Occupy Chicago – The Revolution Will Not Be Privatized

In 1974, Gil Scott-Heron, a “spoken word soul performer,” released the song “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised,” that attempted to get people to wake up, get out of themselves, look at reality and do something to better their lives, other’s lives and America itself. Sadly, Mr. Scott-Heron died in April of this year.

This is dedicated to him, and to those who are in the current struggle – the 99%. I hope he doesn’t mind and I hope he’s proud that his concept lives on in a timeless way.

Update: This is now dedicated to Bernie Sanders and the People’s Revolution.

Inspired by sign displayed by Occupy Chicago, in front of the Chicago Board of Trade:
THE REVOLUTION WILL NOT BE PRIVATIZED

The revolution will not be privatized
The revolution will not be brought to you by an offshore call center 2 continents away
The revolution will not show you pictures of Bernake blowing a bugle and
leading a charge by Chase, Citibank and Bank of America
to deposit your money so they can charge more fees
The revolution will not be privatized

The revolution will not be brought to you
by the mainstream media and will not star
Keith Olbermann, Bill O’Reilly, Oprah or Geraldo
The revolution will not be ‘fair and balanced”
The revolution will not ‘lean forward’
The revolution will not make you a better person because you
ran in a marathon sponsored by Bank of America
Because the revolution will not be privatized, brother

There will be no pictures of peaceful protesters arrested for being in a park,
or activists pushing their supplies down the street to keep moving.
Fox will not be able to predict the winner of the election at 6:32
or report from 45 districts before the polls are closed
The revolution will not be privatized

There will be no pictures of happy traders when the market makes money
There will be pictures of Palestinians dying on Gaza’s streets after Israeli bombing campaigns
There will be no pictures of Hussein being hung or Ghadaffi laying on a slab
There will be no video of Warren Buffet asking to be taxed more
There will be no pictures of Ron Paul being barred from a debate
The revolution will not be privatized

Survivor, the Great Race and Dancing with the Stars
will no longer be so damned relevant
No one will care who survived, who won the race
or who danced the best
because the 99% will be on the street looking for a brighter day
The revolution will not be privatized

There will be no highlights on the 10 o’clock news, ,
no pictures of Michelle Obama at the inaugural ball
with a plug for the designer who whose dress she wore
The theme song will not be controlled by
Sony, A&M, Capital, Columbia, Universal, MCA or Warner Brothers
the revolution will not be privatized

The revolution will not be brought back after a message
from a Gecko, talking babies or cartoon characters.
you will not have to worry about “where the vision gets built,”
‘what’s in your wallet,” “investing with confidence.” or being “world wise.”
The revolution will not put you in “good hands.”
The revolution will give you “the power to help you succeed.”

The revolution will not be privatized
The revolution will not be privatized
The revolution will not be privatized
The revolution will be no outsource, brothers
The revolution will be Made in the USA

The Occupy Chicago crowd is now in their third week and have not stopped occupying the corner of Jackson and LaSalle yet. With the constant protesters, there is also a constant law enforcement presence, which to the Chicago Police Departmen’s credit, has remained civil, if not sympathetic – but they still have to enforce Chicago’s municipal code.

Do you ever feel like you’re in the Twilight Zone?

Financial news is getting more bizarre by the day. Take today’s new for example.

Citibank’s stock price soared over news that it didn’t lose as much money Wall Street expected it to. The quarterly loss was only $966 million and revenue doubled to $24.79 billion.

Is the $45 billion we gave them since October counted in this?

I know it includes the 13,000 jobs cut in the first quarter and the dumping of $116 billion of assets.

The more entertaining part of this news, was their decision to “delay a proposed exchange of billions of dollars of preferred shares into common stock until the U.S. government completes its “stress tests” of large banks to gauge which might need more aid,” as reported by Reuters.

That seems kind of underhanded to me or am I just being sensitive.

Wasn’t the point of the stress tests to identify banks who will be in more trouble if the economy worsens? How can it be a valid test if they are delaying a major exchange of stocks?

Then there’s the report that the Senate candidates are still raising tons of money for the 2010 campaigns.

Now this is a good one, because despite the horrifying economic situation, the candidates last year raised enough cash to bail out at least one bank.

Are institutions getting bailout money allowed to contribute? I don’t see why they should be able to.

Reid has already raised $2.2 million, several Democratic candidates, according to Reuters, have already raised over $1 million, Spector raised almost $2 million and already has 6 million in the bank. Clinton’s replacement has raised over $2 million, but the Reuters story
didn’t total all the millions.

We’re getting thrown out of our homes, dumped from our jobs, surviving without health care and unable to educate our children, yet these people “governing” us, have millions in their campaign “war chests.”

What’s wrong with this picture?

The final irony to today’s news, is the story that “Steven Rattner, the leader of the Obama administration’s auto task force, was one of the investment firm executives involved with payments now under scrutiny in a state and federal investigation into an alleged kickback scheme at New York state’s pension fund,” reported Reuters.

The Treasury Department, when asked if they knew about this when Rattner was appointed, said that Rattner informed them about the pending investigation but refused to comment further.

One would think that treasury would be reluctant to put someone with an investigation into kickbacks, at the head of such a high profile and crucial task force. But no, they apparently saw no problem with it because there he is.

The scarier thought is that maybe Geithner, the tax cheat, has a suspicion that no matter who you appoint from the investment bank industry, they are likely to come under scrutiny for one shady practice or another, and therefore you hire either the one with the least chance of an investigation or the one who is most likely to survive the investigation without being imprisoned.

Either way, I am leaning more and more towards the folks that chant HEY HEY HO HO THE FEDERAL RESERVE HAS GOT TO GO!

Add to that the investment banks, nationally chartered banks, etc. etc. etc.

New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo has his work cut out for him.

I now have to wonder if it was the New Yorkers that were the frauds and the Chicago financial institutions were all above board, or if Cuomo is a pro-active Attorney General and Lisa Madigan is simply remiss in not investigating the Chicago Board of Trade, Mercantile Exchange and the Board of Options Exchange.

Time will tell.

Congo forces leaders to pay taxes – ours?

The Democratic Republic of Congo, faced with a fiscal crisis, is now forcing their leaders to pay taxes. Reuters reports

Amid a growing budget shortfall, the government is under pressure to cut costs and boost tax revenues.

Budget Minister Michel Lokola told Reuters that last month’s decision to tax government salaries at source, rather than rely on employees to pay taxes after receiving their salaries, had already raised roughly $1 million.

“They just weren’t paying. The government ministers we replaced, the MPs, the senators, they didn’t pay,” said Lokola, who entered the government last October in a cabinet shake-up that saw his predecessor Adolphe Muzito named prime minister.

Lokola said the move was partly aimed at setting a good example, adding that Congolese President Joseph Kabila’s government salary was also subject to the measure.

“He is aware of this, and he approves of it … I don’t see how we can expect the private sector to pay their taxes if we don’t pay ourselves,” he said.

So even a country we look upon with derision, the Congo, has realized the benefit of taxing the elite of their country. As we have seen, politicians in this country appear to have an aversion to paying their taxes, and can’t even comprehend the tax code that they wrote, as evidenced by Tom Daschle, who didn’t know the limo was taxable.

So will Geithner, considering the fiscal crisis we, ourselves, are facing, implement a program of ferreting out government tax cheats and garnishing their taxpayer-paid wages?

I doubt it.

He’s a tax cheat.

Nothing like the fox guarding the hen house.

Once again – Obama dodges marijuana legalization question

In the first ever virtual town hall meeting from the White House, President Obama answered questions posed to him by the American people on the White House website. According to the website, 92,932 people have submitted 104,093 questions and cast 3,606,268 votes.

The moderator chose the most popular question, one from each of 11 categories, and asked the President who gave thoughtful, and for the most part, lengthy answers.

With the exception of one repeatedly answered question. Would you legalize marijuana, end the war on drugs, and allow states to benefit from the revenue.

Though over 7,000 people asked this question in four different categories, and it was the top question in each, the answer was flippant, and the answer was no, we will not grow our way out of this problem.

Tom Amianao, an assemblyman from San Francisco, has proposed AB390,


not only to address California’s growing economic crisis but, more importantly, to begin a rational public policy discussion about how best to regulate the state’s largest cash crop, estimated to be worth roughly $14 billion annually. Placing marijuana under the same regulatory system that now applies to alcohol represents the natural evolution of California’s laws and is in line with recent polls indicating strong support for decriminalizing marijuana.

To understand the reasoning behind AB390, it is helpful to understand how we got here. The state first prohibited marijuana in 1913. When Congress later passed the Controlled Substances Act in 1970, marijuana was temporarily labeled a “Schedule I substance” – an illegal drug with no approved medical purposes.

But Congress acknowledged that it did not know enough about marijuana to permanently classify it as Schedule I, so it created a presidential commission to review the research. In 1972, the National Commission on Marijuana and Drug Abuse advised Congress to remove criminal penalties on the possession and nonprofit distribution of marijuana.

“Neither the marijuana user nor the drug itself can be said to constitute a danger to public safety,” concluded the commission, led by then-Gov. Raymond Shafer of Pennsylvania. President Richard Nixon and Congress ignored the report. Since then, more than 14 million Americans have been arrested on marijuana charges and marijuana has remained listed as a Schedule I substance – actually treated by federal law as more dangerous than cocaine and methamphetamine.

Here in California, enforcement costs for marijuana offenses had become so high by 1975 that the Legislature decriminalized possession of small quantities in the Moscone Act, saving the state $100 million each year. In 1990, the California Research Advisory Panel urged further decriminalization, noting that “an objective consideration of marijuana shows that it is responsible for less damage to society and the individual than are alcohol and cigarettes.” By 1996, the medicinal benefits of marijuana had been well documented and California voters legalized the medical use of marijuana by passing Proposition 215. Thirteen states across the nation have since followed suit.

With U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder announcing last week that the federal government will end raids on marijuana dispensaries in California and other states with medical marijuana laws, it is clear that the tide is turning. Fact regarding marijuana is finally overcoming fiction.

There may be disagreements about what direction to take, but it is clear to everyone involved that our current approach is not working. Regulation allows common-sense controls and takes the marijuana industry out of the hands of unregulated criminals.

I find Obama’s stance puzzling. This is the second time it was the top question, the first was during the transition, and the same thing happened then. Thoughtful answers to every question, but a terse, President Obama does not advocate legalization of marijuana.

Is this a democracy? Really?

Read the whole editorial in the San Francisco Chronicle.

Amnesty for illegal immigrants? Solve this first…

USA Today had a story Monday about Mexican drug cartels setting up shop in 195 cities in the United States. They said the DEA seized more drug related cash in Atlanta ($30 million) than in Chicago ($18 million) or LA ($19 million).

And that’s not the half of it. The violence is in Atlanta too.

A Rhode Island man who owed the cartels $300,000 was found in the basement of a Georgia home, chained to a wall. He had been beaten, gagged and was dehydrated. The police captured his attackers as they fled the house.

Another man was kidnapped in Gwinett County but the family was working with police and when traffickers went to pick up the $2 million ransom, they were greeted by police.

Speaking of ransom, Reuters reports that Phoenix, Arizona is now the kidnap capital of the United States.

Hit men dressed in fake police tactical gear burst into a home in Phoenix, rake it with gunfire and execute a man.

Armed kidnappers snatch victims from cars and even a local shopping mall across the Phoenix valley for ransom….Execution style murders, violent home invasions, and a spiraling kidnap rate in Phoenix — where police reported an average of one abduction a day last year linked to Mexican crime — are not the only examples along the border.

In southern California, police have investigated cases of Americans abducted by armed groups tied to the Tijuana drug trade. One involved a businesswoman and her teenage daughter snatched in San Diego last year and held to ransom south of the border.

In south Texas, a live hand grenade traced back to a Mexican cartel stash was tossed onto the pool table of a bar frequented by off-duty police officers in January. The pin was left in it and the assailant fled.

The drug war is so bad in Mexico, Arizona State Police told Reuters that last November, “Mexican police officers pinned down in a raging gun battle in Nogales, Sonora, reached out to them with an urgent request for more bullets.”

And while we’re halfway across the world searching for training camps for al Qaeda, we need to look no further than our own doorstep for training camps that are bound to impact us on a fairly regular basis.

Dallas News reports that the training has taken place

at locations southwest of Matamoros, across the border from Brownsville; near the town of Abasolo, between Matamoros and Ciudad Victoria; just north of the Nuevo Laredo airport; and at a place called “Rancho Las Amarillas” near a rural community, China, that is close to the Nuevo León-Tamaulipas border.

Two other ranches used as training camps, both east of Matamoros, have clandestine landing strips for cocaine shipments originating in Colombia and destined for the United States via Texas, according to the officials and testimony.

They are used

to train cartel recruits – ranging from Mexican army deserters to American teenagers – who then carry out killings and other cartel assignments on both sides of the border, authorities say.

More frightening is that Mexican officials say the camps are heavily fortified and can even bring down planes. But the idea that American teenagers are trained as assassins is just plain scary.

In small towns along the Texas-Tamaulipas border, the Zetas operate with seeming impunity, driving late-model SUVs and carrying gold-plated rifles. Roadside altars are appearing that pay tribute to “Santa Muerte,” the Saint of Death, adorned with candles and Grim Reaper figurines. Residents regard them as a sign of cartel activity.

According to the witness testimony and interviews with U.S. and Mexican officials, training in the camps may range from a few weeks to months, and trainees have included American teenagers.

One of them is Rosalio Reta, 18, who was sentenced last year to 40 years in prison for a murder in Laredo. Mr. Reta’s career as a cartel hitman began at age 13, he told investigators. Authorities say he may have been involved in as many as 30 execution-style murders in the U.S. and Mexico.

Last year, Mr. Reta gave Laredo police Detective Roberto García an account of how he and other high school-age boys were trained as teenage hitmen for the Zetas. Mr. Reta told Laredo authorities he spent months training under Mateo Díaz López, “Comandante Teo,” an alleged top Zeta member arrested last year in the state of Tabasco on drug and weapons charges.

Mr. Reta’s confession led to the discovery of three clandestine cells in Laredo, allegedly carrying out assignments for reputed cartel leader Miguel Treviño.

“I know we’re fighting terrorism throughout the world … but here along the border the narco-terrorists operate on both sides of the border, and so far it’s gone largely unnoticed by Washington,” said Webb County Assistant District Attorney Jesús Guillén, who prosecuted Mr. Reta.

Must be largely unnoticed because I don’t see how you’ll do a background check on these people. And they pay well.
According to the Dallas News,

Mr. Cárdenas used the ranch to raise cattle as well as to train his personal militia, many of them former army soldiers lured by promises of higher pay, according to the testimony. Pay started at about $300 a week but would double within six months – far higher than salaries for soldiers or police. Pay for hitmen and bodyguards began at $1,000 per week, according to testimony.

They also execute and dispose of their enemies there.

And if you’d like a comprehensive picture of this problem, go no further than our own government’s Congressional Resource Service, where you will find a 21 page report for Congress on the problem entitled Mexican Drug Cartels.

I think the Webb County Assistant District Attorney Jesús Guillén used the wrong adjective. Unnoticed isn’t the problem. I think ignored would be far more accurate. Guess stopping this problem just doesn’t fit into the grand scheme of things.

I hate to foretell the future to our illustrious congresspeople, but like neighborhoods where gangs slowly take over unnoticed, countries are the same way.

I’d prefer the United States didn’t turn into Columbia, and since Guzman, the head of one of the drug cartels in Mexico was just put on the billionaire list by Forbes, I would suggest the only way to quickly take the wind out of the sails of this pirate ship from south of the border, is to legalize the stuff they sell (90 percent of the cocaine, 80 percent of the methamphetamine and half of the marijuana), and be done with it.

Let Americans reap the benefits of the drug trade – legally, and keep our cities safe, cheaply.

And as for amnesty? Don’t even raise the topic until you solve this problem, and can guarntee the American people that the only people you are helping to gain citizenship, are the ones who are truly here to get a better life, want to work, pay taxes, raise their children, and assimilate.

I can handle your poor, huddled masses but I can’t forget when Castro decided to let people leave Cuba if they wanted to, and the ones he let leave were the inmates from his prisons and mental hospitals.

Get real people, we need a plan and amnesty ain’t it.

Bailing out investors won’t help the economy

Reuters led the story of yesterday’s stock market rally with the following:

Stocks rose on Wednesday, with the benchmark S&P 500 index attempting the first two-day advance in a month, as investors held out hope that Washington would restore confidence in banks by relieving them of money-losing assets.

This is a rather disingenuous conclusion to derive from the rally message. Investors don’t care about confidence in the banking system, they care about their toxic investment making money again.

Those that did not see this debacle coming, and did not get out of these investments in time, are hoping that the bailout will be big enough to allow then to recoup their losses.

Geithner is working on a plan to relieve the banks of their bad assets – at taxpayer expense of course.

But, according to Reuters, Geithner “promised action within weeks and said he was moving deliberately to minimize risks of losses for taxpayers.”

Minimize risks of losses for taxpayers.

And conversely maximize the potential of gains for investors?

Bailing out these insolvent big banks by buying their bad debt with our money, while leaving the current management in place that not only created the problem but grew filthy rich while they did it,  is just a crime.

I would say he has no vision of the future, when we the taxpayers have to pay for this, but then, he’s not a taxpayer, so why would he care?

Can you say depression, boys and girls?

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