Showing posts with label Wall Street. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Wall Street. Show all posts

Wednesday, June 12, 2013


Does anybody in his right mind take crap like this seriously?

I found this hand-scrawled tract lying on the ground at Omaha's almost-dead, soon to be razed Crossroads Mall today, and I think there's a metaphor somewhere in that circumstance. I'm also thinking somebody watched "Reds" five times too many. Sheesh.

What's worse is that I agree with the general sentiment, hiding though it be in a steaming pile of outraged agitprop. Yes, the growing inequality of our society is a bad thing -- it's a very bad thing if you're the minimum-wage bug and not the overcompensated windshield. And what Wall Street bankers and bond traders have gotten away with the last decade (and more) is outrageous.

You can't even call it beating the rap. There's no rap to beat, and that is an affront to both social justice and civil society.

Furthermore, balancing a budget on the backs of those who most need "entitlements" like Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid when the "1 percent" -- indeed, even the 10 percent -- are well capable of paying a fairer share of taxes would be fundamentally unjust. Cruel, even.

WE ARE our brother's keeper -- this comes from a Very High Authority, indeed -- and a society for which that is not an organizing principle is one that would be, in a word, brutish.

There's a lot you can say on this subject in support of reining in Wall Street and bestowing a little governmental mercy upon Main Street, not to mention Skid Row. It all would comport with what Abraham Lincoln called "the better angels of our nature," and some of it might even persuade a few Fox News Channel viewers.

Hand-scrawled tracts parroting a bunch of Leon Trotsky's B-sides?  Not so much. 

It's a natural fact that anywhere you land on God's green earth, those who are quickest to lend a helping hand -- to share with you whatever they have -- tend to be those who can least afford their own generosity. It doesn't take much for these souls to "give until it hurts."

"The widow's mite" wasn't just something Jesus pulled out of thin air.

BUT the thing is, those in our society who have the most right to be damned angry at their plight generally aren't half as mad as America's outraged, tract-scrawling, fill-in-the-blank-occupying dilettante revolutionaries, whose sound and fury thus far has signified pretty much nothing. Kind of like John Reed back in the day.

Frankly, I think America's have-nots deserve better representation.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Questions for a nation past its sell-by date

University of California, Berkeley
Nov. 9, 2011

Earlier that day a colleague had written to say that the campus police had moved in to take down the Occupy tents and that students had been “beaten viciously.” I didn’t believe it. In broad daylight? And without provocation? So when we heard that the police had returned, my wife, Brenda Hillman, and I hurried to the campus. I wanted to see what was going to happen and how the police behaved, and how the students behaved. If there was trouble, we wanted to be there to do what we could to protect the students.

Once the cordon formed, the deputy sheriffs pointed their truncheons toward the crowd. It looked like the oldest of military maneuvers, a phalanx out of the Trojan War, but with billy clubs instead of spears. The students were wearing scarves for the first time that year, their cheeks rosy with the first bite of real cold after the long Californian Indian summer. The billy clubs were about the size of a boy’s Little League baseball bat. My wife was speaking to the young deputies about the importance of nonviolence and explaining why they should be at home reading to their children, when one of the deputies reached out, shoved my wife in the chest and knocked her down. . . .

My wife bounced nimbly to her feet. I tripped and almost fell over her trying to help her up, and at that moment the deputies in the cordon surged forward and, using their clubs as battering rams, began to hammer at the bodies of the line of students. It was stunning to see. They swung hard into their chests and bellies. Particularly shocking to me — it must be a generational reaction — was that they assaulted both the young men and the young women with the same indiscriminate force. If the students turned away, they pounded their ribs. If they turned further away to escape, they hit them on their spines.

None of the police officers invited us to disperse or gave any warning. We couldn’t have dispersed if we’d wanted to because the crowd behind us was pushing forward to see what was going on. The descriptor for what I tried to do is “remonstrate.” I screamed at the deputy who had knocked down my wife, “You just knocked down my wife, for Christ’s sake!” A couple of students had pushed forward in the excitement and the deputies grabbed them, pulled them to the ground and cudgeled them, raising the clubs above their heads and swinging. The line surged. I got whacked hard in the ribs twice and once across the forearm. Some of the deputies used their truncheons as bars and seemed to be trying to use minimum force to get people to move. And then, suddenly, they stopped, on some signal, and reformed their line. Apparently a group of deputies had beaten their way to the Occupy tents and taken them down. They stood, again immobile, clubs held across their chests, eyes carefully meeting no one’s eyes, faces impassive. I imagined that their adrenaline was surging as much as mine.

My ribs didn’t hurt very badly until the next day and then it hurt to laugh, so I skipped the gym for a couple of mornings, and I was a little disappointed that the bruises weren’t slightly more dramatic. It argued either for a kind of restraint or a kind of low cunning in the training of the police. They had hit me hard enough so that I was sore for days, but not hard enough to leave much of a mark. I wasn’t so badly off. One of my colleagues, also a poet, Geoffrey O’Brien, had a broken rib. Another colleague, Celeste Langan, a Wordsworth scholar, got dragged across the grass by her hair when she presented herself for arrest.

-- Robert Haas,
UC poetry professor,
former poet laureate
of the United States

From a New York Times essay published Sunday

'Paternoville,' Penn State
September 2009

Some ad hoc tent encampments on public property are more equal than other ad hoc tent encampments on public property in these United States.

If you're, say, a student at the Pennsylvania State University and you're one of, say, 700 students and their tents crammed into a lot outside Beaver Stadium, and you're there because you want choice seats in the student section for this week's home game, that's a good thing.

That's a beloved tradition.

Media types will write whimsical stories about those wacky campers in State College braving the rain and the cold in a tent --
and doing it all week -- for the sake of college football. The school's football coach will drop by to pose for pictures with his worshiping flock. ESPN personalities will drop by to press the flesh. The 60-something university president will go slumming amid the teen and 20-something campers for kicks and giggles.

You'll get your own university website, a "mayor," a plaque and a write-up in the alumni magazine.

You are what America's all about.
You are Paternoville.

PERHAPS you just fancy Apple products. If the gadget's name starts with an "i," you have to have it. Now. Before anyone else does. So help you Jobs.

There's a way to achieve that. You camp out to stake your place in line. Scores of you camp out for the love of "i." Hundreds of you, even.

It's all good. Apple is happy to let you do it in exchange for your iMoney.

Media types will write whimsical stories about those wacky campers in
(fill in the blank) braving the rain and the cold in a tent or a lawn chair -- and doing it all week -- for the sake of the brand new iWhatever. The store's manager will drop by with coffee for his worshiping flock. Noted tech bloggers will drop by to press the flesh or -- hell -- join you in your campout. The 60-something mayor will go slumming amid the 20- and 30-something campers for kicks and giggles.

You are an American patriot. You are buying s***.

BUT IF YOU'RE a student at the University of California-Davis or Cal-Berkeley, and you're one of, say, 100 students and their tents crammed into the quad, and you're there because you're alarmed at how tuition is skyrocketing, how a college education is becoming more and more unattainable for those of modest means and how American society is becoming more and more unequal, you are a dangerous thug and an anarchist. Your tent encampment is a threat to public health, public safety and public access to public property.

That's an unacceptable situation.

Media types will write serious stories about brewing unrest. Pundits will warn of the sheer unsustainability of your unruly protest --
random tents and shelters mired there in the rain and the cold -- for the sake of an amorphous agenda you cannot articulate.

Riot police will drop by to beat the s*** out of the "criminals," fog the dirty hippies in the face with pepper spray and tear down the troublemakers' tents.
Fox News Channel personalities will make fun of the liberal wackos on the air. The 60-something mayor will denounce the "mob" of 20- and 30-something "occupiers" for political advantage.

You'll get thrown in jail, receive a court date, and your wrists will have nasty bruises from the handcuffs for quite some time.

You are what's wrong with America.
Get a g**damn job, you filthy commie freak.

* * *

PAY NO ATTENTION to that question behind the headlines and official concerns for public health and safety.

Ask not why you're no threat to public health and civic order if you squat on public property for superfluous reasons. Or why doing so in a peaceful political protest is a transgression requiring raids by riot police employing chemical agents, truncheons and excessive force.

Ask not what kind of a country celebrates the unserious as its riot police beat professors, pupils and poets driven to civil disobedience as a last resort for asking serious questions and demanding serious answers.

Ask not these things. Your betters have decided you don't need to know the answer.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

He didn't see that one coming

Noted trends forecaster Gerald Celente, a favorite of Russia Today and American conspiracy theorists, thought he was being prudent by investing in gold futures.

After getting waylaid by a trend called Jon Corzine and MF Global, Celente tells the RT anchorette exactly what he thinks the "MF" now stands for. I wonder what that is in Russian.

Hang on. . . .

мать ублюдок. Thanks, Google.

HERE'S a trends forecast that I think Celente might sign off on -- and, I think, already has. Occupy Wall Street is just the first wave, the rash bunch of weirdos, freakazoids, hippies, eccentrics, commies, anarchists . . . and a few normal people.

They're being dealt with by the state security forces -- something the Russia Today producers might know a little bit about.

But if and when the next big economic shock hits -- maybe a financial tsunami of sovereign defaults rolling across the Atlantic from the Eurozone -- people just might be back in the streets. And it won't be the hippies and freaks and weirdos and other unserious folk.

Goodnight America, wherever you've gone.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Capitalism's storm troopers

Me on Oct. 12:
Contrary to the propaganda on the right, the Occupy Wall Street people aren't just a collection of angry Marxists, anarchists and free spirits looking for an excuse to take off their clothes. From what I can see, there are a lot of "normal" people out there, too -- folks who tried to play by the rules and got burned by a system with an ace up its sleeve.

Their dignity is under assault, their checking accounts are depleted, and their options are few amid the Great Recession. It is them I feel for. I feel for the eccentrics, too -- just more in a
"That's just Junior. Don't hurt him -- he's odd, but he's harmless" kind of way.

Now here's what I fear.

Some Angry Marxist Guy -- or maybe some Breitbart vigilante, some self-appointed defender of capitalism and Americanism -- is going to do something stupid. And then some cop is going to do something stupid.

And then some ordinary Joe -- peacefully taking it to the streets because the street is all that's left for the redress of grievances -- is going to be the one killed by the cop's stupidity.

I remember the '60s and how cities burned after just such a scenario. Think of what could happen in this
tinderbox of a country we've built for ourselves, where those at the top have everything to lose and too many down below have nothing left to lose.
AND NOW cops in Oakland, Calif., have fired a tear-gas canister -- point blank -- into the skull of an Iraq War veteran peacefully protesting the thus-successful insurgency by crony capitalists against the principles of social justice and equality under the law.

Digital Journal:
Scott Olsen, a two-tour veteran of the Iraq war, suffered a cracked skull during a police crackdown on Oakland Occupy protesters Tuesday. Now, demonstrators are taking that up as a central rallying point, mulling over calling for a Nov. 2 general strike.

An Occupy protester in Oakland carried a sign saying, "Ask Scott Olsen What He Thinks about Homeland Security". The 24-year old Olsen was critically injured Tuesday night when he was hit in the head with a projectile either thrown or shot by police using tear gas to clear protesters. He suffered a fractured skull in the incident.

And although the New York Times reports that Mr. Olsen’s condition is improving, his injury and the symbolism of a Marine who faced enemy fire unscathed only to be attacked at home is resulting in a surge of sympathy, as well as calls for solidarity among the scores of Occupy encampments everywhere. The Iraq Veterans Against the War, of which Olsen is a member, say that Thursday night, camps in some major cities including New York, Chicago and Philadelphia are going to participate in a vigil for Mr. Olsen. The groups director says,
“I think people would have been outraged even had this been a civilian, but the fact that he survived two tours of duty and then to have this happen to him, people are really upset about that.”
WHEN WE make an idol of an economic system -- in this case, capitalism -- it is no surprise when its high priests start offering up human sacrifices to their god. What the Occupy movement is is the realization that the sacrifice is us -- the "99 percent."

Eleven score and 16 years ago, Americans took up arms against those who would sacrifice them to the great mercantile gods of the British Empire. Today, homegrown tyrants in Washington, on Wall Street and in Oakland's city hall dare frustrated, overwhelmed and angry Americans to do the same.

Now we see the corrupt puppet masters who pull the strings of our dysfunctional American empire setting local "internal security forces" even against veterans who survived multiple tours in this nation's disastrous wars fought for specious reasons. May they all -- somehow -- reap exactly what they've sown before a bloodbath begins.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Oily rags waiting for a lit match

Violent Marxist Revolution Now Guy, meet Andrew Breitbart and the Water the Tree of Liberty People.

Clowns to the left of me, jokers to the right . . . here I am, stuck in the middle with you. Who knew Gerry Rafferty was a prophet?

Ultimately, all of life is a big version of a college Free Speech Alley. Of course, this is no debating society or bitch session in the sheltered world of the American university.
No, this s*** done got real.

This is the America of soaring unemployment and political warfare. This is the America where dreams go to die and outrage comes to live.

In this Era of Ill Will, where massive consumerist appetites and burgeoning corporate greed face off with minuscule wallets and fading hope for the future, something's gotta give. We don't know just yet what that will be.

But something will.

And some freak show on the fringes -- either one -- is just waiting to throw a lit match into a pile of oily rags.

CONTRARY to the propaganda on the right, the Occupy Wall Street people aren't just a collection of angry Marxists, anarchists and free spirits looking for an excuse to take off their clothes. From what I can see, there are a lot of "normal" people out there, too -- folks who tried to play by the rules and got burned by a system with an ace up its sleeve.

Their dignity is under assault, their checking accounts are depleted, and their options are few amid the Great Recession. It is them I feel for. I feel for the eccentrics, too -- just more in a
"That's just Junior. Don't hurt him -- he's odd, but he's harmless" kind of way.

Now here's what I fear.

Some Angry Marxist Guy -- or maybe some Breitbart vigilante, some self-appointed defender of capitalism and Americanism -- is going to do something stupid. And then some cop is going to do something stupid.

And then some ordinary Joe -- peacefully taking it to the streets because the street is all that's left for the redress of grievances -- is going to be the one killed by the cop's stupidity.

I remember the '60s and how cities burned after just such a scenario. Think of what could happen in this
tinderbox of a country we've built for ourselves, where those at the top have everything to lose and too many down below have nothing left to lose.

DO YOU think that a country in which "terminating" defenseless fetuses is a constitutional right and
"Let him die!" passes for somebody's health-care policy isn't much up for an ideology-driven bloodbath between the able-bodied? You'd better think again. It's in our DNA, both as Americans and members of a woefully fallen human race.

All it takes is 1 percent to start a fire that consumes the other 99.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Copping a feel

Because they're just a bunch of young anti- Americancommunistdirtysmellyweirdoanarcho-socialistdope-smokinghippiepinkofags, we can just do what we want to them, right?

Because, after all, they deserve it and are a threat to the American way of life. (No, look here, not at what's going on in corporate boardrooms. Tattoos! Look! Freak! Un-American!)

They're just a bunch of outside agitators, is what they are! Give the cops that 007 license to kill!

Police brutality good! Liberal wackos bad!

Let them eat cake! Or pepper spray. Whatever.

Corporations now! Corporations tomorrow! Corporations forever!

Thursday, September 29, 2011

American unexceptionalism

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.--That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, --That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.

-- Declaration of Independence,
July 4, 1776

Throughout its 235 years as a nation-state, the United States of America has done many remarkable things.

Amid that exceptionality stands the glaring absence of something that would be exceptional, indeed. Living up to our foundational principles . . . and our advertising.

From the scourge of slavery to the near-genocide of the American Indian, from Jim Crow to the Japanese internment, from the excesses of the Gilded Age of the late 19th century to the excesses of the Jazz Age of the 1920s . . . and now the massive societal inequality and Wall Street thievery of today, one thing we Americans have been remarkably consistent about is our rank hypocrisy. And that's not exceptional at all -- that's remarkably ordinary.

IN FACT, those who govern the affairs of the United States -- unelected capitalists and the elected officials they rent -- have come to resemble more a "Prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant" than they do the rebellious colonials of 1776.

Today's tea partiers have considered this and decided, in the name of "liberty," that somebody "is unfit to be the ruler of a free people." Unfortunately, their ill-willed and often grammatically challenged rebellion takes dead aim at the "life" and "the pursuit of happiness" of a supermajority of Americans.

I hold these truths to be self-evident. If you do not, you might yet if you look at the data and past the self-delusion of American exceptionalism, a Hypocrite's Gospel preached by some for all they're worth and believed by others because it's less challenging than the one preached long ago by some pinko Nazarean hippie freak.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

One of these things is not like the other

I write to you from a time near the end of our world.

I write to you from a time close to the tortured end of our ability to play both the Id and the superego against the middle --
and by "we," I mean Western civilization, for whatever that label is worth anymore. The hour is late, our world is crumbling, and the time has come for us to choose.

I suppose I could go on world without end about this, but I doubt I could shed much more light on the subject than I'm fixing to do very simply. You see, I am not a sophisticated man. Then again, our choice is not a sophisticated one.

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

BASICALLY, we can choose to submit -- to God, to grace, to love and to each other. We can choose to live in truth and the light. We can choose to die to ourselves and to live for something -- Someone -- much greater.

This story (above) from the
NBC Nightly News is kind of what that looks like.

ALTERNATIVELY, we can choose the way of non servium -- I will not serve . . . you. Or God. Or truth. Or the light.

We can choose to serve only ourselves. And when my serving myself conflicts with you serving yourself, the law of the jungle must prevail. In a "top of the food chain" kind of world, he who belches last, belches best.

This interview from the BBC is kind of what that looks like.

When morality is fluid, God is Self and love has conditions, our fate is left to lawyers, guns and money.
For the s*** has hit the fan.

Choose wisely.

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Congrats, tea party! U R tops! Love, the 'Oligarhs'

Outside big-money interest groups.

Lining candidates' pockets with money.

In the shadows, away from public scrutiny.

Giving gobs of cash to the likes of Karl Rove.

Angry because Barack HUSSEIN Obama and Democrats in Congress want to hike tax rates on what hedge funds pay their partners.

Republicans are the beneficiaries of the money.

Handing -- by anti-"oligarhy" voters, no less -- of House control to "oligarhs" who just want to co-opt "pro-liberty" voters in order preserve their ability to profit by gaming the political system.

THAT'S RIGHT, patriots. You've been had.

Glenn Beck won't tell you, but NBC News just has:
A tightly coordinated effort by outside Republican groups, spearheaded by Karl Rove and fueled by tens of millions of dollars in contributions from Wall Street hedge fund moguls and other wealthy donors, helped secure big GOP midterm victories Tuesday, according to campaign spending figures and Republican fundraising insiders.

Leading the GOP spending pack was a pair of groups — American Crossroads and its affiliate, Crossroads GPS — both of which were co-founded by two former aides in the George W. Bush White House: Rove, and Ed Gillespie.

Together, the groups — which are not formally part of the Republican Party — spent more than $38 million on attack ads and campaign mailings against Democrats, according to figures compiled by the Sunlight Foundation, a nonpartisan group that tracks campaign spending in congressional races.

A substantial portion of Crossroads GPS’ money came from a small circle of extremely wealthy Wall Street hedge fund and private equity moguls, according to GOP fundraising sources who spoke with NBC News on condition of anonymity. These donors have been bitterly opposed to a proposal by congressional Democrats — and endorsed by the Obama administration — to increase the tax rates on compensation that hedge funds pay their partners, the sources said.

A scorecard compiled by NBC News shows the ad barrage appeared to mostly pay off: Republican candidates won nine of the 12 Senate races and 14 of 22 House races where American Crossroads and Crossroads GPS spent money.

That had the groups’ leaders gloating Wednesday about what they described as their pivotal role in the election results.
SUCKERS. There's one born every minute, and there's a world of "oligarhs" out there ready, able and bankrolled enough to pull the wool over the eyes of every last one of them.

Monday, October 04, 2010

Only on Wall Street


And this.

Got the attention of this, which cranked out a metro-blog posting that went something like this:
There are few socially acceptable reasons to speak to strangers on New York City’s subways during the morning commute. Almost none, in fact. But that doesn’t stop Solomon Lederer.

His speech to a crowded B-train car could almost be mistaken for the interruptions already familiar to transit riders. “I just want to say something for like 30 seconds,” he begins, in the style of panhandlers, proselytizers and the sellers of dubiously charitable candy bars. But Lederer’s attire — ubiquitous corporate casual, with a flyer-laden satchel he refers to as his “purse” — signals that the 29-year-old Morgan Stanley software developer might be after something different.

“I have this idea,” Lederer continues, “that we can do some kind of exchange or networking on the subway so that we can get more of what we want and possibly give more of what we can give.” He then hands out the flyers to make his offer plain: Hi! I have an idea to make our commute more interesting and productive, but need some feedback and help with the details.

This unusual approach is part of Lederer’s effort to take the ethos of social networking offline — to “friend” his fellow subway riders. It’s a challenge to the sullen isolation of the commute, giving everyone the chance to join his impromptu circle of altruistic exchange.

“I have this sense that on the subway, there’s more we can do to interact with people,” he explains.

Lederer’s experiment started last month, when he invited passengers on the F line to contact him with advice and ideas. The flyers, which include his email address, landed Lederer lunch with the chief communications officer of a holding company, a date and a solicitation to clean a woman’s soiled guinea pig cages.

THAT, IN TURN, got the attention of this:

AND THAT last week led to this:

Less than a week after the story appeared, Lederer, a software developer, was fired by Morgan Stanley. He said his participation in the story led to his termination.

A Morgan Stanley spokeswoman said that Lederer was not fired for talking to a reporter, adding that it is not company policy to disclose reasons for termination.

Morgan Stanley’s employee code of conduct bars workers from representing themselves in a media outlet as an employee without prior permission, but it’s not necessarily a fireable offense, according to a source familiar with the policy. Other companies have similar policies, though some are stricter than others.

Lederer, who has worked with the company since late April, said he did not represent himself as a Morgan Stanley employee when addressing subway passengers. He said he was not aware of any prior issues with his job performance.

“I was trying to do a good thing and it backfired,” he said.

According to Lederer, a company director sent him a text message shortly after the story appeared last Friday and asked to meet. Lederer said he was told that he “exhibited poor judgment,” but he wasn’t fired that day. He said he believed the matter was closed, until Wednesday afternoon, when he was dismissed.

I DON'T KNOW whether it's more comforting or disturbing to know that the folks at Gordon Gekko's block party treat their worker ants just like they do the rest of us.

And I thought I had all the reason I needed to hate Wall Street. Yet another complete failure of imagination on my part.

HAT TIP: The Gothamist.

Thursday, February 04, 2010

The world's second-oldest profession

The next time you hear a Republican say his party is looking out for ordinary folk just like you, remind yourself that he's a damned liar.

Also remind yourself that you don't matter, that the whole political system is set up to screw you and screw you good, and that there will be no meaningful reform of, well . . . anything if there's big money on the side of the status quo.

HONEST TO GOD, Republicans are so shameless they don't even go off the record when they talk to The Wall Street Journal about workin' hard to stay the bankers' bitch:
In discussions with Wall Street executives, Republicans are striving to make the case that they are banks' best hope of preventing President Barack Obama and congressional Democrats from cracking down on Wall Street.

GOP strategists hope to benefit from the reaction to the White House's populist rhetoric and proposals, which range from sharp critiques of bonuses to a tax on big Wall Street banks, caps on executive pay and curbs on business practices deemed too risky.

Democrats have dominated Wall Street's fund-raising circles in recent elections. Mr. Obama himself raised millions of dollars from employees of Goldman Sachs Group Inc., Citigroup Inc., J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. and other Wall Street firms.

Now, at least some Wall Street executives have reduced their political contributions to the Democratic Party and its candidates, according to fund-raising reports and interviews with executives at financial-services firms.

Last week, House Minority Leader John Boehner of Ohio made a pitch to Democratic contributor James Dimon, the chairman and chief executive of J.P. Morgan, over drinks at a Capitol Hill restaurant, according to people familiar with the matter.

Mr. Boehner told Mr. Dimon congressional Republicans had stood up to Mr. Obama's efforts to curb pay and impose new regulations. The Republican leader also said he was disappointed many on Wall Street continue to donate their money to Democrats, according to the people familiar with the matter.

A spokeswoman for J.P. Morgan declined to comment.

"I sense a lot of dissatisfaction and a lot of buyer's remorse on Wall Street," said Rep. Eric Cantor (R., Va.), the second-ranking House Republican and a top Wall Street fund-raiser for his party.
THE DEMOCRATS, of course, wasted no time in going all Huey P. Long on the GOP -- that is, if the Kingfish had used words like "symbiotic":
The White House referred calls seeking comment on Wall Street donors to the Democratic National Committee. A DNC spokesman said: "It's not surprising that Republicans are seeking money from the same banking industry they are the champions of. The relationship between Wall Street and Republicans is symbiotic."
THIS WOULD be funny if it weren't so Orwellian. Think 1984, Ministry of Truth.

The Democrats, you see, took home most of the Wall Street money during the 2008 campaign. And if the DNC spokesman's name happened to be Winston Smith, I'm reaching for the Early Times right now.

Monday, December 14, 2009

The prez is shocked, SHOCKED. . . .

Given the appointments, actions and inactions of the Obama Administration over the last 10 months and change, the president's remarks to CBS' 60 Minutes seem to be, at a minimum, somewhat incongruous.

THIS IS the polite way of saying what a lot of people must be thinking right now, which goes something like: "You gotta be f***ing kiddin' me! He thinks anybody is f***in' buying this s***?!?"

The importance of not listening to what people say but, instead, watching what they do is highlighted by Matt Taibbi's magnum opus in the latest edition of Rolling Stone.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Would they prefer a pay cut . . . or else?

Barack Obama is giving the plunderers of Wall Street a stay of execution, and those who prefer a nice chablis with their thievery are too stupid and greedy to accept it and just shut up.

MSNBC HAS THE DETAILS of the president's generous gift to folks who deserve so much more than a mere pay cut:
President Barack Obama on Wednesday imposed $500,000 caps on senior executive pay for the most distressed financial institutions receiving federal bailout money, saying Americans are upset with “executives being rewarded for failure.”

Obama announced the dramatic new government intervention into corporate America at the White House, with Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner at his side. The president said the executive-pay limits are a first step, to be followed by the unveiling next week of a sweeping new framework for spending what remains of the $700 billion financial industry bailout that Congress created last year.

The executive-pay move comes amid a national outcry over huge bonuses to executives heading companies seeking taxpayer dollars to remain afloat. The demand for limits was reinforced by revelations that Wall Street firms paid more than $18 billion in bonuses in 2008 even amid the economic downturn and the massive infusion of taxpayer dollars.

“This is America. We don’t disparage wealth. We don’t begrudge anybody for achieving success,” Obama said. “But what gets people upset — and rightfully so — are executives being rewarded for failure. Especially when those rewards are subsidized by U.S. taxpayers.”

The pay cap would apply to institutions that negotiate agreements with the Treasury Department for “exceptional assistance” in the future. The restriction would not apply to such firms as American International Group Inc., Bank of America Corp., and Citigroup Inc., that already have received such help.

“There is a deep sense across the country that those who were not ... responsible for this crisis are bearing a greater burden than those who were,” Geithner said.
ONE EXECUTIVE has a problem with senior brass being put on a money diet, and whines to The New York Times:
“That is pretty draconian — $500,000 is not a lot of money, particularly if there is no bonus,” said James F. Reda, founder and managing director of James F. Reda & Associates, a compensation consulting firm. “And you know these companies that are in trouble are not going to pay much of an annual dividend.”

Mr. Reda said only a handful of big companies pay chief executives and other senior executives $500,000 or less in total compensation. He said such limits will make it hard for the companies to recruit and keep executives, most of whom could earn more money at other firms.

“It would be really tough to get people to staff” companies that are forced to impose these limits, he said. “I don’t think this will work.”
THEN I GUESS the government will just have to flat-out nationalize the firms and put government functionaries in those jobs. After all, how could they do a worse job than the capitalist pigs?

They couldn't do a worse job than a crowd that has paid itself outlandishly while flying the economy into the ground. These executives should count themselves fortunate, indeed, to still have jobs at all.

And they should get down on their knees and thank God -- or their good fortune, or whatever -- they live in the United States of America, where rarely do the masses take to the streets, ransack stately office towers and drag executives such as James F. Reda onto the pavement below.

They should get on their knees in gratitude that they -- at least for the time being -- don't live in a country where the bottom rail emphatically places itself atop the fence as the new overseer of revenge. Where we don't . . . yet . . . have true People's Courts proclaiming the erstwhile titans of finance and industry guilty, guilty, guilty of capital crimes of capital and immediately remanding them to the jurisdiction of a court not of this world.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

It's a minute to midnight. Americans,
do you know where your economy is?

The first two paragraphs from this Associated Press story Saturday night would have Alfred Hitchcock reaching for the night light and his wubbie:
President Bush and financial leaders from nations rich and poor pledged Saturday to intensify their efforts to unblock a frozen financial system before it does more damage to an increasingly shaky global economy.

While there were no concrete offers of new moves, Bush vowed anew that his administration was doing everything possible to halt the biggest market disruptions since the Great Depression. The finance ministers spoke in unusually somber terms about the need for action.
DO YOU understand what was said here?

Finance ministers of nations worldwide speak in "unusually somber terms" about the need to do something to stop the global financial meltdown. Nevertheless, no one has committed to do anything along those lines, at least in any concerted manner.

I think those in charge of the global credit markets and stock traders around the world understand what has -- or more accurately, hasn't -- gone down during the Washington meetings. And I think we can guess what might happen Monday morning if the finance ministers don't do something big by Sunday night.

Don't know about you, but I'm getting damned nervous.

My parents both grew up dirt poor during the Great Depression. I've heard all the stories. I know the indignities they suffered seven decades ago. I know the opportunities lost forever to those children long ago -- the dysfunction bred and the repercussions still rippling through myriad lives after all these years.

I don't want to go there. America doesn't want to go there . . . again.

Bush started the day shortly after daybreak with a Rose Garden appearance with finance ministers from the world's richest countries and later made an unexpected evening visit to the headquarters of the 185-nation International Monetary Fund a few blocks from the White House.

With Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson and Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, he participated for about 25 minutes in a discussion with the Group of 20, which includes rich countries and major developing nations such as China, Brazil and India.

Brazilian Finance Minister Guido Mantega said that the president told the finance ministers that he was doing all he could to involve other countries in efforts to resolve the crisis. According to White House spokesman Tony Fratto, Bush acknowledged the problems began in the U.S., with a meltdown of the market for subprime mortgages in the summer of 2007. The president felt it was important to take the rare step of coming to such a meeting because the problems were spreading globally.

"It doesn't matter if you're a rich country or a poor country, a developed country or a developing country—we're all in this together," Bush said, according to Fratto. "We take this seriously, and we want to work with you."

In response, the G-20 countries issued a joint statement in which the finance officials pledged to work together "to overcome the financial turmoil and to deepen cooperation to improve the regulation, supervision and the overall functioning of the world's financial markets."

The financial turmoil also dominated discussions at weekend's annual meetings of the IMF and World Bank. The IMF strongly endorsed a five-point plan put together a day earlier by the so-called Group of Seven wealthy powers, in which the United States, Japan, Germany, France, Britain, Italy and Canada jointly pledged to use all means possible to prevent major financial institutions from failing and to keep pumping money into the banking system to unfreeze lending and get credit—the lifeblood of the economy—flowing again.

"The depth and systemic nature of the crisis call for exceptional vigilance, coordination and readiness to take bold action," the IMF said in its joint statement. That statement, in an unusual move, repeated verbatim all of the commitments made in the G-7 statement that had been released on Friday.
IT SEEMS to me -- with government ministers and private-sector economists all stresing the need for urgent, global action to stave off le deluge -- all world powers can muster are piecemeal patches and pretty words. How will that save us from the financial apocalyse predicted by the head of the IMF on Saturday? From MSNBC:
The International Monetary Fund warned Saturday that debt-ridden banks were pushing the global financial system to the brink of meltdown and wealthy nations had so far failed to restore confidence.

The IMF's policy setting panel said the economic crisis is so deep and widespread that it will require a willingness to take bold action.

The Group of 20 nations, which includes the world's wealthiest nations and the largest developing countries such as China, Brazil and India, issued a joint statement late Saturday night stressing their resolve to work together to overcome the current financial turmoil.

"Intensifying solvency concerns about a number of the largest U.S.-based and European financial institutions have pushed the global financial system to the brink of systemic meltdown," IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn said.

The IMF endorsed a plan of action adopted Friday by the G-7 economic powers to protect the financial system and get credit flowing again.

Bush huddled with economic chiefs from the G-7 — Japan, Germany, Britain, France, Italy and Canada — and officials from the IMF and World Bank, and said top industrial nations grasped the gravity of the crisis and would work together to solve it.

"In an interconnected world, no nation will gain by driving down the fortunes of another. We are in this together. We will come through it together," Bush said. "There have been moments of crisis in the past when powerful nations turned their energies against each other or sought to wall themselves off from the world. This time is different."

"I'm confident that the world's major economies can overcome the challenges we face," Bush said, adding that Washington was working as fast as possible to implement a $700 billion financial bailout package approved a week ago.

Yet there was no concrete offer of new moves when Bush spoke on a Rose Garden stage just after daybreak, flanked by representatives from nearly a dozen nations and international organizations.
EVERYBODY HAS a plan. What we need is implementation. No implementation, no chance of a solution.

And no solution leads us to a place we really don't want to go.

At least that's what the experts who forecast our present predicament say. Like this one:

Nouriel Roubini, the professor who two years ago predicted the financial crisis, said world financial officials should orchestrate interest-rate cuts of at least 1.5 percentage points to help avert a depression.

A temporary guarantee of all bank deposits, unlimited liquidity for solvent financial institutions and fiscal-stimulus measures are also needed, the New York University professor of economics said in a commentary e-mailed today to Roubini Global Economics subscribers.

"It will take a significant change in leadership of economic policy and very radical, coordinated policy actions among all advanced and emerging-market economies to avoid this economic and financial disaster," said Roubini, 50. From late 2006, he highlighted the dangers flowing from a likely U.S. housing crisis.

The economist urged immediate action as officials from the International Monetary Fund, World Bank and Group of Seven nations meet in Washington this weekend. Stocks tumbled around the world today as the yearlong credit crisis deepened, sending Japan's Nikkei 225 Stock Average to its worst weekly drop in history. The MSCI World Index was set for its biggest weekly decline since records began in 1970.

In the U.S., the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell below 9,000 for the first time since 2003 yesterday. More than $4 trillion has been erased from global equities this week.

"At this stage the risk of an imminent stock-market crash -- like the one-day collapse of 20 percent plus in U.S. stock prices in 1987 cannot be ruled out," said Roubini. "The financial system is breaking down, panic and lack of confidence in any counterparty is sharply rising and investors have totally lost faith in the ability of policy authorities to control the meltdown."
AT LEAST that's what the Bloomberg News story said Friday. As for what people will say today, who knows?

All I know is it doesn't look good from here, as I sit in the studio typing this. You have to wonder . . . and I do.

What particularly worries me is that, after four decades-plus of cultural chaos and familial breakdown, our society is in a worse position to deal with an economic collapse that it was in the 1930s -- and it was a close call even then. We just have no idea what would happen now, and I'd just as soon not tempt fate, if you don't mind.

I'D REALLY just as soon not find out what happens if the economy implodes just as GOP presidential nominee John McCain has unleashed the right's angry demons against Democrat Barack Obama . . . and everybody else who happens to get in the way.

And it's not like the "nutroots" left is any better. Or any less angry. Just different.

I don't want to find out what happens if our financial system -- and, soon after, our entire economy -- falls apart at the same time as we do.

Friday, October 10, 2008

3C&T taking the week off

I've been on a roll putting a bunch of new (old) music onto the production hard drive, so I think I'm going to try to do some more of that today instead of putting together a new episode of 3 Chords & the Truth.

THERE ARE, however, a few past episodes for you to check out -- and I think that would be a fine thing to do.

But as for me, I'm gonna try to get those chores done . . . as well as keeping a close eye on the U.S. Economic Death Spiral. It's not looking good, folks -- Japan's Nikkei average fell nearly 10 percent today and, as I write, the European markets are off by about the same in early trading.

I reckon it could be another really ugly day on Wall Street -- and for the economy -- today, though I'm far from an economist and the erratic Dow Jones index has made monkeys out of legions tremendously more expert than I am.

STILL, today looks like it will be another day of watching . . . and waiting for some first glimpse of the America that will be, which likely will be a far cry from the America that just was. I'll be there, as will you, keeping one eye on the TV and the Internet as I try to get those musical chores completed.

I'll wish you good luck and God bless, and ask you to do the same for me. I really don't think the missus and I will be retiring . . . at least so long as we're physically and mentally able to work. I reckon many of y'all probably are finding yourselves in the same boat.

How, then, shall we navigate this new land?

Download an episode of the Big Show while you think on that one.

What planet do these people live on?

Conservatives don't know irony.

I say this because -- one might assume -- the people at National Review Online had straight faces as they accepted, and then posted, this advertisement.

I know postmodern "movement" conservatives live in something of an echo chamber, but don't they get TV reception in there? Newspaper delivery?

YOU'D THINK they get the Internet, being that NRO is a website.

But conservatives are tagging Obama with a "zinger" such as "The Audacity of Socialism"? Really?

Are they freaking nuts?

I hate to be the bearer of politically incorrect news to the right wing, but WE ALREADY LIVE IN A SOCIALIST STATE! And the Bush Administration created it.

The government is buying financial assets -- and bad debts -- as fast as the Treasury can print money to cover the tab. It owns major swatches of the banking and financial-services industries.

It is pumping hundreds of billions of dollars of capital into the financial system to stave off utter collapse. The federal government is the mortgage industry now.

Now John McCain -- the "conservative" Republican candidate for president -- is proposing the federal government buy every troubled mortgage out there and renegotiate the terms.

You don't get more socialist than what the GOP hath wrought unless you find a way to reanimate the waxy corpse of V.I. Lenin and elect him president.

And you know what? Without this Republican-led lurch to the left, we'd probably all be eating dirt in short order. And may yet despite everything.

THE RIGHT WING done gone and drank the last of the Kool-Aid from the purple-stained No. 3 tub. The mind is going and the convulsions will start presently.

And then the merciful end.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Wall Street: The new NASCAR

Y'ever thought that the stock market is like NASCAR now?

We're glued to the TV waiting for the next spectacular wreck. Didya see!? Down 700!

The stock-wreck craze will end when the cable gets shut off and the repo man comes to take all our TV sets away. Well, except me. My main television set is a 1974 Sony. And the one downstairs is a 1985 Sony.

The one downstairs has been paid off for a couple of decades. The one upstairs cost me $25 at an estate sale . . . and it works like a champ. Great picture.

Small picture, but great picture.