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EditorBlog (1370)


According to the New York Times, Mayor Bloomberg's girlfriend, Diana L. Taylor, sits on the board of Brookfield Properties, the owner of Zucotti Park (AKA Liberty Park). But that's hardly the ownly tie that has resulted in Brookfield becoming an active partner in Bloomberg's efforts to close down Occupy Wall Street.

The current gambit of, in essence, closing the public headquarters of the movement under the guise of "cleaning up" the park, and then imposing rules that would prohibit anything other than pedestrian traffic and sitting on benches, is now delayed. (It had originally been scheduled for 7 AM EST Friday.)

Occupy Wall Street put out a call last night for people to join them in preventing the New York Police Department -- allegedly acting at the behest of Brookfield Properties -- from effectively shutting down the active "headquarters" of the anti-Wall Street corruption and economic inequality groundswell uprising.  In addition, the public advocate for New York City -- a position not well known out of Manhattan, but one with considerable influence in city politics -- challenged Bloomberg's coordinated effort with Brookfield to render inoperative the anti-Wall Street beachhead.

"Bill de Blasio, the city's public advocate," according to the New York Times, "had expressed concern over the city's actions as he inspected the park Thursday afternoon and listened to protesters' complaints."

Bloomberg had first tried to use the NYPD -- and perhaps others -- to infiltrate and perhaps bait the Occupy Wall Street protesters into some sort of violent act, which would turn public opinion against them, and allow him to use the sort of excessive police force employed in "The Battle of Seattle" several years ago to cut off the head of the populist surge that has put corporations and Wall Street on the defensive.  That didn't work, even though hundreds of people were arrested after claiming that the police led them onto the street level of the Brooklyn Bridge and then arrested them.

But plan "B" was for Brookfield Properties, which technically owns the public park as a result of it being built in return for zoning variations in the area, to "ask" for police help if plan "A" didn't pan out.

Just two weeks ago, Bloomberg -- worth $19.5 billion and whose fortune comes from an information software and device used by financial firms (along with a growing media empire, with an emphasis on business) -- spoke of a "sanitation crisis" in a rambling attack on Occupation Wall Street on a New York radio program. He implicitly threatened that he would close the site down.  Meanwhile, a spokesperson for Brookfield Properties was expressing "deep" concern about the sanitation conditions in the park.  This was not a coincidence: it was a public relations meme.

Newspaper accounts of the now delayed Zuccotti Park clean up generally accept that the City of New York was planning to have the NYPD arrest protesters who didn't clear the park as a response to a "request" from Brookfield Properties -- and it is true that there is such a written request.

But this is not Brookfield Properties acting on its own.  It could have done that a long time ago.  In fact it could have employed private security guards to clear the park of "temporary residents," by some legal interpretations of its rights as "owner" of the property.

Brookfield Properties is a multi-billion dollar commercial real estate company that is as tight as a tick with  Bloomberg and the Wall Street plutocracy.  It can't make a move in New York City to develop new projects without the approval of City Hall.  It didn't make a move on Zucotti Park (named after the chairman of Brookfield) until the mayor got his ducks in a row and his public relations and legal people felt they could use the "sanitation" ruse, while the mayor claimed -- for media consumption -- that he was in support of the constitutional right to protest. You can bet your last dollar that Brookfield Properties was asked to write its letter to City Hall at the time it did directly by City Hall.  The fact that the mayor's girlfriend is on the board of Brookfield is just symbolic icing on the cake of the oligarchy's symbiotic relationship.

However, due to factors already cited, and the strong legal possibility that the the NYPD could not be called in to Zucotti Park unless Brookfield Properties obtained a court order allowing for such a move, the mayor's office announced just before their scheduled de facto eviction that the police clear-out was being "delayed."

As BuzzFlash at Truthout noted in a commentary last week, "With the price of milk rising so high that many low-income New Yorkers can't afford it anymore, it's hardly comforting to know that...the priority of the multibillionaire mayor of New York is 'helping the banks.'"

Brookfield Properties does not make a move or a statement in regards to Zucotti Park without direction from Mayor Bloomberg's office.  Of this you can be certain.

Nearly every financial firm and multi-national corporation in America is relying on Bloomberg to be their fellow multi-billionaire point man in putting an end to this "insurrection," just like the British Tories tried to do with the American revolution.


If there is a populist change afoot making the pragmatic case to rebalance economic income in America, Elizabeth Warren is its political voice.

In a nascent campaign for the Massachusetts Senate seat formerly held by Ted Kennedy and now occupied by Republican Scott Brown, Warren has broken through the DC Democratic tacit oath to "see no evil" where it exists in the financial and corporate world.

In a debate this week among Democratic hopefuls vying in the primary for the right to take on Brown, Warren put it bluntly:

The people on Wall Street broke this country, and they did it one lousy mortgage at a time. This happened more than three years ago, and there still has been no basic accountability, and there has been no real effort to fix it.

"Everyone has to follow the law," Warren flatly declared during the debate.

But right now on Wall Street, the only people that the politicians and police are applying the law to are the protesters.

For years, those who corrupted our banking system have gotten away with the biggest financial heist in history - and gotten bonuses and a government bailout for bringing America to its knees.

Shortly after announcing her candidacy this fall, Warren embarked on a "talking tour" in which she violated the Capitol Hill (and White House) commitment to put corporations on some sort of deified pedestal. With her ability to speak in frank, simple terms, she told one gathering: "There is nobody in this country who got rich on his [or her] own. Nobody!" She then went on to list all the ways in which government services, education and research support the private sector and enhance corporate success. (The Internet, it should be noted, grew out of a series of government research projects - and corporations are making billions upon billions of dollars now from this "public commons" research.)

You can't strengthen a financial system by rewarding those who grotesquely undermine the nation through manipulation for personal enrichment - and, to boot, expect the government to provide them with services and educated workers for free.

Warren knows that, and she is offering a welcome dose of common sense. What's more, she's opening up the floodgate for like-minded politicians to, as George Lakoff would say, "reframe" the national debate.

This isn't about class warfare, Warren argues, this is about the reality of how we prosper as a nation.


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Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Illinois) took to the Senate floor this week to denounce how Bank of America is gouging Americans through excessive charges on debit card "swipe fees."

Debit card swipes, according to the Federal Reserve Bank, cost at most 12 cents (as low as 4 cents) to process, but the banks have historically charged, according to Durbin, on average 44 cents to the retailer. On October 1, a new law went into effect that put a ceiling on the swipe fees at about 24 cents. So, the Bank of America and other banks "too big to fail" are still getting at least a 100 percent profit for every debit card transaction, which is crippling some small businesses.

Moreover, the Bank of America represents the greed that is at the heart of Wall Street by not being content with a 100 percent profit. To circumvent the cap on grossly excessive swipe fees, the Bank of America is now going to charge customers $5 a month as a debit card "use fee."

"Bank of America customers, vote with your feet," Durbin urged in outraged reaction to the new "service charge."

"Get the heck out of that bank," Durbin exhorted. "They are overcharging their customers even for this new debit card reform. It is hard to believe that a bank would impose [such a fee] on customers who simply are trying to access their own money on deposit at the Bank of America."

"After helping to drive our economy off the cliff's edge in 2008, Bank of America was happy to accept a $45 billion dollar federal bailout for their stupidity, their greed and their mistakes," the senior senator from Illinois said with disdain. "And it was just as happy to take that money and hand out $3.3 billion dollars in employee bonuses in the same year 2008."

Remember that if you have a savings account - unless you have a ton of money - in many cases you are earning no interest or just pennies, even though the bank is lending out your cash and getting double-digit returns in loan interest.

Furthermore instead of investing in America, the Bank of America is gouging the nation. On top of that, according to the Los Angeles Times, "Bank of America said it would cut 30,000 workers over several years."

This is legalized criminal behavior. The New York Police Department is arresting the wrong people down in southern Manhattan. What's going on in the Bank of America and many other New York City financial institutions is the looting of the United States.


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With the price of milk rising so high that many low-income New Yorkers can't afford it anymore, it's hardly comforting to know that - as BuzzFlash at Truthout detailed yesterday - the priority of the multibillionaire mayor of New York is "helping the banks."

In a rambling radio interview last week that reeked of royal aristocracy, Bloomberg asked workers to ask not what they can do for themselves, but what they can do for their companies. BuzzFlash is not making this up:

And people in this day and age need support for their employers. If the banks don't go out and make loans we will not come out of our economic problems, we will not have jobs so anything we can do that's responsible to help the banks do that is what we need.

Except the banks aren't making a lot of loans, and there is little demand anyway because there are fewer dollars around for Americans to spend. The banks are still gambling with our money; giving no interest for savings accounts; investing overseas; and handing out big, fat bonuses for their financiers who bet against the US economy.


Mayor Michael Bloomberg is threatening to shut down democracy on Wall Street.

You might expect that from a man who is worth $19.5 dollars., and comes in 2nd place as wealthiest man in New York City, after one of the Koch brothers. Moreover, Bloomberg made a lot of money as a Wall Street financier, but he catapulted into the multibillionaire category by revolutionizing financial market information and selling a specialized terminal and access services to the financial industry (followed by Bloomberg media services).

In short, his fortune is directly integrated into the Wall Street status quo.

That may be why he told a New York City radio show host last week that "New Yorkers need 'to help the banks.'" The Village Voice headlined its story on the plutocratic pronouncements of Bloomberg, "Mayor Bloomberg: 'We'll See' If The City Will Let Occupy Wall Street Continue."

Bloomberg seemed in a baronial haze, claiming, "The protesters are protesting against people who make $40-50,000 a year and are struggling to make ends meet. That's the bottom line." Is the mayor mainlining Fox "news" as his source of information? He royally added, "so anything we can do that's responsible to help the banks ... that is what we need."

Yesterday, BuzzFlash at Truthout wrote that there is little doubt that law enforcement officials - at the behest of corporate-backed politicians - are infiltrating and planning ways to discredit the Wall Street autumn of democracy.

In his plutocratic cloud of personal financial interest and self-serving disdain for the right of assembly, Bloomberg resembles a monarchist, not a mayor.

If the Occupy Wall Street movement spreads and grows, you can count on Mayor Bloomberg to pull the curtains down on this exercise in America's basic right of redress.

As Thom Hartmann noted in a book excerpted on Truthout, Thomas Jefferson warned that "the artificial aristocracy is a mischievous ingredient in government, and provision should be made to prevent its ascendancy."

Bloomberg is just waiting to snap the mouse trap shut on democracy.


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Of this you can be sure: the New York Police Department (NYPD), Mayor Bloomberg (who made his fortune on Wall Street), the FBI, the Department of Homeland Security and the White House are doing everything possible to keep the occupation of Wall Street from reaching an "Arab Spring" tipping point.

Populist uprisings are lauded overseas, but they are perceived as a threat to elite corporate governance in the US.

You can be sure that the governmental and law enforcement forces at the highest levels in the US are consulting with Mayor Bloomberg and the NYPD on how to keep the Wall Street protest from bursting into a national movement.

If history is any guide, contingencies include infiltrators into the protest movement who will try to entrap supporters of Occupy Wall Street. This is such a common police and FBI tactic that it would take too long to list examples, but you might start with the compelling documentary, "Better This World." It details how an FBI "informant" entrapped two young idealists from Texas into becoming prosecution targets, thus helping to portray all protesters at the 2008 Republican Convention in Minneapolis as being "radicals."

The corporate mass media that has virtually ignored the protests in lower Manhattan - although the same media will give endless coverage to a couple of Tea Party advocates with misspelled signs blathering on a street corner - will blare sensational headlines if the protesters are perceived as committing even one act of violence, such as throwing a brick through a window.

But imagine if an NYPD or FBI informant, acting as an infiltrator, bombs a Bank of America branch office at night. The entire movement to expose corporate America as legal thieves would be discredited.

Right now, the NYPD - and the FBI - are engaged in low intensity corralling of the protesters. They are playing a waiting game, hoping that the protest will exhaust itself.

But if the participants grow - as appears to be the case with the increasing support of unions and the enhanced credibility of the movement - watch for a law enforcement "false flag" operation.

You'll know about it instantly, because it will probably be the first time you'll see any serious interest in the Wall Street protests on TV. The revolution won't be televised; but the government takedown of democracy and peaceful assembly will be.


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Beyond the emotional punch in the gut of Troy Davis' execution - and the echoing cheers of a GOP debate audience for Rick Perry killing so many people - it is worth remembering the role of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia in the Davis affair.

Because it was during an appeal to the Supreme Court in 2009 on behalf of Davis that Scalia - and BuzzFlash is not making this up - actually wrote a dissenting opinion that there was nothing in the Constitution that prevented a state from executing an innocent man (or woman).

How does BuzzFlash at Truthout know this?

Because we did a commentary back then on Scalia's jaw-dropping constitutional assertion when the decision was rendered. (The Supreme Court ordered a Georgia court to allow Davis to present new evidence.)

In that 2009 commentary, we quoted from Scalia's dissent:

This Court has never held that the Constitution forbids the execution of a convicted defendant who has had a full and fair trial but is later able to convince a habeas court that he is "actually" innocent. Quite to the contrary, we have repeatedly left that question unresolved, while expressing considerable doubt that any claim based on alleged "actual innocence" is constitutionally cognizable.

If the Constitution doesn't protect us from being executed even if we are innocent, then, Houston, we have a fundamental problem of human rights in America.

Scalia is considered by some to be a "brilliant legal mind," but there is nothing brilliant about authorizing the murder of innocent people.


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Consider my future Social Security checks "earned benefits" because I worked toward my retirement. That's true of all Americans who actually labor for a living.

Just yesterday, Paul Ryan - maybe looking for a vice presidential spot - curried some favor with Rick Perry by agreeing with him that Social Security is a "Ponzi scheme."

Before dismissing the rhetoric as over the top, it's important to remember that a lie repeated five times becomes perceived as the truth by many people, particularly if they watch Fox for their "news."

So, it was encouraging, while traveling through the jungle of Facebook, to come across someone who proudly proclaimed that Social Security was based on "earned benefits, not entitlements."

After all, "entitlements" best describe what the wealthy and their political advocates believe is due them; the "entitlement" to inherit as much money as possible and to make off with as big a slice of America's economic pie as possible. To argue that you deserve to be gluttonously wealthy because your mommy or daddy made a fortune selling short in the stock market, now that's an "entitlement."

But for 99 percent of the citizens in the United States, we work for our retirement income. We earn the benefits of Social Security; we don't inherit them.

The "Ponzi scheme" took place on Wall Street, not Main Street.


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Recently, the Benton Harbor City Council - governed under the authoritarian emergency financial manager appointed by Tea Party Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder - passed a resolution to honor the US Constitution the week of September 17.

The emergency financial manager for Benton Harbor declared, in the spring, that the Benton Harbor City Council could only do three things: call meetings to order, approve minutes and adjourn meetings. As a result, the state-appointed manager of Benton Harbor declared the city council resolution honoring the US Constitution as null and void.

As Rachel Maddow pointed out in a September 19 commentary, there is a frightening irony in "elected officials not being allowed to honor the Constitution because they've been overruled by an appointed overseer who nobody voted for."

In April of 2011, BuzzFlash at Truthout wrote a commentary entitled "Tea Party Michigan Governor Rick Snyder Adopts Soviet-style Authoritarian Powers Over Michigan Cities."

Maybe the emergency financial manager for Benton Harbor will force the Benton Harbor City Council, chosen by the voters, to follow the Politburo books of rules and orders.


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President Obama has just declared that he will veto any deficit reduction bill that does not include taxes on the wealthy.

In response, the Republicans trotted out their main "Friday the 13th" talking point that they have used since the beginning of the Reagan era: "The president is engaging in class warfare."

Anticipating the GOP "round up the usual sound bite when it comes to the wealthy paying their fair share for democracy" strategy, Obama declared, "This is not class warfare: it's math."

Given that the Republican Party - with an infrastructure of think tanks, lobbyists and corporate media supported by corporate America and the likes of the Koch brothers - has been conducting a war of attrition on the US middle class for years, it is hard to digest such brazen hypocrisy.

As Andy Ostroy, who is posted regularly on BuzzFlash at Truthout observes:

It's time the rich stop whining about class warfare and start paying their fair share of taxes to pay for this country's essential services and to help reduce its debt. How about we borrow from Sen. John McCain and piggyback the millionaire's tax with the slogan, "America First." The nation's rich needs to stop thinking about their own pocketbooks for a second and show some concern for the country in which they've amassed their colossal wealth.

If the Obama administration is smart, it will hammer home this millionaire's tax rhetoric until it becomes the sort of highly effective propaganda Republicans have been successfully regurgitating for years.

Dividing up the middle and working classes based on appeals to race, ethnicity and social wedge issues has been a trademark of the Republican Party.

What they fear most is that the great masses of Americans who receive a stagnating hourly wage and more limited benefits each year will rise up and demand their share of the nation's wealth.

Class warfare has been waged on behalf of the wealthiest people and corporations in the US for decades - and on that battlefield, the richest Americans have thus far won.

As Ostroy asks, "To be sure, the rich have never been richer, and the poor have never been poorer. So what are Republicans constantly complaining about?"

What they are complaining about is the concept of workers being fairly compensated for their labor - and that the wealthiest Americans might have to buy one less yacht or home. That's class warfare to them.

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