The homo sapien underlying the conversational canine says "happy birthday" to Secretary of State Clinton... who gets to ask if we will still love her when she turns 64... she does today... and. of course, to himself, as he enters his 50th year in this realm, today.
With apologies for the post title to national treasure Yogi Berra, those interested in the specific mechanics of what might well be this year's world financial meltdown might want to take the time to read this lengthy Zero Hedge piece by Reggie Middleton on the coming collapse [and inevitable bailout!] of Too Biggest of them All to Fail, Bank of America, and its, you know, larger effects.
I'll just clue you in a bit... Reggie points out a little known change made to the bankrupcty law in 2005 [the better known change, of course, screwed individual debtors by making it harder for them to file bankruptcy... for the benefit of... guess who? Why... Delaware based MBNA-- thanks Joe Biden! MBNA, of course, is now... Bank of America!!!] This provision exempts derivative holders from the messy "cents on the dollar" recoveries of mere mortals and allows them to jump to the head of the line-- ahead of even INSURED DEPOSITORS! Yes... even Tea Party members would have to vote for THESE BAILOUTS, lest they ensure the bank runs to end all bank runs...
Mechanically, the Federal Reserve is favoring transfer of those ultimate weapons of financial mass destruction, in the form of various derivatives, from the balance sheet of Bank of America's investment bank divisions (like Merrill Lynch) over to its FDIC insured depositor banking divisions! Once again, the idea is to benefit "counter-parties" [maybe Goldman Sachs, if I had to bet, and probably some European banks] at the expense of depositors [a/k/a "the taxpayers"].
When you put exactly the same maniacs who oversaw the systemic meltdown in 2008 in charge "because it's just so darned complicated that no one else even understands it" [thanks Barack Obama!]... it's not surprising that they play according to the only playbook they know how to use... and the system melts down again... in exactly the same way. Not only were derivatives not outlawed (I suggested making them a death penalty offense)... they are now bigger than ever, and even more primed to destroy the rest of the planetary financial system.
George W. Bush... Barack Obama... does it really matter?
Not that I held any kind of brief for former Libyan dictator Moammar Qaddafi (one of the near infinite number of spellings of his name... which, along with his thousand outfits, made him a one-off, even if he was a nasty mother f***er responsible for the murder of my countrymen on Pan Am Flt. 103 and God knows of how many of his own countrymen)... but while the United States, which now sends killer drones to murder the [American citizen] children of enemies of the state, Roman Empire style, and which nonetheless refuses to prosecute its own torturers, or of course, its criminal-run banking sector, incongruously asserts that the mob lynching of Qaddafi was "justice"... just part of the perversity of that word [as in "United States Department of Justice"]... the only "justice" for the late Col. Qaddafi comes not from NATO bombers and their allied angry mobs, but seemingly from the incomparable Dmitry Orlov, in the form of this "Where's Muammar?" piece... the opening snippet:
[48-hour update: Muammar is in his home town of Sirte, dead. He died like a warrior, surrounded by his loyal followers, who fought on against insurmountable odds until the very end. He is survived by his enemies, who, if they are lucky, will die the death of cowards—in a hospital bed, fussed over by money-grubbing physicians. And if they are not so lucky—imagination runs wild. Being the scum of the earth is not illegal, but there is most likely a limit to how long people will be willing to go on believing that. I raise my glass of tea to Muammar, a unique and colorful dictator who made other bloodthirsty tyrants look like mice.]
I'll note that having added a notch on his Presidential belt for Qaddafi to go along with al-Awlaki (and his 16 and 19 year old sons) and of course, for OBL, and for not closing Guantanamo (and indeed, making things worse down there than they were under Bush), for not prosecuting torturers, and replacing government sanctioned torture with government sanctioned homicide, including of citizens, for expanding the doctrine of state secrets to heretofore unimagined levels, for accelerating the national security state, for extending tax cuts for the rich, for seeing to it that no social programs of any kind (except tax cuts for the rich) can possibly be passed into law, for keeping us in wars in at least seven countries (Iraq and Libya, while they last anyway, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia and now Uganda), for an Administration that called his own supporters "retards," for stepping up immigration raids to levels not heretofore seen, for gutting public-protecting government regulation while simultaneously continuing the illusion that we are overregulated (and hence, delegimating all good government) and for seeing to it that every theft and abuse by the banking sector was not even investigated, let alone prosecuted by his government, for a "health care reform" likely to be gutted by courts before it even takes effect, for setting up a budget stalemate guaranteed to destroy social security, Medicare, and most other social programs... and oh, for so much more... it seems clear to me that my college classmate Barack Obama has been the most successful RIGHT-WING President in American history.
It's too bad (for him, anyway) that actual right-wingers just don't like him. Perhaps if he just switched parties to the one that he's more seemingly philosophically aligned with, he might do better in the coming election. As if it mattered, of course, to us mere peons [at least us down here in the "99%"] as to whether Goldman Sachs-sponsored Barack Obama or Goldman Sachs-sponsored Mitt Romney is "elected" to wield dictatorial powers on behalf of the financial oligarchs, as outlined above.
What if they had a protest that was getting world-wide attention literally across the street from your office building... and, by and large... you mostly thought you didn't care too much...? Until lately, that is.
Thus goes "Occupy Wall Street" in Zuccotti Park in lower Manhattan. Ezra comments on it... but I don't find much value-added there. Ezra seizes on a few protestors who lament that they have incurred massive student loan debt (conveniently non-dischargeable in bankruptcy) and nothing much to show for it (including and especially a job.) This is interesting... no, who am I kidding... this isn't that interesting. And where in God's name is Ezra getting his statistics on income percentiles?... I get mine from Wikipedia! Anyway... there does seem to be a lot more going on than a rehash of the 60's protests which were all, you know, all too frequently just about not being sent to 'Nam. These Occupy Wall Street protestors... are more... complicated... these protests will eventually be seen to be precursors to the coming American food riots, and much more analogous to the "Arab Spring" protests. (We might note record high levels of youth unemployment globally.) Just saying. Somebody knows the system is out of wack... indeed... I'll say it: THE. SYSTEM. IS. CORRUPT. TO. ITS. CORE. That the national catastrophe of under- and unemployment, especially of the young... continues to take a back seat in the national attention to... just about everything... tells you just HOW corrupt. And a few more tax breaks and temporary jobs fixing roads... ain't gonna do squat.
The O.W.S. protest, by my observation, started off as a non-descript, ill-attended sit-in by an odd-ball assortment of people. Tonight, it was wall-to-wall people, with media coverage, performers, etc.(and of course... lots of police!) And, possibly, for the first time I'm aware of, a protest movement that was pretty much unable to define why it was there... allowed circumstances to describe it better... to wit, inane, heavy-handed jack-booted counter-attacks from New York's Finest, and voila! Mike Bloomberg and Ray Kelly have now given the protests legs: the gestalt has been established. We now couldn't be clearer about the sinister connection between the power of money and its ability to invoke the heavy-hand of the statenot to insure a level-playing-field and a fair system to all and so that the financially powerful don't run roughshod over the rest... but the state (at least its offically-sancitoned-violence wing, the police) exists to protect the powerful from the people, and NOT to protect the defenseless people from the powerful! THAT is what these protests are about: to try to call out the power on the utter failure of concepts of American civics! Just as the GTMO fiasco [and the Obama Administration's "look forward not backward at both war criminals and banking criminals" policy] ended up showing the fundamentally feckless nature of "American justice," and just how little the Constitution means when it gets in Money's way... the pictures were worth all the words in the world: the power felt it needed physical violence to protect money from mere SHAMING... and out came the clubs and pepper spray!
THAT is why Money's Man in Washington (that would be my college classmate, Barack H. Obama) has been such a disappointment to those who voted for him, but not to those who BOUGHT AND PAID FOR him (that would be "the 1%" on Wall Street.) Obama's concerns to date have been the interests of banks, and oil companies, and health insurers... he too, now that he ain't in the "99%"... knows that... you have your haves and have nots... but the ones who matter pay for 30-second spots!
The original "demand" of O.W.S. as I understand it was to de-couple the insidious influence of money from American politics... long-winded, and hard to "wrap your mind around"... until you see police pepper-spraying and plastic-cuffing seemingly well-educated, well behaved WHITE PEOPLE [disabusing all who foolishly believe that the police exist ONLY to maintain our current de facto Neo-Jim Crow situation] because they have the audacity to just question the social order... and as necessary, hog-tie and billy-club what money sees as another group of peasants (albeit, in this case, often ones with degrees and large debts to show for it).
Well... the battle lines have been drawn, and they are playing out on a street near you... or near me, anyway. The Arab Spring has given way to... Autumn in New York. Fight the Power, guys and gals...