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Archive for November 8th, 2012

Books, Documentaries, Reviews: Maybe We Still Have A Democracy

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Review of the Election:  November 8, 2012

Maybe We Still Have A Democracy

I had my doubts.

I was really afraid for what could happen.  After all, Hitler got elected in an economic downturn when people wanted more and were scared…  He promised to make the trains run on time…

There was so much money pitted against what’s left of our democracy.  So many lies made in order to win at any cost.  So many ads that lied.  So much fear-mongering.  So much hatred.  So much voter suppression.  So much media that portrayed the sides as equal, when they were anything but equal, especially in terms of money.  Rachael Maddow reported on November 7th that Romney’s side spent two-thirds of the campaign money, versus Obama’s one-third.

The media portrayed the election as a horse race and totally ignored any role to reveal what is true and what isn’t.  The mainstream media didn’t cover the voter suppression story or point to the awful racism, like the ads that lied that Obama had banished work under welfare.  Or, that  the auto bailout didn’t work because Jeep was taking all the jobs to China anyway.  Why should we be surprised?  The media is now big business; their plutocrat owners made a fortune off this election.

And, then, there was the alternative reality created by Fox Commentary, for even they say they don’t do “news.”  In the process truth, science, real polling data, and on and on just got erased, smeared, stamped on, eradicated.  They create a horse race every day between so-called conservatives and liberals, and they laugh all the way to the bank.

I went to bed Tuesday night after 2 a.m. and could hardly sleep.  The people “got” it.  They voted.  Some of them stayed in line for 8 and 9 hours to do so.  And, they shellacked the Romney ticket.  They said “no” to the buying of this election by the 1% who have so much money they can’t even spend it all.

I don’t want to call the Romney organization the GOP, because these folks are not the GOP I’ve always known and, many times, admired.  (I even worked for Ronald Reagan at one point in my life as a political appointee and have long cherished folks who conserve, who care about their community, who build businesses that are ethical and moral, who fear foreign entanglements, and who will fight for their country when it is needed.)  The folks in command of the GOP right now are Far, Far, Far Right Ideologues.  Most of them are wealthy and don’t have a clue what a worker in America faces every day–witness Romney’s 47% and Ryan’s 30%.  Nor have most of them served in the military.  What I realized Wednesday morning is these folks will never win in this country as long as women and workers can vote fairly.

I woke up feeling profoundly grateful for the American people, for their willingness to act on their belief that we are all so much better off when we work together then when we go it alone, for their belief in the need for the kind of government that “has their backs” when something like a storm like Sandy hits, for their refusal to let wealthy men buy this country, for their refusal to believe the lies–and on and on.  They knew Romney couldn’t produce jobs because he does not have that kind of work experience–he only knows how to get rid of good American jobs by eliminating them or sending them to China.

Because of the American people, health care will become a right and pre-existing conditions won’t stop people from getting medical attention.

Because of the American people, women will retain the rights to their bodies and will have equal pay for equal work.  (No more vaginal probes please!)

Because of the American people, workers will retain basic civil rights to organize in the workplace.  If workers don’t operate to balance owners’ excesses, we all suffer.  And if workers aren’t paid fairly for their work, they don’t have enough money to buy owners’ goods.  It’s simple math.

Because of the American people, gay people will gain civil rights across the country faster–to include being able to marry legally.  That law passed in a number of states this election.

Because of the American people, we will all enjoy a more stable economic possibility.  The GOP’s Austrian School of Economics practices (called erronously “free” market principles when it is anything but) blew out our economy.  Doubling down on it would crash the world system AND would create a hell for workers worldwide.  We would have chaos and anarchy in our streets.  Read my earlier blog entry about Crony Capitalism to see, in part, what I mean.

Because of the American people, Obama will be the one to appoint two and maybe three Supreme Court Justices.  The Supreme Court will get turned around from its ideological, pro-corporate stance.  The hollowing out of laws so that they favor corporations and stop people from being heard in our courts can be stopped.  Roe V. Wade will stand.  And, maybe, Citizens United will be stopped.

Because of the American people, something will be done about the difficulty of voting and voter suppression.

Because of the American people, Americans will stand a much-improved chance at getting real, good jobs, especially in the energy sector, in the rebuilding of our roads and bridges, and, maybe, in a return to the land as we turn toward healthy, clean food.

Because of the American people, our soldiers will come home from TWO unfunded wars.  And, when they do, they will be taken care of properly.

Because of the American people, real science will be valued.  Climate change will be recognized.  Rape will be rape.  Fetuses will remain fetuses and not persons until they have brains and can breathe.  Hopefully, toxic chemicals will be banned from the environment.  And GMOs will be labeled.

Because of the American people, FEMA will not be privatized.  Nor, our schools.  Nor any more sectors of our economy that should remain in place for the common good.

Because of the American people, maybe we are done with giving Donald Trump a stage.  And, John Sununu, who is a vicious, racist bigot.

Because of the American people, we will continue to be led by a person who is not perfect, who does not claim to be, but who is steady, careful, reliable, dignified, and who tells the truth.  We will be led by someone with real strength and character–not someone who is a shill for the plutocrats, who thinks he is strong when he mindlessly, ruthlessly, and rudely attacks, and who cannot open his mouth without lying.

Because of the American people, we will continue to have a Democracy, not a Theocracy run by Plutocrats.

I am deeply grateful and have renewed faith that maybe we do still have a democracy, however flawed it is.

Interesting Information: Rachael Maddow Show November 7, 2012

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Interesting Information:  November 8, 2012

Rachael Maddow Show November 7, 2012

She’s smart.  Really smart.

She’s nice.  Polite to all.

Her November 7, 2012, show analyzed many of the highlights of the Presidential election.

It’s a must see.  Well done, smart, polite, interesting…

You can download the podcast on itunes.

You can stream it at the MSNBC url:   http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/26315908/ns/msnbc_tv-rachel_maddow_show

 

Written by louisaenright

November 8, 2012 at 2:50 pm

Interesting Information: “Mitt Romney’s Bailout Bonanza”: The Face of Crony Capitalism

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Interesting Information:  November 8, 2012

“Mitt Romney’s Bailout Bonanza”:  The Face of Crony Capitalism

Greg Palast’s story in the November 5, 2012, issue of “The Nation” is important because it allows a picture of how crony capitalism works and why it is so exciting that the 99 percent–Americans of all creeds, colors, and genders–voted for Obama in enough numbers for him to win.  They “get” that ultra wealthy people trying to buy an election means even more trouble for the 99 percent.

The full story title is “Mitt Romney’s Bailout Bonanza”:  How Mitt and Ann made millions–and Mitt’s hedge fund donors made billions–from the auto-industry rescue that he condemned.”

Greg Palast is an “economist and financial investigator turned journalist whose series on vulture funds appeared on BBC Television’s Newsnight.”  This work was “supported by the Investigative Fund at the Nation Institute and by the Puffin Foundation.”  Palast’s new book is BILLIONAIRES & BALLOT BANDITS:  HOW TO STEAL AN ELECTION IN 9 EASY STEPS.

You can read the whole piece for yourself at http://www.thenation.com/article/170644/mitt-romneys-bailout-bonanza.  But, here are the highlights.  Be warned:  it’s a nasty story.  But, one that shows how crony capitalists work, how they are parasitic predators.

Mitt and Ann Romney “personally gained at least $15.3 million from the bailout–and a few of Romney’s most important Wall Street donors made more than $4 billion.  Their gains, and the Romneys’, were astronomical–more than 3,000 percent on their investment.”  The Romneys invested “at least $1 million…through Ann Romney’s blind trust (it could be far more, but the Romneys have declined to disclose exactly how much).”

The government bailout sent “directly or indirectly, more than $12.9 billion to Delphi–and to the hedge funds that had gained control over it.”

A key player is the super rich, super conservative “vulture investor” Paul Singer–a long time Romney friend and a long time supporter of Paul Ryan, who voted for the auto bailout.  (Singer was instrumental likely in putting Ryan on the Romney ticket.)  Singer owns one of the hedge funds that gained control of Delphi Automotive–the former General Motors subsidiary “whose auto parts remain essential to GM’s production lines.”  Neither GM or Chrysler can operate without these auto parts.

When the auto industry started running into trouble, it spun off Delphi Automotive, which was loaded with debt.  Delphi went into bankruptcy and Singer and his crony friends–all of them very rich and all of whom have donated millions to the Romney campaign–bought Delphi stock at “20 cents on the dollar of their face value.”  Singer, chair of the “anti-union Manhattan Institute…rid Delphi of every single one of its 25,200 unionized workers” (underline mine).  Singer et al closed all but 4 of the 29 Delphi plants and sent the jobs to China.  Delphi is “now incorporated overseas, leaving the company with 5,000 employees in the United States (versus almost 100,000 abroad).

Delphi retirees lost their health insurance and life insurance and their pensions were “slashed by 40 percent.”  As the hedge funders refused to honor workers’ pensions, the government’s Pension benefit Guaranty Corporation had to take over paying “all of Delphi’s retirement pensions”–which slashed pensions by 40 percent as this organization cannot pay in full.  Retirees found they could not get good jobs to replace this monetary loss.  Romney’s campaign ran ads blaming Obama for the monetary losses to the workers though it was Singer et al who refused to honor Delphi’s obligations to its workers–a practice began in the leverage buyouts of the 1970s–pioneered by men like Mitt Romney.

In June 2009, with “the bailout negotiations in full swing, the hedge funds, under Singer’s lead, used their bonds to buy up a controlling interest in Delphi’s stock….they paid, on average, an equivalent of only 67 cents per share.”

Two years later, in November 2011, “the Singer syndicate took Delphi public at $22 a share, turning an eye-popping profit of more than 3,000 percent.”  This gain of $904 million came from U.S. taxpayer money for the bailout.

Between 2011 and 2012 Delphi’s stock soared 45 percent.  These gains came from Delphi’s more stable situation, yes, but this situation was based on Singer et al’s refusal to honor Delphi’s healthcare and pension obligations AND from the bailout, taxpayer  money.  The various individual crony capitalists in the Singer syndicate have made $390 million (Daniel Loeb), $894 million (two Goldman Sachs alums, $2.6 billion (John Paulson),and $1.2 billion (Singer and his partners).

When President Obama set out to save the failing auto industry, there were at least 25,000 union workers who stood to lose their jobs.  The Delphi hedge fund owners held Delphi hostage, telling the government to “hand over $350 million immediately, `because if you don’t, we’ll shut you down’ “–meaning the whole of the auto industry which needed Delphi’s parts.

At one point in 2009, the government and GM tried to “take back control of Delphi via a joint venture with Platinum Equity,” but the hedge funders refused to sell–seeing that they could make a lot more money by holding the company hostage, sending jobs overseas, cutting retirees pensions and insurance, and so forth.

This year, 2012, Singer et al took the money they had “saved” by not honoring obligations to workers and bought auto plants parts plants in Asia–$972 million–“purchased from Bain Capital.”

Romney’s 2009 tax returns would have shown how much he actually made on this deal.  He refused to release them.

If  Romney had invested as little (for him) as $7.5 million, he would have made $115 million.

Whatever money is involved remains untaxed as Delphi’s incorporation is now in the Isle of Jersey, a “tax haven off the coast of France.”

These men are parasitic predators.

They do not care about workers.

They do not create American jobs.

They did not have any plan for America beyond making it easier for themselves to make these kinds of deals.

There is no such thing as a “free” market.  Just look at all the monopoly formation that is in place.

Good business people build things, honor obligations, and conserve what is important in their communities and their nation.