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Member since: Sat Sep 9, 2006, 03:59 PM
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The New Yorker: Ron Paul's Filthy Lucre

“People close to Paul’s operations said he was deeply involved in the company that produced the newsletters, Ron Paul & Associates, and closely monitored its operations, signing off on articles and speaking to staff members virtually every day,” Markon and Crites reported. They went on to write:

“It was his newsletter, and it was under his name, so he always got to see the final product.… He would proof it,” said Renae Hathway, a former secretary in Paul’s company and a supporter of the Texas congressman….

A person involved in Paul’s businesses, who spoke on condition of anonymity to avoid criticizing a former employer, said Paul and his associates decided in the late 1980s to try to increase sales by making the newsletters more provocative. They discussed adding controversial material, including racial statements, to help the business, the person said.

“It was playing on a growing racial tension, economic tension, fear of government,” said the person, who supports Paul’s economic policies but is not backing him for president. “I’m not saying Ron believed this stuff. It was good copy. Ron Paul is a shrewd businessman."

A "shrewd business man" who sends out racist newsletters under his name as a "good business" practice? Give me a damn break. It's good business pandering to racists? What the hell kind of person would pander to racists if he didn't believe that crap himself? Can you even imagine sending crap like that out under your name? I certainly hope not! I know I'd rather be penniless than send out the racist crap he sent out.

The FACT is that the newsletters were proofed by him and, according to staff, he knowingly made the decision to send out the newsletters containing the horrible racist content they have. Own them putz, they're totally yours! Either you're a racist sack of shit or you're a lying sack of shit or, most likely, you're a lying racist sack of shit!

(Rest of the short New Yorker News Desk piece is here.)

Ben Jealous (NAACP) wants your stories on how the economic crisis has affected you/loved ones

Via email (emphases in original email):

Leadership. Commitment. Unity.

As I sat in the House of Representatives chamber this evening, these were the themes I heard President Obama speak to in his State of the Union address.

But as I listened to President Obama, I looked at obstructionist leaders in Congress and I couldn't help but get angry.

It is past time to throw aside partisan differences, put America first and embrace the American values of equal opportunity and fairness for all.

In communities across the country, the NAACP has marched, rallied, and raised our voices to let our leaders know job creation can't wait. President Obama has heard our call, and tonight he laid out his ambitious blueprint for continuing to improve the economy and put people back to work.

Unfortunately, too many members of Congress are committed to nothing but blocking the president's work. They are more concerned with scoring political points than getting us out of the worst economic slump since the early 20th century.

Every day, NAACP leaders nationwide speak with people who are working harder than ever before, and still struggling to make ends meet. Just this week our North Carolina NAACP leadership conducted a tour throughout the state to chronicle the effects of joblessness, underemployment, and poverty.

We know many of you have similar stories, and we want to hear them. Will you share with us your story on how the economic crisis has affected you and those you love?


Marcellus Brown is 43 years old. He doesn't have a steady job, but he wants one. He's from Scotland Neck, North Carolina, but travels 30 miles to apply for unemployment and look for jobs. There are no resources or living wage jobs in his community.

Davette Bulluck, a mother of three, is unemployed in Rocky Mount, North Carolina. She cleans yards, washes dishes, and collects cans in the streets for money. Her utility bill exceeds her monthly income by $500. She's skipped many meals so her children can eat, and often faces the prospect of choosing between electricity, water, and food.

President Obama's American Jobs Act would create 1.9 million jobs for people like Marcellus and Davette in places like Scotland Neck and Rocky Mount. His summer jobs and tourism initiative will create hundreds of thousands more, and stimulate an economy built to last and designed for sustained prosperity.

I applaud President Obama for adopting our long-standing priority of economic stability in communities of color, for his bold stand on job creation, and for leading the charge on reversing the economic crisis.

But Congress must match his leadership. Millions are suffering, and systemic poverty persists in almost every corner of the richest nation on earth. In moments like this, extreme partisanship is a luxury our nation cannot afford.

It is time to pass much-needed legislation to foster workforce training and create the kinds of jobs that allow Marcellus, Davette, and countless others to thrive, not just survive.

It is time for cooperation to trump personal political agendas.

And until it does, we must continue to speak out, stand up, and be heard.

Please share your stories and experiences on the economic crisis, and how it has affected you and your loved ones:


Thank you. I look forward to hearing what you have to say.



Benjamin Todd Jealous
President and CEO

The Nation: Obama Is on the Brink of a Settlement With the Big Banks—and Progressives Are Furious

For months, a massive federal settlement with big Wall Street banks over their role in the mortgage crisis has been in the offing. The rumored details have always given progressives heartburn: civil immunity, no investigations, inadequate help for homeowners and a small penalty for the banks. Now, on the eve President Obama’s State of the Union address—in which he plans to further advance a populist message against big money and income inequality—the deal may be here, and it’s every bit as ugly as progressives feared.

The Associated Press reports that a proposed deal could be announced within weeks. Five banks—Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo, Citibank and Ally Financial (formerly GMAC)—would pay the federal government $25 billion. About $17 billion would be used to reduce the principal that some struggling homeowners owe, $5 billion more would be used for future federal and state programs and $3 billion would be used to help homeowners refinance at 5.25 percent. Civil immunity would be granted to the banks for any role in foreclosure fraud, and there would be no investigations.

There are several reasons why this is could be a terrible deal. For one, the dollar amount is inadequate in relation to both the tremendous loss of wealth via mortgage fraud and the hefty balance sheets of these massive companies. Furthermore, the banks might be allowed to use investor money instead of their own funds—this makes the penalty even lower. Beyond all that: it’s extremely hard to justify the absence of investigations and punishment for mortgage fraud that was so widespread and so damaging to people’s lives.

There are also many other, more serious problems besides a lack of punitive action. The small amount of money—and the federal government’s recent inability to truly help underwater mortgage holders, of which there are currently 11 million—means that the victims of mortgage fraud might not see enough relief. And perhaps most importantly, with no real punishment for widespread damaging fraud, what are the incentives on Wall Street not to engage in similarly destructive practices once again?

The rest is at The Nation.

Boy, this couple with the article that just came out about Holder & Breuer, and if this comes to pass, it stinks to high heaven!

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder and Lanny Breuer, head of the Justice Department’s criminal division, were partners for years at a Washington law firm that represented a Who’s Who of big banks and other companies at the center of alleged foreclosure fraud, a Reuters inquiry shows.

The firm, Covington & Burling, is one of Washington's biggest white shoe law firms. Law professors and other federal ethics experts said that federal conflict of interest rules required Holder and Breuer to recuse themselves from any Justice Department decisions relating to law firm clients they personally had done work for.


Reuters reported in December that under Holder and Breuer, the Justice Department hasn't brought any criminal cases against big banks or other companies involved in mortgage servicing, even though copious evidence has surfaced of apparent criminal violations in foreclosure cases.


While Holder and Breuer were partners at Covington, the firm's clients included the four largest U.S. banks - Bank of America, Citigroup, JP Morgan Chase and Wells Fargo & Co - as well as at least one other bank that is among the 10 largest mortgage servicers.

As Robert Sheer wrote back in August:

They will get away with it, at least in this life. “They” are the Wall Street usurers, people of a sort condemned in Scripture, who have brought more misery to this nation than we have known since the Great Depression. “They” will not suffer for their crimes because they have a majority ownership position in our political system. That is the meaning of the banking plea bargain that the Obama administration is pressuring state attorneys general to negotiate with the titans of the financial world.

It is a sellout deal that, in return for a pittance of compensation by banks to ripped-off mortgage holders, would grant the banks blanket immunity from any prosecution. That is intended to short-circuit investigations by a score of aggressive state officials, inquiries that offer the public a last best hope to get to the bottom of the housing scandal that has cost US homeowners $6.6 trillion in home equity in the past five years and left 14.6 million Americans owing more than their homes are worth.


Yet the administration has rushed to the aid of the banks once again and is attempting to intimidate the few state attorneys general who have the gumption to protect the public interest they are sworn to serve. As Gretchen Morgenson of the New York Times reported:

“Eric T. Schneiderman, the attorney general of New York, has come under increasing pressure from the Obama administration to drop his opposition to a wide-ranging state settlement with banks over dubious foreclosure practices.…

I'm sickened. Totally sickened at what the President is reportedly preparing to do. But he'll not do it without a fight -- I hope it's clamorous on the part of us 99%ers! Here's a statement from Richard Trumka released today in response to the reports that Obama is about to indemnify these fraudsters......

January 23, 2012
4:11 PM

Statement by AFL-CIO President Richard L. Trumka on Possible Bank Mortgage and Foreclosure Fraud Settlement

WASHINGTON - January 23 - We need to hold banks accountable for the fraudulent practices that brought about the worst economic crisis since the Depression. State Attorneys General have been investigating bank fraud, and these critical investigations must not be undermined by a premature and inadequate settlement. We call on the administration to reject any deal that insulates banks from full responsibility.

It is critical that the Department of Justice lead a comprehensive investigation together with the state Attorneys General to prevent banks from engaging in future unlawful and deceptive practices that could exploit homeowners and put the economy further at risk.

We commend state Attorneys General like New York's Eric Schneiderman and Delaware's Beau Biden for their leadership and courage in calling for a real investigation and relief on a scale that helps the millions of homeowners who face a new wave of foreclosures.

The economy is currently weighed down by $750 billion in negative home equity, so relief on a massive scale is needed to lift home values and stimulate the economy by increasing consumer demand. A comprehensive settlement must force banks to write down underwater mortgages. A sum significantly larger than the rumored $25 billion is needed for the economy to grow and create jobs.

Specifically, the administration must stand strong against the big banks and insist on:

1) A full and thorough investigation into problems tied to the residential mortgage-backed securities (RMBS) market, and

2) A guaranteed minimum amount of money set aside for reducing the mortgage principal of "underwater" homeowners in key states impacted by the foreclosure crisis.

This is an opportunity for the administration to demonstrate leadership and show that it has the political will to do what's right for homeowners and right for our economy.

Romney Estimates 15 Percent Tax Rate as Rivals Hit Him on Taxes

Mitt Romney estimated he pays an effective tax rate of close to 15 percent and said he’d release further details in April if he clinches the Republican presidential nomination, as his rivals in the race crisscrossed South Carolina to prevent that from happening.


“I know that if I’m the nominee, people will want to see the most recent year,” Romney told reporters. Asked what effective tax rate he pays, he said, “It’s probably closer to the 15-percent rate than anything, because my last 10 years, my income comes overwhelmingly from investments made in the past, rather than ordinary income or earned annual income.

He also said: “I got a little bit of income from my book, but I gave that all away, and I know I get speakers’ fees from time to time, but not very much.

Romney earned almost $375,000 in speaking fees from Feb. 26, 2010 to Feb. 20, 2011, according to his personal financial disclosure. In that report, he reported between $190 million and $250 million in assets.

Source: Bloomberg Business Week

If that doesn't SHOUT 1% to voters, I don't know what will. Oh, the areas of vulnerability for this man as THE 2012 GOP candidate are legion! (Emphases above are mine.)

House to take up SOPA debate again next month

(Subheadline): Lamar Smith (R-Texas), chairman of the House Judiciary committee, said today he expects the debate over the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) to resume sometime next month.

"To enact legislation that protects consumers, businesses and jobs from foreign thieves who steal America's intellectual property," Smith said in a statement. "We will continue to bring together industry representatives and [of members of Congress] to find ways to combat online piracy.

Smith suggested the debate in the House over the bill, which would speed up the legal process involved with getting an accused foreign-based pirate site taken offline, was due to "retreats" that members of Congress were scheduled to attend over the next two weeks.

Opponents of the bills claim SOPA and the Protect IP Act, similar legislation in the Senate, threaten free speech and innovation.

The irony of Smith's word choice will not be lost on critics of the bill. They will note that the only thing that has retreated over the past five days was support for the bills.

Source: CNET


I don't trust this "on hold" thing one bit. Look away everyone, pay no attention to the man behind the curtain! Tomorrow's blackout will continue and, I hope, wake more people up to oppose SOPA/PIPA! Keep the pressure on -- I trust these assholes as much as I trusted George W. Moron's insistence we had to attack Iraq.

"Regulators keep falling down on the job, and keep getting rewarded for it by Wall Street" - Taibbi

Revolving Door: From Top Futures Regulator to Top Futures Lobbyist


While America focused on New Hampshire, a classic example of revolving-door politics took place in Washington, going almost completely unnoticed. It’s a move that ranks up there with the hire of Louisiana congressman Billy Tauzin to head the pharmaceutical lobbying conglomerate PhRMA -- at a salary of over $2 million a year -- immediately after Tauzin helped ram through the Medicare Prescription Drug Bill, a huge handout to the pharmaceutical industry.

In this case, the hire involves Walter Lukken, who toward the end of the Bush years was the acting head of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission. As the chief regulator of the commodities markets, it was Lukken’s job to spot and combat speculative abuses and manipulations that might have led to artificial price hikes and other disruptions.


By insisting that the spike was “not a result of manipulative forces,” Lukken helped Wall Street in its efforts to avoid reforms that might have prevented such abuses, like the closing of a series of loopholes and exemptions that allowed a handful of major speculators to play a lopsided role in the setting of commodity prices.

Lukken's reward? He'll now head the Futures Industry Association (FIA), which is the "chief lobbying arm of futures investors."


Obviously this kind of thing has been going on forever in Washington, but some revolving-door hires feel worse and more shameless than others, and this is one of those. But really it's the same old story: regulators keep falling down on the job, and keep getting rewarded for it by Wall Street, and nothing gets done about it.

I can't possibly do Taibbi's post justice in 4 paragraphs. This is a must read IMO.

Sadly, the revolving door that was supposed to at least slow down is just as bad as it had been under Bush, etc. As was quoted later in the piece, Mike Masters said this is the height of revolving door politics......“It’s not the revolving door. It’s the express elevator,” he says.

"Regulators keep falling down on the job, and keep getting rewarded for it by Wall Street, and nothing gets done about it."

Promises, promises. Sigh.

Hundreds of Thousands of Lower-Wage Workers, Many of Whom Worked for Decades, Would Be Denied Unempl

Center on Budget & Policy Priorities (CPBB):

Hundreds of Thousands of Lower-Wage Workers, Many of Whom Worked for Decades, Would Be Denied Unemployment Insurance Under Provision Now Under Consideration

A provision that congressional negotiators will consider for legislation to extend the payroll tax cut through the end of 2012 would deny unemployment insurance (UI) to hundreds of thousands of lower-wage workers who worked for years or even decades, effectively paid UI taxes while they worked, and then were laid off.

The provision, part of the full-year payroll-tax bill that the House passed in December, would deny UI benefits to anyworker who lacks a high school diploma or GED and is not enrolled in classes to get one or the other — regardless of how long the person worked or whether he or she has access to adult education, which itself has been subject to significant budget cuts in the past few years and is heavily oversubscribed.


The bottom line is that the House provision would deny UI benefits to hundreds of thousands of workers — many of them middle-aged — who have worked hard, played by the rules, and effectively paid UI taxes for years and who then were laid off due to no fault of their own. This would violate the basic compact that the UI system has embodied since its creation under President Roosevelt in 1935 — that people who have amassed a sufficient record of work, and on whose behalf UI taxes have faithfully been paid, may receive UI benefits for a temporary period if they are laid off and are searching for a new job.

To add insult to injury, it would allow people without a high school diploma or GED to receive benefits only if they enroll in classes for which there often would be no slots available — in part because of budget cuts approved by some of the same policymakers who now embrace this new requirement.

As they note, in 2010, 1.5 million of the workers laid off lacked a HS diploma or its equivalent. They're aiming directly for low-wage workers with this provision. How revolting!

Much more at the link, including details like 50 of 51 states having waiting lists for adult education!

This country has reached a new low when this is even considered as part of any cuts! What, someone who's worked for 30 years is worthless because he/she doesn't have a damn diploma? Give me a break! What kind of scum would agree to that provision? Time will tell.

Ed: Original title with link embedded didn't post. Added title with link below it.

In BLOOMBERG today: This Is How Wall Street Psychopaths Caused The Financial Crisis

And on Bloomberg TV!

From Business Insider:

Bloomberg View columnist Bill Cohan has stumbled on a fascinating academic paper from British scholar Clive Boddy on corporate psychopaths and how they may have caused the financial crisis.

Interestingly enough, Boddy notes that psychopaths are specially able to thrive in Wall Street firms because of its very nature—filled with chaos, high turnover and rapid change.

Psychopaths are then able to use their charisma to appear like key leaders within the frenetic atmosphere of Wall Street, yet at the same time remain ruthless and calculating.

On Bloomberg TV this morning, Cohan also added that this kind of work atmosphere has only been prevalent recently as financial institutions have gone public. Back in the days of private partnerships, "there was a collegial nature and... everybody knew everyone else and you couldn't possibly get to the top if you were a crazy person," he said.

(The Business Insider article has a link to a PDF of Boddy's full Business Ethics article. I wasn't able to create my own link, so just go to the above link and use the one there if you want to read Boddy's article -- snips are provided below.)

From Cohan's Bloomberg article:

They “largely caused the crisis” because their “single- minded pursuit of their own self-enrichment and self- aggrandizement to the exclusion of all other considerations has led to an abandonment of the old-fashioned concept of noblesse oblige, equality, fairness, or of any real notion of corporate social responsibility.”

Boddy doesn’t name names, but the type of personality he describes is recognizable to all from the financial crisis.

He says the unnamed “they” seem “to be unaffected” by the corporate collapses they cause. These psychopaths “present themselves as glibly unbothered by the chaos around them, unconcerned about those who have lost their jobs, savings and investments, and as lacking any regrets about what they have done. They cheerfully lie about their involvement in events, are very convincing in blaming others for what has happened and have no doubts about their own worth and value. They are happy to walk away from the economic disaster that they have managed to bring about, with huge payoffs and with new roles advising governments how to prevent such economic disasters.”


In an e-mail correspondence with me, he [Boddy] said his article has been warmly received and has been downloaded 9,440 times in the past 90 days. “Apparently this is a lot for an academic article and it is more than the next four most-downloaded papers combined,” he wrote.

Boddy is no fly-by-night asshole jumping in to offer his best guess about these corporate psychopaths.

CLIVE BODDY has been studying the effects of Corporate Psychopaths as experienced by hundreds of managers over the past five years. This has included collecting information on the perceived levels of incidence of experiencing Corporate Psychopaths, collecting reports of critical incidents involving potential Corporate Psychopaths and more recently, collecting data on the effects of Corporate Psychopaths on organisational outcomes.

His book is titled: Corporate Psychopaths: Organizational Destroyers.

From Boddy's paper in The Journal of Business Ethics (link in the Business Insider article):


Psychologists have argued that Corporate Psy- chopaths within organizations may be singled out for rapid promotion because of their polish, charm, and cool decisiveness. Expert commentators on the rise of Corporate Psychopaths within modern corpora- tions have also hypothesized that they are more likely to be found at the top of current organisations than at the bottom. Further, that if this is the case, then this phenomenon will have dire consequences for the organisations concerned and for the societies in which those organisations are based. Since this prediction of dire consequences was made the Global Financial Crisis has come about. Research by Babiak and Hare in the USA, Board and Fritzon in the UK and in Australia has shown that psychopaths are indeed to be found at greater levels of incidence at senior levels of organisations than they are at junior levels (Boddy et al., 2010a). There is also some evidence that they may tend to join some types of organisations rather than others and that, for example, large financial organisations may be attractive to them because of the potential rewards on offer in these organizations (Boddy, 2010a).


These Corporate Psychopaths are charming indi- viduals who have been able to enter modern cor- porations and other organisations and rise quickly and relatively unnoticed within them because of the relatively chaotic nature of the modern corporation. This corporate nature is characterized by rapid change, constant renewal and quite a rapid turnover of key personnel. These changing conditions make Corporate Psychopaths hard to spot because constant movement makes their behaviour invisible and combined with their extroverted personal charisma and charm, this makes them appear normal and even to be ideal leaders.

The knowledge that Corporate Psychopaths are to be found at the top of organisations and seem to favour working with other people’s money in large financial organisations has in turn, led to the devel- opment of the Corporate Psychopaths Theory of the Global Financial Crisis. The Corporate Psychopaths Theory of the Global Financial Crisis is that Cor- porate Psychopaths, rising to key senior positions within modern financial corporations, where they are able to influence the moral climate of the whole organisation and yield considerable power, have largely caused the crisis. In these senior corporate positions, the Corporate Psychopath’s single-minded pursuit of their own self-enrichment and self- aggrandizement to the exclusion of all other con- siderations has led to an abandonment of the old fashioned concept of noblesse oblige, equality, fair- ness, or of any real notion of corporate social responsibility.


However, once corporate takeovers and mergers started to become commonplace and the resultant corporate changes started to accelerate, exacerbated by both globalisation and a rapidly changing tech- nological environment, then corporate stability be- gan to disintegrate. Jobs for life disappeared and not surprisingly employees’ commitment to their employers also lessened accordingly. Job switching first became acceptable and then even became common and employees increasingly found them- selves working for unfamiliar organisations and with other people that they did not really know very well. Rapid movements in key personnel between cor- porations compared to the relatively slower move- ments in organisational productivity and success made it increasingly difficult to identify corporate success with any particular manager. Failures were not noticed until too late and the offending man- agers had already moved on to better positions elsewhere. Successes could equally be claimed by those who had nothing to do with them. Success could thus be claimed by those with the loudest voice, the most influence and the best political skills. Corporate Psychopaths have these skills in abun- dance and use them with ruthless and calculated efficiency.

Needless to say, there are MANY of us who've been saying the same thing. It's just nice to see it in print and supported by research, in Bloomberg no less!

Jonathan Turley chimes in on Obama & the NDAA. Another Constitutional scholar is appalled.


President Barack Obama rang in the New Year by signing the NDAA law with its provision allowing him to indefinitely detain citizens. It was a symbolic moment to say the least. With Americans distracted with drinking and celebrating, Obama signed one of the greatest rollbacks of civil liberties in the history of our country . . . and citizens partied only blissfully into the New Year.


Obama insisted that he signed the bill simply to keep funding for the troops. It was a continuation of the dishonest treatment of the issue by the White House since the law first came to light. As discussed earlier, the White House told citizens that the President would not sign the NDAA because of the provision. That spin ended after sponsor Sen. Carl Levin (D., Mich.) went to the floor and disclosed that it was the White House and insisted that there be no exception for citizens in the indefinite detention provision.

The latest claim is even more insulting. You do not “support our troops” by denying the principles for which they are fighting. They are not fighting to consolidate authoritarian powers in the President. The “American way of life” is defined by our Constitution and specifically the Bill of Rights. Moreover, the insistence that you do not intend to use authoritarian powers does not alter the fact that you just signed an authoritarian measure. It is not the use but the right to use such powers that defines authoritarian systems.


There are also those who continue the long-standing effort to excuse Obama’s horrific record on civil liberties by either blaming others or the times. One successful myth is that there is an exception for citizens. The White House is saying that changes to the law made it unnecessary to veto the legislation. That spin is facially ridiculous. The changes were the inclusion of some meaningless rhetoric after key amendments protecting citizens were defeated. The provision merely states that nothing in the provisions could be construed to alter Americans’ legal rights. Since the Senate clearly views citizens are not just subject to indefinite detention but even execution without a trial, the change offers nothing but rhetoric to hide the harsh reality. THe Administration and Democratic members are in full spin — using language designed to obscure the authority given to the military. The exemption for American citizens from the mandatory detention requirement (section 1032) is the screening language for the next section, 1031, which offers no exemption for American citizens from the authorization to use the military to indefinitely detain people without charge or trial.

More at Turley's blog. So, another Constitutional scholar is appalled and agrees that this bill is horrifying. Turley is someone I've followed for years. I don't always agree with him, but I respect his opinions and the invaluable voice of this Constitutional scholar over the hell of the Bush years......but I guess he's now going to be thrown under the bus, along with the ACLU, Greenwald and others who are trying to warn Americans!

Consider me appalled along with them. Their warnings are justified -- too bad they're falling on so many deaf ears.

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