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What’s Eating You Today?

April 22, 2009

“The monster of advertisement… is a sort of octopus with innumerable tentacles. It throws out to right and left, in front and behind, its clammy arms, and gathers in, through its thousand little suckers, all the gossip and slander and praise afloat, to spit out again at the public.” – Sarah Bernhardt

And speaking of advertising and self promotion, being on the brink of financial ruin hasn’t stopped corporations receiving taxpayer bailout money from pleading their cases to Congress. Goldman Sachs, Citigroup, Capital One, General Motors, Bank of America and on and on and on have spent millions in the last quarter bribing elected officials to make sure they won’t be subject to any penalties for the monumental fraud they have perpetrated on the public.

Top recipients of federal bailout money spent more than $10 million on political lobbying in the first three months of this year, including aggressive efforts aimed at blocking executive pay limits and tougher financial regulations, according to newly filed disclosure records.

The biggest spenders among major firms in the group included General Motors, which spent nearly $1 million a month on lobbying, and Citigroup and J.P. Morgan Chase, which together spent more than $2.5 million in their efforts to sway lawmakers and Obama administration officials on a wide range of financial issues. In all, major bailout recipients have spent more than $22 million on lobbying in the six months since the government began doling out rescue funds, Senate disclosure records show.

~snip~

According to quarterly lobbying reports that were due Monday, more than a dozen financial firms and carmakers that have received TARP assistance spent money on lobbying during the first three months of this year. After Citigroup and J.P. Morgan Chase, top lobbyists included American Express, Wells Fargo Bank, Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley.

Most of the companies spent less on lobbying this year than they did during the first quarter of 2008. J.P. Morgan, for example, spent $1.43 million in early 2008, compared with $1.31 million this year. Others, however, showed increased spending, including Capital One Financial, which doubled its quarterly lobbying expenditures to more than $400,000.

The lobbying records do not yet include campaign contributions by corporate lobbyists. Bank of America, for example, which spent $660,000 on lobbying in the first quarter, also gave more than $218,000 in campaign contributions through its PAC, according to the Federal Election Commission.

J P Morgan was forced to cut their bribery efforts by a whole $120,000! Guess they must have had a corporate jet that needed reupholstering really badly and couldn’t make the full payoff this time. I’m sure they’ll make it up next quarter though or Congress might send a sternly worded letter before handing over a few billion more.

But not to worry, because this isn’t your money that’s being used to grease the palms of the corrupt and make your life more difficult while criminal execs sail gently into the sunset on gilded gossamer. At least that’s the line the CEOs are hoping you’ll buy:

But several company representatives said yesterday that none of the money borrowed from the government has been used to fund lobbying activities — though there is no mechanism to verify that. Financial firms have successfully quashed proposed legislation that would explicitly ban the use of TARP money for lobbying or campaign contributions.

And if you actually believe that your money isn’t being used to bribe Congress, then perhaps you might be interested in purchasing some real estate in Florida right now. I hear you can get some really good deals. No income required and no money down! Just sign on the dotted line……

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14 Comments leave one →
  1. cometman permalink*
    April 22, 2009 6:13 am

    One of the fatcats seems to have been having a difficult time facing the music over the damage he’d caused and decided to take the Japanese way out. Freddie Mac CFO David Kellerman fell on his sword last night:

    David Kellermann, the acting chief financial officer of mortgage giant Freddie Mac, was found dead at his home Wednesday morning in what police said was an apparent suicide.

    ~snip~

    Kellermann was named acting chief financial officer in September 2008, after the resignation of Anthony “Buddy” Piszel, who stepped down after the September 2008 government takeover. The chief financial officer is responsible for the company’s financial controls, financial reporting and oversight of the company’s budget and financial planning.

    Before taking that job, Kellermann served as senior vice president, corporate controller and principal accounting officer. He was with Freddie Mac for more than 16 years.

  2. triv33 permalink
    April 22, 2009 6:26 am

    Or maybe he was listening to the late great Bill Hicks…

    By the way, if anyone here is in advertising or marketing, kill yourself. Thank you, thank you. Just a little thought. I’m just trying to plant seeds. Maybe one day they’ll take root. I don’t know. You try. You do what you can. Kill yourselves. Seriously though, if you are, do. No really, there’s no rationalisation for what you do, and you are Satan’s little helpers, OK? Kill yourselves, seriously. You’re the ruiner of all things good. Seriously, no, this is not a joke. “There’s gonna be a joke coming…” There’s no fucking joke coming, you are Satan’s spawn, filling the world with bile and garbage, you are fucked and you are fucking us, kill yourselves, it’s the only way to save your fucking soul. Kill yourself, kill yourself, kill yourself now. Now, back to the show.

    “You know what Bill’s doing now, he’s going for the righteous indignation dollar, that’s a big dollar, a lot of people are feeling that indignation, we’ve done research, huge market. He’s doing a good thing.” Godammit, I’m not doing that, you scumbags, quit putting a godamn dollar sign on every fucking thing on this planet!

    ~Bill Hicks

    and I include corporate shills & lobbyists in that group. Maybe that’s just me…

    • cometman permalink*
      April 22, 2009 6:55 am

      I never really heard of Bill Hicks until you and a couple others started mentioning him lately. But I’m getting to like him a lot. Wish I’d noticed him more when he was still around.

  3. triv33 permalink
    April 22, 2009 7:22 am

    I loved Bill, his comedy got me through some rough damn times and then he went and died on me. Almost broke my black heart. He’d be on fire if he was still around.

  4. Stemella permalink*
    April 22, 2009 7:26 am

    Great Graphic! It is sickening that the Zombiebanx are using our tax dollars for blood money.

    Even more sickening, and what’s eating me up this morning, is this little tidbit:

    In December 2001, more than a month before the President signed his memorandum, the Department of Defense (DOD) General Counsel’s Office had already solicited information on detainee “exploitation” from the Joint Personnel Recovery Agency (JPRA), an agency whose expertise was in training American personnel to withstand interrogation techiniques considered illegal under the Geneva Conventions.

    It comes from a pdf linked in this story from McClatchy: Report: Abusive tactics were used to find Iraq-al Qaida link

    The article has pdfs in two parts of the entire Senate Armed Services Committee Report based on inquiries into the interrogation techniques used by the United States in Iraq, at Gitmo and Afghanistan. The report proves that Cheney/Rumsfeld pushed the use of torture to find the facts they needed to justify the illegal invasion of Iraq. It validates all that we suspected about these criminal fucks.

    They went to war as planned in the 90’s back in the PNAC and then after the fact said, oh shit, we need proof! Chalabi says Sadaam and Osama were in bed. Torture the shit out of some people till they tell us what we want, and get it on tape! Oh, no one says there’s a link? Torture harder!! Get some psychologists who don’t have MD’s or hippocratic oaths since they aren’t actual physicians to tell us how to do it! Yeah, there’s the ticket. Now get us the justification we need to cover our lies, to validate our war crimes.

    The Bush administration put relentless pressure on interrogators to use harsh methods on detainees in part to find evidence of cooperation between al Qaida and the late Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein’s regime, according to a former senior U.S. intelligence official and a former Army psychiatrist.

    Such information would’ve provided a foundation for one of former President George W. Bush’s main arguments for invading Iraq in 2003. No evidence has ever been found of operational ties between Osama bin Laden’s terrorist network and Saddam’s regime.

    The use of abusive interrogation — widely considered torture — as part of Bush’s quest for a rationale to invade Iraq came to light as the Senate issued a major report tracing the origin of the abuses and President Barack Obama opened the door to prosecuting former U.S. officials for approving them.

    Former Vice President Dick Cheney and others who advocated the use of sleep deprivation, isolation and stress positions and waterboarding, which simulates drowning, insist that they were legal.

    A former senior U.S. intelligence official familiar with the interrogation issue said that Cheney and former Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld demanded that intelligence agencies and interrogators find evidence of al Qaida-Iraq collaboration.

    “There were two reasons why these interrogations were so persistent, and why extreme methods were used,” the former senior intelligence official said on condition of anonymity because of the issue’s sensitivity.

    “The main one is that everyone was worried about some kind of follow-up attack (after 9/11). But for most of 2002 and into 2003, Cheney and Rumsfeld, especially, were also demanding proof of the links between al Qaida and Iraq that (former Iraqi exile leader Ahmed) Chalabi and others had told them were there.”

    Obama sure as hell better allow if not outright insist on the full investigation and then prosecution based on the revelations of this report. If he does not the disease will persist and rot out the heart and soul of all who call themselves American.

    • cometman permalink*
      April 22, 2009 11:21 am

      Here’s something nice. He isn’t in the slammer but at least John Yoo was treated like the piece of refuse that he is yesterday:

      John Yoo, one of the legal architects of the Bush Administration’s “torture policies,” was met with outrage at a talk given at Chapman University in California Tuesday, where he reportedly faced cries of “war criminal” as he approached the stage.

      As he neared the podium to speak, he was met with shouts of “war criminal,” the local newspaper said. An audience member shouted, “He doesn’t belong in the university – he belongs in jail.”

      The former Bush legal adviser seemed immune to the haranguing.

      According to the Orange County Register, “Yoo responded with a slight smile.”

      Somebody needs to knock that smile off his face. Bring on the Zapateurs!

      • Stemella permalink*
        April 22, 2009 12:33 pm

        hobnail treeclimber boots would do nicely, even cleats would be acceptable

        Zapa!

    • cometman permalink*
      April 22, 2009 11:27 am

      Jonathon Turley calls for Justice to appoint a special prosecutor as he is not sanguine that a mere investigation would do any good at bringing torturers to justice:

      “George Bush and Vice President Cheney, the CIA director, the attorney general … implemented, in full knowledge that it was a war crime, the torture program,” Turley emphasized. “The effort to define it in terms of lawyers is something of a Beltway shift. That is, it’s setting us up for failure.”

      According to Turley, Attorney General Eric Holder “needs to appoint a special prosecutor and not limit it as to who committed the alleged war crimes.”

      “A true war crime investigation would be given to a special prosecutor, who would follow it where it would lead him or her,” Turley told Shuster. “And that would most certainly lead him … or her to the former president or vice president and the people like the CIA director and attorney general who pushed through this program.”

      “God help us if the only thing we get out of this is a commission modeled on 9/11,” Turley commented. “That was a commission that was really made for Washington — a commission composed of political appointees of both parties that ran interference for those parties — a commission that insisted at the beginning it would not impose blame on individuals. So it’s the ideal Washington commission — a commission that would investigate without any reprecussions.”

      If this ever happens, I’d love to see Turley get the job. That man is a true patriot.

    • cometman permalink*
      April 22, 2009 11:37 am

      Chris Floyd at Empire Burlesque has a great post today on the torture issue and doesn’t think much will be done because:

      You cannot disentangle the torture program from the war of aggression in Iraq – nor from the illegal wiretapping program, the corrupt war profiteering, and all the other degradations of liberty and law that have been so accelerated in the past eight years. They are all of a piece, part and parcel of a plan to expand and entrench America’s “unipolar domination” of world affairs with a thoroughly militarized state led by an unaccountable, authoritarian “Unitary Executive.”

      This is one reason why Barack Obama is so obviously reluctant to tug on the torture thread too hard. If you tear it out, with full-scale prosecutions and top officials locked up behind bars, the whole rotten skein would fall apart. Once you start genuinely subjecting government officials – including security apparatchiks and military brass – to the full extent of the law, there would be no end to the unraveling: senators, contractors, representatives, bureaucrats, generals, lobbyists, judges, corporate chiefs – the whole edifice of Establishment power would be shaken to the core as its leading lights went down, one after the other.

      Thus the mere act of applying the ordinary, bourgeois laws of the land as they stand right now would constitute a world-shaking revolution, an overthrow of the existing order every bit as radical as any ideologue’s dream of mass uprising. It would be, in effect, a re-founding of the Republic – and the end of the empire, which cannot survive without continual war, lawless rule and endless corruption.

      And that’s why we will not see Barack Obama follow such a course.

      • Stemella permalink*
        April 22, 2009 12:02 pm

        I agree with him completely. The rot is so pervasive, from shore to shore, across all borders from top to bottom and back around again, to pull on one thread will unravel all of it. That is why there will be no justice for any of it by anyone in government or in the corporotocracy.

        The only chance this country has is that the unraveling happens by an external source. Katrina started a process like that, tore down some of the curtains. A lot of people woke up because of it, but the curtains have been reassembled. New Orleans and all the insane shit that happened down there and has happened there since is off the radar of most except locals. The collapse of the economy and the anger at the bailout is another catalyst, but people are already forgetting their anger and are turning back to their television sets.

        A lot of people here simply don’t care if brown people get tortured and killed overseas. They really don’t give a shit, or if they do, that caring is short lived.

        I hope something does come from this, that Turley gets to be SP, that Obama does the right thing, but I doubt he will.

        The economy and more specifically unemployment and credit card rates are the things that most will follow here. People are essentially selfish, self serving. That’s where they will focus their activism in any numbers that will matter in the end.

        • cometman permalink*
          April 22, 2009 12:30 pm

          My eyes were opened originally with the Iran/Contra fiasco. That’s when I first realized just how corrupt politicians were. And remembering how that played out, it’s hard to believe that things will be different this time. If anyone is punished the penalty will probably be light and they’ll wind up with a Fox News gig afterward.

          Here’s some more from Jeremy Scahill. Evidently several groups intend to petition Holder for a special prosecutor tomorrow when he testifies in front of a subcommittee. We’ll see what if anything comes of it.

  5. cometman permalink*
    April 23, 2009 7:09 am

    Not that it comes as any big surprise, but now we find out that Condoleeza Rice played a much bigger role in having people tortured than she had previously admitted to:

    As national security adviser to former President George W. Bush, Condoleezza Rice verbally approved the CIA’s request to subject alleged al-Qaida terrorist Abu Zubaydah to waterboarding in July 2002, the earliest known decision by a Bush administration official to OK use of the simulated drowning technique.

    Rice’s role was detailed in a narrative released Wednesday by the Senate Intelligence Committee. It provides the most detailed timeline yet for how the CIA’s harsh interrogation program was conceived and approved at the highest levels in the Bush White House.

    The new timeline shows that Rice played a greater role than she admitted last fall in written testimony to the Senate Armed Services Committee.

    The narrative also shows that dissenting legal views about the severe interrogation methods were brushed aside repeatedly.

    So on top of authorizing torture, it also appears that she lied to Congress. I thought that was supposed to get people in a little hot water. Does anyone even care? I think Chris Floyd nailed it yesterday as to why nobody does anything to get some accountability – they are all complicit in this.

    • Stemella permalink*
      April 23, 2009 7:48 am

      Indeed. In following just the surface of the Harman/AIPAC story and Pelosi’s possible role, one has to come to the same conclusion. It is no conspiracy, it is simply how things work in an oligarchy raft with corruption. I was just listening to the CNBC pundits discuss Ken Lewis’s admission that Bernancke and Paulson told him to shut his trap about how bad Merrill Lynch was before BofA was told to buy it. Paulson and Bennie will never admit to it, ever, but it is very likely that happened. Laws and regulations are for schmucks like us, not for the ruling class.

  6. cometman permalink*
    April 23, 2009 12:39 pm

    New Lyman-Alpha blob discovered.

    Using information from a suite of telescopes, astronomers have discovered a mysterious, giant object that existed at a time when the universe was only about 800 million years old. Objects such as this one are dubbed extended Lyman-Alpha blobs; they are huge bodies of gas that may be precursors to galaxies.

    This blob was named Himiko for a legendary, mysterious Japanese queen. It stretches for 55 thousand light years, a record for that early point in time. That length is comparable to the radius of the Milky Way’s disk.

    The researchers are puzzled by the object. Even with superb data from the world’s best telescopes, they are not sure what it is. Because it is one of the most distant objects ever found, its faintness does not allow the researchers to understand its physical origins. It could be ionized gas powered by a super-massive black hole; a primordial galaxy with large gas accretion; a collision of two large young galaxies; super wind from intensive star formation; or a single giant galaxy with a large mass of about 40 billion Suns. Because this mysterious and remarkable object was discovered early in the history of the universe in a Japanese Subaru field, the researchers named the object after the legendary mysterious queen in ancient Japan.

    But how will scientists figure out what it is considering that some think the laws of physics need to be reworked.

    The high speed of stars and apparent presence of ‘dark matter’ in the satellite galaxies that orbit our Milky Way Galaxy presents a direct challenge to Newton’s theory of gravitation, according to physicists from Germany, Austria and Australia.

    Professor Pavel Kroupa of the University of Bonn’s Argelander-Institut fuer Astronomie (AlfA) will discuss the results of the team’s two studies in a presentation on Wednesday 22nd April at the European Week of Astronomy and Space Science conference at the University of Hertfordshire.

    Together with scientists at the University of Vienna and the Australian National University in Canberra, the AlfA team looked at the small dwarf galaxies that orbit the Milky Way. Some of these contain only a few thousand stars and so are relatively faint and difficult to find. Standard cosmological models predict the presence of hundreds of these companions around most of the larger galaxies, but up to now only 30 have been observed around the Milky Way.

    The team of scientists looked at the distribution of these satellite dwarf galaxies and discovered they were not where they should be. “There is something odd about their distribution”, explains Professor Kroupa. “They should be uniformly arranged around the Milky Way, but this is not what we found.” The astronomers discovered that the eleven brightest of the dwarf galaxies lie more or less in the same plane – in a kind of disk shape – and that they revolve in the same direction around the Milky Way (in the same way as planets in the Solar System revolve around the Sun).

    Professor Kroupa and the other physicists believe that this can only be explained if today’s satellite galaxies were created by ancient collisions between young galaxies. Team member and former colleague Dr Manuel Metz, now at the Deutsches Zentrum fuer Luft- and Raumfahrt, also worked on the study. “Fragments from early collisions can form the revolving dwarf galaxies we see today” comments Dr Metz. But he adds that this introduces a paradox. “Calculations suggest that the dwarf satellites cannot contain any dark matter if they were created in this way. But this directly contradicts other evidence. Unless the dark matter is present, the stars in the galaxies are moving around much faster than predicted by Newton’s standard theory of gravitation.”

    Dr Metz continues, “The only solution is to reject Newton’s theory. If we live in a Universe where a modified law of gravitation applies, then our observations would be explainable without dark matter.”

    It keeps getting curiouser and curiouser out there.

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