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Friday, December 30, 2011

My Year End Summary

A happy new year to you and to all of you commenters and blogwatchers. We have been here weekly for many moons now, and little has changed in the streets of Washington, DC. Instead, we see viper radicals wanting to become president lining the GOP podium. What will solidify an Obama victory would be Da'Trumpster running as a Independent, as he has recently inferred.

The world is operating on a shell game mentality. The commoner is angry but really has nowhere to go. The Occupy movement has offered a place to stand with a loud voice, a wagging finger, a carrying of signs that might read "American IS NOT A Plutocracy!!", or, "And Justice For All--So, When Does That Happen?".

The fatcat elite keep spinning the Wheel of Fortune each and everyday hoarding massive amounts of capital gains, dividends and profits from market manipulations, stashing cash at the Fed, or destroying foreign sovereign economies.

Our elected representatives, wealthy as they are, continue to gum up the system with attached bills to the major bills hoping to bring about a massively long XL Pipeline down the bowels of the nation to the anus port of Koch Bro refineries in Texas. All the while, the Canadians don't want to build the damn thing themselves.

The Golums in Congress want to strangle working people and make them even more as indentured servants by keeping the country from creating a new vision, such as localized/neighborhood/community based energy generation systems, support for an expansion of localized food sources/farms, effective mass transit systems, an economy where "job growth" is not just a talking point for the nation's bullshitters, and the political psychopathetics walking the halls of government, more affordable healthcare, a halting of all war profiteering, along with an end to wars and occupations, and a conclusion to the war stimulus packages that are an unsustainable transference of wealth from the taxpayer right into the hands of the corporate campaign donor elite, and finally, reinstating Glass-Steagall, and ending the Commodity Futures Modernization Act both of which were brought about by Mr. Humpty Dumpty Ging-grinch himself when pretending to be the Speaker of the House under the Clinton administration, and an end to the corporation as a citizen followed by an end to private funding for elections. The list is endless!

The merry-go-round of world economies are more like a cork screw slowly burying any real chance of national economic recoveries without smothering the commoners in the process.

Our only real hope is that the Occupy Movement actually holds a national general assembly meeting on July 4, 2012 in Philadelphia to make a stand against the political predators that hold offices today. The 99% need to place the flag in the ground and declare a public announcement that we are not going to take this crap any longer, and if you are not on the side of the 99%, then step aside and get out of the way.

Happy New Year from us at:

Ron Paul and the Killing Machine

Mike Whitney asks this very interesting question in regards to Ron Paul: Is doing away with the social entitlements worth it if Ron Paul, if elected president, would do away with the U.S. killing machine around the world?

My question to Mike is, how would you feel if we saw our own people dying more rapidly through the euthanasia of the elderly, sick and disabled as a result of this choice you have hypothetically proposed? 

What would be the interesting question if Paul were to become president is: would he actually stick to his ideals or would he be read the "riot act" by the nation's most powerful corporate elite, as was Obama? Would he dismantle foreign bases, and end occupations, wars, and secret covet missions; or, would be suddenly believe in "national security" and continue to engage in the business-as-usual at the Pentagon, CIA, and the rest in order to continue the economic gravy train that many of these powerful corporate elite have benefitted from as war machine contractors?

Would he have stayed away from offering support to citizen protesters working to topple dictators? Would Paul decide to stop selling our own oil, natural gas, and coal to foreign countries in order to be less dependent on foreign producing countries which he feels hate us? Or, would he continue the selling of our own natural gas resource?

Ron Paul does not strike me as an FDR or Truman-type who would stand up against the massive push-back by the powerful corporate elite.

Mike, do actually believe that Ron Paul has the strength to actually walk the walk, or is it just talking the talk.

Ron Paul is the only antiwar candidate who has a (microscopic) chance of winning in 2012. He’s also the only candidate who will make an effort to restore the Bill of Rights and reverse Congress’s decision to allow the president to “indefinitely” imprison American citizens without due process. For these reasons alone, Paul should garner the support of leftists, liberals, and progressives. But he won’t, because liberals are convinced that Paul will try to dismantle the social programs upon which the elderly, the infirm, and the vulnerable depend.

These concerns are not without foundation. Paul opposes government meddling in the market and sees Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security as steps towards socialism. That means, there’s a good chance that these programs will come under fire if Paul is elected. The question is: How should we balance our concerns about Social Security with our opposition to the war(s)?
To answer that question, we need to create a “hypothetical”.
Let’s say, Paul surprises his critics and wins the presidency in a landslide victory in November
2012. Then–in his first public appearance as president–he issues an executive order to stop all Social Security payments immediately, thus cutting off the meager revenue-stream that millions of the nation’s elderly need to scrape-by.
Isn’t this the worst-case scenario? Isn’t this what liberals are really worried about?
Okay, so let’s say it all goes-down just as we said. Let’s say Paul tries to strangle Social Security from Day 1. Isn’t that still infinitely better than another Falluja, another Haditha, another Abu Ghraib, another bombed-out wedding party?
Yes, it’s wrong to deprive the sick and elderly of some pittance so they can eek by, but is it as wrong as blowing women and children to bits in their own country, in their own cities, in their own homes?
It’s a question of priorities, right? So, what’s more important; ending the bloodletting or some potential threat to Social Security?
Paul will stop the killing. We should use our vote to do the same.
MIKE WHITNEY lives in Washington state. He is a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion, forthcoming from AK Press. He can be reached at

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Fly Your Own Spy Drone Plane for Only $300!

In 2012, the Occupy Wall Street movement could arm themselves by flying their own drone spy planes to record the action. This is from

Fly Your Own Spy Drone … For $300

Fly Your Own Spy Drone … Using Your iPhone

The Parrot A.R. Drone can be launched and controlled with your iPhone or iPad:
The Parrot A.R. Drone costs $299.
The Parrot A.R. Drone can maintain stable flight at an altitude of up to 20 feet, and a maximum altitude of up to 160 feet.
More sophisticated drones can fly higher and for longer, in a more stable fashion.
For example, protesters in Warsaw used a spy drone last month to see what police were doing. As notes:
People tend to assume that UAVs will be used by the police to keep watch on us, but as … video, taken by a RoboKopter of riots in Warsaw, shows, they can equally be used by citizens to keep tabs on the police. No need to wait for the local news to send a helicopter to get the aerial scene of a demonstration, just Do It Yourself!
Here is the video of the police shot by the Polish protesters:
(Here’s what the RoboKopter drone used by the Polish protesters looks like.)
Drones can range from simple:
To advanced:
For more amazing technology, see this and this.
For information on building your own drone, start here.
Disclaimer: The FAA apparently considers do-it-yourself drones to be legal. We don’t know whether there are any Department of Homeland Security or other regulations or laws prohibiting flying your own spy drone. Consult with a representative of all appropriate Federal, state, county and local agencies to determine whether or not you may fly your own drone.

Monday, December 26, 2011

The Way to Occupy a Bank Is to Own One

by: Ellen Brown, Truthout | News Analysis                link here
Occupy Wall Street has been both criticized and applauded for not endorsing any official platform. But there are unofficial platforms, including one titled the "99 percent Declaration," which calls for a "National General Assembly" to convene on July 4, 2012, in Philadelphia. The "99 Percent Declaration" seeks everything from reining in the corporate state to ending the Fed to eliminating censorship of the Internet. But none of these demands seems to go to the heart of what prompted Occupiers to camp out on Wall Street in the first place - a corrupt banking system that serves the 1 percent at the expense of the 99 percent. To redress that, we need a banking system that serves the 99 percent.
Occupy San Francisco has now endorsed a plan aimed at doing just that. In a December 1 Wall Street Journal article titled "Occupy Shocker: A Realistic, Actionable Idea," David Weidner writes:
[P]rotesters in the Bay Area, especially Occupy San Francisco, have something their East Coast neighbors don't: a realistic plan aimed at the heart of banks. The idea could be expanded nationwide to send a message to a compromised Washington and the financial industry.
It's called a municipal bank. Simply put, it would transfer the City of San Francisco's bank accounts - about $2 billion now spread among such banks as Bank of America Corp., UnionBanCal Corp. and Wells Fargo & Co. - into a public bank. That bank would use small, local banks to lend to the community.
The public bank concept is not new. It has been proposed before in San Francisco and has a successful 90-year track record in North Dakota. Weidner notes that the state-owned Bank of North Dakota earned taxpayers more than $61 million last year and reported a profit of $57 million in 2008, when Bank of America had a $1.2 billion net loss. The San Francisco bank proposal is sponsored by city supervisor John Avalos, who has been thinking about a municipal bank for several years. Weidner calls the proposal "the boldest institutional stroke yet against banks targeted by the Occupy movement."
Responding to the Critics
He acknowledges that it will be an uphill climb. In a follow-up article on December 6, Weidner wrote:
Of course, there are critics.... They argue that public banks would put public money at risk. Would you be surprised to know that most of the critics are bankers?
That's why you don't hear them talking about the $100 billion they lost for the California pension funds in 2008. They don't talk about the foreclosures that have wrought havoc on communities and tax revenues. They don't talk about liar loans and what kind of impact that's had on the economy, employment and the real estate market - not to mention local and state budgets.
Risk to the taxpayers remains the chief objection of banker opponents. "There is no need for such lending," they say. "We already provide loans to any creditworthy applicant who comes to us. Why put taxpayer money at risk, lending for every crackpot scheme that some politician wants to waste taxpayer money on?"
Tom Hagan, who pays taxes in Maine, has a response to that argument. In a December 3 letter to the editor in the Press Herald (Portland), he maintained there is no need to invest public bank money in risky retail ventures. The money could be saved for infrastructure projects, at least while the public banking model is being proven. The salubrious result could be to cut local infrastructure costs in half. Making his case in conjunction with a Maine turnpike project, he wrote:
Why does Maine pay double for turnpike improvements?
Improvements are funded by bonds issued by the Maine Turnpike Authority, which collects the principal amounts, then pays the bonds back with interest.
Over time, interest payments add up to about the original principal, doubling the cost of turnpike improvements and the tolls that must be collected to pay for them. The interest money is shipped out of state to Wall Street banks.
Why not keep the interest money here in Maine, to the benefit of all Mainers? This could be done by creating a state-owned bank. State funds now deposited in low- or no-interest checking accounts would instead be deposited in the state bank.
Those funds would be used to buy up the authority bonds and municipal bonds issued by the Maine Bond Bank. All of them. Since all interest payments would flow into the state treasury, we would end up paying half what we now pay for our roads, bridges and schools.
North Dakota has profited from a state-owned bank for 90 years. Why not Maine?
The state bank could generate "bank credit" on its books, as all chartered banks are authorized to do. This credit could then be used to buy the bonds. The government's deposits would not be "spent," but would remain in the government's account, as safe as they are in Bank of America - arguably more so, since the solvency of the public bank would be guaranteed by the local government.
Critics worry about the profligate risk-taking of politicians, but the trusty civil servants at the Bank of North Dakota insist that they are not politicians; they are bankers. Unlike the Wall Street banks that had to be bailed out by the taxpayers, the Bank of North Dakota invests conservatively. It avoided the derivatives and toxic mortgage-backed securities that precipitated the credit crisis, and it helped the state avoid the crisis by partnering with local banks, helping them with capital and liquidity requirements. As a result, the state has had no bank failures in at least a decade.
With intelligent use of the ever-evolving Internet, truly effective public oversight can minimize any cronyism. California's pension funds might have avoided losing $100 billion if, instead of gambling in the Wall Street casino, they had invested in infrastructure through the state's own state bank.
The Constitutional Challenge
In Weidner's Wall Street Journal article, he raises another argument of opponents - that California law forbids using taxpayer money to make private loans. That, he said, would have to be changed.
The US Supreme Court, however, has held otherwise. In 1920, the constitutional objection was raised in conjunction with the Bank of North Dakota and was rejected both by the Supreme Court of North Dakota and the US Supreme Court. See Green v. Frazier, 253 U. S. 233 (1920), and fuller discussion here.
A municipal bank would be doing with the public's funds only what Bank of America does now: it would be lending "bank credit" backed by the bank's capital and deposits. The difference would be that the local community, not Florida or Europe, would get the loans; and the city of San Francisco, not Bank of America, would get the profits.
California and many other states already own infrastructure banks that use the states' funds to back loans. If that use of public monies is legal, and if public funds can be deposited in Bank of America and used as the basis for loans to multinational corporations, they can be deposited in the Bank of San Francisco and used as the basis for loans to the local community.
Better yet, they can be used to buy municipal bonds. Investing in municipal bonds would avoid the constitutional issue with "private loans" altogether, since the loans would be to local government.
Sending a Message to Wall Street
The campaign to "move your money" has gotten a groundswell of support, but move your money into what? Weidner repeats the complaint of critics that private credit unions have gotten too big and threaten commercial banking. Having greater impact would be to "move our money" - move our local government revenues out of Wall Street banks into our own publicly owned banks, which could then generate credit for the local economy and public works.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Occupy the Constitution

Posted on  by WashingtonsBlog
By David DeGraw, and [See this for DeGraw's role in organizing the Wall Street protests.]

Occupy the Constitution: Get Money Out of Politics!

get money out Occupy the ConstitutionOne of the most popular 99% Movement and Occupy Wall Street issues is getting money out of politics. In a country where the candidate who spends the most money on their campaign wins the election 94% of the time, it is blatantly obvious that our electoral process is dominated by the richest global financial interests. By saturating the campaign finance and lobbying system with an endless supply of cash, Wall Street has rigged the political and economic system against hard working Americans. In unprecedented fashion, they have consolidated wealth into the hands of one-tenth of one percent of the population, at the expense and suffering of the American people.
If you’re wondering why we have the most severe inequality of wealth in American history; if you’re wondering why we currently have an all-time record number of Americans living in poverty, while we have all-time record profits and bonuses on Wall Street, it is primarily the result of the richest members of society being able to manipulate and control the legislative process through a system of legalized political bribery.
For us to take the first crucial step in solving the many problems we currently face, we have to create an amendment to the Constitution to get money out of politics. Thankfully, there is huge momentum building on this front. Here’s a brief summation of the newly proposed amendments, courtesy of theGet Money Out campaign. Hopefully, with your leadership, one of these amendments, or elements of a few of them, will soon become the 28th amendment to the US Constitution:
1) Rep. Ted Deutch – OCCUPIED Amendment (or Outlawing Corporate Cash Undermining the Public Interest in our Elections and Democracy)
Introduced by Congressman Ted Deutch (D-Fla.), the amendment reverses Citizen’s United by stating that corporations are not people under the Constitution, and that corporations are barred from making election-related expenditures. It authorizes Congress and the states to regulate all election contributions and expenditures, and reaffirms Congress’ right to regulate corporations.
2) Sen. Bernie Sanders – Saving American Democracy Amendment
Senator Bernie Sanders introduced an amendment in the Senate that mirrors the OCCUPIED amendment in the House. Introducing this “companion bill” in the Senate allows both houses of Congress to begin debate on the same bill without having to wait for the other to pass it. Learn more. Read the amendment.
3) Cenk Uygur, Wolf PAC – Wolf PAC Amendment
Wolf PAC, a group started by progressive TV and radio host Cenk Uygur, reverses corporate personhood and prohibits corporations from giving to any politician. The amendment also sets a cap of $100 on all political donations and it establishes a public system to fund political campaigns. Read the amendment.
4) Senator Tom Udall – Udall Amendment
Senator Tom Udall (D-N.M.) along with eight other Democratic Senators proposed an amendment that gives Congress the power to regulate all money spent on campaigns and outside political groups such as Super PACs. It allows states to regulate state elections in the same manner. It would clear the way for Congress to pass reform legislation that would limit spending and would withstand a challenge in the Supreme Court. Read the amendment.
5) Rep. Jim McGovern and Free Speech for People – The People’s Right’s Amendment
Congressman Jim McGovern (D-Mass.) introduced the amendment with the support of Free Speech for People, a non-profit group that aims to end corporate personhood. The amendment states that people or persons as used in the Constitution does not include corporations and that corporations are subject to regulation by the people through their elected representatives. Read the amendment.
6) Public Citizen – Democracy is for People Amendment
Pursued by the non-profit group Public Citizen, the amendment would reverse the Citizen’s Uniteddecision and permit Congress to regulate political spending by corporations. The amendment has not been drafted into specific language, but is based on a set of core principles. Read those principles and get more information.
7) Russell Simmons – Simmons Amendment
Hip-hop mogul Russell Simmons announced support for an amendment in a speech to Occupy Boston protesters. The amendment establishes public funding of political campaigns and prohibits any political contributions from any source. It gives Congress the authority to design and enforce the public funding system. Read the full text of the amendment. Watch Simmons’ speech.
8)Rep. Donna Edwards – Edwards Amendment
Introduced by Representative Donna Edwards (D-Md.), the amendment would overturn theCitizen’s United Supreme Court ruling by allowing Congress to regulate political spending by corporations.
9) Rep. Kurt Schrader – Schrader Amendment
Introduced by Representative Kurt Schrader (D-Ore.), the amendment authorizes Congress and the states to regulate the contribution of all funds to candidates and the expenditure of funds to influence elections. Read the amendment.
10) Rep. Marcy Kaptur – Kaptur Amendment
Introduced by Representative Marcy Kaptur (D-Ohio), the amendment authorizes Congress and the states to set limits on the contributions that may be accepted by and the expenditures that may be made in support or in opposition to candidates running for public office.
11) Move to Amend – Move to Amend
A group opposed to corporate personhood, Move to Amend, has proposed an amendment that would overturn Citizen’s United by affirming that corporations are not people and can be regulated, and that money is not speech and can be regulated.
12) Get Money Out – Get Money Out Amendment
The amendment was proposed by the Get Money Out organization, which was started by MSNBC host Dylan Ratigan, and became a part of United Republic in late 2011. The amendment prohibits corporations from making political donations and affirms that political donations are not speech, which allows Congress to regulate them. It also makes election day a federal holiday.
13) Lawrence Lessig – Lessig Amendment
Lawrence Lessig, Harvard professor and founder of Rootstrikers, which joined forces with United Republic in late 2011, introduced an amendment that prohibits corporations from contributing money to any candidate, limits campaign contributions to $100, and gives Congress the power to regulate outside campaign spending. It also establishes Election Day as a national holiday.
So that’s the team so far. Join us at Tell your friends. Let the world know.

Here’s a video of Russell Simmons speaking about his Get Money Out constitutional amendment at Occupy LA: