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And, yes, I DO take it personally: 12/13/2009 - 12/20/2009
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And, yes, I DO take it personally

Friday, December 18, 2009

Aw, fer corn's sake...

it was only a little over a month ago that i visited auschwitz, took these photos and put up this post...

Poland: Auschwitz 'Arbeit Macht Frei' sign stolen

The Nazis' infamous iron sign declaring "Arbeit Macht Frei" — German for "Work Sets You Free" — was stolen Friday from the entrance of the former Auschwitz death camp, Polish police said.

The 5-meter-long (16-foot-long), 40-kilogram (90-pound) iron sign at the Holocaust memorial site in southern Poland was unscrewed on one side and torn off on the other, police spokeswoman Katarzyna Padlo said.

The theft from the entrance to the camp — where more than 1 million people, mostly Jews, died during World War II — brought condemnation worldwide.

i don't know what goes on in some people's heads...

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Wednesday, December 16, 2009

All over the world, it's the same

over the past ten years of extensive traveling in dozens of countries and talking to hundreds of people, i've come to what should be a perfectly obvious conclusion that it shouldn't take someone with a genius iq to grasp...

on the one hand, there are zillions of people on this earth - afghans, emiratis, jordanians, saudis, egyptians, greeks, italians, macedonians, serbs, bulgarians, kosovars, austrians, germans, the french, the british, the scots, the irish, the poles, the dutch, the belgians, the argentines, the chileans, the brazilians, the salvadorans, the costa ricans, the hondurans, the mexicans, the guatemalans, the panamanians, the ecuadorans, the colombians, the dominicans, the canadians, the singaporeans, the japanese, the malaysians, the vietnamese, the chinese and, yes, the americans - who all want to be able to live in peace, feed and clothe their families and make their way in this world as they so choose... on the other hand, there are a very few people scattered across those same countries and the rest of the world who are totally committed to sucking up all of the wealth and resources that could be enjoyed by ALL and making sure that those other zillions of people live their lives strictly on the terms laid down by those few...

my question is this... when are we going to tell those few to f**k off...?

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Naming Ben "The Tool" Bernanke Man of the Year is an insult to us all

all time magazine is doing is reinforcing the already indisputable fact that the super-rich elites and their extended family, the banksters, are the ones really running the country...
[Ben Bernanke's] creative leadership helped ensure that 2009 was a period of weak recovery rather than catastrophic depression, and he still wields unrivaled power over our money, our jobs, our savings and our national future. The decisions he has made, and those he has yet to make, will shape the path of our prosperity, the direction of our politics and our relationship to the world.

ben has his job for one reason and one reason only, to provide "creative leadership" to help ensure that his bosses and handlers ever and always get their interests met... everything he has done simply makes a mockery out of serving the common good of the american people...

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A holiday salute to Dear Leader, Goldman's Lloyd Blankfein

behold and contemplate the face of greed, the one to whom we all must bow... make no mistake, he and his kind are the REAL world powers, snapping up wealth and power at every turn, never mind that nearly 20% of the u.s. workforce is unemployed, that one billion people in the world don't get enough to eat, or that american citizens are footing the bill for their insatiable thirst for more and more money...

Lloyd Blankfein, CEO, Goldman Sachs
Mark Lennihan/Associated Press

check the headline... an ETHOS...??
As Goldman Thrives,
Some Say an Ethos Has Faded

...Mr. Blankfein has built a money machine that, while it still values its customers, culture and reputation, puts profits above all.

Interviews with nearly 20 current and former Goldman partners paint a portrait of a bank driven by hard-charging traders like Mr. Blankfein, who wager vast sums in world markets in hopes of quick profits. Discreet bankers who give advice to corporate clients and help them raise capital — once a major source of earnings for Goldman — have been eclipsed, these people said.

and some worry that goldman has become LESS PRINCIPLED...??
Mr. Blankfein is now presiding over one of the richest periods in the bank’s 140-year history. Mr. Blankfein has accelerated a decade-long decline of Goldman’s old partnership ethos, which was built around the principle that its bankers and traders can do well — indeed, very well — while putting their customers first, former partners said.

Some Goldman alumni worry that Mr. Blankfein is jeopardizing the culture of success that defined the bank for much of its modern history. They wonder if Goldman will become, as one former partner put it, “just like every other bank on Wall Street” — that is, focused on short-term profits rather than long-term gains.

oh, puh-l-e-e-e-eze... the only thing that's different is that the definition of long-term and short-term has changed dramatically... all goldman has done is evolve from a world in which you had to wait six months to a year to realize obscene returns to a world in which obscene returns can be achieved in mere minutes... oh, yeah, and they're NOW doing it openly on the backs of the people AND it's being called for what it is by goldman's hometown paper, the nyt... there has never been any guiding principles other than money, power and a bottomless well of greed for more of both... gimme a break...!

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Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Can the saga of the mobsters - oops, I mean banksters - get any more disgusting...?

for the love of god...
The federal government quietly agreed to forgo billions of dollars in potential tax payments from Citigroup as part of the deal announced this week to wean the company from the massive taxpayer bailout that helped it survive the financial crisis.

The Internal Revenue Service on Friday issued an exception to longstanding tax rules for the benefit of Citigroup and the few other companies partially owned by the government. As a result, Citigroup will be allowed to retain $38 billion in tax breaks that otherwise would decline in value when the government sells its stake to private investors.

While the Obama administration has said taxpayers likely will profit from the sale of the Citigroup shares, accounting experts said the lost tax revenue could easily outstrip those profits.

is it time to take to the streets yet...?

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Change we can believe in - a legal framework for immunity from prosecution for torture

more happy holiday perspective...
Impunity or Accountability

In case after case, the Obama administration has echoed — and in some instances exceeded — Bush-era claims designed to cover up despicable acts committed in the name of fighting terrorism and avoiding accountability for the responsible officials. Last month, for example, the Justice Department filed a brief in the Supreme Court opposing review of another lawsuit by torture victims. The brief argued that there was no basis for claims by former detainees at Guantánamo Bay, since at the time of their detention, between 2002 and 2004, it was not firmly established that their treatment was illegal.

That would be an outrageous argument coming from any administration. But it is even more disappointing coming from one that has said torture is clearly illegal. “The Bush administration constructed a legal framework for torture,” observes Jameel Jaffer, who leads the American Civil Liberties Union’s National Security Project, “but the Obama administration is constructing a legal framework for impunity.”

he who has the gold makes the rules...

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Banks exit the bailout to sidestep pay caps while they get even "too-BIGGER-to-fail," all on OUR money

hearkening back to sunday's "helpless" post, this has to be a case in point... we taxpayers are getting soaked for the tab in a scheme that only assures more rivers of money continue to flow to the already super-rich elites and yet we sit idly by finishing up our christmas shopping - if we're lucky enough to have any money to do it with - apparently content to allow this bald-faced robbery to go unchallenged...
Citigroup’s planned exit from the bailout — like Bank of America’s earlier this month — would be welcome if the banks were the picture of health. But their main motive is to get out from under the bailout’s pay caps and other restraints. The Treasury Department’s approval is a grim reminder of the political power of the banks, even as the economy they did so much to damage continues to struggle.

Mr. Obama was right when he said the banks owe “an extraordinary commitment” to taxpayers, and he got some promises to lend more. But that would have been more convincing if the administration had held the banks’ feet to the fire in the first place and had not agreed so quickly to freeing them from the bailout restraints. The truth is that the taxpayers are still very much on the hook for a banking system that is shaping up to be much riskier than the one that led to disaster.

Big bank profits, for instance, still come mostly courtesy of taxpayers. Their trading earnings are financed by more than a trillion dollars’ worth of cheap loans from the Federal Reserve, for which some of their most noxious assets are collateral. They benefit from immense federal loan guarantees, but they are not lending much. Lending to business, notably, is very tight.

What profits the banks make come mostly from trading. Many big banks are happy to depend on the lifeline from the Fed and hang onto their toxic assets hoping for a rebound in prices. And the whole system has grown more concentrated. Bank of America was considered too big to fail before the meltdown. Since then, it has acquired Merrill Lynch. Wells Fargo took over Wachovia. And JPMorgan Chase gobbled up Bear Stearns.

If the goal is to reduce the number of huge banks that taxpayers must rescue at any cost, the nation is moving in the wrong direction. The growth of the biggest banks ensures that the next bailout will have to be even bigger. These banks will be more likely to take on excessive risk because they have the implicit assurance of rescue.

hey, why WOULDN'T they continue to take on excessive risk...? they know they've got the government in their pocket... what's to worry about...?

meanwhile, out in the REAL world...

More than half of the nation’s unemployed workers have borrowed money from friends or relatives since losing their jobs. An equal number have cut back on doctor visits or medical treatments because they are out of work.

Almost half have suffered from depression or anxiety. About 4 in 10 parents have noticed behavioral changes in their children that they attribute to their difficulties in finding work.

Joblessness has wreaked financial and emotional havoc on the lives of many of those out of work, according to a New York Times/CBS News poll of unemployed adults, causing major life changes, mental health issues and trouble maintaining even basic necessities.

and that's just in the u.s... while our super-rich elites continue to amass untold wealth, over one billion people are going hungry...

have a happy holiday, banksters... rest easy knowing that you make scrooge look like a saint...

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Monday, December 14, 2009

Abu Dhabi caves on its gambling-addicted neighbor, Dubai


in twelve-step language, this is called enabling... abu dhabi is enabling dubai, its whited sepulchre neighbor and fellow emirate, to continue to pursue the same raw, naked greed that got it into trouble in the first place, exactly the same strategy followed by the u.s. and europe in bailing out its too-big-to-fail banksters...
Oil-rich Abu Dhabi on Monday provided $10 billion to help pay off some of the debts of an ailing property company owned by the government of neighboring Dubai, at least temporarily averting a crisis over the finances of the high-flying desert sheikhdom.

and dubai may not be the only sovereign state facing difficulties...
Dubai "could well be the tip of the iceberg in terms of over-leveraged nations," analysts at India's HDFC Bank wrote in a report, as indicated by recent fears about a possible Greek default.


"We are in completely uncharted territory" that could redefine the relationship between Western investors and the government-backed companies often set up to develop projects here and in other emerging markets, said Chavan Bhogaita, head of credit research at the National Bank of Abu Dhabi.


These are nations where the distinctions between government, ruling family and government-owned entities are often difficult to discern, where clan ties can help acquire virtually open-ended credit, and where bankruptcy and finance laws are not well tested.

In Dubai's case, "one could in fact argue that the state is its corporations," Woertz wrote.

meanwhile back in dubai...
Housing prices have fallen nearly 50 percent so far this year, putting Dubai below Estonia for the biggest decline, according to a recent report by the London-based Knight Frank real estate group.

you might be tempted to think that this would be a wake-up call for dubai just as i was tempted to think that the on-going financial collapse in the u.s. would be a wake-up call for us... sadly, the small store of wisdom i've gained over the years tells me otherwise... when you're hopelessly addicted to power and money, it's really hard to give it up... there's no nicotine patches for those two drugs...

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Sunday, December 13, 2009

We've learned how to be helpless

some pointed questions...
Can people become so broken that truths of how they are being screwed do not "set them free" but instead further demoralize them? Has such a demoralization happened in the United States?

Do some totalitarians actually want us to hear how we have been screwed because they know that humiliating passivity in the face of obvious oppression will demoralize us even further?

a simple answer - yes...

a bit more thoughtful answer and it's something i've posted on before (here)...

we are very carefully schooled in countless ways to see ourselves as helpless... in my professional life, which is the place where i see "learned helplessness" play out on a daily basis the most is today's workplace... it matters not whether we're talking about the private sector, for-profit, non-profit, government, health care, education, or organizations inside or outside the u.s., they're all the same... you quickly learn that there's absolutely NOTHING you can do to change your situation... i'm actually experiencing this right now with a project some colleagues of mine and i are trying to move forward, a project that, imho, would contribute something positive to the mess in afghanistan... and what am i hearing...? the same things i've heard all my life... "that's just the way it is... deal with it..."

what choices are we told we DO have...? what options are we given to exercise our personal power...? you don't have to be a brain surgeon to figure that one out... our options are all focused on how we spend our money, if we're lucky enough to have any... we're given very few options on how we GET that money but zillions of options on how to spend it... the spending and the act of acquiring become synonymous in our minds with exercising our personal power - spend, acquire, appear powerful...

going back to the article quoted above...

[M]ost U.S. citizens are broken by financial fears. There is potential legal debt if we speak out against a powerful authority, and all kinds of other debt if we do not comply on the job. Young people are broken by college-loan debts and fear of having no health insurance.


Schools are routinely places where kids -- through fear -- learn to comply to authorities for whom they often have no respect, and to regurgitate material they often find meaningless. [...]

Today, U.S. colleges and universities have increasingly become places where young people are merely acquiring degree credentials -- badges of compliance for corporate employers -- in exchange for learning to accept bureaucratic domination and enslaving debt.

and then there's television...
[T]elevision helps create all eight conditions for breaking a population. [...]
(1) occupies people so that they don't know themselves -- and what a human being is;
(2) separates people from one another;
(3) creates sensory deprivation;
(4) occupies the mind and fills the brain with prearranged experience and thought;
(5) encourages drug use to dampen dissatisfaction (while TV itself produces a drug-like effect, this was compounded in 1997 the U.S. Food and Drug Administration relaxing the rules of prescription-drug advertising);
(6) centralizes knowledge and information;
(7) eliminates or "museumizes" other cultures to eliminate comparisons; and
(8) redefines happiness and the meaning of life.

i've made many choices in my life, particularly over the past few years, to shake off the common elements of forced compliance imposed on us by our society and our culture... i am not a full-time employee... i have virtually no "assets" - no house, no retirement nest-egg, and very few possessions... my lifestyle is based on interactions with authentic people as opposed to cardboard cutouts and my work is focused on spreading the knowledge and wisdom of how to be authentic in the workplace... nonetheless, i am still subject to these same forces, just a lot less now, thank goodness...

i am, however, at the point of cutting some more cords, not in the "heading off to live in a cave" direction, but rather in the "let's take some bold steps to actually make something HAPPEN" direction...

i'll let you know how that works out for me... HA...!

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