Daily Archives: September 19, 2012

Mario Piperni on the Repug Void

Romney and the Republican Scam

September 19, 2012 By

David Frum‘s two part essay on why Mitt Romney is 100% wrong on the 47% is a must read.

The background to so much of the politics of the past four years is the mood of apocalyptic terror that has gripped so much of the American upper class.

Hucksters of all kinds have battened on this terror. They tell them that free enterprise is under attack; that Obama is a socialist, a Marxist, a fascist, an anti-colonialist. Only by donating to my think tank, buying my book, watching my network, going to my movie, can you – can we – stop him before he seizes everything to give to his base of “bums,” as Charles Murray memorably called them.

And what makes it all both so heart-rending and so outrageous is that all this is occurring at a time when economically disadvantaged Americans have never been so demoralized and passive, never exerted less political clout. No Coxey’s army is marching on Washington, no sit-down strikes are paralyzing factories, no squatters are moving onto farmer’s fields. Occupy Wall Street immediately fizzled, there is no protest party of the political left.

From the greatest crisis of capitalism since the 1930s, the rights and perquisites of wealth have emerged undiminished – and the central issue in this election is whether those rights and perquisites shall be enhanced still more, or whether they should be allowed to slip back to the level that prevailed during the dot.com boom.

Yet even so, the rich and the old are scared witless! Watch the trailer of Dinesh D’Souza’s new movie to glimpse into their mental universe: chanting swarthy mobs, churches and banks under attack, angry black people grabbing at other people’s houses.

It’s all a scam, but it’s a spectacularly effective scam. Mitt Romney tried to make use of the scam, and now instead has fallen victim to it himself.

And these two assessments of the inner Romney are bang on.

Andrew Sullivan.

So there are two possibilities: this is the real Romney, a callous cynic with contempt for half the country, the weaker part; or that Romney is a man so empty of human qualities he even has to fake cynicism.

Matt Taibbi.

I think he really genuinely believes that the only reason that his particular message isn’t resonating is that people want something for free and he’s not offering it to them.

And let’s remember that Romney’s words are simply a reflection of the bigger Republican message. The pain that Republicans are experiencing over the release of the Romney video has nothing to do with what Romney actually said about the 47 percent, as inaccurate as it all was. No, the real pain the right is feeling is having their disdain for the poor and middle class expressed so openly and candidly.

Republicans prefer their true intent on most issues muddied up and camouflaged in layers of BS and lies. So when one of their people gets caught stating the party’s true intent, it’s like kryptonite to them for it’s essential that the little people never know how deep and hard Koch and friends are screwing them.

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The Romney source photograph is a Creative Commons licensed image from photographer Gage Skidmore.

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Greg Palast on Mitt’s Bankers

Romney’s Breakfast of Billionaires

by Greg Palast – Dollars & Sense Magazine | Tuesday, September 18. 2012

On Friday, Governor Mitt Romney had breakfast with billionaires.

JOHN PAULSON, Paul Singer and Ken Langone who have dropped more than a million dollars each into the Romney “Super-PAC” Restore Our Future. As Butch said to Sundance, “Who ARE these guys?”

Singer’s known as “The Vulture” on Wall Street. Langone’s database company came up with the list of innocent Black voters that Katherine Harris wiped off the voter rolls of Florida in 2000. But who is Paulson, a guy so dark and devious he doesn’t even have a nick-name?

I tried to join them (“Sorry, sir”) just to ask why Romney was chowing down with the nation’s most notorious billionaires and ballot bandits.

Here is just a bit about Breakfast Billionaire #3: John Paulson from my new book, Billionaires & Ballot Bandits: How to Steal an Election in 9 Easy Steps—An investigation of Karl Rove, the Koch Gang and their Buck-Buddies. There’s a comic book inside by Ted Rall with an introduction by Bobby Kennedy Jr. Get it here now.

It was just released today and already hit number one non-fiction PAPERBACK in the USA.

In August 2007, billionaire John Paulson walked into Goldman Sachs, the investment bank, with a billion-dollar idea. Paulson’s brainstorm had all the elements that Goldman found enchanting: a bit of fraud, a bit of flimflam, and lots and lots of the ultimate drug: OPM—Other Peoples’ Money.

Paulson’s scheme was simple. Paulson, a much followed hotshot hedge-fund manager, would announce that he was betting big on the recovery of the U.S. housing market. He was willing to personally insure that billions of dollars of shaky subprime mortgages, like the ones dumped on Detroit, would never go into default.

Now, all Goldman had to do was line up some suckers with more money than sense, some big European banks that handled public pension funds, and get them to put up several billion dollars to join with Paulson to insure these shaky mortgages. Paulson, to lure the “marks” into betting the billions, would pretend to put $200 million into the investment himself.

But, in fact, Paulson would be betting against those very mortgages. Paulson himself was the secret beneficiary of the “insurance” on the mortgages. When the housing market went bust, Paulson collected from the duped banks and they didn’t even know it.

And Goldman would get a $15 million fee, or more, for lining up the sheep for the fleecing.

Goldman provided Paulson with a twenty-nine-year-old kid, a French neophyte, to play the shill, making presentations to the European buyers with a fancy, 28-page “flip-book” about the wonderful, secure set of home mortgages the “clients” would be buying.

The young punk that Goldman put on the case texted a friend (in French — mais oui! —about the inscrutable “monstruosités”) while he was in the meeting, right as Paulson was laying on the bullshit.

The carefully selected bag of sick mortgages was packaged up into bundles totaling several billion dollars. To paint this turd gold, Paulson and Goldman brought in the well-respected risk-management arm of ACA Capital. Paulson personally met with ACA and gave them jive that he himself was investing in the insurance (as opposed to investing against the insurance).

Secretly, Paulson personally designed the package of mortgages to load it up heavily with losers, concentrating on adjustable rate mortgages, given to those with low credit scores, while culling out high-quality loans given by West Coast banker Wells Fargo. ACA, thinking Paulson was helping them pick the good stuff, put their valuable seal of approval on the mortgage packages, though they were quite nervous about their “reputation.” (But that’s what happens when you go out with bad boys.)

The mortgages in each package were dripping dreck—but with the ACA/Goldman stamp, Moody’s and Standard & Poors gave the insurance policies a AAA rating. European banks that hold government pension investments snapped up the AAA-rated junk.

In August 2008, over one million foreclosures resulted in the Goldman mortgage securities losing 99% of their value. The Royal Bank of Scotland, left holding the bag, wrote a check to Goldman Sachs for just short of one billion ($840,909,090). Goldman did the honorable thing . . . and turned over the money to Paulson (after taking their slice).

Don’t worry about the Royal Bank of Scotland. The British taxpayers and Bank of England covered its loss, taking over the bleeding bank.

And here’s the brilliance of it: when it came out that Goldman and other mortgage-backed securities were simply hot steaming piles of manure, their value plummeted further and the mortgage market, already wounded, now collapsed—and mortgage defaults accelerated nationwide. The result was that as the market plummeted, Paulson’s profits skyrocketed: his hedge fund pulled in $3.5 billion and Paulson put over a billion of it in his own pocket.

With Paulson skinning some of Europe’s leading banks for billions, there was a bit of a diplomatic and legal dustup. The SEC investigated, confirmed in detail Paulson’s scam and sued the kid at Goldman who acted as Paulson’s assistant, the one who couldn’t even follow the complex deal. Goldman paid a fine, but never admitted wrongdoing.

And Paulson received . . . a tax break.

Robert Pratt, a UAW member I met in Detroit, and several million others, lost their homes, including a Saudi prince who, in the recession, had to sell his Vail, Colorado, home … to Paulson for just $45 million.

But now the bandit billionaire had a bit of problem. With $3.5 billion of ill-gotten lucre in his pocket, he needed something else in his pocket: politicians who would protect the tax dodge and keep the SEC enforcement dogs on a tight leash. Paulson wasn’t alone in profiteering from the savaging of the mortgage market. There was his billionaire buddy Paul Singer, known on Wall Street as “The Vulture.” Together they launched the super-PAC “Restore Our Future” with a check for one million each. They asked Bill Koch to throw in some change. Koch did: $2 million.

To restore the billionaires’ future, the super-PAC’s first order of business was to ally with Karl Rove. “Turdblossom,” as George Bush called his mastermind Rove, had created a massive database on Americans, “DataTrust,” which works with a second massive database, “Themis,” funded by two other Koch Brothers, Charles and David. But that’s another story in another chapter, read it, in Billionaires & Ballot Bandits.

Mario Piperni and Freeloaders

Mitt, Lies and Videotape

September 18, 2012 By

John Liming’s take on the latest Romney fiasco.

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I used to ask myself, “Will the real candidate please stand up and according to some of the reports I am hearing, some people suddenly believe they have gotten a close look into the real personality of one individual who wants to lead The United States as President — and according to most reports I have been reading, a lot of people are not liking what they are seeing right now.

I have to admit that when I heard the news that somebody had gotten hold of a secret video of Mitt Romney telling a group of supporters that most Obama supporters and nearly half of all Americans believe they are entitled to have the government take care of them and that they are not responsible for their own lives, well — I have to admit that I got a little pissed off!

I guess I am not alone in rebelling against being told that I am some kind of freeloader on the system because I am retired now, no longer working and living off the Social Security that I paid into all my life and taking advantage of the free medical care offered at The Veteran’s Administration Medical Center because I am an honorably-discharged veteran of military service during what has come to be known as the “Vietnam Era.”

I don’t pay income taxes any more because I do not make the minimum amount of money that is required to be earned for income tax purposes — but I sure as Hell pay plenty of sales taxes and fees on almost everything else — so I am wondering where this guy gets off with this kind of comment about nearly half the country who also do not pay income taxes because they are forced to work some crummy low-paying job and simply do not make enough to pay the damned income taxes — and these struggling citizens are supposed to be some kind of “Free Loaders”?

It is reported that Twitter lit up like gangbusters when news of this comment hit the airwaves and that there is an awfully lot of populist anger out there right now — and I cannot blame those who feel offended by this.

The question now becomes in my mind the same as it has become in the mind of a few others, “How can anyone who so casually writes nearly half the population off as some kind of lazy freeloaders who think they are entitled to live on government handouts and who speaks about it so openly ever be effective as President of The United States?

The next piece of (Expletive deleted) that came forth from all this is a revelation that at the same gathering the “Candidate” also reportedly  said something to the effect that it would not be his job to worry about “Those People” (The 47% of us who are lazy freeloaders) if he became President.

Back a few days ago I read that it was Rick Santorum who told another group somewhere that Republicans will never have the support of “Smart” people.

Maybe I am getting a little idea of exactly what Mr. Santorum was talking about.

You know — when you think about it — what about all those giant corporations who pay no taxes?  Who is supporting them and who are they supporting?  Does the fact that they pay zero taxes also make them freeloaders who live off government handouts?  I mean after all, they are “People” aren’t they?  The famous “Corporations are people too, my friend…”  Are these included in the 47% the candidate was speaking about?

 

John publishes Blue Heart Chronicles.
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