Archive for April, 2011

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All,

Those of us who have vaguely suspected that Bush’s “Ownership Society” was just the opening gambit in a scheme to disliquidate the middle class, now have some reason to suggest that it is no conspiracy theory, but part of a deliberate plan to strip the middle class of property-ownership status by transferring all that wealth to the oligarchy.

Before you write that off as just a conspiracy theory, read this article.  You will not necessarily find fire, here, but you will certainly find a suspiciously large volume of smoke.

Scott

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Beyond ForeclosureGate – It Gets Uglier
Posted on April 21, 2011 by Michael Collins

http://coto2.wordpress.com/2011/04/21/beyond-foreclosuregate-it-gets-uglier/#more-15647

…The surface scandal is about fraudulent business practices and a systematic assault on homeowners by lenders, servicers, and the legal system. A much broader picture must be viewed in order to understand the utter contempt that the ruling elite has toward citizens and the depraved tactics used to express that contempt, all to serve endless desire to accumulate more money and power.

The set up began when we heard about the ownership society in the 2004 presidential election. President Bush defined ownership as taking the government out of our lives so more people could own homes and control their destinies. The foundation was home ownership. As Bush said on the campaign trail, “We’re creating a home — an ownership society in this country, where more Americans than ever will be able to open up their door where they live and say, welcome to my house, welcome to my piece of property” October 2, 2004.

Then Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan was uncharacteristically coherent when he laid the foundation for the swindle earlier that year. Greenspan told the Credit Union National Association that the fixed rate mortgage was “an expensive way of financing a home.” He was clear when he advised lenders that, “consumers might benefit if lenders provided greater mortgage product alternatives to the traditional fixed-rate mortgage.” February 2, 2004. Home equity through exotic mortgage products fueled consumption and became the new “margin account.”

The Chairman of the Federal Reserve and the president ratified the real estate bubble, already underway at the time, as political and financial doctrine. The advice was clear. Get an ARM, own your piece of the American Dream and spend that equity. Housing prices never go down, right? (Image)

Freddie Mack, Fannie Mae, Wall Street and the big banks provided the back room. Mortgage Backed Securities (MBS) derivatives were vastly expanded. This made it easy for more homebuyers to qualify for mortgages they might not otherwise get, credit standards dropped. Those with good credit saw an array of tantalizing zero interest loans and other mortgage products to maximize available cash and feed the stock market.

It was all good until it wasn’t.

The real scandal is the unfathomable loss of wealth and opportunities by the vast majority of citizens and the vicious attack on the most vulnerable citizens as a part that process. The attack continues and is worthy of review…

All,

BP is still keeping you off of public beaches in Louisiana.  A year later, tar balls from their mega-spill are still washing ashore, and are still polluting the beaches, and BP is still trying to keep reporters away.

One question I have: From whence comes the legal authority for a private corporation to restrict access to a piece of public property?

Scott

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BP Still Doesn’t Want You to See Its Tarballs

— By Mac McClelland
| Wed Mar. 30, 2011 3:00 AM PDT

http://motherjones.com/rights-stuff/2011/03/BP-oil-tarballs-louisiana

Lots has changed on Elmer’s Island. Nearly a year after the great oilpocalypse of 2010, this Louisiana wildlife refuge about 100 miles south of New Orleans isn’t crawling with teams of cleanup workers raking big black pools of crude off the sand; there’s no cleanup machinery or equipment; the only immediately visible remnants of the BP/Deepwater Horizon spill are the occasional tarballs, big as a kid’s head, that wash onto the shore.

Not that I can just waltz onto this public beach to see all that—not everything has changed. Like some lame iteration of Groundhog Day, the hundredth time I try to pull onto the Elmer’s Island access road from Highway 1 in southern Louisiana—some 200 days after the last time I tried it—I am, once again, stopped. Last year, it was cops blocking the road. Now it’s private security hired by BP.

“You have to get permission from central command to come on here, and then you’ll probably have to be escorted by an official,” the security guard tells me.

“How hard is it to get permission?”

“Usually pretty hard.” She says a local reporter couldn’t get through recently.

All,

This is terrific – Obama has been embarrassed by his treatment of Bradley Manning.

But the question was not asked which should have been asked – why Manning is being hidden from members of Congress who have a constitutional mandate to monitor his situation – and from the U.N. Rapporteur on Human Rights, whom the U.S. has a treaty obligation to allow access to Pfc. Manning.  That is the real question here – what is Obama trying to hide?  Is it really that Manning’s treatment is a simple case of torture because of vindictiveness?  And if so, how is that any different from some Middle East dictator?  Like, say, Qaddafi?

Scott

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Protest over accused WikiLeaker disrupts Obama fund-raiser

By James Oliphant

April 21, 2011, 10:33 a.m.

http://www.latimes.com/news/politics/la-pn-obama-fundraiser-20110421,0,1485542.story

A high-end fund-raiser for President Obama in San Francisco was disrupted Thursday by a protest over Army Pvt. Bradley Manning, accused of leaking classified information to the site WikiLeaks.

A table of 10 attending the $5,000-a-ticket fund-raiser broke into a song in the middle of the president’s remarks, held at a downtown hotel, criticizing the administration’s treatment of Manning.

According to a White House pool report, Obama was speaking to about 200 supporters when a woman stood up at one of the tables of 10 attendees and declared that the group had written a song.

Obama tried to convince the woman to wait, the report said, but the table then broke into a song that referenced Manning, the cost of the fundraiser, and Florida Rev. Terry Jones, who recently burned a copy of the Koran and sparked an outcry in Afghanistan.

“Each of us brought you $5,000. It takes a lot of Benjamins to run a campaign. I paid my dues, where’s our change,” they sang.

The group passed around signs that read “Free Bradley Manning.”

The pool reporter, Carol E. Lee of the Wall Street Journal, reported that Obama took the song “in stride” although she also noted that he looked “displeased,” as did House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, who was also present.

The woman was soon escorted from the ballroom by aides.

“That was a nice song,” Obama said. “Now where was I?”

Pentagon officials recently announced that Manning, who is charged with 34 counts, including aiding the enemy, would be transferred from the Marine brig at Quantico, Va., where he was kept in conditions akin to solitary confinement for 23 hours a day and heavily chained when he was moved, to a medium-security facility in Leavenworth, Kan., where he likely will enjoy more freedom in his daily activities.

Human rights groups have been pressuring the Obama administration on Manning’s treatment.

Obama is scheduled to proceed to Reno on Thursday for a town-hall event and then to Los Angeles for more fund-raisers.

All,

The next time someone asks Obama if Pfc. Manning is being tortured, maybe they should also ask why, if there’s nothing to hide, they are working so hard to hide him from the scrutiny of people whose job it is to monitor his situation?

This is clearly evidence that Obama, like his predecessor, has outright contempt for the Bill of Rights, and places a higher value on vengeance-seeking than the rule of law.

That means that he is unfit to be commander in chief, the chief law enforcement officer, or, for that matter, the moral leader of any nation, much less the United States.

Scott

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Kucinich Describes “Kafkaesque” Experience with DoD Over Manning

http://www.commondreams.org/newswire/2011/04/13-11

WASHINGTON – April 13 – Congressman Dennis Kucinich (D-OH), who has requested to meet with Private First Class (Pfc.) Bradley Manning to witness the conditions of his confinement, today made the following statement after news that the United Nations (U.N.) Special Rapporteur on Torture was denied an unmonitored meeting with Manning.

“Since my initial request to visit Private First Class (Pfc.) Bradley Manning on February 4, 2011, the Department of Defense (DoD) has consistently sought to frustrate any attempts to communicate with Pfc. Manning regarding his well-being.

“I or my staff have been shuffled between the Secretary of the Army, the Secretary of the Navy, and the Office of Secretary Gates. I was initially told that I would need Pfc. Manning’s approval in order to meet with him. When Pfc. Manning indicated his desire to meet with me, I was belatedly informed that the meeting could only take place if it was recorded because of a Monitoring Order imposed by the military’s Special Courts-Martial Convening Authority on September 16, 2010, which was convened for the case. Confidentiality is required, however, to achieve the candor that is necessary to perform the oversight functions with which I am tasked as a Member of the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. I was also told that I could be subpoenaed to testify about the contents of my conversation with Pfc. Manning.

“This is a clear subversion of the constitutionally protected oversight process and it severely undermines the rights of any Member of Congress seeking to gather information on the conditions of a detainee in U.S. custody.

“Though he has been held in custody since July 29, 2010, Pfc. Manning has not been convicted of any crime. His lawyer reports that he continues to be held in isolation 23 hours a day. He was also forced to strip naked at night and to stand at attention during roll call in front of other prisoners. The conditions of his treatment may violate his right to be protected from ‘cruel and unusual punishment,’ and punishment without trial as enshrined in the 8th and 5th Amendments of the Constitution.

“We now hear that the U.N. Special Rapporteur on Torture, Juan E. Mendez, was denied a private meeting with Pfc. Manning in order to determine whether the conditions of Manning’s confinement amount to torture. The very existence of a U.N. Special Rapporteur on torture investigation speaks volumes about the conditions of his treatment.

“The continued delays I have experienced amount to a subversion of Pfc. Manning’s legal rights as well as my own rights and obligations as a Member of Congress to conduct oversight. The whole world is now watching.

“What is going on with Secretary Gates and the Department of Defense with respect to Pfc. Manning’s treatment is more consistent with Kafka than the U.S. Constitution,” said Kucinich. “I will not cease in my efforts to determine whether or not the conditions under which he has been held constitute torture.”

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