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Save your breath, Obama fans, this one will change your mind

Wall Street wants a cut of Atlantic City’s market

If it weren’t enough that we bailed out the finance industry, gave them billions of dollars, took their toxic assets off their hands, compensated them for their bad bets and ignored every other blessed thing in the country while the bankers plaintively whined, “But what about *me*!?”, the bankers new plan for the elderly and retired people is really the worst.

According to the NYTimes (and they are no Romney fans, let us note), the Obama administration is fully behind the finance industry’s plan to market securities to the elderly and retired people.  You know, those people in your family who watch Fox News, buy gold coins from Glenn Beck and stock in Israeli oil companies?  Just think about it, some massive pension funds gave money to Goldman-Sachs for hinky securities, the brokers called them “muppets” and got away with it, and Goldman got a slap on the wrist when the pension fund lost a ton of money.  Now, multiply that stupidity across a whole nation of elderly former supermarket cashiers and bus drivers with little nest eggs that they are setting aside for themselves and their children’s inheritance.

And the Obama administration is giving this scheme its blessing:

Bipartisan majorities in Congress and President Obama are to thank for this development. Bowing to the financial industry, they joined forces last April to pass a law that requires the Securities and Exchange Commission to lift the ban on mass advertising of private offerings.

The S.E.C., for its part, made matters worse this week when it proposed a rule to implement the law that utterly fails to address the fact that ending the ban will make everyday investors more vulnerable to fraud. While the commission has no choice but to lift the ban, it does have leeway to write the rules to decrease the threat to investors. It has not used that flexibility.

For instance, while the new law allows for mass advertising of private offerings, it also says the buyers of such securities must be “accredited investors,” generally defined as those with at least $1 million in net worth (not counting a home) or at least $200,000 of yearly income. The law also says that private stock issuers must take “reasonable steps” to verify that investors qualify as “accredited.” But the S.E.C. did not impose or even suggest verification procedures to ensure that investors meet the criteria.

Now, if this were a rule that allowed average people access to valuable IPOs, that would be one thing.  I’ve always thought it was unfair that only certain already rich people had access to inside information that would allow them a head of the line pass to make a killing.  But that’s not what we’ve got here.  What we’ve got is a way for the finance industry to sink their teeth into our future inheritances while potentially leaving our elderly parents destitute.  Someday down the road, we’re going to hear some young, hotshot, banker asshole in a bar say something about how it’s not his responsibility to save stupid people from themselves.  He’s in it for himself and he didn’t do anything illegal.  He’s just smarter than the suckers who bought what he was selling.

So, there you go. Obama, instead of leveling the playing field and making sure that all investors get stellar service from accountable brokers, is doing exactly the opposite, as if investing in the market was just what everyone wanted to do with their retirement savings.

I don’t like the way this is sounding.  Why would any senior citizen with a comfortable living from pensions and social security need to risk any of their money on the market?

Unless some of that comfortable living shrinks up and dies away and they need to find some way to replace it?  Doesn’t this sound like the brute force way to privatize Social Security?  Make your Social Security payment so tiny that you are forced to risk money on  the stock market?  Like involuntarily forcing you into 401Ks with risky mutual funds just when you should be sticking it all in a boring, plodding annuity?

It sounds like a finance industry wet dream, like introducing the gambling addicts to a whole new casino.  Instead of rehabbing them, Obama will be enabling them further.  The bankers will not be curbed in the least, nor will they be held accountable when millions of people lose everything they own to them.  I can almost picture them in a room with Obama, talking about “what everyone already knows.  Social Security is dead. We have to force the public to face up to it and give them an alternate way to make money.”  The sociopaths in the bespoke suits and manicured hands look at the president in what passes for what they call sincerity.  They nod gravely at one another.  Well, what can they do?  The world is changing.  Ohhh, so THAT’S the Change!™ Obama was always talking about.

You know how I know that this is the kind of conversation they’re having?  It’s because this is the same schtick I and my colleagues heard from our 401K managers in a seminar on all the fantastic new products they were rolling out to us a few years ago. “Social Security is going to be a thing of the past.  Where else are you going to go?”  They *almost* made it sound like they were doing us a favor since there wouldn’t be any social security anymore.  And then I thought, how do they know that?  Who told them?  Is that part of the plan??  Deliberately remove this leg of the retirement stool and force us all into risky mutual funds?

So all you Democratic loyalists who are screaming about how the Republicans are the worst people on earth and how you can’t trust them and OMG, if you don’t vote for Obama, we are all well and truly *f^&$ed*!, you can save your breath.  He has betrayed you.  You’re just sticking your fingers in your ears singing “la-la-la, I can’t hear you”.  He will never be YOUR president because you ask nothing of him.  And once he has you in his win column, he will ignore you and move on to the tougher nuts, the religious and the libertarians.  He is exactly the same kind of president to the liberal Democrat that Romney will be to the liberal Democrat.

Democratic loyalists need to ask themselves what they are going to get out of this and they should pay attention to who the Obama administration is courting.  You will only get what you want from the party if you deny them  what they want.  Otherwise, why buy the cow when you can get the milk for free?  The scare tactics don’t work on me because I’m not a fricking pushover.

Stop acting like stupid mooning girls with a crush on a player.

The Democrats in Exile theme song:

Saturday: Too much news

More beach, less news

July is supposed to be a slow news month. Everyone is on vacation and nothing much is going on. But for some reason, the powers that be, who may also be the idiots in charge, have decided to misbehave and act up and basically do things that piss us off. Too much of this stuff is interesting. Such as:

* Obama has deep sixed Elizabeth Warren as head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Speculation is that he is going to appoint some dude named Raj Date who used to work for a bank. Becaaaaaauuuse that makes so much sense from a Consumer Protection POV? Call me skeptical. I know, I always have to be the one who just has to be different but not appointing the woman who created the agency in the first place seems like a really bad idea. I’m sure the usual excuses will be rolled out to justify this: the Republicans were being mean and wouldn’t let me appoint her, she doesn’t have any experience running an agency (variation of the Penis Years argument), and my favorite, she doesn’t have the personality for the job. People found her abrasive and “not a team player”, ie she wouldn’t kiss someone’s ass and actually took the description of the job seriously or she was determined to get the job done in spite of the guys who refused to cooperate and she did not disguise how impatient and displeased she was about their unhelpful behavior. Queue the talking points! In another display of mean spirited misbehavior, the Republican House is trying to pass a bill that would prevent recess appointments to federal agencies from getting paid. (Check out the pic of Warren on this link. Yep, they’re going with the personality excuse) So, unless you’re independently wealthy, you will have the same pay as an unpaid intern. That should encourage plenty of the altruists and experts to apply!

*Rupert Murdoch’s media empire continues to crumble. Two of his long time generals, Rebekah Brooks and Les Hinton have resigned under fire. Check out The Guardian UK for the latest fallout to this scandal (Oooo, it just allowed the use of the word *fu^&ed* in a quote on the front page. It must be serious.) The Guardian seems to think that the spread of the scandal to the US through the phone hacking of 9/11 victims phones is going to spell the end of Fox News here. It cites the creation of an investigation of the matter at the FBI. That sounds serious and very promising until you read the news article that says…

*Republicans are holding up the extension of Robert Mueller’s appointment as head of the FBI. He’s been serving a long time, 10 years long, in fact. He needs a special dispensation to serve longer and the Republicans are not going to give it to him. In particular, Rand Paul, the Libertarian nut, has filed a stay of the extension. We can only speculate why but the repercussions are clear:

There may be significantly less time to complete the steps necessary to avoid a disruption at the F.B.I. than had been generally understood.

The widespread understanding has been that Mr. Mueller’s term will expire on Sept. 3, because he started work as F.B.I. director on Sept. 4, 2001.

But the administration legal team has decided that Mr. Mueller’s last day is likely to be Aug. 2, because President George W. Bush signed his appointment on Aug. 3, 2001. Coincidentally, Aug. 2 is also the day the government will hit a debt ceiling if Congress does not raise it.

So, there ya’ go. Mueller could go out with a bang if he ramps up the investigation of News Corp in the three weeks he has left. Scratch that, I read somewhere that the debt ceiling crisis really happens on July 22 because the legislative process takes a certain amount of time to work its way out. Soooo, thanks Rand Paul for leaving this position unfilled on the 10 year anniversary of 9/11! Good job. And how conveeeenient for Fox News. How much you wanna bet the Republicans are holding out for a guarantee that the Fox News investigation goes nowhere? Hey! Maybe this is a good time to call your cable or satellite company and insist on them dropping Fox News from the lineup until the investigation gets to the bottom of the matter. We need a little righteous indignation here. And if I were Democrats who were serious about changing the narrative, I would bring this up at every opportunity.

*And while the Republicans and Obama fiddle with the debt ceiling, Rome burns. Governors of various states are very worried that they will not be able to meet some obligations, such as Medicaid and unemployment benefits. The last one is rather near and dear to my heart at the present time so I am most seriously displeased. Note to the still employed: have at least 6 months savings on hand and a Plan B in the event that your government decides to screw you over. I’ll do ok but I worry about others who have been out longer than me. And, NO, I don’t think we should be forced to fork over our future Social Security and Medicare bennies to satisfy the serious peoples’ desire for a Brave New World without a Safety Net for average American Workers, although this suspiciously looks like a pressure tactic to make the poor and desperate even more poor and desperate. I find this terror tactic completely unacceptable. I want Obama to soak the rich, stop letting them separate themselves from their patriotic tax obligations, or instruct air traffic controllers to redirect their private corporate jets to the Cayman Islands where they can spend more time with their money. Please include an air and naval blockade, landline internet with 512 kb DSL and only the base package cable featuring all the reality TV the bonus class can eat.

*Virtually Speaking last night was pivotal. Stuart Zechman went all PUMA. (I can almost see Stuart flinching as he reads that) But really, Stuart, what you suggested at the end of the program was what we recommended 3 years ago. We told voters to remain undecided. That was particularly important for Democrats in Exile because so many disenfranchised voters were mad enough to jump to the Republicans. I have always felt that Friends don’t let friends vote Republican, even though I personally logged a protest vote for McCain at the very last second in the voting booth. I cried, Stuart. I was so upset that my former party forced my hand and I wasn’t going to reward them for it. It wasn’t a racist thing. I don’t have that in me and Obama has never struck me as particularly black, to be honest. I just had to draw the line. So, I applaud your sensible suggestions to the new unterbussen to remain undecided. Now, you are partially responsible, as are we, for what comes next. We have to a.) stop people from panicking and screaming “Oh My Gawd We’re All Going To Die if a Republican is Elected!” and b.) we have to find a replacement. We need to identify a different candidate to endorse or draft. You know my preference because it’s actually possible and will put the fear of God into the Democrats but if you still have a strong objection, let’s find an alternative that all Democrats, not just the “creative class” can endorse. You need the people who left the left for the Tea Party (um, that would not be us. We were liberals before, during and after 2008). Welcome to the unaffiliated independent Democrats in Exile. I don’t recommend you actually use the term “Democrats in Exile” in any official capacity as the acronym is not terribly uplifting.

*Avedon Carol found a post about the end of Harry Potter. Let’s face it, it was all about Hermione. What she really thinks of her fellow Gryffindors is truly priceless:

In the final book, the girl has to wipe her parents’ memory of any trace of her so they’ll be protected. Essentially orphaning herself. But do people feel bad? Do they start going all Harry Potter on her? No. They are like, “Oh, hey, Hermione, all of my friends and family who still love me and still know who I am are getting together for a massive party. You can come if you want.” and she’s like, “Jolly, fucking jolly, assholes”

*Finally, this one is for katiebird. Guerilla knitting is something we bitter knitters can get behind. My favorite is the lava-esque emanations from the crack in the pavement. I also like the knitted tree, which looks like one badass Fu^&ing fractal.

Yes, that *is* yarn

* Oo, Oo! I nearly forgot. Brook made me go to an arty indie movie theater last night to see Tree of Life. It was the most incomprehensibly beautiful film I have ever seen. Still have no idea what it’s about but I recommend it anyway. I seriously want the kitchen in that movie.

One final thing: for you new unterbussen who are just tuning in, you may be wondering when we lost the New Deal. I periodically replay this video to show you when it happened. Forget Hillary Clinton for a moment. The two candidates could have been Barack Obama and John Edwards for the purposes of this exercise. Keep that in mind as you watch it and take note who the speaker is. A more potent symbol of the New Deal does not exist. Harold Ickes Jr. Is the son of Harold Ickes, FDR’s right hand man and “get it done” guy for implementing the ABC programs during the Depression. Ickes was a Chicago Republican who Roosevelt converted. He was a witty smartass who helped to execute some of the most successful programs in American history. I’d like to think his son shared that commitment to the American people. In any case, he knew exactly which principles were being violated in May 2008 and that has been our downfall ever since.

The RBC limited the number of Clinton supporters in the venue and gave most of the seats to Obama supporters. We had two front pagers attending the meeting who were lucky enough to get in and report from the inside. The whole thing was a travesty and miscarriage of justice from start to finish. And that is how we got an anti New Deal president. The party is not unified to this day. Many former Clintonistas left for the Tea Party, not from stupidity but out of anger and confusion. And we need those people back.

Here’s the clip: