MSNBC host Rachel Maddow exposed a fake Bernie Sanders supporters face book page that appears to have beens set up by Russians to discredit the liberal senator, Maddow explained that the Russians are using information warfare to confuse, divide, distract, demoralize and ultimately defeat their rival. The MSNBC host said, “When The Huffington Post did …
Tag: Bernie Sanders
Mar 22 2017
Mar 06 2016
It’s the silly season and there is no escape since it the stupidity and schoolyard banality of the GOP candidates has infected the air. Today there is the Democratic caucus in Maine and Republicans hold a primary in Puerto Rico. Apparently there is a very large turn out in Maine where there are 30 delegates …
Jan 18 2016
There are plenty of versions MLK Jr’s Theodore Parker quote “The arc of history..” or “The arc of the moral universe… is long but it bends toward justice.” or “The moral arc of the universe… bends at the elbow of justice.” The “Bends at the elbow” version I hadn’t seen before last night when I …
May 25 2015
Epidemics of cholera as well as other serious diseases, including neoliberalism, can take a toll on solidarity. “Trade” deals, and the conduct used in pushing them through to adoption, can be purposely choleric in order to accentuate a breakdown in solidarity. A carefully-orchestrated disinformation and intimidation campaign can provide a loud and pushy disincentive to obtaining and sharing knowledge and growing into a healthier society.
The Gipper is credited with the famous saying “trust, but verify.” However, it is actually an old Russian proverb. The phrase came in handy when scrutinizing the actions of the potentially dastardly Russian Mikhail S. Gorbachev.
With matters of political economics, we have learned over the last hundred years that verification is not always easy because labels sometimes defy reality. Since the fall of the authoritarian state capitalist Soviet Union, which claimed to be real and scientific socialism, apathy has set in about true human choice on matters not having to do with consumer goods. The possibility of a heterodox deeply democratic vision for humanity is laughed at by commenters. They blithely point to North Korea and the supposedly happy riveters south of the border who produce things once made by Americans for the great now debt-driven and trade-imbalanced American marketplace.
Speaking of Russia, its dolls and other trinkets are now made in China too. Ironically, the British Green Quaker documentary filmmaker David Malone aptly says that modern “trade” agreements are like Russian dolls, with lots of other dolls inside that have nothing to do with trade. We are expected to place the doll up on a shelf and not worry what’s inside, even if the shelf is getting repossessed.
Anyway, it’s not really as simple as opening up to see the next doll inside, although it would be nice if we were allowed to at least do that before making the purchase. If the global “we” really wants to understand something that comes with risk, such as a disease, or a series of massive “trade” deals, we must first be able to put the pieces as well as the whole under a microscope, do DNA tests, and have plenty of time to learn what exactly it is we are seeing. Learning the ecological context is also critical.
Sounds like technical questions best left to experts! So, we can sit this one out. Maybe it is we who are dialectical dolls here, expected to live superficially without addressing our interior selves. Why concern one’s pretty little self with such manly and adult details?
More broadly, absolutely do not ponder whether the globalization of hegemonic capitalism is the disease or the cure. That would necessitate openly and closely studying and discussing, without fear of repression, the system that is being imposed, the crises it inevitably causes, the insolvency it constantly courts, the reserve army of unemployed workers, the lack of fair distribution of the winnings that arise from the system, and calmly comparing the available alternatives, including everything from tweaks to overhauls to repeal and replace.
Democracy is this potentially great mass experimental method if the powers that be would allow it to work deeply and openly. If we were allowed to trust but verify we could be engaged citizens. Instead, we are forced to leave democracy to neoliberal politicians, experts, and talking heads, as if they will explain to us what little it is that we need to know after they have made their decisions, which have bound within them unprecedented curtailments to democracy.
This sounds more like oligarchical exploitation than rule by the people. But what can we do to defend ourselves in times like these?
At least from the time of Spartacus, solidarity has been the enemy of exploitation, always has been and always will be. But woe unto those who take the risks of speaking the truth to power, or even seeking the truth. The doubt-inspiring whispers are reaching a chorus of “shut-up and know your place.” Self-doubt cannot help but set in:
In the end, did Spartacus really want to be free and in solidarity with other people in the struggle to be free? Wasn’t it really pretty nice being a Thracian gladiator after all? And for his followers, as they were hanging from crosses every bit as real as Jesus’s, might they not have had a little buyer’s remorse?
Come to daddy. Put aside those passions. Don’t question too much. It’s for your own good that you are being led through the valley of the shadow of death in a blindfold.
May 12 2015
Every now and then one of our “representative” leaders lets the mask slip and Americans get a peek at the monster behind the mask. The monsters that represent us are well-known elsewhere in the world by the people who are variously invaded, bombed, incinerated by flying death robots, disappeared, held in gulags, tortured, sanctioned, starved, treated to heaping helpings of depleted uranium, attacked with banned weapons like white phosphorus, brutalized by authoritarian dictators and puppets that our monsters support with weapons Made in America(tm). I could go on, but you get the picture.
One of the most memorable mask-slips of recent times was when the ghastly gasbag Madelaine Albright revealed the sociopathic policy of the Clinton administration – claiming that it was “worth it” to cause the deaths, estimated in a 1995 U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) report as 567,000 Iraqi children under the age of five, to bring Saddam Hussein to heel.
Dec 11 2011
I’ll believe corporations are people when Texas executes one ~ unknown author #OWSNYC
Besides shifting the conversation in the media from budget cuts, deficits and austerity to jobs, jobs, jobs, the Occupy Wall Street movement has also brought more attention to how Wall St., banks and, especially mega-corporations control the two parties and influence politics. Follow the money. Since the Supreme Court ruling that corporations are people and money talks, some politicians, organizations and a few in the media have been examining ways to get money out of politics and put government back in the hands of the governed. One of those means is a constitutional amendment as proposed by Independent Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders:
Sanders’s amendment, S.J.Res. 33 (pdf), would state that corporations do not have the same constitutional rights as persons, that corporations are subject to regulation, that corporations may not make campaign contributions and that Congress has the power to regulate campaign finance.
While the Citizens United case affected corporations, unions and other entities, the Sanders amendment focuses only on “for-profit corporations, limited liability companies or other private entities established for business purposes or to promote business interests.”
Sanders said he has never proposed an amendment to the Constitution before, but said he sees no other alternative to reversing the Citizens United decision.[..]
The Sanders amendment is co-sponsored by Sen. Mark Begich (D-Alaska), and a similar amendment has been proposed in the House by Rep. Ted Deutch (D-Fla.).
On December 3, the Los Angeles City Council voted unanimously to support such a constitutional amendment:
The resolution was backed by Move to Amend, a national coalition working to abolish corporate personhood and overturn U.S. Supreme Court’s controversial Citizens United ruling. The decision gave corporations and unions the ability to spend unlimited amounts of money to influence elections, so long as their actions are not coordinated with a candidate’s campaign.
“Move to Amend’s proposed amendment would provide the basis for overturning the recent Supreme Court decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission,” stated Mary Beth Fielder, Co-Coordinator of LA Move to Amend. “The Supreme Court has no legitimate right to grant people’s rights to corporations. We must clearly establish that it is we, The People, who are meant to rule.”
Move to Amend hopes to get ballot initiatives put on the ballots in cities and states for the 2012 election to help voters show their representatives that they are serious about reigning corporate influences in elections:
“These are how American amendments move forward from the grassroots when Americans say enough is enough. We’re very proud to come together and send a message but more than that, this becomes the official position of the City of Los Angeles, we will officially lobby for this. I also chair a group which oversees all the Democratic mayors and council members in the country and we’re going to share this with all our 3,000 members and we hope to see this start here in the west and sweep the nation until one day we do have a constitutional amendment which will return the power to the people.”
There is some bipartisan agreement between Democrats and true conservative Republicans. Former Louisiana governor, congressman and candidate for the GOP presidential nomination, Buddy Roemer, agrees with Sen. Sanders on getting money out of politics when he appeared with Dylan Ratigan on MSNBC. You won’t hear Roemer in any of the debates that are being run by Fox, CNN but he has been getting exposure on the talk show rounds. Roemer believes, like Sanders, that “Washington is being bought and sold like a sack of potatoes”
Like the LA City Council, Occupy Wall Street, Sen. Sanders and Gov. Roemer, we agree that this is the best solution. It will be fought by the corporations and those they control and like any fight it starts with first steps. Lets hope it grows. The survival of democracy in America depends on it.
Contrary to the will of special interests, Buddy wants to see Washington reform that includes full disclosure of campaign contributions, 48 hour electronic reporting of campaign contributions, the elimination of the Super PACs that keep the GOP’s top contenders at the top, limiting PAC donations to same amount of money that individuals can contribute, prohibiting lobbyists from participating in fundraisers, and imposing criminal penalties on those that violate the rules of campaign finance.
These changes seem to be what most Republican voters are looking for, but without a Super PAC to fund him, Roemer is unable to throw the millions of dollars the big spenders like Romney, Perry and even Ron Paul shell out on publicity. And Americans cannot expect those taking money from special interest groups to protect citizens from those very same special interest groups. [..]
Buddy also wants to end corporate welfare. Corporations are big spenders when it comes to campaign contributions. While big oil companies no longer need government money to survive, since they earn billions in profits selling overpriced gasoline and oil to consumers, they are willing to shell out large amounts of campaign money to ensure the politicians that will push their agendas are elected.
Nov 29 2011
One of the architects of the audit of the Federal Reserve was former Rep. Alan Grayson (D-FL) who is running for his old house seat. He appeared with Keith Olbermann to discuss the Bloomberg report on the secret no strings, 0% interest $7.7 trillion had out to the banks that they also reaped another $13 billion in profits. As Rep. Grayson points out it is far worse than even the Bloomberg report.
So what does the Obama administration have to say about this? Apparently not a lot. The president is too busy raising campaign money from those who benefited most from this bailout. Obama’s minions on Twitter and in so-called “progressive” blogs have rushed in to defend him against any appearance that he sides with the banks. They ignore the history of the president’s part in the dilution of the Dodd/Frank regulations which has yet to take affect. So here is a brief refresher to keep this based in reality.
Way back at the beginning of Barack Obama’s administration and in the aftermath of the 2008 Wall St/Banking meltdown, financial reform had strong bipartisan support. The original Dodd-Frank Bill contained a provision for regular audits to the end the secrecy of the Federal Reserve. It was introduced in the House by Rep. Alan Grayson (D-FL) and Rep, Ron Paul (R-TX) with strong support from on the Senate side from Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC). However, the amendment was opposed by not only Wall St. and the Federal Reserve, it was also opposed by the Obama administration so strenuously that Obama threatened to veto the entire Dodd/Frank bill if the audit was included. That amendment failed and a second one was crafted for the one time audit which was just as adamantly opposed by Obama and company.
Deal Killer? White House Takes Aim At Fed Audit Provision
by Brian Beutler | May 4, 2010,
Possibly today, but if not today then soon, the Senate will decide whether or not to follow the House’s lead and adopt a provision requiring government auditors to open up the books at the Federal Reserve. The measure enjoys a great deal of popularity on both the left and the right, but is so fiercely opposed by powerful interests that it could nonetheless become a stumbling block in the way of financial regulatory legislation.
Right now Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) is trying to round up 60 or more votes to overcome a likely filibuster and include an “audit the Fed” provision in the Senate’s bill. There are just a few small obstacles: the White House, major financial institutions, and the Fed itself. Their resistance is fierce–but the measure is so popular that killing it will be difficult for them and that, in their eyes, threatens to put a grenade at the center of efforts to to tighten the rules on Wall Street. [..]
That’s why, according to the Wall Street Journal they’ll “fight to stop it at all costs.” The White House is hoping to cut off “audit the Fed” in the Senate, so that they’ll have a stronger hand when House and Senate negotiators meet to iron out the differences between their regulatory reform bills. If the Senate bill does not include Sanders’ amendment, then the House will be in a weak position vis-a-vis the Senate and White House and the provision could be easily stripped.
If Sanders prevails, then the White House will be all but out of options and President Obama will likely be left with the choice of vetoing the legislation, or signing it and raising the ire of very powerful people. Stay tuned.
Sanders’ amendment for a one time only audit prevailed and was conducted this past year that has revealed a massive handout to banks. We now know why the Federal Reserve and the banks didn’t want this audit. The question now is what is going to be done to prevent the Federal Reserve from dong this again. It’s fairly obvious what the president’s policy is, he sides with Wall St and the banks, the 1%.
Oct 21 2011
Preferably some independent adult supervision
What was revealed in the audit was startling: $16,000,000,000,000.00 had been secretly given out to US banks and corporations and foreign banks everywhere from France to Scotland. From the period between December 2007 and June 2010, the Federal Reserve had secretly bailed out many of the world’s banks, corporations, and governments. The Federal Reserve likes to refer to these secret bailouts as an all-inclusive loan program, but virtually none of the money has been returned and it was loaned out at 0% interest. Why the Federal Reserve had never been public about this or even informed the United States Congress about the $16 trillion dollar bailout is obvious – the American public would have been outraged to find out that the Federal Reserve bailed out foreign banks while Americans were struggling to find jobs.
To place $16 trillion into perspective, remember that GDP of the United States is only $14.12 trillion. The entire national debt of the United States government spanning its 200+ year history is “only” $14.5 trillion. The budget that is being debated so heavily in Congress and the Senate is “only” $3.5 trillion. Take all of the outrage and debate over the $1.5 trillion deficit into consideration, and swallow this Red pill: There was no debate about whether $16,000,000,000,000 would be given to failing banks and failing corporations around the world.
In late 2008, the TARP Bailout bill was passed and loans of $800 billion were given to failing banks and companies. That was a blatant lie considering the fact that Goldman Sachs alone received 814 billion dollars. As is turns out, the Federal Reserve donated $2.5 trillion to Citigroup, while Morgan Stanley received $2.04 trillion. The Royal Bank of Scotland and Deutsche Bank, a German bank, split about a trillion and numerous other banks received hefty chunks of the $16 trillion.
Angry? Check out page 131 of the GAO Audit to see the actual amounts that each institution received.
Senator Bernie Sanders released his report on Friday and appeared with Dylan Ratigan to discuss the problems and conflicts within the Fed.
October 19, 2011
WASHINGTON, Oct. 19 – A new audit of the Federal Reserve released today detailed widespread conflicts of interest involving directors of its regional banks.
“The most powerful entity in the United States is riddled with conflicts of interest,” Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) said after reviewing the Government Accountability Office report. The study required by a Sanders Amendment to last year’s Wall Street reform law examined Fed practices never before subjected to such independent, expert scrutiny.
The GAO detailed instance after instance of top executives of corporations and financial institutions using their influence as Federal Reserve directors to financially benefit their firms, and, in at least one instance, themselves. “Clearly it is unacceptable for so few people to wield so much unchecked power,” Sanders said. “Not only do they run the banks, they run the institutions that regulate the banks.”
Sanders said he will work with leading economists to develop legislation to restructure the Fed and bar the banking industry from picking Fed directors. “This is exactly the kind of outrageous behavior by the big banks and Wall Street that is infuriating so many Americans,” Sanders said.
The corporate affiliations of Fed directors from such banking and industry giants as General Electric, JP Morgan Chase, and Lehman Brothers pose “reputational risks” to the Federal Reserve System, the report said. Giving the banking industry the power to both elect and serve as Fed directors creates “an appearance of a conflict of interest,” the report added.
The 108-page report found that at least 18 specific current and former Fed board members were affiliated with banks and companies that received emergency loans from the Federal Reserve during the financial crisis.
In the dry and understated language of auditors, the report noted that there are no restrictions in Fed rules on directors communicating concerns about their respective banks to the staff of the Federal Reserve. It also said many directors own stock or work directly for banks that are supervised and regulated by the Federal Reserve. The rules, which the Fed has kept secret, let directors tied to banks participate in decisions involving how much interest to charge financial institutions and how much credit to provide healthy banks and institutions in “hazardous” condition. Even when situations arise that run afoul of Fed’s conflict rules and waivers are granted, the GAO said the waivers are kept hidden from the public.
The report by the non-partisan research arm of Congress did not name but unambiguously described several individual cases involving Fed directors that created the appearance of a conflict of interest, including:
Stephen Friedman In 2008, the New York Fed approved an application from Goldman Sachs to become a bank holding company giving it access to cheap Fed loans. During the same period, Friedman, chairman of the New York Fed, sat on the Goldman Sachs board of directors and owned Goldman stock, something the Fed’s rules prohibited. He received a waiver in late 2008 that was not made public. After Friedman received the waiver, he continued to purchase stock in Goldman from November 2008 through January of 2009 unbeknownst to the Fed, according to the GAO.
Jeffrey Immelt The Federal Reserve Bank of New York consulted with General Electric on the creation of the Commercial Paper Funding Facility. The Fed later provided $16 billion in financing for GE under the emergency lending program while Immelt, GE’s CEO, served as a director on the board of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
Jamie Dimon The CEO of JP Morgan Chase served on the board of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York at the same time that his bank received emergency loans from the Fed and was used by the Fed as a clearing bank for the Fed’s emergency lending programs. In 2008, the Fed provided JP Morgan Chase with $29 billion in financing to acquire Bear Stearns.At the time, Dimon persuaded the Fed to provide JP Morgan Chase with an 18-month exemption from risk-based leverage and capital requirements. He also convinced the Fed to take risky mortgage-related assets off of Bear Stearns balance sheet before JP Morgan Chase acquired this troubled investment bank.
Lets not forget who President Obama chose to replace Rahm Emanuel, Bill Daley, son of legendary Chicago Mayor Richard J. Daley (D) and brother of the more recent Mayor Richard M. Daley (D). Oh, I forgot, Geithner is also the architect of Bill Clinton’s NAFTA Agreement that Obama promised to fix and Midwest Chairman of JPMorgan Chase.
Then there is our Treasury Secretary, Tim Geithner, a protégé of Lawrence Summers and Robert Rubin, who while president of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, played a large role in directing the Federal Government’s spending on the late-2000s financial crisis, including allocation of $350 billion of funds from the Troubled Asset Relief Program enacted during the previous administration.
None of these people should be allowed anywhere near either the Federal Reserve or the Treasury. Most of them should be in jail.