Saturday, June 26, 2010

Short-Term Memories, Long-Term Consequences

Does anyone remember 6 weeks ago when Nomi Prins (and I) predicted that the so-called "financial regulation reform" measure would be a shell, behind which the Banksters would get pretty much everything they wanted and the Prez, and Congress, after an appropriate amount of legislative kabuki, would tout it as "real reform?"


It has not gone COMPLETELY unnoticed in the blizzard of self-congratulatory, congressional and executive codswallop that the circus is STILL in town. The TAKE-AWAY: "(T)he legislation leaves largely untouched some of the biggest concerns about the financial industry that grew out of the mortgage meltdown and the resulting credit crisis. These include worries that banks have grown so powerful that they are "too big to fail," and that Wall Street's pay system — built on the annual bonus — has made short-term trading profits the primary focus."

The rest, via the LATimes:
Financial reform package wouldn't change Wall Street much

The legislation leaves largely untouched some of the biggest concerns about the financial industry that grew out of the mortgage meltdown and the resulting credit crisis.

By Nathaniel Popper and Walter Hamilton, Los Angeles Times

Reporting from Washington and Los Angeles — The financial reform legislation might change how Wall Street does business, but it would hardly put Wall Street out of business.

The measure that emerged from a House-Senate conference committee would push banks to make their trading in complex securities known as derivatives more transparent and to cut back on some of the risky trading that triggered the financial crisis. It would also give regulators new powers to oversee lightly regulated financial firms, including hedge funds and insurers.

But though the legislation would put new limits on Wall Street banks, it wouldn't outright bar many of their activities — including rapid-fire stock and bond trading and the packaging of complex securities to hedge their investment bets.

After the dust settles, and they've crossed all the Ts, there's probably not going to be much difference in how the banking industry looks — that's the long and short of it," said Raymond Stewart, chief investment officer of Rasara Strategies, which specializes in investing in the financial sector.

Moreover, the legislation leaves largely untouched some of the biggest concerns about the financial industry that grew out of the mortgage meltdown and the resulting credit crisis. These include worries that banks have grown so powerful that they are "too big to fail," and that Wall Street's pay system — built on the annual bonus — has made short-term trading profits the primary focus.

Sheila Bair, head of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., said that many of the measures that most scared the banks — including provisions to restrict trading of derivatives — ended up being scaled back in the legislative scrum.

"I think they are breathing a sigh of relief today because the derivatives piece ended up being much less onerous than they originally expected," Bair said. "It could have been a lot worse."

Reflecting that sentiment, financial stock indexes jumped almost 3% after sinking about 15% in the last two months.

The country's giant banks do expect to feel bottom-line financial pain from the legislation, including from restrictions on so-called proprietary trading, in which a bank trades stocks, bonds and other securities for its own profit, not on behalf of a client.

Restrictions on proprietary trading and derivatives trading would affect Goldman Sachs Group Inc. the most of any Wall Street bank, according to one estimate, cutting its earning power by up to 23%.

"In the short run you're going to have some pressure on your revenues — and some pressure on costs," said Matthew Warren, a financial industry analyst at research firm Morningstar. "In the long run, though, it's just not going to be that different."

The legislation will go to the full House and Senate for floor votes next week, and President Obama has said he hopes to sign the bill by July 4.

In one major change, the legislation provides for a council of regulators that would have the ability to wind down financial institutions that end up in trouble and that are deemed "systemically significant" — such as insurance companies.

But the overhaul legislation wouldn't force big banks — the target of much public criticism during the crisis — to shrink.

In contrast, in the 1930s, the landmark Glass-Steagall Act forced banks to separate their riskier investment banking operations from their commercial banks, which predominantly take deposits and make loans. The idea was to protect commercial banks, which are backed by federal deposit insurance, from devastation during financial crises. The Glass-Steagall provision, however, was repealed in 1999.

Moving back in the direction of Glass-Steagall, the Obama administration proposed the so-called Volcker rule, developed by former Federal Reserve chief Paul Volcker. The rule was one of the most contentious elements of this week's negotiations. The final compromise limits banks to investing no more than 3% of their capital in hedge funds, private equity funds and proprietary trading desks.

On derivatives, the banks would be forced to move some particularly risky trading into separate entities. Virtually all derivatives would have to be traded through a clearinghouse, bringing down some of the profits from the private derivatives deals in which the banks currently engage.

Among the measures that reformers wanted to see — but that were not included in the bill — was an independent oversight board to address conflicts of interest in the debt-rating industry. Firms such as Standard & Poor's and Moody's have been blamed for bestowing bullish grades on mortgage-linked securities that subsequently plummeted in value during the housing bust.

The Senate bill would have created an oversight board, but congressional negotiators last week agreed to drop that provision, opting instead for a study by the Securities and Exchange Commission along with a slightly easier path for investors to sue the rating firms.

The legislation also doesn't deal with Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the government-sponsored mortgage finance giants that have been blamed for contributing to the mortgage meltdown.

"The big hole here is that nothing is being done about Fannie and Freddie," said Robert Pozen, chairman of MFS Investment Management and a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution. "And that is a huge hole."
"It's a great moment. I'm proud to have been here," said a teary-eyed Sen. Christopher J. Dodd (D-Conn.), who as chairman of the Senate Banking Committee led the effort in the Senate" --

...Who had, thereby, just consummated the deal that secured his future in the manner to which, as a senior member of the 'greatest deliberative body in the world,' he has become understandably attached. His career path ensured: first, to some cushy boards of directors for a couple of years, while he waits out the two-year "moratorium" on actively lobbying your former colleagues, and thence to a multi-million-dollar-per-year sinecure on K Street.

Mission (as they say): Accomplished.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Anti-immigration is White Nationalism

Here's a buried gem with a straight-forward message: Don't be in the least confused: Anti-immigration is White Nationalism

November 23, 2009 by Sarah Viets

After reading about the John Tanton Network’s relationship (PDF) to eugenics and possibly sterilization, I finally broke down in tears. As a researcher who studies white nationalism and anti-immigration for a civil rights organization, the majority of what I read is deeply offensive. It usually doesn’t bother me; I see my work as a necessary tool to educate people about white nationalism in a post-civil rights era. But as I re-read how eugenics scholars may have advocated for the forced sterilization of non-Christian people who weren’t white, I turned off my desk lamp and went home for the night.

As Barry Mehler points out in the video, Immigration and the White Nationalist Movement, modern day anti-immigration is rooted in the eugenics movement of the 1920s, similar to anti-immigration in the 20th century. Both fought, and are fighting, to preserve the idea of a white nation. However, unlike today, anti-immigration of the 1920’s openly fought to preserve white supremacy. Since it’s no longer socially acceptable to openly promote eugenics, modern anti-immigration hides its white nationalist roots.“The movement to restrict immigration, legal immigration and illegal immigration is a white nationalist movement. The concern is for white control of the United States”, says Mehler when addressing the links between the two movements.

The "intellectuals/thinkers" behind modern anti-immigration are some of the exact same leaders behind the current white nationalist movement. The creation of over two dozen anti-immigrant organizations, including the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), was driven by white nationalism. Both concur their believe (sic) that multi-racial societies are inherently unstable, and…that a preference for one’s own group is natural, normal, and healthy and that “the genetic make-up of “non-white” people is biologically and culturally inferior to white people.” In fact, anti-immigration is white nationalism.

For example, John Tanton, the founder of FAIR, the Center for Immigration Studies, and NumbersUSA, received over 1.2 million from a pro-eugenics foundation. The editor of Tanton’s quarterly journal, The Social Contract, is also a board member of the well-known anti-Semitic organization, The Charles Martel Society. The summer 2009 issue of The Social Contract asserts that “new research shows that evolutionarily driven genetic factors provide a powerful explanation of differences in both achievement and temperament.” According to the author, “Not only are we supposedly biologically different, immigration will threaten the intellectual development of our nation. “

As Rep. Luis Gutierrez lays the ground work for immigration reform, Americans must remember that the issue isn’t necessarily immigration.

It’s a debate about what America should look like.
This point is, of course, echoed in the developments around the school mural in Prescott, AZ., a couple of weeks ago.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Texas Oil Companies Bought A Ballot Place For An Initiative To CRIPPLE CA's Clean Air Law

Via DailyKos (retch)...Here's more of what Citizen's United portends for local and state-level politics. (The only surprise, to me, is that it seems to have taken the big money so long to fully exploit and co-opt this "progressive" initiative-system)

TX Oil Companies Try to Kill CA Clean Energy Legislation

As if the oil companies from Texas – and their allies in the corridors of power - hadn’t done enough harm to our country already (for more, see the late, great Gulf of Mexico), now they are at it once again. This time, it’s Valero and Tesoro, pouring money into a campaign this election season to undo California’s landmark, clean energy and climate law, AB 32. On Tuesday, the oil companies’ proposition was certified for the November ballot. The fight, as they say, is on!

Why should you care? Let us count the ways.

NRDCActionFund's diary :: ::

First and foremost, whether you’re a Californian or not, this campaign should concern you because if the oil companies succeed here, they will try this everywhere – in other states and at the federal level. Mark our words, that’s exactly what they’re up to here.

Second, let’s be absolutely clear about what this proposition says. As the Stop Dirty Energy website explains, "The Texas oil companies want you to believe it’s simply a "temporary" suspension. However, their deceptive proposition would repeal AB 32 until unemployment reached 5.5% for a full year – a market condition that has only occurred three times in the last 30 years." Which means that this proposition is nothing less than "an effective repeal of [California’s] clean energy and clean air laws." In sum, they want to kill this landmark law. Period. Don’t let their propaganda fool you into believing anything else.

Third, let’s also be clear who these people are and how utterly deceptive they’re willing to be. According to the Stop Dirty Energy Facebook page, oil companies including Valero and Tesoro recently "released yet another study bought, sold, and paid for by polluters on the impacts of AB 32." The study, for the California Manufacturers and Technology Association (CMTA) by the California Lutheran University's right-wing economics chief," is nothing more than "junk economics paid for by polluters that defies the reality that clean tech is the fastest-growing segment of the California economy." It gets even worse, with the author of a previous, fallacious study by CMTA attacking AB 32 affiliated with the global-warming-denying Heartland Institute, which receives heavy funding from our friends at Exxon Mobil. This institute also enjoys holding conferences to downplay and deny climate science. That’s who we’re dealing with here. That’s who we’re fighting.

Fourth, it’s important to emphasize what’s at stake here. Other than minor matters (ha) like the environment, public health and national security, this is about J-O-B-S. Specifically, the only sector of job growth in California has been in the clean energy technology development sector. For more, watch this video and hear how AB 32=Jobs (and, on the flip side, how killing AB 32 will kill those jobs).

Fifth, this proposition will not just hurt California jobs, it will also hurt Californians’ health and ability to breathe clean air. As the Stop Dirty Energy website points out, this proposition "would create more air pollution in California and threaten public health." Currently, "California’s air pollution crisis contributes to 19,000 premature deaths, 9,400 hospitalizations, and more than 300,000 respiratory illnesses for California families." Just imagine how much worse it will be if the Texas oil companies get their way and gut California’s clean air laws!

Finally, as NRDC wrote in a blog post entitled, "California Crossroads, "The oil companies have chosen California as their battleground to crush the progress the State’s made in moving away from fossil fuels and toward clean energy." NRDC reported from a media event (see photo above) at "Pier 7 on the city’s embarcadero, overlooking the bay that is the largest and most biologically productive estuary on the West Coast" (and also where "the tanker Cosco Buscan ran aground in 2007, spilling more than 53,000 gallons of heavy bunker oil, killing wildlife and providing a harbinger of the great environmental tragedy now unfolding in the Gulf of Mexico"). As the NRDC blog post puts it, "We can’t let Texas oil destroy California’s future simply for the purpose of stuffing more cash into their already bulging coffers."

Monday, June 21, 2010

March 22, 2010 — An animated interview of John Perkins, author of 'HoodWinked' and 'Confessions Of An Economic Hitman'--Copyright of the audio belongs to John Perkins.
For more visit

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Who airbrushes out the face of the interviewer?

Inquiring minds want to know why the "film-makers' obscured the face of the primary antagonist/interrogator, and why these 'plain students' refused to answer where they were student?.

No legit academic or journalistic aspirant would CAMOUFLAGE their affiliations. They'd be proud of it, would flaunt it. "Hello Congressman. I'm Woody, in a class at GWU. We're doing a project. Would you mind answering a couple of quick questions?"

This smacks of another thuggish, Andrew--asswhole-Breitbart, ACORN-entrapment stunt.

If such pasty-faced little gunsels had accosted me in like manner, one of 'em would have gone home with my pointy-toed boot up his ass.