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8) Bonus Tip of the Week
Justice, American Style!
I will still have time to battle the forces of evil…
I just want to have a life!
—Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Justice, American Style
What happened in 2007 is that a bunch of Wall Street bankers pulled off the largest criminal fraud in human history. The whole thing was orchestrated top-to-bottom and it was totally illegal from top-to-bottom. They’ve done exactly the same thing many times in the past — if never on such an epic scale.
What they did was the equivalent of picking up a bunch of dog droppings from the lawn and then mixing in some filler and spices and serving it as the main course to your grandmother whilst enthusiastically assuring her that it was a gourmet meal…
…what they did was the equivalent of robbing you and then losing all of your money gambling in a casino…
…and then what happened next was the equivalent of the police informing you that in addition to your losses from the theft that you were now in addition being forced to pay for the thieves’ gambling debts…
…what Wall Street just did to your country was the equivalent of what a car thief does when he/she steals your car and then takes it to a chop-shop where he strips it down and parts it out…
…and they did all of this with the full cooperation of the United States government.
Your government has, in fact, become nothing more than the enforcement arm for the most vicious cruel inhumane and richest criminal gang in all human history. The American War Machine is a vast omnipotent juggernaut that far surpasses the wildest imaginations of science-fiction writers of old — and sociopathic clueless arrogant cretins whose ignorance is exceeded only by their blind hubris are wielding that power.
What the banksters did was to offer home loans to anyone with a pulse. They required no actuall proof that you could afford the loan you were taking out to buy a house. The bankster assured the buyer that they could sell the house for substantial profit in a couple of years. These were literally called ‘liars loans’ due to the complete lack of diligence in assuring that these loans were solid investments. Then, the banksters bundled up a bunch of this crap and aggressively marketed it as AAA rated investments, meaning that these were the ‘safest’ form of investment that there is. That is criminal fraud. There are serious penalties for doing this — for some people, anyway.
That infamous desperado Martha Stewart was taken off the streets and America slept better for it, for instance, because she made investments whilst harbouring special knowledge.
The banksters got away with this by corrupting the rating agencies that were tasked with determining at what level rating an investment should be rated.
Corrupting these agencies turned out to be incredibly easy since the rating agencies were being paid by the very same banksters that they were supposed to be rating.
Wall Street sold trillions of dollars worth of this crap all over the world to various third world governments, domestic pension funds, state governments, retirees, and a wide variety of other financially unsophisticated type folk.
Our economy died when the note for all of this crap came due.
Everyone except the criminals was subsequently made to pay for these crimes. Tens of thousands lost their homes, pensions, life savings, whatever while the criminals themselves experienced nothing but ever-increasing record profits. Meanwhile, our government cries that there is no money for food stamps or education when actually there is by magnitudes of proportion more money now than there ever has been before, both in total and in proportion. The problem is that rather than building a world that is worth living in, our national life’s blood is instead being drained off into secret Cayman Island bank accounts as our infrastructure crumbles our schools become travesties and our economy dissolves into third-world status.
A few banks paid token fines that represented a small fraction of the money that they stole and NOT A SINGLE ONE OF THEM WENT TO JAIL.
Matt Taibbi, of Rolling Stone, has been kicking their asses and naming their names for several years now, and he has struck again.
(A side note here: I have written about my concerns concerning the fact that First Look, which is amongst other things the new online flagship for Glen Greenwald’s revelations, is being financially backed by Pierre Omidyar, the owner and founder of EBay. Matt Taibbi did not provide details, but he was all set up to open shop under the First Look umbrella when for some reason he has evidently backed out of that deal and has returned to Rolling Stone. Hmmm.)
Anyway, it turns out that shortly after JP Morgan Chase paid out $9 billion in ‘settlements’ for its criminal activity — fines that are paid by the stockholders, by the way, rather than by the criminals themselves — in the first weeks after that settlement, Chase Godfather and CEO Jamie Dimon announced that the market capitalization of JPMorgan Chase had increased by 6% — which meant that since the settlement Chase’s value had increased by $12 billion.
This means that besides the fact that this ‘settlement’ represented a small fraction of the money that Chase stole using this scam, but the increase in the value of Chase — which increase appears on its face to have come about due to this so-called ‘settlement’ — this increased value alone also more than made up for the money that was paid out in the ‘settlement’.
This ‘settlement’ was evidently considered to be such a great deal to the JP Morgan Chase board that Jamie Dimon — just a few weeks after being dinged for the largest regulatory fine in the history of capitalism — got a 74% raise in compensation for a total of $20 million per year.
This was Mr. Dimon’s ‘punishment’ for orchestrating a monstrous criminal fraud that destroyed our entire economy and destroyed the financial lives of millions of people.
He didn’t go to jail. He didn’t personally pay a penny in fines; he instead received a ‘compensation’ package worth $20 million.
Boy, I’ll bet that showed him! Bet he’ll never try THAT again!
And here is what our intrepid Attorney General had to say about the Chase settlement when asked if this was going to be a template for future settlements:
“I certainly think that the way in which this case has been settled is a template of what we can expect [in the future]…”
Yes indeed, Mr. Holder! I expect nothing less! I also expect nothing more!
Check out Amy Goodman’s interview with both Matt Taibbi and with the Chase whistleblower who blew the lid off this case:
Obama Doubles US Troop Levels in Iraq
In another example of the Media Machine turning reality on its head, they have lately been referring to Barack Obama as a ‘reluctant warrior’. This is the man who has been invading droning night-raiding spreading death and destruction like the world is coming to an end. This is the man who has vastly expanded the War Machine beyond even Bush-esque proportions.
Now Obama is invading Iraq — again — evidently because it worked out so well the first two times.
Obama is assuring everyone that these are not combat troops.
Haven’t we heard that one before?
Since nearly everything Obama has ever said later turned out to be a lie, then take it from there.
As he was explaining this new ‘surge’, one of the reporters asked if Obama was assuring the public that these troops would ‘never’ fight.
Obama replied, “I never say never”.
I could almost certainly find an example of Obama saying ‘never’ — but why even bother continuing to highlight his endless lies and hypocrisies at this point? If you haven’t figured it out by this point then I’m thinking you never will.
Stop Gerrymandering Around!
Concerning the Republican blowout in the last election, Janet Jordan, who heads up the local Green Party, sent me this message that I would like to pass along:
Why doesn’t anyone pay attention to gerrymandering!!!
In 2012, 49% of the electorate voted Dem and 48.2% voted R, yet the R’s ended up with 233 seats to the D’s 195. It was manipulation. The R’s are good at it. I don’t suppose they do it in every state but enough. Pennsylvania and Texas come to mind. They pack the D’s into a very few districts which the D’s will win with a supermajority of 85 to 100%, and the rest of the districts the R’s get with a very slim majority of 51% or so. It really doesn’t matter how many people want to vote Democratic, they can vote Dem all they want but they won’t get the districts to prevail in the House.
It isn’t about the money. It doesn’t matter how much money anyone spends. The R’s spend a lot but it doesn’t get them the votes. They don’t actually get the votes. They get districts. Gerrymandering gets them the districts.
Nobody talks about it.
So maybe you could talk about it a little in one of your Thunderbolts?
This is indeed the case. Minimum wage increases and paid sick leave measures not only passed by super-majorities everywhere they ran, they won mostly in red states and during an impressive red-wave.
This is further evidence of my theory that the grassroots right and the grassroots left have more in common than either side realizes.
Overall, Democratic voters outnumber Republican voters in the United States and most progressive policies actually enjoy majority and in many cases super-majority approval amongst the public. However, due to anachronisms in our electoral system, a small minourity of reactionary dinosaurs are able to completely dominate American policy decisions. This is intentional. In my view the whole ‘Democrat Republican’ dichotomy has been very carefully designed in order to deceive everyone into believing that one or the other party represents their interests. No one seems to notice that when the Republicans are in power they get nearly everything they want and that when Democrats are in power the Republicans still get nearly everything they want. During that brief period when the Democrats had the White House and both branches of Congress — and with a super-majority in the Senate to boot — they were suddenly in very deep doo doo. They no longer had any excuse for their continual and repeated failures to perform!
Things were arranged so that they very quickly lost their Senate super-majority whereupon Senate Republicans began their current practice of filibustering everything and everyone in sight — meaning the Democrats could once again blame the Republicans for everything that was bad and wrong.
Now that the Republicans have once again gerrymandered their way to majorities in both houses, then everything is chill again. Already the corporate Media Machine is gushing in joy over all of this talk of ‘bi-partisan cooperation’ that is in the air — meaning that the Republicans are going to once again get everything they want.
A commentator on NPR was gushing over the fact that the Republicans and Obama seem to share common ground on foreign trade agreements, and over the fact that they could maybe get the Keystone pipeline through.
Bi-partisanship! Let’s hear it ringing from the mountain! Yippee!
Fast Track for the TPP?
Speaking of ‘common ground’ on ‘trade agreements’, one exceptionally foul bit of ‘bi-partisanship’ that I am quite sure Obama and the Republicans will joyously join together in a swelling chorus of kumbaya is the Trans Pacific Partnership [TPP].
The TPP is being falsely marketed as a ‘trade agreement’ even though only a small part of the treaty actually deals with trade. The rest of it consists of a corporate bucket list containing every advantage and stranglehold that they have ever dreamed of possessing. I’ve extensively covered the TPP before so I’m not going into all the insane details right now (you can go here: http://www.citizenstrade.org/ctc/ or you can go here: http://www.citizen.org/tradewatch if you want to educate yourself further about the TPP). However, while many anti-TPP activists appear ready to have embolisms over the election results and what they think this means concerning fast-track for the TPP — Lori Wallach of Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch thinks that we can still kill it. She says that the Senate doesn’t really matter in this context as the Senate has already approved the TPP several times — it is in the House where the TPP is having all its trouble and that trouble is bi-partisan. Between the Tea Party Republicans and nearly all the Democrats in the House, there is much opposition to selling our country out to corporate special interests both foreign and domestic.
Ms. Wallach also had interesting things to say about Barack Obama in this context:
So, the sort of grotesque question is: Why does President Obama like the TPP? It’s pretty clear why McConnell likes it. It was negotiated with the assistance of 600 corporate advisers, official corporate trade advisers in the U.S. The agreement has been the initiative of the Obama administration. It was started by Bush, but instead of turning it around and making it something different, the Obama folks picked it up and, frankly, have made it even more extreme. So, the question really, in a way, is, the Democratic Congress — the Democrats in Congress and the public, including a lot of tea party conservatives, have plenty not to like. Oh, I forgot about the part of TPP where it bans Buy America, Buy Local. Really bad agreement, 29 chapters, only a few of them about trade, so it’s really a sneak attack branded as a trade agreement.
So Fast Track is still not a done deal. Stay tuned.
Instant Runoff Voting
Last week I couldn’t remember the name of the ranked voting procedure wherein you list second and third choices on your ballot, and wherein in cases where no one wins a majority then those second and third choices are counted until someone finally gets an outright majority in any given election. This method allows third parties to participate without the ‘spoiler’ effect — i.e. all of the brainwashed liberals who thought Gore should have won in 2000 and blamed Ralph Nader rather than blaming the fact that Al Gore was so obviously a complete phony who was saying whatever he thought people most wanted to hear and rather than blaming the fact that Al Gore was so obviously a bought-and-paid-for shill for the corporate war machine prison industrial complex that those of us who know what is really going on were made nauseous watching Al Gore bumbling through his disaster of a campaign.
Yeah. It was all the fault of Ralph Nader — the only candidate in the election who actually told the truth.
As far as voting, Glen, as usual, had the facts and names the names:
Dana, you are advocating “Instant Runoff Voting” – (IRV), which is also called “Ranked-Choice Voting.” It’s a great idea.
The idea for requiring a 55% majority in order to re-elect incumbents is my own additional personal wrinkle to the IRV process, but IRV is worth checking out with or without the 55% thing.
It’s time to get to work…
The Thunderbolt Calendar
Week of October 13th thru October 19th 2014
1) FYI Section:
1A) Update on West Central Park Project
There was a battle when the city wanted to build a 7-11 at the corner of Harrison and Division. We won. There is now a community-owned park on that location. They always need volunteers to come help put our new park together and make it all that it can be.
This is from Alicia:
Work parties have been moving smoothly since all the garden tools have been moved to an on site storage shed. This makes the set up far easier and will also allow extra work parties to be organized according to different volunteers’ schedules. Let us know if you and your group would like to come out the Park and help out on a day and time other than on Sundays from 10-2 and we will help get it all set up. So come on out to our Sunday work party this Sunday, November 9th from 10-2, rain or shine. Tools, snacks, hot cider and lots of smiles will be provided and we would love to see you there. Please bring a pair of gloves, and dress accordingly for outdoor messy work in the PNW.
In other news The Park Project has moved into a temporary office space for the coming year. Our office is in the upstairs of the Historic Chambers Building on 4th Avenue downtown, and we are office 6 in Suite 200. Come by and visit us sometime during the week between 10 and 3 on Monday through Friday. The Board is looking forward to streamlining our process, having regular hours, and having a new phone number. Give us a call at 360-352-7363!
Have a great week and enjoy the fall colors!
1B) RIP Thomas Young, 1979-2014
Tomas Young (1979-2014)
November 11, 2014. Excerpts from CommonDreams obituary
Iraq war veteran and outspoken Iraq war critic Tomas Young has died at the age of 34.
Tomas Young enlisted in the Army following the September 11 attacks, volunteering to go to Afghanistan. He was sent to Iraq in 2004, and was left paralyzed by a bullet on the fifth day of his deployment. In 2008, he explained that “many of us volunteered with patriotic feelings in our sent into the wrong country.”
Young was the subject of the award-wining documentary Body of War by Phil Donahue and Ellen Spiro.
2) Book Signing and Reading: Charlie JJ Kruger
Thursday November 13th at 7:30 pm @ Timberland Library, 313 8th Ave SE
This is radical fiction.
Author Charlie JJ Kruger will be appearing at the Olympia Timberland Library on Thursday, November 13th, at 7:30 to read from his latest novel ‘In Stark Weather’. He will also talk about his upcoming work and take part in a Q+A session. He will be signing/selling copies of his novels.
3) Rainforest Action Network Climate Leadership Summit
Friday November 14th from 5 to 9:30 pm and Saturday November 15th from Noon to 6 pm @ Woodland Park Presbyterian Church, 225 N 70th St, Seattle, 98117
This is out-of-town but this is a very effective organization working on a very important issue so I am including it in the Thunderbolt.
I got this via Glen:
What: Climate Leadership Summit
Where: Woodland Park Presbyterian Church 225 N 70th St Seattle, WA 98117
When: Friday, November 14, 5-9:30 p.m. and Saturday, November 15, noon-6 p.m.
Today, the climate movement is full of unprecedented energy and momentum. Together, we’re marching in the streets and working to shift our institutions away from fossil fuels. We’re fighting coal exports, fracking, oil trains, and dirty energy in our communities. And, of course, we’re ready to engage in civil disobedience to stop the Keystone XL pipeline if and when that time comes.
All of these fights are indispensable to shifting our society off carbon and creating the renewable. But, with so much of our attention focused on fighting short-term battles, it can be hard to find the time to ask one very important question: is what we’re doing enough—is it enough to change the course of history and prevent the worst? And how can we know if it’s enough, unless we start from a shared vision of what’s necessary and work backwards from it?
Our opponents in the fossil fuel industry have a vision for the future they want to see: a future where oceans and emissions rise unchecked, where extreme energy practices encroach on our communities, and where the worst impacts of climate change are shouldered by those least able to bear them.
But what’s our vision? From our perspective, building a shared vision of what we want to achieve is a necessary and pivotal step toward making that vision a reality. That’s why we’re launching Change the Course: People-Powered Strategies for a Stable Climate. Change the Course is an invitation to dig deep and think hard about what it would actually take to stabilize the climate and create a just transition to a post-carbon future.
In the coming weeks, we’ll hold a series of climate-focused workshops and visioning sessions in cities across the country. There’s a summit happening close to you, and we’d love for you to join us there. These two-day climate leadership summits will be a rare opportunity to participate in something big. Together, we’ll crowd-source a detailed vision of what a sustainable and just future would look like — and brainstorm the strategies and tactics that will get us there.
So ask yourself: what would it actually take to stabilize the climate and create a more just future? What specific things are in your vision of a just and climate-stable future? The fossil fuel industry and their political allies are pushing us towards climate catastrophe, but a mass social movement can still change the course and chart a new direction toward a just and stable future. The great social movements of history all dared to dream of a completely remade world, despite the prevailing wisdom that things would never change. Now it’s the climate movement’s turn.
Together, let’s change the course.
For the climate,
Action Network Organizer
Rainforest Action Network
P.S. Unable to make this summit? We’re holding another summit on Saturday, November 15 and Sunday, November 16 in Portland. P.P.S. For information on where other Climate Leadership Summits are happening, visit: ran.org/changethecourse
425 Bush Street, 3rd Floor, San Francisco, CA 94108 USA Phone: (415) 398-4404 | Fax: (415) 398-2732
4) Mushroom Plugging with the Olympia Myclelial Network
Saturday November 15th from 1 to 3:30 pm @ GRUB, 2016 Elliott Ave NW
Come join the local fungus heads!
This is from Ali:
A KGP Fall Series Workshop
“Mushroom Plugging” led by Ava Arvest of The Olympia Mycelial Network
Using Mushroom Spawn (chicken of the woods, shittake, oyster, turkey tail, and maybe lions mane) we will be learning how to inoculate logs for fruiting come spring. We will be growing these mushrooms using a log-plugging method.
**Free for KGP Gardeners & Community Members**
5) Third Party Fanfare
Sunday November 16th @ 6 pm @ Traditions Cafe, 300 5th Ave SW
Come hear the alternatives to the two-faced one-party political monopoly! Yippee!
Third Party Blowout!
Sponsored by the Green Party of South Puget Sound
Hear the Parties Speak!
Forum with Q & A
November 16, 2014, 6 PM Traditions Fair Trade Café 592 Fifth Avenue North, Olympia
Potluck Dessert Buffet
Contact: Janet Jordan, 360-232-6165, email@example.com
Libertarian Party: Represented by Steven Nielson
Green Party: Represented by Tom Nogler
International Socialist: Represented by Brian Huseby
Anarchists: Joe Robinson representing himself!
6) Oly Ecosystems First Annual Fundraiser
Sunday November 16th from 5 to 8 pm @ Page St Café, 903 Rogers St NW (Next door to Westside Food CoOP)
It’s a new environmental organization dedicated to protecting our local environment from the many threats we face!
Come celebrate with us and contribute to the vision of a future that has room for the wild things!
Live music from The Lowest Pair, Music is the Bridge, and the Affordable Uke Act!
Gorgeous art and other excellent items for auction!
Complimentary beverage and refreshments with admission!
This has been an exciting year for the humans of Olympia who have worked to ensure the preservation of wildlife habitat among us! Through the active participation and extraordinary generosity of the community, the Great Blue Herons of the City of Olympia now have a 4.5 acre buffer around their sole breeding territory.
Momentum is building: in policy and planning, we are acknowledging the importance of preserving the remaining parcels of suitable habitat for our local wildlife. There is much work yet to do to protect and restore the West Bay Woods, and you can help!
7) Survivor Council
Tuesday November 18th at 6 pm @ New SafePlace Building, 512 Legion Way SE
What more safe place for survivors to tell their stories than at SafePlace?
This meeting is a space for survivors to tell their stories of healing. We talked about various ways that we could employ arts-based practices and the possibility of sharing our healing stories with the community, if that felt right. All survivors are welcome to attend this group and participate at whatever level feels comfortable. This next meeting will be focused on continuing to develop our plan for this group. Please join us at the new SafePlace building on November 18th from 6pm to 7:30 for our fourth session.
Call or email Jen Friedlander for more information at (360) 786-8754 x111 or JenF@safeplaceolympia.org
8) Bonus Tip of the Week:
If you’re seeking peace on Earth, you should be seeking justice first.