Journalism of Appeasement. Corruption, Smoke and Mirrors

(A must read)

by David DeGraw, Global Research

Here’s a brief summation of my recent reporting:

If we continue to let our politicians and wealthy members of society live in comfort, free from the consequences of their actions, we are complicit in our own demise.

Our country is so overrun with corruption, we cannot remain passive and expect things to get any better.

The economy is propped up by smoke and mirrors and will inevitably collapse. Without immediately breaking up the banks and holding the thieves accountable, we will continue on our downward spiral with increasingly severe and devastating consequences.

These are extremely unpleasant truths that we are now forced to confront. We have to act now. If you are not calling for revolution or organizing, you are either unaware of what’s happening around you, horribly naïve or a fascist sympathizer.

In response to statements like those above, I’ve been exchanging emails with colleagues (journalists and news editors) who have become “uncomfortable” with my reporting style and been saying some variation of the following: “You’re being too radical. This is too extreme for us to publish.”

While I appreciate their opinions, I want to make something 100% clear. I am fully aware that these words are harsh, and may turn off some people. However, in extreme times, telling the truth will make you sound extreme. Ultimately, I don’t mind if you think I sound “too extreme,” I don’t care if I make people “uncomfortable,” or if, in your opinion, I’ve become “too radical.” Try telling that to the 52 million Americans who are now living in poverty. Tell that to the millions of American families who have lost their homes and jobs. Tell that to the 59 million people who can’t afford health insurance. Tell that to the overwhelming majority of the population who are stressed out, living paycheck to paycheck, buried in debt they will never get out of and desperately struggling to make ends meet.

Try telling that to all the people who have emailed me explaining their dire situations due to this economic crisis. Tell that to all the people I personally know who have taken major pay cuts.

I will not participate in the journalism of appeasement.

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The assault on US workers’ wages

by Tom Eley and Barry Grey, WSWS

An article published in Wednesday’s Financial Times under the headline “US Matches Indian Call Centre Costs” gives some indication of the impact on American workers of a coordinated and escalating wage-cutting drive by big business, backed by the Obama administration.

The article begins: “Call centre workers are becoming as cheap to hire in the US as they are in India, according to the head of the country’s largest business process outsourcing company. High unemployment levels have driven down wages for some low-skilled outsourcing services in some parts of the US, particularly among the Hispanic population.”

According to the article, a number of Indian outsourcing firms are shifting operations to the US to take advantage of low labor costs, a reversal from the 1990s when many call centers and software firms shuttered American operations to exploit educated but low-paid workers in India.

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Secret AIG Document Shows Goldman Sachs Minted Most Toxic CDOs

by Richard Teitelbaum, Bloomberg

When a congressional panel convened a hearing on the government rescue of American International Group Inc. in January, the public scolding of Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner got the most attention.

Lawmakers said the former head of the New York Federal Reserve Bank had presided over a backdoor bailout of Wall Street firms and a coverup. Geithner countered that he had acted properly to avert the collapse of the financial system.

A potentially more important development slipped by with less notice, Bloomberg Markets reports in its April issue. Representative Darrell Issa, the ranking Republican on the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, placed into the hearing record a five-page document itemizing the mortgage securities on which banks such as Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and Societe Generale SA had bought $62.1 billion in credit-default swaps from AIG.

These were the deals that pushed the insurer to the brink of insolvency — and were eventually paid in full at taxpayer expense. The New York Fed, which secretly engineered the bailout, prevented the full publication of the document for more than a year, even when AIG wanted it released.

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Obama vs. Obama

by Michael Brenner, Huffington Post

The enigma that is Barack Obama grows day by day. Contradiction after contradiction, abrupt gear shifts, perpetual motion that never reaches a destination. ‘Obscene’ Wall Street bonuses suddenly transmute into well earned rewards for a good guy golfing buddy; the imperative to act boldly on the jobs crisis means placing it the callous hands of Max Baucus and Chuck Grassley of health care fame; the plotting of exit strategies from Afghanistan by 2011 becomes a ‘long as we have to’ occupation. All these contrapuntal reversals against a sound track of non-stop exhortation and a restless shuttling from one photo-op to another. Who is this guy, anyway?

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Exposed: Bernanke’s “Skimming Operation”

(So what the banks did in a sense was, they carefully removed restrictions on housing loans and created what the industry called “liar loans”, loans that they knew would default when they were making them. They got their co-conspirator at the credit rating agencies to slap “AAA” ratings on them.  They got their money up front and then packaged them up and sold them as bundles, making even more money on the toxic assets that only they knew were toxic. They sold them to various 401 ks, state and local governments, other nations. Then, as they started to default and the massive bubble began to burst, they rushed to congress, with the same people who helped create this scam, namely Bernanke and Paulson and Geithner, to blackmail congress into pumping nearly a trillion dollars of liquidity into their banks so they could then buy up all the other institutions that they had sold the bad debts to. They got paid on the front end, in the middle, and on the back end.)

by Mike Whitney, Information Clearing House

The reappointment of Fed chairman Ben Bernanke means that the opportunity for change has passed and the reform movement is dead. It means that and that derivatives trading, off-balance sheet operations, securitization, dark pools and high frequency trading will go on much as they have before. It means that the public will continue to be gouged so that a handful of Wall Street sharpies can rake in obscene profits using complex “financial innovations” and over-leveraged debt instruments. It means that the entire system will continue to be put at risk to protect the interests of investment banks and hedge funds. It means that the subsidies, the preferential treatment, and the bailouts will continue to fuel populist rage and exacerbate deepening divisions in society. It means that the status quo has been preserved and that it’s “business as usual”.

  No reform movement will succeed as long as Bernanke is at the Fed.  He’s an agent of the big banks and a Wall Street loyalist. He’s also the author of “Too Big To Fail”, the controversial theory which provides unlimited state support for financial institutions that are deemed too large or interconnected to fail. TBTF means that capitalism’s vital market-clearing function can avoided if one is rich or powerful enough. Bernanke repealed capitalism to save his friends.

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The Crisis Is Not Over

by Paul Craig Roberts, Information Clearing House

Readers ask if the financial crisis is over, if the recovery is for real and, if not, what are Americans’ prospects. The short answer is that the financial crisis is not over, the recovery is not real, and the U.S. faces a far worse crisis than the financial one. Here is the situation as I understand it:

The global crisis is understood as a banking crisis brought on by the mindless deregulation of the U.S. financial arena. Investment banks leveraged assets to highly irresponsible levels, issued questionable financial instruments with fraudulent investment grade ratings, and issued the instruments through direct sales to customers rather than through markets.

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What a Sad Week for Democracy

by Scott Creighton

***UPDATE*** (Five. I stand corrected. There are now 5 events from this past week that I should have mentioned. Please see the last one reported on by Glenn Greenwald at the end of this article.)

What a week it was for our democratic freakshow. How many more shocks can our fragile egos take before the entire illusion of American exceptionalism crumbles from under our feet? What happens when it does? This past week, four events played out that should by all rights shake the people of this nation out of their self-induced comas. I’m not holding my breath.

1. Obama Plays the Populist Card

This week President Obama and his script writers did what they could to help shore up the decaying illusions of our democratic foundations. They announced some new rules, the Volcker rules, supposedly to reign in the Wall Street bankers. The hasty press conference Obama and his DLC/New Dems staff put together couldn’t have looked more like a sophomoric propaganda pep-rally session if George Bush and his pathetically unsophisticated writing staff had done it themselves. They might as well have shipped in some homeless, jobless, ex-middle-class Americans and piled them up on the floor so that Obama could stand on top of them with a bullhorn to deliver the speech.

I hear they are already planning for President Obama’s “Mission Accomplished” celebration to be held in a soup kitchen in Detroit next week (figured they would get a photo-op session in before the banks shut it down).

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