Tags: Oligarchy

New York Times Reports – “Fannie and Freddie are Back, Bigger and Badder Than Ever”

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Just in case you still harbored any doubt that absolutely zero lessons were learned from the cataclysmic financial collapse of 2008/09. We learn from the New York Times that:

AFTER the financial crisis of 2008, there was one thing that almost everyone agreed on. The government-sponsored mortgage giants, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, had to go. While shareholders and executives reaped the profits from Fannie and Freddie in good times, taxpayers were stuck with the bill in a crisis. President Obama described their dysfunctional business model as “Heads we win, tails you lose.” But here we are, seven years after the crisis, and nothing has changed.

In the 2008 crisis, when it looked as if Fannie and Freddie might go bankrupt, Henry M. Paulson Jr., then the Treasury secretary, argued that their fall would cause economic catastrophe. Foreign investors, stuck with their securities, would panic, and the mortgage market would shut down. So Fannie and Freddie were put into something called conservatorship, and are now government controlled, supported by a line of credit from the Treasury.

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A Message to the Peasants – Jeb Bush Says Americans Need to Work Longer Hours

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Over the past several years, as the U.S. economy has transitioned more and more into a corrupt oligarchy, we’ve seen an increase in statements by certain members of the so called “elite” class, in which they condescendingly lecture the average American. The message is always a variant of, “you need to work harder,” or “prepare for tough times ahead.” Of course, there’s never any reference to the fact that the entire U.S. economy has morphed into little more than a rigged fraud, intentionally set up to result in the current neo-feudal environment we see before us.

I first picked up upon this trend after witnessing a disgustingly ignorant appearance by real estate mogul Sam Zell on CNBC. It prompted me to compose a lengthy post titled, An Open Letter to Sam Zell: Why Your Statements are Delusional and Dangerous. Here’s an excerpt:

Your misdiagnosis of the root cause of the current dissent in America is a result of your obliviousness to the actual concerns of the 99%. A group about which you speak with such certainty, yet certainly know almost nothing about. In fact, my website is dedicated to highlighting all of the destructive trends happening in this nation today. From record high food stamp participation, to declining real wages and the reality that young people need to take on so much debt they become indentured serfs from the moment they enter the workforce. From a loss of 4th Amendment rights due to illegal NSA spying, to the militarization of the police force. From oligarch immunity from serious financial crimes that average citizens would be thrown in jail for life for, to trillion dollar bailouts with zero strings attached for the financial community. From the over-prosecution of some of our bravest citizens such as Aaron SwartzBarrett Brown and Private Manning to a fraudulent two-party sham political system entirely controlled by your socio-economic class.

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Video of the Day – CNN Reporter Dumbfounded as Black College Student Defends the Confederate Flag

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Divide and conquer has been the most successful strategy used by humans to attain and maintain power since ancient times. The concept is simple and effective in that those being ruled are too busy fighting amongst themselves to be capable of taking a step back and seeing the bigger picture. The bigger picture is that they are being intentionally played.

This strategy is being quite effectively employed by the American oligarchy against the American population. While racism and associated violence certainly still exist, as we recently saw in the South Carolina tragedy, this remains a marginal issue compared to the relentless, systemic and daily oligarch oppression against hundreds of millions of people. The issue of the 0.01% versus the 99.99% is almost never covered or hyped on mainstream media, while issues of “sexism” and “racism” are covered and exploited incessantly. Why is that? It’s divide and conquer stupid.

Naturally, the American plebs must be kept distracted and consumed by issues that, while important, pale in comparison to the major issue of our time: The financial oppression of everyone by a handful of oligarchs and their servants in Congress. Nothing will change as long as we continue to fight amongst ourselves for the diminishing scraps of a shrinking pie and remain incapable of seeing the true problem. The status quo understands this and leverages it more than anyone wishes to admit. 

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You’ve Been Warned – Calls for Mandatory “National Service” for Americans Aged 18-28 Has Begun

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CHAPTER ONE

War is a Racket

WAR is a racket. It always has been.

It is possibly the oldest, easily the most profitable, surely the most vicious. It is the only one international in scope. It is the only one in which the profits are reckoned in dollars and the losses in lives.

A racket is best described, I believe, as something that is not what it seems to the majority of the people. Only a small “inside” group knows what it is about. It is conducted for the benefit of the very few, at the expense of the very many. Out of war a few people make huge fortunes.

– From Major General Smedley Butler’s War is a Rackett

This is one of the most important articles I will write all year. The statists are coming for your kids, and the conditioning has already begun.

Last night, I came across one of the most horrifying articles I have ever read, which is saying a lot. Before I get into it, take a look at the title and the tagline:

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If you think the title is bad, wait until you read the article. What becomes evident is that this grotesque concept of forced “national service” is being actively discussed at the highest levels of government. What Ron Fournier is doing in his National Journal article is conditioning the public to accept something that is completely unacceptable.

Before we get to that, who is Ron Fournier? National Journal provides a bio:

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Paul Ryan Channels Pelosi on the TPP – You Have to Pass Obamatrade to See What’s in Obamatrade

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Chief Obamatrade proponent House Ways and Means Committee chairman Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) admitted during Congressional testimony on Wednesday evening that despite tons of claims from him and other Obamatrade supporters to the contrary, the process is highly secretive.

He also made a gaffe in his House Rules Committee testimony on par with former Speaker Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA)’s push to pass Obamacare, in which she said infamously said: “we have to pass the bill so that you can find out what is in it.”

“It’s declassified and made public once it’s agreed to,” Ryan said of Obamatrade in Rules Committee testimony on Wednesday during questioning from Rep. Michael Burgess (R-TX).

What Ryan is technically referring to is that TPP will become public if TPA is agreed to—but Congress will lose much of its ability to have oversight over and influence on the process, since TPP is, in many respects, already negotiated. It’s 800 pages long, and on fast-track, Congress will only get an up-or-down vote and won’t be able to offer amendments. The Senate vote threshold also drops down to a simple majority rather than normally having a 60-vote threshold, or in the case of treaties, a 67-vote threshold.

– From the Breitbart article: Paul Ryan’s Pelosi-Esque Obamatrade Moment: ‘It’s Declassified and Made Public Once it’s Agreed To’

If you still think that the establishment Republicans in Congress represent real opposition to President Obama’s policies, you’re either extremely brainwashed or extremely stupid.

Honestly, I don’t know what it will take for some people to wake up. How many times do you need to be used, abused and conned by slimy politicians before you can shake off your political Stockholm Syndrome? Does John Boehner need to drive up to your front door in a motorcade and eat your first born’s liver at the dinner table with your wife’s silverware before you get it? It’s pathetic.

The focus of today’s piece is the secretive corporatist giveaway known as the Trans Pacific Partnership, or TPP. I’ve written about this frequently as of late, see:

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Shots Fired – Jamie Dimon Questions Elizabeth Warren’s “Understanding of the Global Banking System”

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I think the following comments will come back to haunt Jamie Dimon. They represent the perspective of an out of touch, financial oligarch who is so consistently fed bullshit compliments by all those surrounding him, he has no idea how badly this will backfire in the long-run.

What Jamie Dimon doesn’t understand, is that people still hate the big banks. Half a decade into this oligarch theft marketed as an economic recovery, have you ever met a single person who didn’t harbor bad feelings toward the banks and the bailouts? I haven’t.

While Elizabeth Warren herself might not be personally popular across the political spectrum, her message on the banks is. If this message still resonates now, it will only resonate much more in the years ahead when the economy enters its next downturn. At that point, Mr. Dimon will be very sorry he made this comment.

You don’t want to poke Elizabeth Warren in the eye with a stick, and that is exactly what he just did. This was a really stupid move. One that can only be explained away by mindless hubris; something disconnected elites are famous for throughout history.

From Bloomberg:

JPMorgan Chase & Co. Chief Executive Officer Jamie Dimon took aim at U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren, a critic of large banks, as he expressed broad concerns about leadership in Washington.

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Another Tale from the Oligarch Recovery – How a $1,500 Sofa Costs $4,150 When You’re Poor

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Five years into a national economic recovery that has further strained the poor working class, an entire industry has grown around handing them a lifeline to the material rewards of middle-class life. Retailers in the post-Great Recession years have become even more likely to work with customers who don’t have the money upfront, instead offering a widening spectrum of payment plans that ultimately cost far more and add to the burdens of life on the economy’s fringes

In some ways, the business harkens back to the subprime boom of the early 2000s, when lenders handed out loans to low-income borrowers with little credit history. But while people in those days were charged perhaps an interest rate of 5 to 10 percent, at rental centers the poor find themselves paying effective annual interest rates of more than 100 percent. With business models such as “rent-to-own,” in which transactions are categorized as leases, stores like Buddy’s can avoid state usury laws and other regulations…

By the next day, the Abbotts had a remade living room, two companion pieces, both of the same blended material, 17 percent leather. The love seat and sofa retailed, together, for about $1,500. Abbott would pay for hers over two years, though she still had paying the option to pay monthly or weekly. The total price if paid weekly: $4,158.

“I’ve never seen a customer base or an economy like this,” Gazzo said in a telephone interview from the company’s headquarters in Tampa.

– From the Washington Post article: Rental America: Why the Poor Pay $4,150 for a $1,500 Sofa

When you bail out financial criminals and predators, you get a criminal and predatory economy. If there’s one clear lesson from the 2008 crisis and its aftermath, that should be it.

Earlier this week, I published an article titled, Land of the Debt Serf – How “Auto Title Loan” Companies are Ruthlessly Preying on America’s Growing Underclass. In it, we saw how efficiently the Fed’s 0% interest rate policy trickles down to the poor. In fact, preying on the poor for profits has been one America’s most vibrant business models since the “recovery” took hold. We learned that:

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It’s Not Just the Clintons – George W. Bush is Making Tens of Millions on the Speech Circuit

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Toward the end of his presidency, George W. Bush told Robert Draper, reporting for a book called Dead Certain, that he intended after vacating the Oval Office to “replenish the ol’ coffers.” He said he could make “ridiculous” money on the lecture circuit.

Since 2009, POLITICO has found, Bush has given at least 200 paid speeches and probably many more, typically pocketing $100,000 to $175,000 per appearance. The part-time work, which rarely requires more than an hour on stage, has earned him tens of millions of dollars.

“The post-presidential industrial complex at work,” said Brandon Rottinghaus, a political science professor at the University of Houston.

– From the Politico article: On Talk circuit, George W. Bush Makes Millions but Few Waves

By now, it’s pretty clear that the U.S. Presidency represents little more than a 4-8 year period in which the chosen puppet proves his or her worthiness to America’s billionaire class. After this time, the lucky individual will be handsomely rewarded for sufficiently supporting and protecting the entrenched, corrupt status quo.

This is precisely why Obama has continued (and builded upon) all of the heinous polices of his predecessor’s legacy with ruthless enthusiasm. The Presidency is not the pinnacle of American power, as many people uncritically believe. In reality, the office is primarily for show. A marketing trick to make the unsuspecting, divided and conquered public think they have a choice in how the country is governed. For the office holder, it represents a stepping stone to the real goal — unimaginable riches.

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Land of the Debt Serf – How “Auto Title Loan” Companies are Ruthlessly Preying on America’s Growing Underclass

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Short-term lenders, seeking a detour around newly toughened restrictions on payday and other small loans, are pushing Americans to borrow more money than they often need by using their debt-free autos as collateral.

Their hefty principal and high interest rates are creating another avenue that traps unwary consumers in a cycle of debt. For about 1 out of 9 borrowers, the loan ends with their vehicles being repossessed…

But Jordan said it wouldn’t make a loan that small. Instead, it would lend her $2,600 at what she later would learn was the equivalent of 153% annual interest — as long as she put up her 2005 Buick Rendezvous sport utility vehicle as collateral.

State law limits payday loans to $300, minus a maximum fee of $45. California also caps interest rates on consumer loans of less than $2,500 on a sliding scale that averages about 30%. Consumer loans above $2,500 have no interest rate limit.

For that reason, essentially all auto title loans in the state are above that level, according to the state’s business oversight department.

– From the excellent LA Times article: More Auto Title Lenders are Snagging Unwary Borrowers in Cycle of Debt

Last week, I published an article highlighting how the use of “alternative financial services” has continued to increase despite the so-called economic “recovery.” These services include payday loans, refund-anticipation loans, pawnshops, rent-to-own services, and the little known, but recently surging, category called auto title loans. Here’s an excerpt from that post, titled Use of Alternative Financial Services, Such as Payday Loans, Continues to Increase Despite the “Recovery”:

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A Professor Speaks Out – How Coddled, Hyper Sensitive Undergrads are Ruining College Learning

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Things have changed since I started teaching. The vibe is different. I wish there were a less blunt way to put this, but my students sometimes scare me — particularly the liberal ones.

I once saw an adjunct not get his contract renewed after students complained that he exposed them to “offensive” texts written by Edward Said and Mark Twain. His response, that the texts were meant to be a little upsetting, only fueled the students’ ire and sealed his fate.  That was enough to get me to comb through my syllabi and cut out anything I could see upsetting a coddled undergrad, texts ranging from Upton Sinclair to Maureen Tkacik — and I wasn’t the only one who made adjustments, either.

The current student-teacher dynamic has been shaped by a large confluence of factors, and perhaps the most important of these is the manner in which cultural studies and social justice writers have comported themselves in popular media. I have a great deal of respect for both of these fields, but their manifestations online, their desire to democratize complex fields of study by making them as digestible as a TGIF sitcom, has led to adoption of a totalizing, simplistic, unworkable, and ultimately stifling conception of social justice. The simplicity and absolutism of this conception has combined with the precarity of academic jobs to create higher ed’s current climate of fear, a heavily policed discourse of semantic sensitivity in which safety and comfort have become the ends and the means of the college experience.

– From the Vox article: I’m a Liberal Professor, and My Liberal Students Terrify Me

The article at the center of today’s piece is truly excellent and demands much thought and introspection. One of the main themes here at Liberty Blitzkrieg since inception, has been the contention that the American population has turned into a nation of coddled, fearful serfs.

It’s not quite clear to me when this transformation actually happened, but the first undeniable evidence within my lifetime was the public’s reaction to the terror attacks of September 11, 2001. I’ve written about this before, most specifically in the post, How I Remember September 11, 2001. Here’s an excerpt:

In the days following the collapse, all I wanted was for the towers to be rebuilt just like before. I wanted the skyline back to what I had know since the day I came into this earth at a New York City hospital to be restored exactly as I had always known it. Career-wise, I felt I should leave Wall Street. I thought about going back to graduate school for political science, or maybe even join the newly created Department of Homeland Security (yes, the irony is not lost on me). I read a lengthy tome on Osama Bin Laden and al-Qaeda. I was an emotional and psychological mess, and it was when I was in this state of heightened distress that my own government and the military-industrial complex took advantage of me.

It wasn’t just me of course. It was an entire nation that was callously manipulated in the aftermath of that tragedy. The courage and generosity exhibited by so many New Yorkers and others throughout the country and indeed the world was rapidly transformed into terrifying fear. Fear that was intentionally injected repeatedly into our daily lives. Fear that translated into pointless wars and countless deaths. Fear that was used to justify the destruction of our precious civil rights. Fear that was used to initiate a gigantic power grab and the source of tremendous profits for the corporate-statists and crony-capitalsits. Unfortunately, that is the greatest legacy of 9/11.

It was the American public’s fearful and panicked emotional response to the attacks that allowed authoritarians and corrupt politicians to seamlessly and expeditiously steamroll over the civil rights of the citizenry. Unsurprisingly, this act of cowed submissiveness sent a signal to the less ethically inclined amongst us, and in the decade and a half since the attacks, the U.S. has rapidly deteriorated into something barely distinct from a Banana Republic.

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