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Posts posted by cinzia


    So, cinzia, are you now willing to condemn the excesses at Fannie Mae that weren't perpetrated by Republicans, i.e., the handiwork of Raines, Johnson, Frank, et al.? I'd be pleasantly surprised if you were.



    Yes. I'm surprised you even have to ask. Do you really think I'm a Democrat fangirl? After all the virtual ink I've spilled about my disgust at the whole system? I guess I haven't made myself as clear as I've thought.


    Yes, my tendency is towards a more liberal viewpoint, but one of the major problems we have in this country is that in many situations, not just in government, Americans tend to look at WHO has done something illegal (or just wrong) and ignore the act itself.


    For example, it's OK for the President from the party I like to send prisoners to black sites for "interrogation," but not for the President from the party I don't like to do the same thing.


    As moctoj2 says, it's getting really difficult to find anyone in a position of authority to take a stand in even the most egregious examples, if members of his/her own party are complicit in the wrong-doing.


  2. My daughter is in a US public elementary school. I normally pack her lunch, because she won't eat the school lunch unless it's pizza day (about once every two weeks.)


    What's being missed here is that the pizza they serve still has to fall under federal guidelines for sugar, calorie, and fat content, like every other food does, so the product itself tastes appalling.


    Interesting that nobody cares about what kids eat for lunch at school until something that looks embarrassing hits the news. School lunch (including milk) at my daughter's school costs $2.15. What do you think you're going to get for that?


    I eat lunch with my daughter at school twice a month or so, and if you think what the school cafeteria serves up is shameful, you should see what most of the kids bring for a packed lunch from home.


    I think a good deal of the blame needs to be reserved for the parents who won't pay more and don't send a nutritious lunch, either.


  3. And I'd bet a lot of money that BobbyDigital's "friends" weren't fretting over hygiene issues and how inconvenient those protesters were to people who were just trying to maintain the status quo when the young Egyptians were occupying Tahrir Square.



    As for this claim of "overzealous prosecution of peaceful protestors", let's have some specific examples.


    Tim Dechristopher


    Dan Choi


    Stephanie Wiener


    As for overzealous persecution of peaceful protesters, here's a handy guide. There is strong suspicion that the Department of Homeland Security played a role in coordinating the efforts of local police to shut down Occupy protests nationwide last week. Of course, the police were armed with paramilitary equipment paid for by DHS with funds intended to "fight terrorism." Read that and tell me in what way unarmed protesters cannot be literally seen as victims of armed-to-the-teeth police.



    You are worried about less than $2m going to Newt for lobbying, but totally ignore billions disappearing with Fast Frankie at the helm of Fannie.


    Sorry, where did I say that? My comment about Newt was meant to ADD to the already-mentioned dimensions of the scam, not detract from any of it.


    My fave was Russ Feingold, whose state I actually did live in for awhile.



    Pervasive police abuses and intimidation tactics applied to peaceful protesters — pepper-spray, assault rifles, tasers, tear gas and the rest — not only harm their victims but also the relationship of the citizenry to the government and the set of core political rights. Implanting fear of authorities in the heart of the citizenry is a far more effective means of tyranny than overtly denying rights. That’s exactly what incidents like this are intended to achieve. Overzealous prosecution of those who engage in peaceful political protest (which we’ve seen and more of over the last several years) as well as the sprawling Surveillance State are the close cousins of excessive police force in both intent and effect: they are all about deterring meaningful challenges to those in power through the exercise of basic rights. Rights are so much more effectively destroyed by bullying a citizenry out of wanting to exercise them than any other means.


    . . . [this] authoritarian mentality . . . has been nourished in the name of Terrorism. It’s a very small step to go from supporting the abuse of defenseless detainees (including one’s fellow citizens) to supporting the pepper-spraying and tasering of non-violent political protesters. It’s an even smaller step to go from supporting the power of the President to imprison or kill anyone he wants (including one’s fellow citizens) with no transparency, checks or due process to supporting the power of the police and the authorities who command them to punish with force anyone who commits the “crime” of non-compliance. At the root of all of those views is the classic authoritarian mindset: reflexive support for authority, contempt for those who challenge them, and a blind faith in their unilateral, unchecked decisions.

    The American citizenry, egged on by our press corps and joined by some government figures, cheered on the brave citizen movements in Egypt, Libya, and elsewhere to violently overthrow their own authoritarian governments. Yet a large percentage of the American people and press cannot tolerate the notion of peaceful domestic protest against demonstrable evidence of growing inequality in our own country and globally.


  7. And you'll note that our members here with closer sympathies to the TP than to OWS, as well as Fox News and the like, criticize OWS for not "occupying Capitol Hill" rather than occupying the bastions of capitalism. ;)


    I would not like to see OWS and the TP join hands at an attempt to consolidate influence. They do have too little in common, and it seems to me it would be more difficult for the powers to quash many little fires rather than one big fire.


  8. Correct. Nobody has their hands clean on this. Let's idly ponder why there have been no prosecutions of, say, officials who OK'd torture, or telecoms who illegally spied on American citizens. Is it because, as our current President says, we need to "look forward, not back?" Ridiculous on its face. It's because people in high positions in both parties were party to the lawbreaking.


    And yet, you're the partisan, moctoj2, and kropotkin is merely pragmatic. I'm not seeing much of that pragmatism on the past few pages here. ;)



    My guess is that Obama's re-election campaign will try to offer jobs to some of the Occupy people in order to co-opt them, promising them that they'll be able to have a role in an Administration that will make the wealthy pay higher taxes which will be used to fund increased social spending, but that it can only be accomplished as long as a Democratic Congress is elected. This tactic would be planned to have the Occupy types working their tails off not only to re-elect Obama but to return the House to Democratic conrol and keep the Senate in Democratic hands.


    No, no. The actual campaigns don't have to do anything as direct as that anymore! The special interest groups will do it for them (my bolds):



    A coalition of labor and progressive groups is about to unveil its answer to that question. Get ready for “Occupy Congress.”


    The coalition — which includes unions like SEIU [service Employees International Union] and CWA [Communications Workers of America] and groups like the Center for Community Change — is currently working on a plan to bus thousands of protesters from across the country to Washington, where they will congregate around the Capitol from December 5-9, SEIU president Mary Kay Henry tells me in an interview.. . .


    “The reason we’re targeting Republicans is because this is about jobs,” she said. “The Republicans’ insistence that no revenue can be put on the table is the reason we’re not creating jobs in this country. We want to draw a stark contrast between a party that wants to scapegoat immigrants, attack public workers, and protect the rich, versus a president who has been saying he wants America to get back to work and that everybody should pay their fair share.”

    The SEIU has already endorsed Obama for President in 2012.


    So basically you already have these groups making an end run around the Occupy protesters themselves to co-opt the name, energy, and message of the movement and turn it against Republicans, while the actual protesters are angry at both parties and the Washington political establishment in general.


    Let's remember that the Citizens United decision gave unions as well as corporations almost unlimited scope to broadcast their own political positions. This move is just as ironic as the federal funding to arm local police departments with paramilitary equipment officially intended to be used against "terrorists," but instead used against peaceful protesters.


    We're going to see the repercussions of Citizens United this election cycle. More money than ever will be spent on the 2012 elections. Wisconsin saw it already last summer with the recall elections of some of its legislators in the wake of Governor Walker's power grab.



    If you dig into the details of Fannie Mae, you might agree that it is one of the worst cesspools of government corruption ever. Its derivatives book is legendary. Franklin Raines should probably be in jail, but he is very well connected.


    Looks like the new GOP front-runner has dirty hands vis-a-vis Fannie/Freddie:




    Newt Gingrich made between $1.6 million and $1.8 million in consulting fees from two contracts with mortgage company Freddie Mac, according to two people familiar with the arrangement.


    The total amount is significantly larger than the $300,000 payment from Freddie Mac that Gingrich was asked about during a Republican presidential debate on Nov. 9 sponsored by CNBC, and more than was disclosed in the middle of congressional investigations into the housing industry collapse. . . .


    Here is the even bigger joke: Gingrich was paid a self-renewing, monthly retainer of $25,000 – $30,000 between May 1999 until 2002. That is according to Bloomberg, who verified the contract with “three people familiar with aspects of the business agreement.” The kicker: Gingrich consulted with Freddie Mac executives on a program to expand home ownership, and “helped pitch the idea to President George W. Bush’s White House.”


    Gingrich has previously said that “You ought to start with Barney Frank when talking about people to put in jail . . . Go back and look at the lobbyists he was close to at Freddie Mac.”



  11. moctoj2, these local police departments were able to buy what amounts to paramilitary equipment with federal money intended to help them "fight terrorism." Not with local funds.


    Isn't it beautiful? The federal government creates policies that dramatically increase income disparities over time. At the same time, our federal tax dollars go to fund weapons and ammunition officially meant to "fight terrorists," but that actually end up turned against peaceful domestic protesters out in the streets to show their displeasure over the income disparities. Also, laws presumably intended to be used against "terrorists" are used against arrested protesters.


  12. My 6-year-old daughter told me she wanted to have a baby the other day. When I asked her why, she said "because I can play with it. Kids are fun!" I asked her if she would still think kids are fun when she actually gets old enough to have a baby, she said yes.


    Somehow, I'm not too worried. This is the same kid who asked recently if you have to kiss and hug when you get married.


  13. I don't think anyone has yet mentioned here the role Firedoglake is playing to support the Occupy Wall Street movement (my bolds).



    Ever since the Occupy movement began, the blog FireDogLake, with very little attention or self-promotion, has overwhelmingly devoted itself not only to covering the protests but also to creating an amazing new template to help sustain it. Exclusively relying on reader donations, FDL has sent one of its youngest and most relentless activists, Kevin Gosztola, around the country for the last two months, visiting over 50 different encampments from every region in the nation. Gosztola has been able to provide first-hand, on-the-scene reporting from all of these sites, but more important, has built a network of representatives and liasons to enable coordination and communication among site organizers.


    Over the past month, FDL — with the construction of this network — has done something truly amazing. In addition to police crackdowns, it has long been assumed that the greatest challenge to sustaining the Occupy movement would be the approaching harsh winter in Northern cities. The assumption — not unreasonable — was that few people would be willing to occupy outdoor spaces in zero-degree weather or below. FDL, with its “Occupy Supply” project, is all but ensuring the elimination of this problem.


    Again using nothing more than reader donations, FDL designed and then purchased a full line of winter clothing for free distribution to the various Occupy sites around the nation: hats, sweaters, scarves, gloves, socks, blankets, jackets, thermal underwear, face masks, and more. Every penny FDL raises — 100% — goes exclusively toward the manufacture and free distribution of these products to Occupy protesters. They have thus far raised close to $90,000, and spent roughly $85,000 of it on the purchase of almost 7,000 items. They have also furnished heat generators, tents, and sleeping bags to numerous sites as well.

    You can donate to Occupy Supply here.


  14. Ironically, (speaking of pitchforks and mobs), OWS is seeing its biggest nationwide crackdowns this week.



    I doubt the directors at any company could retain their jobs while buying puts on their own stock or the stock of partners.

    Directors of publicly-traded companies have mandatory disclosure rules about their personal trades of their own company's stock. Not so legislators, aides, and other Washington insiders, who aren't required to publicly disclose what stocks they own, buy, or trade.


    If that's not another illustration of our two-tiered justice system, I don't know what is.


    By the way, back to the pitchfork-wielding mobs, this is what they can look forward to (my bolds):



    The reason the U.S. has para-militarized its police forces is precisely to control this type of domestic unrest, and it’s simply impossible to imagine its not being deployed in full against a growing protest movement aimed at grossly and corruptly unequal resource distribution. As Madeleine Albright said when arguing for U.S. military intervention in the Balkans: “What’s the point of having this superb military you’re always talking about if we can’t use it?” That’s obviously how governors, big-city Mayors and Police Chiefs feel about the stockpiles of assault rifles, SWAT gear, hi-tech helicopters, and the coming-soon drone technology lavished on them in the wake of the post/9-11 Security State explosion, to say nothing of the enormous federal law enforcement apparatus that, more than anything else, resembles a standing army which is increasingly directed inward.


    Most of this militarization has been justified by invoking Scary Foreign Threats — primarily the Terrorist — but its prime purpose is domestic. As civil libertarians endlessly point out, the primary reason to oppose new expansions of government power is because it always — always — vastly expands beyond its original realm. I remember quite vividly the war-zone-like police force deployed against protesters at the 2008 GOP Convention in Minneapolis, as well as the invocation of Terrorism statutes to arrest and punish them, with the active involvement of federal law enforcement.



  15. I love Amazon Prime, but mostly because between my husband and myself, we would normally spend more than that on shipping for Amazon stuff in a year. Now we pay less for shipping and get it faster.


    Shipping service in the US has slowed down significantly, I've noticed. It's true that I used to get stuff from Amazon in two days, but it was getting to be more like 4 or 5. Being a Prime member has allowed/encouraged me to buy stuff from Amazon that I would otherwise go to the store for, because in the past, the store would have been faster.


    The Amazon Lending Library selection is fairly limited. There are best-sellers on the program from a few months ago; books that are now selling new in paperback from $8-$10, so if you missed something you wanted to read, it might be there. You have to be a US Amazon Prime member to access the lending library, but all Kindles have access to it, not just the Fire.


  16. Greenwald on Bloomberg's actions (my bold):



    UPDATE: A New York state judge this morning temporarily enjoined the city from keeping the protesters out of Zuccotti Park, but Mayor Bloomberg is simply ignoring the Order and deliberately breaking the law by refusing to allow them back in. Put another way, Bloomberg this morning has broken more laws than the hundreds of protesters who were arrested. But as we know, the law does not apply to the Michael Bloombergs of the nation; the law, instead, has simply been exploited into a weapon used by the politically and financially powerful to prevent challenges to their standing.


    Could #OWS have scripted a more apt antagonist than this living, breathing personification of oligarchy: a Wall Street billionaire who so brazenly purchased his political office, engineered the overturning of a term-limits referendum and then spent more than $100 million of his person fortune to stay in power, and now resides well above the law?


    UPDATE II: To justify his raid, Mayor Bloomberg said: ”We must never be afraid to insist on compliance with our laws.” Leaving aside the fact that torturers, illegal eavesdroppers, wagers of aggressive war, Wall Streets defrauders, and mortgate thieves are some of his best friends who thrive and profit rather than sit in a jail cell, this is the same Mayor Bloomberg who, now beyond all dispute, is knowingly and deliberately breaking the law by violating a Court Order of which he is well aware. He’d be arrested for that if he weren’t a billionaire Mayor. Today really is the most vivid expression seen in quite some time of the two-tiered justice system I wrote my book to highlight; the real criminals are not only shielded from the law’s mandates, but affirmatively use it as an instrument to entrench themselves in power and protect their ill-gotten gains.




    To be fair, I doubt most of those developing and implementing those policies had any inkling what the results of their policies would be.


    I don't think they did, either. There was research showing that roots in, and investment in, a community stabilized households and brought down the crime rate. The idea was to encourage more home ownership in lower-middle-class communities and thereby lower the crime rate in those areas.


    That Glass-Steagall was repealed at around the same time as the HUD policy encouraging home ownership at lower incomes was astonishingly bad luck, it would seem from today's perspective.