Posts Tagged wallstreet

I Will Miss Bernie Sanders

bernie-sanders-having-birdiesandersI will miss Bernie Sanders and the air of hope and optimism he brought with him during this Primary season.

After all the capitulations of the Obama Administration to Republican demagoguery in general and to the GOP in particular; after all the nay-saying and “no we can’t do it after all” crap and over-compromising to the point of actually compromising one’s core principle and thereby essentially allowing Republicans to set the tone and direction of national policy and debate, it was great to see someone who inspired real change;  who wasn’t just another god-damn politician looking out for himself and his bottom line, perpetuating the same failed policies that further no one but the greed and avarice of the one percent.

Republicans have set the bar so low that it really does not take much to exceed it. This country has moved so far to the Right, that both Obama and Clinton would have fit well into the Reagan administration instead of FDR’s. The Republicans are so awful, that they make people like Clinton and Obama look good and liberal, rather than showing them as the moderate Republicans they really are. Republicans who have turned  not being a fascist into a standard which politicians like Clinton aspire to (“Hey vote for me, at least I was not THAT  horrible.”),

Seeing people come together, being fired up, having hope for a better future for all Americans, was inspiring. I think a lot of even cynical people felt that there was finally a political leader who wasn’t telling us what we wanted to hear becasue it was politically expedient,  but who, behind closed doors, just went on with business as usual. Someone who finally got it and who strived to make it happen, even if he knew it was hard. It was great to see someone who isn’t running a capitulation campaign,  where you aim really low so you can at least get that done (which is sort of the message I got from Hillary Clinton, in a nutshell). 

A lot of Clinton’s supporter believe that Sanders’ supporters live in a fantasy world where everything is free and they don’t have to work for it.  We were and continue to be dismissed as a bunch of pie-in-the-sky dreamers, detached from reality, who don’t know any better, versus Clinton who repeatedly prides herself in her pragmatism and no-nonsense attitude.

But we are not blind. We understand the political process perfectly well.  We understand that the President isn’t an elected king and that he has to work with Congress and lawmakers to make things happen. We understood the value of compromise. We know that this is going to be an upward battle requiring effort, a thick skin and hard work. And we knew that Bernie Sanders was not going to waltz into the White House, swing a magic wand and make it all happen.

But winning is only half the battle. The appeal of the Sanders movement is about achievability as much as it is about inspiration and believing that one must and can work toward a movement for greater equality, fair wages, universal  healthcare, and an end to corporate control of our political system. That in and of itself is half the battle.  And if you can’t even envision that, just like Clinton cannot and won’t envision it, then why do you even fucking want this job? Why do you bother?

Goldman-Sach-Hillary-900-e1455056003700

In fact, I have often wondered why given her defeatist pragmatic attitude Clinton even wants this job. She is rich enough so it is not like she has to work. And how much more money can one person need and want?

Is it for power? Prestige? To be the first woman President? Bragging rights?

I look at her track record and I look at her during this Primary season and I don’t see a public servant, I don’t see someone who wants to bring about change and reform. On the contrary, what I see is a neoliberal, Wall Street-funded, status quo-perpetuating, multimillionaire  militarist.

It is a shame. We had the chance to elect an utterly honest man who has not spent  the last 40 years enriching himself at the expense of the American people. Unlike Sanders’ positive and hope filled message, this so-called victory by Clinton brings with itself an air of hopelessness and despondency that weighs down my heart.

The masses of people being gullible sheep who vote against their own self interest is nothing new, but it never ceases to amaze and appall me when I do witness it.  Sanders is a man who, going by his tax returns alone, is  broke compared to his multi millionaire colleagues in Congress. He and his wife made less in one year ($204k) than  Clinton makes in one speech to Goldman Sachs. He didn’t vote for every war he could vote for,  he was not being sponsored by banks and corporations while also receiving endorsements by the likes of the Koch Brothers and war criminals like Henry Kissinger. Unlike Clinton he has not spent the bigger part of his career aligning himself with the powerful and wealthy against the powerless and poor.

Yet who do people vote for? Hillary Clinton. A woman who  wore a $12,000  Armani  suit while giving a speech on income inequality.

Hillary-Clinton-Banks-Wall-Street

As a woman and feminist I am supposed to feel really elated and happy here. It is a historic moment for the United States to finally have a woman Presidential nominee and probably also President. However, I feel nothing but disappointment and despair. I look at the next six months with a heavy heart and know that she will win the General Election, too, given that the person she is running against is not really a viable candidate, or even a opponent, but more like a troll. So in a way Clinton will be running unopposed come this November.

Of course, Hillary Clinton is qualified and experienced for the job. Nk doubt in my mind she is brilliant. However, it is not her qualifications that are in question here, it is her priorities. She is bad for America and this historic moment of finally having a woman on the command chair is overshadowed by the fact that Clinton is not the Progressive she claims to be.

Clinton is not running (at this time or any other) to help the American people, who have been nothing short of brutalized by corporations and the politicians that do their bidding – including Clinton – or to make America a better place. She’s running because the Presidency is the biggest prize in the world, and she wants that prize. Trump is running for the same reason–bragging rights.

If she wins, and she will win, her presidency will then be focused–again–not on the people, but on doing just enough to secure a personal legacy and a place in the history books as The First Woman President.

Someone who accepts nearly a million dollars in speaker fees from Goldman Sachs to congratulate them on a job well done and who goes to fundraisers were people spend nearly $400,000 on a plate, and someone who has a track record of voting for all the fraudulent wars this country has been engaged in for the past five decades and Wall Street bailouts and policies aimed at furthering the 1% at the expense of everyone else, someone who has already said that there will never, ever be universal health care and free – or at least affordable -education and meaningful student loan reforms for all, not just special interest groups – is not someone who should be running on the Progressive ticket.

For the record, Goldman Sachs does not pay HRC $250,000 per speaking engagement for nothing. Those rich people in the aforementioned dinner organized by George Clooney don’t spend nearly $400,000 a seat to help poor people. This is an investment and those people will  want a return on their investment; a return which doesn’t include you or I.

Clinton is a moderate Republican, paid and endorsed by big banks to convince the middle class to be happy with the old deal. And this past Tuesday, middle and working class America agreed by making her their nominee.

 

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The Death of A Wretched Human Being: Antonin Scalia

downloadLast week, Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia died at the age of 79 in some luxury resort in West Texass. He did not pay to stay at that luxury resort owned by John B. Poindexter,  a Texas native and decorated Vietnam veteran who owns Houston-based J.B. Poindexter & Co., a manufacturing firm with  seven subsidiaries and a  combined annual revenue of nearly $1 billion. Poindexter told The Washington Post that Scalia was not charged for his stay, something he described as a policy for all guests at the ranch.

I did not pay for the Justice’s trip to Cibolo Creek Ranch,” Poindexter wrote in a brief email Tuesday. “He was an invited guest, along with a friend, just like 35 others.”

A friend, indeed.

One of Poindexter’s companies was involved in a case that made it to the high court. Last year, the Supreme Court declined to hear a case involving an age discrimination lawsuit filed against one of these companies, court records show.

Is it just mere coincidence that a year later we see a Justice of that very same court invited to the luxurious home/ranch of the owner of the company involved in a case which the Supreme Court refused to hear?

Nothing about who Scalia was suggests that it could be a mere coincidence. What is for certain, however, is that it constitutes a conflict of interest.

Interesting to note is that this was not the first time Scalia acted unethically (that we know of).  In 2004, he joined then-Vice President Richard B. Cheney on a hunting trip while Cheney was the subject of a lawsuit over his energy task force, and in response to calls that he sit out the case, Scalia issued a highly unusual 21-page argument explaining why he refused to do so.

While judges have to file financial disclosure statements, including reporting of gifts they receive and disclosing when someone who is not a relative gives them “transportation, lodging, food, or entertainment” worth a certain amount (see 1978 Ethics in Government Act passed in the wake of the Watergate scandal), there is really no one who enforces that. And while every other federal judge below the Supreme Court and the decision about whether or not they should be recused from cases where there could be a potential conflict of interest is potentially subject to the review of a higher judge or other judges on his court, no one reviews the decision of a Justice and thus Supreme Court justices essentially become the final arbiters of whether or not to recuse themselves from cases that may constitute a conflict of interest.

Why am I bringing this up on the day of Antonin Sacalia’s funeral? Because while much of the mainstream press was quickly lining up to offer glowing commemorations of his career as a public servant and brilliant man, I want to be sure that Scalia’s destructive judicial legacy is  not completely whitewashed.

He was an extraordinary individual and jurist, admired and treasured by his colleagues”…  Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr  said in a statement confirming Justice Scalia’s death. “His passing is a great loss to the Court and the country he so loyally served.”

No it is not. Antonin Scalia’s death is great news and this nation’s salvation. He did not serve this country loyally.  On the contrary,  he used and abused his position in the highest court of the land to align himself with power, against the powerless.

Scalia was a contemptible human being who once during oral arguments in a pivotal affirmative action case suggested that African American students might belong at less rigorous schools than their white peers, and that perhaps the University of Texas should have fewer black students in its ranks.

He decided his cases based on what the Catholic church preaches about women and reproduction.

He repeatedly and casually equated LGBT and its advocates to apologists for incest, rape, bestiality, child pornography and murder.

He has been nothing but an antagonist to social justice ever since he took seat on that bench/ivory tower of his. Heck, his last official act was denying a stay of execution.

Scalia’s death is not a loss to this nation or the Supreme Court. Scalia was the disease that’s been gnawing and eating away at our Democracy like a malignancy.  His death is our salvation as a nation.

And that is what I have to say about him on this day of his funeral.

May he rest in the hell he believed in so much and which he created for others during his short time in this world.

 

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Barack Obama and Mitt Romney Debate-opsy

I cannot believe the extent to which I – as a liberal – keep overestimating Obama. And with that I mean overestimate his backbone and willingness  – as well ability – to truly fight for his constituents instead of pulling his tail in and cowering into a corner, like he did during the first 2012 Presidential debate with Mitt Romney this past Wednesday.

If there is one thing I was sure of then it was that Obama would obliterate this plutocratic puke Mitt Romney at the debates; yet all he did was just stand there and nod like a school boy being dressed down by his principal. Obama did not even make an attempt to correct Romney who unloaded all these horrendous and shameless lies onto him and the American people.   It was as if the past year – and specifically the past few months – just had not happened.

We all knew Romney wanted to reset the campaign, but why did Obama? During the debate Obama, ironically enough, became the proverbial empty suit Eastwood has mocked just a few weeks ago during the RNC. He was so bad, he made Romney look good.  That is how epic-ly bad his comatose, cowardly performance was.

It is amazing. Romney has no tax plan, no health care plan, no jobs plan or any other kind of plan economic recovery plan for this country other than the busted “trickle down economics” myth and the “anything before Obama“mentality. His campaign consists of leaving behind a messy trail of lies, gross manipulations, gas lighting, flip flopping on issues and just a lot of foot in the mouth moments insulting our allies and adding fuel to century’s old rivalries  while masking his real agenda of catering to the greed of the 1% at the expense of everyone else.

Will the Real Mitt Romney Please Stand Up

The 47% speech was the real Romney; that speech was from the heart – behind the cameras and behind closed doors, he was finally speaking the truth, showing his disdain for the American people and those who aren’t in the millionaire’s club.  Yet he somehow managed to wipe the floor with Obama during the debate. And he did so not by presenting facts and making a strong case for his candidacy, but by telling shameless, boldfaced lies – which is something to be expected from a corporate raider who spent his entire life scamming people.

For example, Romney said that Obama does not like bipartisanship, that he does not reach out to Republicans. In reality, everytime Obama tried to work with Republicans, they went out of their way to obstruct him.  In fact, after Republicans ended up with both the House and Senate majority in 2010,  Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell admitted that “the single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president.”

Why did Obama not mention any of this?

Obama did not mention Romney’s supremely insulting and incriminating 47%  speech – in which he was for once speaking from the heart,  he did not mention Bain Capital at all – which says a lot more about Romney and his philosophy than anything else, he did not mention his 14% tax rate and he also did not confront him about his tax returns and his refusal to release them.

Finally, in a year where women’s reproductive rights have been under a vicious assault – from transvaginal probing of women who want to get abortions, to defunding Planned Parenthood, calling Sandra Fluke a slut for using contraceptives  to Akin’s “legitimate rape” and woman-give-off-certain-juices-when-raped-so-they-don’t-become-pregnant remarks, it was beyond bizarre, but mostly disappointing, that Obama just did not even mention anything in that regard. He looked like a school boy being dressed down by the principal.

The thing is that the above mentioned were issues that got a lot of undecided voters and those liberals who felt alienated by Obama’s repeated giving in to Republican demands, on Obama’s side. Yet he did not even mention them. And for that matter, he also did not mention same sex marriage and his support thereof.

What the fuck is wrong with this man?

Over 70 million people watched and this could have been an amazing opportunity for Obama to reach out and bring across the message and for once and all put an end to Romney’s lies and right out confront him and call him out in his lies.  And he blew it. The man blew it. He did the same thing that both John Kerry and Al Gore did, fail to take the battle to Romney.

The folly with Obama is that he does not want to fight dirty – if one can consider stating facts and confronting a liar as playing dirty –  and in in some ill conceived sense for bipartisanship he has given Republicans everything they wanted. What he he needs to realize, however, is that you cannot play fair and nice when you swim with sharks. Obama is going to have to get dirty. He’s going to have to kick, bite, scratch, and claw his way forward. Republicans have no interest in working with Obama or the American people, as they have made abundantly clear in the past by categorically opposing policies that would benefit the American people for no other reason than making Obama look bad.

Of course that is something he should have been doing for the last four years yet failed. He failed to bring true health care reform to this country in the from of government run insurance side by side private insurance; he utterly and miserably failed in the  Bush tax cuts issues – extending them for the richest people in exchange for nine months more of unemployment benefits; he did not go after BP; he did not go after Wall Street. He stayed mums on the Right wing’s audacious and callous attacks on women’s reproductive rights – only mentioning it as a talking point during his speeches –  and he let Republicans hold the raise of the debt ceiling hostage in exchange of Obama budging in on budget issues – which is absurd because the debt ceiling is about money already spent while the budget is about money going to be spend.

There is a time and place for diplomacy and holding the moral high ground. And there is a time to fight. Trying to hold the moral high ground while being lied to and bullied, as was the case with the debate on Wednesday, is not one of those occasions where diplomacy will work. Obama can’t win on Hope and Change and Yes We Can this time because there is no longer any Hope, there was no real meaningful Change, and he may still believe that Yes We Can is possible but there are a lot of Buts after the slogan.

On Wednesday the President did not make the case for himself;  he did not call out the lies or even make the case as to why we should vote for him. I could not sleep that night wondering what has happened to Obama and what a truly horrific future is to await all of us if Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan – two people who represent the cold side of humanity – were to become the leaders of this nation because of Obama’s lack of courage. I also kept wondering how Mitt Romney –  with his horrible policies and the plutocratic, dystopian future he has in stow for all of us, – could even get this far.

Yet there is a real chance he may make it. I blame uninformed and “independent” voters. How can anyone  think positively of a guy who in his heart of hearts believes that half of Americans are irresponsible mooches who view themselves as victims who are uninspired and unmotivated to improve their lives and irresponsible?

I also would love to know who taught Obama that checking your balls at the door is a sign of a competent and strong leader. It is one thing to get riled up confirming the stereotype of the  “angry black man”, it is quite something else to stand there and let someone bully and insult you in the face while you say nothing. Of course, this wouldn’t concern me if the American people weren’t intellectually challenged, but they are. The fact that Obama has this knack of regularly fucking up when it comes down do it is remarkable. That man has a sense for screwing up when his supporters count on him the most, it is amazing.

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The Culture of Greed: Puff Daddy’s Son Accepts Scholarship Despite Father’s Half a Billion Wealth

That this is a world of the rich, by the rich and for the rich becomes evident to me everyday. The latest example to the point: Puff Daddy’s son who received a $ 54,000 scholarship to attend UCLA despite his father’s whopping half a billion dollar wealth.

Puff Daddy is considered the riches man in hip-hop and his wealth was estimated at nearly $550 million by Forbes magazine last year.

The rap mogul’s oldest boy will attend top athletic powerhouse UCLA on a full Division 1 scholarship to play football.  The scholarship is only available to the most elite high school athletes, aged 19 and under.

At the same time, UCLA is a school where tuition and fees have tripled in the past ten years, rendering the once affordable UC an expensive school resulting in open protests and general dissatisfaction on the side of students who find it increasingly more un-affordable to attend UCLA.

Naturally, some have questioned the rationale of the school to give this much money to the son of a multimillionaire, especially in light of the astronomic budget crisis in California in general and the UC system in particular.

UCLA’s athletic department needs to consider the fact that perhaps there is another athlete on the football team, who could perhaps really use this scholarship,” UCLA student Neshemah Keetin told CBS Los Angeles.

In its response to criticism over the award, UCLA stressed its “robust financial aid program,” 30 percent of which it said is funded by tuition and fee revenue:

“Unlike need-based scholarships, athletic scholarships are awarded to students strictly on the basis of their athletic and academic ability — not their financial need. Athletic scholarships, such as those awarded to football or basketball players, do not rely on state funds. Instead, these scholarships are entirely funded through UCLA Athletics ticket sales, corporate partnerships, media contracts and private donations from supporters,” the statement said.

Others have argued similarly, namely that his son earned the scholarship and has every right to it, regardless of his father’s wealth.

But it is really not as straightforward as the wanna-be millionaires who keep pandering to the cause of the wealthy in the hopes that one day they will be one of them, claim.  And while no one is debating the fact that Justin Combs is a good student and capable athlete who earned this scholarship, the uproar is not about his scholastic abilities or questioning them or even depriving him of what he  rightfully earned,  this is about a teenager receiving funds to attend college he does not need. Sean “Diddy” Combs is said to have given him a $ 360,000 Maybach for his 16th birthday.

The statement bu UCLA is misleading in its assertion that this is a non-issue since the funding for Justin Comb’s scholarship does not come from the state but through ticket sales,  corporate partnerships, media contracts and private donations from supporters.

While it is true that the money Combs receives does not come from tax payer dollars, that is beside the point because regardless of the source, the money has to come from somewhere no matter what you call it and every dollar that goes to some rich kid that really doesn’t  need it, is taking away money from someone who does.

The whole point of a scholarship is, or ought to be, to honor the work of excellent students and provide them with an opportunity to obtain higher education which they would not be able to do without the scholarship.  Giving people who are wealthy and can afford it money to go to school sort of defeats the whole purpose.

If Justin Combs was independent and could take care of himself without his father’s money, yes, he should be able to keep it. But he is not. His father has been and continues to support him financially, therefore there is no need for him to also keep the money.

Pimp Daddy’s son doesn’t need a scholarship when his dad is sitting on half a billion dollars, just like wealthy people and millionaires don’t need tax breaks.

Taking something you don’t need is not earning it, it is being greedy.

And that is what it ultimately comes down to once again. And that is also why so many people cheer for it and don’t think he should return the $ 54,000.

Greed and with it the love for money are the cultures that have been fostered deep into the American mind. Any unscrupulous act in this country is excused, condoned  and apologized for as long as it creates wealth.  Whether the means by which one arrives at that wealth is unethical or hurting others is irrelevant.  If it makes money, it goes and is erroneously called The American WayThe American Dream or “success”.

The sad reality is that UCLA is in a budgetary crisis. Tuition has gone up, the economy down and lots of students will have to either take out more student loans, thus remaining in debt for a long time after entering the workforce, to be able to attend college or they will not be able to attend at all. In fact, UCLA became a focal point in the Occupy Wall Street protests, with students rallying against a planned 16 percent tuition fee hike. In April, the school was forced to embarrassingly clawback $27 million in financial aid accidentally deposited into students’ accounts.

The Culture of Greed

Given the genuine crisis the UC system finds itself in, scraping for every dollar to be able to make education semi-affordable to people, is it unreasonable, jealousy or assholish even to ask that the son of a semi-billionaire not accept the $54,000 athletic scholarship? Don’t we have a responsibility toward one another as human beings to do the right? Is the “each person on his own” mentality the American Way? Are these the values we ought to instill upon future generations? The bottom line?

No wonder Mitt Romney thinks that being a business person is the one and only legitimate claim to the Presidency.  In fact, the entire platform he is running on is based on this ridiculous assumption. He actually believes that every American can and should want to be a millionaire.  As if jobs like teacher, firefighter, nurse, scientist or professor could ever produce millionaires.  Jobs that, nonetheless, are vital to the functioning of society.

We are a nation of wanna-bes chasing the money or die trying.  And of course we embrace and applaud anyone and anything that caters to that notion, thinking that maybe by supporting such notions we somehow “reserve” a place for ourselves in the millionaires hall of fame.

I think Bill Maher, as usual, summarized my sentiments quite brilliantly:

Mitt Romney has to start understanding why people don’t like him: it is not because he is rich, it is how he got richNow here are some other rich guys.  Here’s Henry Ford with his Model T.  Walt Disney with an early cartoon idea.  Jobs and Wozniak with their first desktop. 

You see what the first three have that Mitt doesn’t?  A product.  Something they made besides money.

You know, venture capitalists are not creators.  They’re businessmen who find weak companies, and prey on them.  And Mitt can’t understand why anyone would ever question capitalism no matter how feral it gets.  ‘What?  We found a wounded animal and we ate it!’

The quintessential America

The folks at Bain, including Romney. This picture summarizes the reality in America and everything that is wrong with it.

 At one of the debates, Mitt said, ‘I won’t try and define who’s rich and who’s not rich, I want everybody to be rich.’  Cue the morons in the audience clapping their hands like seals at a Sea World getting a bucket of chum.

Well, I can define who’s rich and who’s not.  Who’s rich is Mitt Romney. And who’s not is someone making $26,000 a year. And the success or failure of his campaign will depend on his ability to convince someone making $26,000 a year that he, Mitt, a rich guy, knows how to make them rich too.  And if you elect him, he’ll tell you the secret.

It’s not a political platform, so much as a wealth seminar.  This is the same thing that makes guyslike Tony Robbins rich.  They have a secret.  But the secret turns out to be that they’re rich because they’re robbing you! And somehow Americans are good with this.

Yes, that’s how Mitt Romney rolls, straight outta Salt Lake.  Get equity or die trying. Remember, Mitt knows the secret.  Obama doesn’t know the secret.  As Mitt always says, Obama never even ran a corner store.  He was a community organizer helping poor people!  Bleh!  What would you rather do, help poor people, or have money in your mouth?” 

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