Wednesday, May 30, 2012

THE GREAT AMERICAN BANK ROBBERY



May 30, 2012

In the age of the company boss where multi-million-dollar Wall Street bonuses are dime a dozen, many of us mere mortals are having to squeeze our pennies. Some older folks here in Walton County must choose between medicine and groceries: do you starve or do you succumb to your illness.
That’s not right.
Nor is this: One third of our military have lost their homes to the greedy banks, many of them while away on active duty, fighting for the very system that’s shafting them. And some families have been evicted by banks even if they never had a mortgage.
The organization Veterans Today says that at least one in every three military families have lost their homes since 2008. “Banks have saddled military and veterans’ families with thousands of dollars in illegal charges, in most cases not only violations of the mortgage contract procedures themselves but, in many cases, outright criminal fraud.”
Of course Bankzilla gets away with this kind of stuff regularly by stonewalling at first and then simply throwing up its hands and bleating: “administrative error”. In the real world – as opposed to the world of high finance – this isn’t a “mistake” but a crime called conversion. Thievery. The big boys get a pass, the rest of us get jail.
To all those who support an America run by big money I say watch those banks: they will gitcha. Just like they did DeKalb police officer Christopher Rorey who followed the rules, requested a little breathing space and consequently found himself and his family tossed onto the street.
They were victims of a foreclosure racket that preys on middle class folks struggling for breath under a recession caused by the very financial raptors that now swoop down to finish them off. The coup de grace, and not always legal.
Stick ‘em up, folks! Times have changed: in today’s America it’s the banks robbing the people
The five largest predators, Bank of America, JP Morgan Chase, Citigroup, Ally Financial and Wells Fargo, were fined a total of $25 billion by the Federal Reserve six months ago. Their foreclosure activities had sparked a 16-month state-and-federal probe which these perpetrator banks consistently obstructed, reveals the inspector general for Housing And Urban Development. They obfuscated, hid documents, gagged employees... 
Eight more are being penalized, including SunTrust and the very untrustworthy Goldman Sachs, so beautifully described by writer Matt Taibbi as “a great vampire squid with its tentacles wrapped around the face of humanity, relentlessly jamming its blood funnel into anything that smells like money.”
Bloodthirsty Bank of America is one of the ones that evicted the families of soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan; and also foreclosed on people who owned their homes outright, free and clear. That bank simply ignored the trembling protests of their blameless victims.
So they pay the fines... out of their illegal gains of course. They get to keep the lion’s share. How does that work? If I were charged with a financial crime my home, car and pet giraffe would all be confiscated and taking care of fines with “suspect” money from my bank account would be verboten. Yet it’s okay for these insatiable Pac-Man finance houses to use their fraudulent gains to pay penalties. It’s as though the government is complicit in this travesty.
To impede a further financial meltdown, a weak regulatory law was introduced, one called Dodd-Frank that was further enfeebled by politicians doing the big banks’ bidding. But even having their hands tied with paper chains was too much for Wall Street’s moneygluttons, so addicted to booting the helpless out of their nests.
Dicey James Dimon, head of America’s largest bank, the much-hated JP Morgan Chase, has been the spearhead of Big Money’s struggle to free itself from regulation altogether. And then this month he revealed that his bank had gambled away $2 billion with even greater loss anticipated. This happened in a calm, slow market and was caused by the same high-risk betting from his outfit and others that brought about the 2008 crash. It cost us taxpayers way more than the $700 billion  in TARP loans authorized by President George W. Bush and his treasury secretary Henry Paulson,  the former boss of the aforementioned succubus Goldman Sachs. The bailout’s true cost, Bloomberg News reported 18 months ago, is a head-exploding $12.8 trillion.
The FBI is investigating Morgan Chase and shareholders are suing the company for taking excessive risks. Romney the “vulture capitalist”, as Texas Governor Rick Perry famously dubbed him, shrugs this off: it’s all in the game, baby, “that’s how it works in a public market”. Until one day the bank that’s too big to fail learns the roulette wheel stopped on red and “rien ne va plus”. And gets to vacuum another enormous bailout sum from victims, us taxpayers.
Of course the local cockalorum will leap – I’m applying the word figuratively for this geriatric bore – to condemn President Barack Obama, whose friend and benefactor is Five Card Dimon. They deserve censure, no question. But worse than Obama is Wall Street Mitt, who has pledged his squillionaire pals gains worth billions in exchange for the millions they’re pouring into his campaign.
To quote the late George Carlin: “It’s a big club – and you ain’t in it”. Yes, they’re all in bed together, the undead one percent. Meanwhile, too many ordinary Americans count themselves lucky just to be sleeping out of the rain.

ENDIT

© 2012 Fred Wehner is a journalist formerly with the Daily Mail in London, who then founded and ran the New York News Agency before settling in Monroe 21 years ago.


Wednesday, May 23, 2012

MEA MAXIMA CULPA

 

May 23, 2012

I am sorry if anyone was offended by my last column... No, that’s one of those non-apology apologies you hear all the time from the likes of politicians and corporations once they’ve been caught out and attempted a bunch of denials. What I prefer to say is far more direct: it’s that I sincerely regret some of the content of last week’s article on homosexual marriage.
Several readers expressed their shock at my words and they were right to do so. In particular, taking the notion of non-traditional wedlock to a ridiculous extreme and citing folks who married inanimate objects. My idea there – a terrible example, crassly articulated – was that homosexual marriage is as unnaturally barren as the strange betrothals I listed. But it was frivolous and it was wrong.
Some murderers claim that they would undo what they did if they could. I’m no murderer so I can and I do. I’d like to strike out the reprehensible parts of that column.
What I was expressing was a gut feeling. I continue to believe that marriage, whether sanctified by the church (Genesis 2-22-24) or not, is between two people of opposite sex. It might be easy for 52 percent of Americans to accept the ‘other’ way, but for me it’s a struggle. The Defense Of Marriage Act of 1996 is still valid.
This stance evoked outright venom from one commentator and perhaps it was deserved. But on the subject of gut feelings: what do we think of the North Koreans? Not Kim Il Howsyourfather III who’s a major league tosser but the people themselves. Cozy velvet thoughts? Are they “just like us” or do we actually view them with a measure of judgmental suspicion? And how about cult members?
Some folks instinctively dislike Muslims or blacks or whites or anyone who’s “different” and no way am I one of those guys. I believe wholeheartedly in live and let live, which is patently clear from all my columns. Help thy neighbor. Protect his voting rights. Equal pay for women doing the same work...
As for homosexuals I said and say leave ‘em be. Definitely do no harm. Do not get your friends to pin them down while you cut off their hair as a certain Willard ‘Mitt’ Romney once did and now doesn’t remember. Whereas his co-tormentors recall it in detail and now deeply regret their actions even if he doesn’t.
Oddly, I find myself aligned with Romney on the single issue of homosexual marriage, although I’m fearful of a Romney presidency for many reasons.
Some of my critics misinterpreted last week’s column as advocating fewer rights for homosexuals or even none at all. I prefer to believe these folks missed the point by accident, rather than deliberately misconstruing it. “These Americans deserve the same benefits as every other,” is what I believe I wrote.
Treat others as you would wish to be treated – sure thing. And does this also mean keeping it civilized, keeping it clean? Unproductive are the offensive outbursts you get from the usual suspects, the teeny brigade whose lizard brain may not yet be sufficiently developed to process the subtle nuances of a complex situation. Foul language is for those who find themselves inadequately equipped to formulate their ideas in English.
So let’s be clear. I have absolutely no desire to interfere in the private lives of others; quite the  opposite. The government should stay out of our bedrooms and everyone, including Washington, should leave a woman’s womb alone, it being the sole domain of the womb owner herself. That’s what I wrote back in March.
The issue of homosexuality is a complex one. You hear of males trapped in a female body and vice versa, and their stories are usually intensely poignant. There’s Chastity – now Chaz – Bono saving his dollars, as he told Rolling Stone magazine, for metoidioplasty surgery that will finally make him “complete”.
In 1979 I interviewed Ormus W. Davenport, the world’s first sex-change policeman, a much-decorated detective who returned to the Washington DC force as a uniformed policewoman - and to an avalanche of ridicule from her former colleagues. Riding a scooter around the precinct, she had been effectively demoted. Scandalous.
This officer told me that when she was a male, the near-suicidal risk-taking that won her bravery medals was due to a sense that she needed to overcome her female instincts and “prove how tough I was.” But it was far more agonizing than that: the overwhelming inner turmoil made her not even care if she got shot. It’s hard to imagine what that must be like.
Bonnie Davenport, as she now became, and Chaz Bono surely must be in a different category from homosexuals wishing to marry who haven’t undergone the conversion surgery. Are we at a fine line here?
It’s a volatile and complicated subject and for those who find it so simple, perhaps I should envy you your enlightened monochrome heads – I’m not sure.
As to homosexuals marrying, I went overboard last week and now I’m swimming back to the good ship Common Sense. This doesn’t mean I now hold the polar opposite view from that of a week ago. You could say my attitude is still “evolving” the way President Barack Obama described his own position before finally stepping out to endorse same sex marriage.
This week’s column was going to be about predatory banks. However, because I managed to get my knickers in such a dreadful twist it behooves me to apologize. And I do.

ENDIT

© 2012 Fred Wehner is a journalist formerly with the Daily Mail in London, who then founded and ran the New York News Agency before settling in Monroe 21 years ago.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

SOME STRAIGHT TALK ON GAY MARRIAGE


May 16, 2012

Marriage is between a man and a woman and not between two people of the same gender. More than half of all Americans are said to support legalizing homosexual marriage and therefore this statement goes against the grain. But I can’t help feeling this way.
Even writing about homosexuality is uncomfortable, however here it is dominating the news again, so here we go.
Yes, President Barack Obama took a big risk coming out in support after the vice president kinda forced him to do so. Hollywood’s cheering, others are saying it’s about time, so why does it make me shudder? I don’t know. It just does.
This is a subject that inflames passions, but first I want to reclaim the word “gay“ for the English language. The word’s been hijacked. It always meant happy, carefree, bright. Now there’s this other meaning that’s gobbled up the original definition. I want to be able to be gay without being “gay”.
What’s at stake isn’t about the rights of “gays” and lesbians to engage in holy matrimony. It’s about equal rights, and in the free society that ours either is or pretends to be who can argue with that?. These Americans deserve the same benefits as every other, no two ways about it.
They already have legal rights in many states. Federally, they should be afforded retirement and death benefits and be allowed to file joint tax returns. I can’t see denying them any part of their citizenship. Nor, incidentally, do I believe discrimination against homosexuals is anything like as pronounced as that afflicting other minorities.
For Monty Python’s Eric Idle homosexual unions are fine: “It’s about time they suffered too”. Yet a legal bond - official recognition of a lifelong partnership to guarantee the same IRS breaks as everyone else - ain’t good enough for these folks. They insist on actual matrimony.
But marriage has already foundered in the sea of sexual revolution and this will be another torpedo striking the good ship USS Family. 
I’m not convinced that children with two mommies or two daddies grow up into well-adjusted adults. How  can their learning years in such a household be normal? Do they suffer at the hands of their classmates? In Scandinavia, where homosexuality and free love have undermined  the institution of marriage, the majority of babies are now born out of wedlock.
Homosexuality dominates the media. It often overshadows everything else, and in doing so it encourages our children to view the ‘other’ way of life as equal to a normal lifestyle. And perhaps to follow it too.
Are you born that way or do you develop the trait? Former presidential hopeful Michele Bachmann and her husband know: he runs a Minnesota clinic where you can reportedly pray away the gay. Charlatan.
Homosexuality, whether male or female, is in the genes but it’s an aberration because every species has an inbuilt biological desire to reproduce.
And can a church sanctify homosexual marriage? It contravenes the teachings of so many religions, including Islam. Sex is for procreation and marriage provides the basis; for many, homosexuality itself is a sin.
Also, where were all these people when I was young? You rarely encountered a homosexual, male or female, and it certainly wasn’t in the national discourse. From the amount of discussion today you’d think half the population is... you know...
Whereas the actual figure is less than ten percent. Way less. By some estimates more like two percent. A small subculture like it’s always been, however those of the same-sex persuasion have a voice almost on a par with the rest of us. It’s the Catch-22 effect: the more this topic is discussed the more it needs to be.
We went through don’t-ask-don’t-tell in the military - a dishonest way around the subject, although I guess do-ask-do-tell might be decidedly worse. How about don’t-care-don’t-care. That would be how the soldiers themselves view the question: overwhelmed with indifference. It wasn’t a concern in two world wars nor in Vietnam or even the most recent conflicts. Why now?
Because in the eyes of some voters today the question of homosexuality is the Only Thing That Matters - far more important than jobs or the defense of our beloved USA. To me this is unfathomable: I’m tempted to think  folks whose ballot is based solely on that should be denied the vote. But that would be undemocratic.
The only way is Obama’s. Voice your support of same-sex wedlock, then leave it to the states to implement. Six already do, others will.
So now it looks as though we’ll be joining Norway, Sweden and Iceland, Holland, Belgium, Spain, Portugal, Argentina, South Africa and even Canada in sanctioning same-sex marriage.
I think it’s not right, and what is this all leading to?  Where will it end? A woman in India married a snake living next door in an ant hill. A San Francisco lady got hitched to the Eiffel Tower in Paris. A Swedish woman wed the Berlin Wall and now a New York belle is betrothed to marry a fairground ride. What the...
Earlier this year a Thai man married his dead girlfriend in a ceremony that doubled as her funeral and a Korean fellow said ‘I do’ to a pillow. There’s the Chinese guy who married himself – and he wasn’t even a hermaphrodite.
A Japanese gentleman moved to Guam in order to wed a character from a Nintendo game. In the name of “rights” are we now opening the door to kooks like these as well?

© 2012 Fred Wehner is a journalist formerly with the Daily Mail in London, who then founded and ran the New York News Agency before settling in Monroe 21 years ago.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

OBAMA’S HOOKERS: HATE TO THE CHIEF


May 9, 2012

It turns out the Secret Service hired those Colombian prostitutes not for their own gratification but for that of President Obama. That’s news to me – front page news. A “bombshell revelation” billed as a world exclusive, therefore... Coffee. Donut. Grab a seat and read all about it.
Once again the world’s top media are scooped by Globe, a supermarket blabsheet out of Florida that specializes in anti-Obama material, truth be damned. Huge story, no proof. Only a vague suggestion from an unnamed informant that these sex-mad agents told the trollops they were being hired for the president.
That’s good enough for editor Jeff Rodack, who then adds damning quotes from An Insider and The Insider along with their cousin A. Source, all of whom live in, you know, his head. These three faceless ones contribute overwhelmingly to Globe and its sister comic, the National Examiner. That latter sheet recently claimed Obama’s people murdered right wing nutjob Andrew Breitbart who died of a heart attack. Not a scrap of evidence to support that fairytale either.
Made-up codswallop, all of it. But then that’s the trademark of the extreme Republican right and its allies in their wild frenzy of mudslinging. The Internet is also rife with this garbage, a large portion of it racist. Here’s University of Texas republican prez Cassandra Wright: “My president is black, he snorts a lot of crack.” It’s also violent. Hours after some tosser fired a high-powered rifle at the White House, Wright’s predecessor Lauren Pierce tweeted how tempting it might be to shoot Obama.
Lies and distortions abound.  “I heard he was a Muslim,” is what a factory worker told Steve Kroft on ABC’s 60 Minutes. Heard. And that was good enough for this guy. Sad, really, when you lack the mental capacity to seek the truth beyond a word in your ear.
When the Underwear Bomber was caught, Republicans wailed Obama’s soft on terrorism in what writer Steve Benen described so eloquently as “a collective display of pants-wetting.” Obama got Osama, but even killing Bin Laden doesn’t make him a patriotic American. He canceled the National Day of Prayer and replaced it with a Muslim prayer day with all that screechy music and all. He won’t wear a flag pin nor put his hand over his heart during the National Anthem. Venezuela’s America-hating dictator Hugo Ch├ívez is financing him. All undiluted poppycock. And then there’s Larry Sinclair, the fruitcake ex-con who keeps chirruping that Barack was his beau. Lyin’ Larry failed a couple of polygraph tests but the Obama haters keep hoisting him up onto his soap box. 
Business Insider exposed the falsity that Obama “kills jobs” with a simple graph. In January 2009 when he took office 800,000 vanished; that’s on top of the millions already gone under George W. Bush. We’re recovering – slo-o-owly.  Of nine million jobs lost in the recession four million have been clawed back; meanwhile our taxes are the lowest since 1958, says the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis. Of developed countries only Mexico and Chile tax folk less.
A reader of this newspaper asserted recently that Obama “is working hard to enslave” Americans by making us dependent on government and asks if he’s missing something. Yeah. How about some facts?
We see the usual wild generalizations and con jobs, introducing an illogical argument by way of correlation without causation. Mash together two disparate issues and serve up this steaming dish of balderdash and piffle for the purblind who’ll swallow anything.
There’s the Dead Presidents e-mail: a series of dollar bills with the last one a Food Stamps coupon bearing Obama’s image. “Obama's policies have put more people on welfare than any president before him,” the caption reads, and it’s pure bunkum: under Bush there were more. That didn’t stop Newt Gingrich repeating the canard in his debate and in TV ads, never pausing to explain exactly how any president can “put” Americans on food stamps.
If anyone did that it was Bush. He collapsed our economy by giving the wealthy a double-dip tax break, the big banks an unchecked TARP handout and launching two wars, one based on a filthy lie.
And the birthers refuse to die. That oddball quartet reciting the only song they know, a tuneless dirge entitled ‘Obama Ain’t American’, despite Hawaii’s official release of both his short and long birth certificates. They are (from right to left even further right): lawyer Gary Kreep, conspiracy theorist Jerome Corsi, and the scary-strange Russian person Orly Taitz. Plus leader Yussuf Farah, editor of WorldNet Daily whose pure Arab blood, brush mustache and glib, dishonest discourse would be more befitting a used camel salesman.
The radical right consistently call Obama an elitist Kenyan Muslim Communist Nazi Socialist Antichrist Manchurian Hussein terrorist. And the most breathtaking claim of all? Because he failed to turn New York’s new One World Trade Center into the world’s tallest minaret for Muslim prayer Obama is now plotting to fly Air Force One into it.
Sheesh! There’s a world exclusive those trash mags haven’t reported yet. Globe should give the Insider Brothers - 'A' and 'The' - a pep talk.
Incidentally, whatever happened to the republican notion that you can’t criticize a president during wartime? That kept the Bush whackers in check but apparently it doesn’t apply to Obama.
As for accusing him of being a hookers’  ‘john’? A clear and damaging libel right there. Globe’s lawyers should be sharpening their forked tongues because if I were the Obamas I’d sue that rag from Florida to Hawaii and back again. 

ENDIT

© 2012 Fred Wehner is a journalist formerly with the Daily Mail in London, who then founded and ran the New York News Agency before settling in Monroe 21 years ago.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

A KOCH AND BULL STORY

 

May 2, 2012

 

What on earth was that?  Two days of winter in the middle of a freak summer that wasn’t even due for another couple months. So is the planet’s temperature in turmoil? Do we need to be concerned?

Not if you believe folks like Walton County’s representative, Dr. Paul Broun, and other mockers of the climate change phenomenon. Like “Professor” Jim DeMint next door in South Carolina, who famously declared that global warming didn’t exist because his state just had snow. Or disgraced Georgia dumpling Newt Gingrich, now buried under an avalanche of pro-Romney votes, who pooh-poohed the existence of global warming after three historic snowstorms in Washington.

These guys aren’t experts, and silly pronouncements like this are tailored for those unfortunates who’ll believe anything. Taking advantage. It’s unfair.

We’ve experienced the strangest weather in recent years. So now the climate change deniers roll out their backup argument, which is, kayokayokay then, the North Pole is melting, we’ll give you that, and yeah yeah sea levels are rising.  But even if the weather has gone berserk (c’mon fellas, it’s as obvious as a wart on a witch’s nose) human industry is not to blame.

Here’s Broun attacking the clean air bill known as ACES in 2009 with his take on global climate change. “It is a hoax,” he said, suggesting it would kill jobs and raise the cost of food, medicine, electricity and gasoline and hurt chiefly the poor and the elderly.

Put the violins away because none of that’s true. The FactCheck organization of conservative icon Walter Annenberg exposed Broun’s blather as “simplistic and misleading.” In reality the dollar impact is minimal: the Congressional Budget Office put the cost at 48 cents a day. Other studies such as that from the University of Massachusetts have shown it would cost zero while creating, not killing, 1.7 million new jobs  - 59,000 of them in Georgia.

The air is ours and contaminating it is an assault on all earth dwellers, yet the perpetrators get subsidies. We should punish them for polluting: instead we pay them. Pumping exhaust gases from vehicles and factories into the atmosphere destroys the ozone, allowing harmful rays to wash over our precious planet. No question. But Broun and his pals seek to cloud the issue, claiming there’s some kind of international “consensus” disproving this fact. Quoth Broun: “Scientists all over this world say the idea of human-induced global climate change is one of the greatest hoaxes perpetrated out of the scientific community.” All over the world, huh: can he produce them? No.

Broun is a family physician. If 97 doctors prescribed immediate surgery and he and two others said I didn’t need it  – I think I’d go with the 97.

Does he even know sulfur dioxide produces acid rain? Only one percent comes from volcanoes, the rest from industrial activity such as burning coal, oil or gas for electricity. Broun’s biggest benefactors are Exxon Mobil, Whitaker Oil, The Southern Company and multinational Koch Industries who control huge oil and chemical interests. Koch also funds DeMint and controls the tea party.

A scientist on whom these guys have been relying is University of California physicist Richard Muller, a man whose “findings” were financed by the pollutin’ Koch Brothers themselves. Six months ago, after years of graciously accepting their cash, Muller admitted: global warming is a fact and burning these fossil fuels “could have a disastrous impact on the world.”  His new realization coincides with findings by the national atmospheric administration NOAA, with NASA and with 97% of climate scientists worldwide. Not the fictitious ones to whom Broun referred.

The lifeblood of Ohio is industry and the state’s Republican governor John Kasich was a heavy hitter in the fight to resist emissions control because... well, because his state is one huge factory. Last month he relented. Global warming was real, he said, and we needed to do something about it.

Of course the deniers deny that. “Deny it even if they prove it to you,” as the ex-wife used to cackle. My question is whether they believe their own words. If so, they’re naive nincompoops, but I’m sure they know it’s hogwash. In which case they’re simply liars who have prostituted themselves to Big Oil and Big Industry.

We’ve gone from whew! to brrrr! for two days and back to whew! again but now the winter-that-never-was is over. Summer is here despite the calendar, and we’ll be getting those scary Red Alerts about unhealthy ozone levels and asthma and kids and old folks needing to stay indoors

Bad air days? Walton County had 69 of them during 1999’s long, sweaty summer and experts envision a repeat although the Old Farmer’s Almanac predicts our summer will be “much cooler than normal”. Say, who is this old farmer and what does he know! He forecast last Christmas season would be wild, wet and bitterly cold. Ho ho ho.

No, I shouldn’t make light of it. Two years ago thousands in neighboring Tennessee saw their homes washed away by a furious freak rainstorm. Last summer all but two of Texas’ 254 counties were on fire during that state’s worst drought ever. The terrifying tornados and hurricanes will be stronger and more frequent, says NOAA. Disease will flourish, polar bears will die out.

Just great!

A month ago a Nobel-prizewinning panel of climate scientists warned nations to prepare for a serious onslaught of deadly weather disasters.

But Broun is still repeating Koch’s bull.

.

© 2012 Fred Wehner is a journalist formerly with the Daily Mail in London, who then founded and ran the New York News Agency before settling in Monroe 21 years ago.