay off workers because they didn’t have a market for as much of whatever they produced. ) This is offered as a “plan” by Congress – a “compromise”. It goes without saying that without the extension of unemployment benefits, more homes will be lost to foreclosure. This is another area where the Obama administration is showing its true colors. As foreclosures mount, an ever increasing array of problems with the paperwork is being exposed. Yet Obama has refused to call a halt to the foreclosures, saying it is a bank problem that the banks are best suited to sort out. These would be the same banks which conned people into faulty loans they couldn’t afford or who wrote deliberately bad loan papers, and who then chopped up the mortgages into tranches to be traded in the derivatives markets. The administration is only going to spend about 12 billion of the promised 50 billion to help homeowners avoid foreclosure, by the way. Obama also remarked that “foreclosuregate” is basically a states’ issue for the various state Attorneys General to solve. Yet the banks themselves formed the MERS bank, now revealing its improper and illegal handling of mortgage and foreclosure paperwork, specifically to avoid state oversight and regulation, apparently escaping the notice of the legal systems in each state to start with. Let the banks handle it? Yet this is what passes as Deep Thought and Reasoned Approach today.

Congress continually talks about “deficit” and “shared sacrifice”, while at the same time rewarding the richest among us. The suggestions coming out of Washington ensure the continuation and intensification of the national debt while asking sacrifice from the poorest. Obama’s deficit commission may not have had its suggestions brought to the floor for a vote (yet – they’ll come up with some new ideas to proffer – give ’em a week/coupladays), but it served its purpose nonetheless. Which was to get people used to the idea that they will pay more and receive less while the financial elite and big businesses continue unaffected as before. The ideas put forth by the commission included lowering the taxes for the wealthiest, more tax breaks for mega-businesses, taking away the Earned Income Credit, reductions to medicare and medicaid, lowered benefits in social security distributions (although SS cannot legally affect the deficit), a 15 cent per gallon tax hike on gasoline, less money for the food stamp program, taking away the deduction businesses now receive for providing health insurance for their employees…these are explicit signals of what is in store. This is obvious class re-alignment and Congress is siding with the rich. Our legislators are starting the discussions at pointless, stupid and regressive. They will not improve the final legislation as they “negotiate” and “compromise” in a “bipartisan fashion”. Improvement is just not what they do. The people of America, as in “we, the people”, are not Congress’ constituency any longer. They work for those that can afford to bribe them. We, the people, can’t.

If Congress truly wanted to fix some of our financial problems they would consider these ideas: get rid of Goldman, Sachs, JP Morgan, and Citigroup. Get out of Afghanistan and Iraq. Pull out of foreign military bases and cut the Pentagon budget by half. Raise taxes on the rich. Force the insurance companies to return to the non-profit models they started with. Allow drug re-importation from Canada and limit the profits allowed to pharmaceutical companies – a significant portion of drug research and development is generated through government subsidized grants – why should the pharmas be allowed to make huge profits on drugs the tax-payers funded in the first place? Strongly re-regulate big business and banks. Stop printing digital money a la QE2. Avoid privatization of the public sector. Rewrite the tax laws so that businesses and the wealthiest aren’t incentivized to hide money overseas or to outsource jobs. Invest in infrastructure in a WPA-style program. Quit giving subsidies to companies like Exxon for research into green projects. (Exxon pays 0 dollars in taxes and yet has the largest profits of any company in the history of the world. Surely, it will fund its own research – and can certainly afford to – as oil supplies dwindle, in order to stay in the energy game.)

What this administration has done instead, using just the energy sector as an example, is to give stimulus money for supposed green or clean energy projects to corporations which are then being given exceptions from the most basic environmental oversight. []

Government has a role to play. Now, however, they are playing the wrong part. They are sending us back to the feudal times of lords and peasants. The country is collapsing and the lines are drawn. Not because there is some big conspiracy, but because the greed of all the involved parties seems to have found opportune alignment at this moment in our history. As we serfs become more restive (and we will), we are gradually being trained to be obedient. We grow more accustomed to the security state we are living in and less alarmed by being scanned, spied upon, put on terror watch lists for joining a peace group or reading certain websites, having our bodies and possessions searched without warrant, and being shocked with electricity for not obeying the authorities quickly enough. Should we get too uppity and insistent on living decent lives, the government and the military/industrial complex have been working on plans to take care of that, too. []

We are living through the denouement of America. The lines are clearly drawn for all to see. The wealthiest, the biggest corporate cartels, and the MIC against the rest of us – and they are going for the jugular. Carpe jugulum.