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And, yes, I DO take it personally: 07/22/2012 - 07/29/2012
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And, yes, I DO take it personally

Friday, July 27, 2012

James Petras: the operation and strategy of our growing police state

yes, it's growing as we watch...

The key to the police state operations of the US in the 21st century is to repress pro-democracy citizens and pre-empt any mass movement without undermining the electoral system, which provides political theater and legitimacy. A police state ‘boundary’ is constructed to ensure that citizens will have little option but to vote for the two pro-police state parties, legislatures and executives without reference to the conduct, conditions and demands of the core, inner and outer circle of victims, critics and activists. Frequent raids, harsh public ‘exemplary’ punishment and mass media stigmatization transmit a message to the passive mass of voters and non-voters that the victims of repression ‘must have been doing something wrong’ or else they would not be under police state repression.

The key to the police state strategy is to not allow its critics to gain a mass base, popular legitimacy or public acceptance. The state and the media constantly drum the message that the activists’ ‘causes’ are not our (American, patriotic) ‘causes’; that ‘their’ pro-democracy activities impede ‘our’ electoral activities; their lives, wisdom and experiences do not touch our workplaces, neighborhoods, sports, religious and civic associations. To the degree that the police-state has ‘fenced in’ the inner circles of the pro-democracy activists, they have attained a free hand and uncontested reach in deepening and extending the boundaries of the authoritarian state. To the degree that the police state rationale or presence has penetrated the consciousness of the mass of the US population, it has created a mighty barrier to the linking of private discontent with public action.


Ideologically, the police state depends on identifying the expansion of police powers with ‘national security’ of the passive ‘silent’ majority, even as it creates profound insecurity for an active, critical minority. The self-serving identification of the ‘nation’ and the ‘flag’ with the police state apparatus is especially prominent during ‘mass spectacles’ where ‘rock’, schlock and ‘sports’ infuse mass entertainment with solemn Pledges of Allegiance to uphold and respect the police state and busty be-wigged young women wail nasally versions of the national anthem to thunderous applause. Wounded ‘warriors’ are trotted out and soldiers rigid in their dress uniforms salute enormous flags, while the message transmitted is that police state at home works hand in hand with our ‘men and women in uniform’ abroad. The police state is presented as a patriotic extension of the wars abroad and as such both impose ‘necessary’ constraints on citizen opposition, public criticism and any real forthright defense of freedom.

open your eyes... it's all around you...

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Glenn and Bruce Ackerman on the extreme advance of executive power under Obama

overreaching executive power and the virtually complete negation of constitutionally protected liberties lie at the heart of the choices we are being presented in the 2012 presidential election which, upon even cursory reflection, are no choices at all...

glenn ...
[Consider] the years-long screeching over President Bush’s mere eavesdropping and detentions without any judicial review or transparency — he’s assaulting the Constitution and Our Values! – compared with the reaction to Obama’s more extremist assassinations without any judicial review or transparency. Or consider how a high-level aide to John Ashcroft marveled with envy over Obama’s ability to prosecute whistleblowers with such abandon, noting to The New York Times that the Ashcroft DOJ was deterred by the prospect of a political storm that Obama simply does not face:  ”We,” lamented the Ashcroft aide, “would have gotten hammered for it.”

This was the same dynamic that led former Bush OLC official and current Harvard Law Professor Jack Goldsmith to explain quite presciently (and celebratorily) back in May, 2009, that Obama — by leading progressives and Democrats to support his embrace of Bush/Cheney Terrorism and civil liberties policies — was doing more to entrench those once-controversial policies as bipartisan consensus than Bush and Cheney themselves could ever have dreamt of doing:
The new administration has copied most of the Bush program, has expanded some of it, and has narrowed only a bit. Almost all of the Obama changes have been at the level of packaging, argumentation, symbol, and rhetoric. . . .

. . . Obama — as he has proven — can get away with far more aggression and belligerence by all but eliminating the pervasive political conflict that arises when done under a Republican President.

an interview on presidential power conducted by lane greene of the economist with bruce ackerman, sterling professor of law and political science at yale...

so, what are we supposed to do in november when facing that election booth handle...? continue to delude ourselves into thinking that we're participating in government by and for the people...? continue to believe that we actually have a choice when voting for president...? whoever occupies the oval office is and will continue to be the bought-and-paid for property of our global ruling elites who have demonstrated beyond a shadow of a doubt that they are the ones in charge of the world's economic and governmental systems...

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Thursday, July 26, 2012

Yes, it's been one of those don't really give a shit periods

seems to happen every few weeks... other than a few more criminal bankers being arrested (see here) - which is always a good thing - there just hasn't been much going on other than the usual shit, and pardon me if i don't give a rat's ass about mitt, barack or the olympics... besides, i've been busy so deal with it...

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Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Adbusters - Tactical Briefing #36

Tactical Briefing #36

The Strategic Pincer.

Alright all you existential diggers and expectant souls out there,

Defying all cynicism, the passion on the streets keeps burning … with the crisis of capitalism intensifying people’s rage only grows, erupting in unexpected places like Quebec, Moscow, Mexico, Tel Aviv, Khartoum, Addis Ababa … meanwhile we keep learning new tricks in Madrid, Los Angeles, Greece, Palestine, Manhattan and Hong Kong.

The Zuccotti encampment model may have had its day, but the spirit of our movement lives on in the hearts and minds of hundreds of million of people around the world who know in their gut that the future does not compute.

Now a new operational model is emerging: the strategic pincer —> We attack the global financial system from above with big bang protests, uprisings and revolts —> concurrently we attack the global financial system from below with hundreds of daily move-your-money actions at the 35,000 branches of megabanks worldwide.

The Bank of America has 6,200 branches, Wells Fargo 6,600, JPMorgan Chase 5,500, Citigroup 1,300; Barclays has 4,700 branches in 50 countries, Deutsche Bank 3,100 in 72 countries, HSBC 7,200 in 85 and Goldman Sachs has over 70 offices worldwide … in front of these outposts of global capital we pitch our tents, bang our pots and pans, hold our credit card cut ups … we hand out pamphlets to the customers going in and out … we engage them in passionate conversation and convince them to move their money … we trigger a chain reaction and move $1-trillion away from the megabanks before yearend, changing global banking for good.

With our strategic pincer we beat the shit out of global capitalism over the next few months — metaphorically speaking of course — and then we escalate towards a series of global solutions: a Robin Hood Tax, pushing through a binding accord on climate change and launching hybrid Blue/Green Pirate political parties in the U.S., Canada, Australia, the UK, Japan …

Stay loose, play jazz, keep the faith … Capitalism is heaving and our movement has just begun.

for the wild,
Culture Jammers HQ


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Our nation’s oligarchs believe at their core that they are entitled, by all notions of what they believe to be basic fairness, to be exempt from the rules they impose on everyone else

glenn calls out dianne feinstein, the epitome of corrupt, super-rich, elite arrogance and hypocrisy, for her crusade against leakers and whistleblowers when she herself is one of washington's biggest leakers...

Dianne Feinstein’s “espionage”

The California Democrat is both the prime enemy of leaks and "one of the biggest leakers in Congress"


That the powerful Senator who has devoted herself to criminally punishing low-level leakers and increasing the wall of secrecy is herself “one of the biggest leakers in Congress” is about as perfect an expression as it gets of how the rule of law and secrecy powers are sleazily exploited in Washington . . . Dianne Feinstein should be criminally prosecuted for espionage and threatened with decades in prison (indeed, as an American citizen and government employee, she certainly has greater legal duties not to leak than does, say, private Australian citizen Julian Assange, whose espionage prosecution she is demanding).

But as Democrats are very fond of pointing out these days — as they did, very fairly, when Mitt and Ann Romney recently took angry offense at the notion that they should disclose more than two years of their tax returns (“Dear me, it appears that Lady Romney has lost her patience with the riff raff and their unseemly questioning about money”) – our nation’s oligarchs believe at their core that they are entitled, by all notions of what they believe to be basic fairness, to be exempt from the rules they impose on everyone else. That is Dianne Feinstein at her core. It’s how she can be both Prime Enemy of leaks and “one of the biggest leakers in Congress” without having her brain even recognize, let alone recoil from and revolt against, this most grotesque of aristocratic privileges.

glenn makes note not only of the senator's hypocrisy but also her corruption...
[T]he senior Democratic Senator from California and Intelligence Committee Chairwoman, Dianne Feinstein, who also serves as the National Security State’s most faithful servant (a National Security State which, just by the way, has greatly enriched her extremely rich military contractor husband, Richard Blum; Feinstein herself reported a net worth of $80 million back in 2006).

it's the same arrogant, corrupt, hypocritical mindset that lets the u.s. preach human rights to the rest of the world while maintaining the practice of indefinite detention without either charges or trial and killing innocents via remote control while decrying the horror of "terrorist" attacks...

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Monday, July 23, 2012

Barry Ritholtz: This corruption is not an accident. It is the product of years of very patient work.

from economonitor, originally published in the big picture...
We live in an era of defective government.

This corruption is not an accident. It is the product of years of very patient work. It has been brought about through expensive lobbying, relentless propaganda, agnotology. You can see it in this election cycle, where 196 Americans — 0.000063% of the population — have given more than 80% of Super PAC dollars.
Is it democracy or plutocracy when less than 200 people drive election spending in a nation of 300 million?

Previously, we have pointed out how brazen the lobbying has been to actually cut the SEC enforcement budget. This has created an agency that is defective by design. Take a guess who loses in the battle between you, the individual taxpayer versus the corporation.

Wall Street has taken advantage of the crisis and morphed into a cartel. The tragedy is the only entity that is large and powerful enough to offset their wealth and power are national governments. Yet where ever we look, we see that government has been corrupted and rendered neutered by corporations:
-The Federal Reserve Zero Interest Rate policy is a balm to banks whose balance sheets still have so much bad real estate exposure that higher rates will cause corporate bankruptcy;

-The SEC brings minor insider trading cases while enormous financial crimes go unpunished;

-The Supreme Court has granted natural rights to corporations — rights previously reserved for living and breathing Human Beings;

-The CFTC no longer does the sort of daily audits that can prevent fraud like MF Global and PeregrineFG;-The US Attorney’s office has been captured by the Treasury department, which in turn was captured by large Banks long ago;

-Laws that used to be written by Congressional staffers and academics are now drafted by the regulated industry itself;

-The Attorneys General offices of the states are too timid to sue these same banks for obvious perjury;-Tax loopholes allow wealthy companies to pay very little taxes relative to profits;

-Copyrights that should be in the public domain are retained by companies who have changed intellectual property laws by corrupting legislators.

-The Minerals Management Service (MMS) gives away oil leases and mineral rights for pennies on the dollar.-Money has somehow been equated to speech, turning the idea of “One Person, One vote” on its head.
To function properly, all of these agencies need budgets, a career path for a motivated staff. Yet most of that has been gutted.

Take a look at Neil Barofsky’s book Bailout: An Inside Account of How Washington Abandoned Main Street While Rescuing Wall Street. He describes a Federal prosecutorial system that has been systematically disassembled. There are few career lawyers with the know how, budget and balls to go after the big fish. There is little institutional memory.

We see  this throughout government, a product of even a debate that has been corrupted. The framework is not “How can me make government more effective, efficient responsive?“  Instead, the debate has degenerated into “How can we get government out of the way? How can we make taxes lower?

Its not that I want big government, I want effective regulations. Its not that I want to pay higher taxes, I want efficient government that can accomplish things. I don’t want to live in a corporatocracy, I want to live in a nation where there is a Rule of Law.

The only way to make this happen is to change the campaign finance laws. Without that, we are a plutocracy governed by lobbyists.

Hence:  Its the bankers world, we just live in it . . .

so, what the fuck are we going to do about it...?

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More on our elites' hidden money

the pirate banking industry... 

from rt, speaking with james henry, the author of the "tax haven" report...

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Glenn details Obama's most recent curtailment of the already unconstitutionally repressive rules governing detainee rights

and the sack of bollocks he sold to the american people about guantánamo...

Last week, the Obama administration imposed new arbitrary rules for Guantanamo detainees who have lost their first habeas corpus challenge. Those new rules eliminate the right of lawyers to visit their clients at the detention facility; the old rules establishing that right were in place since 2004, and were bolstered by the Supreme Court’s 2008 Boumediene ruling that detainees were entitled to a “meaningful” opportunity to contest the legality of their detention. The DOJ recently informed a lawyer for a Yemeni detainee, Yasein Khasem Mohammad Esmail, that he would be barred from visiting his client unless he agreed to a new regime of restrictive rules, including acknowledging that such visits are within the sole discretion of the camp’s military commander.


The New York Times Editorial Page today denounced these new rules as “spiteful,” cited it as “the Obama administration’s latest overuse of executive authority,” and said “the administration looks as if it is imperiously punishing detainees for their temerity in bringing legal challenges to their detention and losing.” Detainee lawyers are refusing to submit to these new rules and are asking a federal court to rule that they violate the detainees’ right to legal counsel.


When the President finally unveiled his plan for “closing Guantanamo,” it became clear that it wasn’t a plan to “close” the camp as much as it was a plan simply to re-locate it — import it — onto American soil, at a newly purchased federal prison in Thompson, Illinois. William Lynn, Obama’s Deputy Defense Secretary, sent a letter to inquiring Senators that expressly stated that the Obama administration intended to continue indefinitely to imprison some of the detainees with no charges of any kind. The plan was classic Obama: a pretty, feel-good, empty symbolic gesture (get rid of the symbolic face of Bush War on Terror excesses) while preserving the core abuses (the powers of indefinite detention ), even strengthening and expanding those abuses by bringing them into the U.S.


In fact, Obama’s “close GITMO” plan — if it had been adopted by Congress — would have done something worse than merely continue the camp’s defining injustice of indefinite detention. It would likely have expanded those powers by importing them into the U.S.


Now, here we are, almost four years after the vow to close Guantanamo was enshrined in an Executive Order, and the rights of detainees — including the basic right to legal counsel — are being constricted further, in plainly vindictive ways. Conditions at Guantanamo are undoubtedly better than they were in 2003, and some of the deficiencies in military commissions (for the few who appear before them) have been redressed. But the real stain of Guantanamo — keeping people locked up in cages for years with no charges — endures. And contrary to the blatant myth propagated by Obama defenders, that has happened not because Obama tried but failed to eliminate it, but precisely because he embraced it as his own policy from the start.

which goes a long way toward explaining why i must battle visceral waves of disgust whenever i receive an obama campaign solicitation...

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Sunday, July 22, 2012

Our global, super-rich, elite "cabal" have at least $21 TRILLION tax-free stashed away

truly staggering but not at all surprising... merely a confirmation of  what we have already assumed to be true...
from the guardian (emphases added)...
A global super-rich elite has exploited gaps in cross-border tax rules to hide an extraordinary £13 trillion ($21tn) of wealth offshore – as much as the American and Japanese GDPs put together – according to research commissioned by the campaign group Tax Justice Network.

James Henry, former chief economist at consultancy McKinsey and an expert on tax havens, has compiled the most detailed estimates yet of the size of the offshore economy in a new report, The Price of Offshore Revisited, released exclusively to the Observer.

He shows that at least £13tn – perhaps up to £20tn – has leaked out of scores of countries into secretive jurisdictions such as Switzerland and the Cayman Islands with the help of private banks, which vie to attract the assets of so-called high net-worth individuals. Their wealth is, as Henry puts it, "protected by a highly paid, industrious bevy of professional enablers in the private banking, legal, accounting and investment industries taking advantage of the increasingly borderless, frictionless global economy". According to Henry's research, the top 10 private banks, which include UBS and Credit Suisse in Switzerland, as well as the US investment bank Goldman Sachs, managed more than £4tn in 2010, a sharp rise from £1.5tn five years earlier.

The detailed analysis in the report, compiled using data from a range of sources, including the Bank of International Settlements and the International Monetary Fund, suggests that for many developing countries the cumulative value of the capital that has flowed out of their economies since the 1970s would be more than enough to pay off their debts to the rest of the world.

Oil-rich states with an internationally mobile elite have been especially prone to watching their wealth disappear into offshore bank accounts instead of being invested at home, the research suggests. Once the returns on investing the hidden assets is included, almost £500bn has left Russia since the early 1990s when its economy was opened up. Saudi Arabia has seen £197bn flood out since the mid-1970s, and Nigeria £196bn.

"The problem here is that the assets of these countries are held by a small number of wealthy individuals while the debts are shouldered by the ordinary people of these countries through their governments," the report says.

The sheer size of the cash pile sitting out of reach of tax authorities is so great that it suggests standard measures of inequality radically underestimate the true gap between rich and poor. According to Henry's calculations, £6.3tn of assets is owned by only 92,000 people, or 0.001% of the world's population – a tiny class of the mega-rich who have more in common with each other than those at the bottom of the income scale in their own societies.

"These estimates reveal a staggering failure: inequality is much, much worse than official statistics show, but politicians are still relying on trickle-down to transfer wealth to poorer people," said John Christensen of the Tax Justice Network. "People on the street have no illusions about how unfair the situation has become."

the bottom line is that our super-rich elites owe allegiance to no one... their citizenship is merely a formality maintained for appearances and to facilitate crossing those pesky borders... the rule of law and accountability is for the unwashed masses...

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